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Update: The Extension/Moratorium [Bloodbath] Moves Forward

Have you ever noticed that many education wonks and advocates don't like to pay much attention to issues like school budgets, closings, attendance zones, and other gritty operational issues?  Me, too. Sometimes, the silence is pretty deafening, especially in contrast to the usual "look at me!" clamor on other topics.  Then again, I should talk, hiding here behind my computer.

Chicago-sales

Anyway, the latest news from the school closing controversy in Chicago is that a statehouse committee in Springfield approved the city's request to extend the school closing deadline from December 1 (Saturday) for an additional four months, despite an all-out effort by the teachers union to change lawmakers' minds (and critical editorials from both Chicago dailies, and me describing it as a "bloodbath"). Just a few minutes ago Chicago announced that the extension had been approved by the legislature.

Did Monday's surprise offer of a moratorium help CPS's case for a deadline extension, or just muddy the waters and look desperate?  Are CTU and its allies building a strong case against closings, or are they sounding extreme and out of touch?  It's not really clear.  The one possibly good thing that might come out of the messy process is a school closing commission, sort of like the old DoD one used for closing bases in the 1990s.  It's been suggested for years, by me and others, and only has 4 months to work, but ... crossed fingers.

See a roundup of news coverage and commentary below.

School closing delay gets first okay in Springfield, but some lawmakers have concerns WBEZ: Some Illinois lawmakers are criticizing Chicago Public School’s timetable for closing an unknown number of schools. But despite that criticism, Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett got committee support to delay announcement of which schools the district would close this year.

Legislative panels advance CPS bid for more time on school-closing list Sun Times: Despite an outcry from community activists, a plan to give Chicago Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett four more months to draw up a school-closing list unanimously advanced in both the House and Senate Tuesday. Even with that movement, an influential Senate Democrat and six Chicago aldermen appeared ready to break ranks with Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration on the issue by ...

House Committee OKs CPS Plan To Delay School Closings List CBS: An Illinois House committee has endorsed a plan to give the Chicago Public Schools four more months to decide where to make cuts in the number of schools the system operates.

Hot Time in House Exec SSNS:  By the end of the opponents' presentations - and based on the magnitude of the task and the chaos the CPS is inviting - any objective observer would be sure the Executive Committee would reject the bill and let the deadline lapse Saturday, as is the law. So much for witnesses' testimony. The amendment was adopted on an 11-0 vote.

Lawmakers vote to give CPS more time to decide school closings Catalyst: Burke, a stickler for order and decorum, quickly threatened to "close this hearing" if the crowd did not "discontinue this behavior." Then he asked, "Who is here to oppose this motion?" In a departure from House committee procedure - unprecedented in recent history - Burke let the Chicago citizens testify against SB 547, one after another, without having signed official witness slips. Eventually, about 15 of them were given two minutes each to have their say.

The problem with school-closing plan Sun-Times (editorial): There is great appeal in charging through this painful period of closures quickly. But the notion of quickly ripping off the Band Aid and ending the pain is fantasy. CPS must close schools — it’s the right financial decision — but it must be done properly.

On school closings, a political ploy CMW:   Today CPS claims it has 100,000 “empty seats.”  A year ago the figure was 80,000; a year before that, 230,000.   It all depends where you set the “data point.”

School closing bill moves to House, Senate floors Tribune: A key legislator said Tuesday that she remains undecided on whether to allow Chicago Public Schools four more months to produce a list of school closings, even as legislation on the extension moved to the House and Senate floors.

Five-year ban on school closings would still allow shakeups for academic reasons Sun Times: Rev. James Meeks, an independent state senator from the 15th District and chair of the Senate Education Committee, will kick off the hearings from 7 to 9 p.m. Monday, Dec. 3, at Meeks’ Salem Baptist Church, 752 E. 114th St., according to a commission news release.


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Alexander, if you can actually move this issue out into the daylight where the people can see it, at whatever price ... now would be the time.

Do you know any journalists?

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