Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Two Terrific Presentations About Chicago Charter Schools

Last night at the standing-room-only forum in Brighton Park, we heard from a number of scholars about our city's charter schools. I'll have more later, but for now, have a look at these two excellent presentations.

First is UIC's Federico Waitoller, who along with Josh Radinsky, has been studying the nature of special education services in Chicago's charter schools. Watch the whole thing--- it's in Spanish and English. Interesting stuff--- it turns out that when you dig into the kinds of IEPs that kids have in charter schools, and you compare that to who's being served in the traditional schools, you start to see two different universes emerge.  In short, you can't just count IEPs. Enjoy it in full-screen mode.

Students Receiving Special Education in Charter Schools in Chicago from Tim Furman on Vimeo.

And we've also posted the full Byron Sigcho webinar, UNO: Politics and Corruption. Byron spoke last night and rallied the crowd, but by they time we got to him, there were only a few minutes left. What's below is the full presentation that he's been doing around the city. It's two hours long, mainly because I kept interrupting, but Byron covers the full range of issues and implications.

UNO Politics and Corruption: A Webinar With Byron Sigcho from Tim Furman on Vimeo.

A Word About The Forum:  Because I am a neurotic German person, I was the first person at Shields Middle School last night; indeed I was an hour early, which back home we refer to as, "cutting it close."  And by the way, there were arctic, gale-force winds blowing in from the west last night,  and the hike from the Orange Line to the school was bracing, to say the least.

A documentary crew showed up next-- this group has been covering the school closings, and they heard about the forum. Shortly after they walked in, the building's excellent, watchful security man came to say that no media would be allowed. No media. CPS policy.

I believe he was instructed by the principal to say so, and I don't doubt that this is a CPS policy.

However, the whole "public forum" thing is what it is. Public. Public issue, public building, public invited. Not a school event.

We wrangled with the security man over the meaning of media, stressing how documentarians are actually not part of the media, a distinction I thought clever. Whoever these documentarians are, they're quick on their feet.

The security man had his orders, however. No media. So I did what any normal person does in this day and age: I went out on Twitter and let the world know that media was going to be barred from a public forum.  In the meantime, Labor Beat, the crafty devils, got past security with a camera, and a number of print media people walked right in as if it were America or something.  The whole "no media" thing was in peril. Can people without cameras possibly be in the media? The Sun-Times doesn't even have photographers any more.

Fox News showed up, and they were indeed stopped. The security staff took their credentials and walked away with them, presumably to be examined by the Commissar or something. It was all very Argo.  Yadda yadda yadda, fifteen minutes pass and then suddenly the "no media" thing is over. And I'm grateful, because Fox News did a pretty good job, although I wish they would bother to ask an intelligent person about the whole "waiting list" malarky.

So that was that.  I will say this much: the security man was courteous and professional and doing what he was told to do. I'm glad the principal rethought the media ban, and I'm grateful to everyone at Shields Middle School, which seems like a great place for kids.

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