What Happened to Rahm?

At some point the gap between press conference and reality becomes too glaring to ignore…

By Maria Moser
rahmHow on earth could something as silly as neighborhood public schools bedevil Rahm Emanuel right out of his incumbent throne as mayor of Chicago? The New York Times recently asked that question, and I’m happy to provide some answers.  My home is on Chicago’s South Side, on a street full of cops and firefighters, and people still call themselves *new to the neighborhood* if they’ve been here less than 25 years. With only 9 years under my belt, I’m a relative newcomer. But traveling often for work, and seeing the gap between national coverage and reality on the ground, I’d like to try to answer a question that’s been asked a lot recently: What happened to Rahm? Continue reading →

There Goes the Neighborhood School

Who gets to live in a neighborhood when neighborhood schools disappear?

Progressive picWhen the city of Chicago shuttered some fifty neighborhood schools last year, officials invoked antiseptic-sounding words like “underperformance” and “underutilization.” But visit neighborhoods that bore the brunt of the closings, as I did recently, and you’ll hear that the battle over the city’s schools is about something much larger: the future of the city itself and who gets to live here. Parents, teachers and community leaders told me that the replacement of neighborhood schools serving the city’s poorest children with privately run charters that don’t, can’t be separated from the relentless gentrification that’s rapidly transforming Chicago into a wealthier, whiter city. Think urban renewal but without the bulldozers.

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Spare a Little (Disruptive) Change?

Charter schools, parking meters and the privatization of Chicago…

Parking MeterQuick, reader: what do charter schools and parking meters have in common? If you’re drawing a blank, may I invite you to accompany me on a ride through Chicago’s South Side, at the expert hands of driver Frank Kuran? Full disclosure: Frank isn’t a traditional cabbie but a driver for that driver of disruptive change, Uber. Unable to find a cab that will take me to Gage Park and the K-8 school that I’m visiting, Frank has come to my rescue, and a la Tom Friedman, supplied me with a post that is practically writing itself. You see, Frank has plenty to say about the subject of education in Chicago and about the charter schools that are proliferating like Starbucks in this part of the city. *They’re a rip off,* he tells me as we make our way up Ashland. *Just like when the city sold the parking meters. It takes money away from the public and poor people pay the price.*   Continue reading →

The Chicago Charter Blues

The Windy City’s experiment with charter choice falls flat…

bluechicago2Chicago’s grand experiment with education reform dates all the way back to the 80’s—as in the 1880’s. In recent years, Windy City-style reform has meant charter schools, lots and lots of charter schools. So what has the Chicago’s choice-i-fi-cation meant for students? According to a new study, the charter experiment has wrought the unthinkable, producing worse schools that are even more highly segregated than Chicago’s already highly-segregated schools. The study made headlines and raised plenty of eyebrows, not to mention hackles. But can mounting evidence of an experiment-gone-awry shift the city’s reform winds? I recently chatted with Myron Orfield, the author of the new study, to find out.   Continue reading →

Goin’ To Chicago… Sorry But I Can’t Take You

I brought some big questions with me to the Windy City—and I need your help in order to answer them…

DYETTWhen I visited Chicago last spring I learned something that really surprised me. And I’m not just talking about the fact that Chicagoans have more than 5,000 different ways of insulting Mayor Rahm Emanuel. (He’s a what????) Virtually everyone I talked to—parents, teachers, community leaders—told me that the closure of 50 neighborhood schools was about more than just the future of public education in Chicago, but the question of who gets to live in a city that’s rapidly becoming richer and whiter. I couldn’t wait to return to find out more. But I need some assistance in order to delve more deeply into how big money education reform and what Mayor Emanuel is fond of calling *the New Chicago* connect—and that’s where you come in. Continue reading →