Arne Duncan is promoting the turnaround of 5000 schools across the United States. Turnaround is a policy where the entire staff is terminated — including the all support staff such as lunchroom attendants and custodians. Fenger High School is a turnaround school; it is where student Derrion Albert was murdered walking home after school on September 24, 2009. In recent testimony and court litigation it is obvious that the Chicago Board of Education did not learn from it mistakes and now Arne Ducan wants this chaos spread throughout entire country.
In remarkable testimony, February 1, 2010, Dr. Donald Fraynd (Chief Officer of the Office of School Turnaround at CPS who managed and is directly responsible for the turn-around process at Fenger High School) made a statement that although the Derrion Albert tragedy took place at Fenger:
"We have learned a great deal."
He went on to minimize the death of a student as the result of School Board policy and talked of the
he claimed were going on inside of Fenger — neglecting to put into the record the numerous arrests and school fights that have occurred after the murder of Derrion Albert. Dr. Fraynd also neglected to put into the record a lawsuit filed by Fenger parents on behalf of students on the grounds that the school was unsafe and the school Board did not allow students to transfer out of Fenger to safer and better performing schools.
The 'Chief Officer for Turnaround' in Chicago's public schools is Donald Fraynd (above left), who has never taught in an inner city high school or served as principal of one. Fraynd came to Chicago from Madison Wisconsin to take a job as Principal of Jones College Prep High School, one of Chicago's elite high schools. When the Jones LSC reportedly began to have questions about Fraynd's stewardship, CPS promoted him to the Chief Officer for Turnaround job, newly created. According to Fenger staff, Fraynd and other CPS officials have let the staff know that they will be fired if they tell the truth about the Fenger disaster. Above, Fraynd (pronounced "friend") is testifying as to why Marshall High School should be subjected to "turnaround" at the February 1, 2010 hearing on Marshall. Beside Fraynd is CPS attorney Joseph Moriarity, who presented the Board's "case" against Marshall. In the background (left) is Ryan Crosby, who presents the "data" supporting this year's CPS closings, turnarounds, and other attacks on schools. On the right is Stephen Glombicki, who assures the hearing officer that CPS Office of Safety and Security will make sure that everyone is safe while "turnaround" goes on. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.
In Testimony during another school closing hearing in 2010 there was again warnings of increased violence that would be worse than what happened at Fenger.
It took a lawsuit by parents to allow their children to transfer to better performing schools
Ten Fenger High School students -- who have not attended the Far South Side school since the fatal beating of 16-year-old Derrion Albert -- will be allowed to transfer immediately, the students’ attorney said Tuesday.
The decision came following a settlement conference in U.S. District Court on Tuesday morning, according to attorney Christopher Cooper. The students can transfer immediately to one of four schools: Carver Military Academy, Morgan Park Academy, Lincoln Park Academy or Julian High School. All are located on the Far South Side except for Lincoln Park.
The students, ranging in age from 14-18, filed a civil suit on Nov. 10 against CPS, claiming they were being deprived of their constitutional right to a public education and could not attend Fenger because it was "too dangerous."
Although the transfers were approved, Cooper said the case continues on the basis of whether any constitutional rights are being violated.
Derrion’s video recorded death prompted the latest round of violence at Fenger H.S. that has not ceased since the afternoon that 16 year-old Derrion was savagely beaten to death with nail-spiked railroad boards as he left Fenger H.S. Plaintiffs state that they fear for their lives and that school officials have refused to allow plaintiffs promised transfers from the Fenger High to other public high schools.
Fenger Students vs. Chicago Public Schools
History of School Closings Behind Fenger Violence
Carver Area High School, at 13100 S. Doty Ave., which had served children from the Altgeld Gardens public housing project on Chicago’s far south side, was closed as a general high school and turned into "Carver Military Academy" three years ago. Carver now rejects students who do not want to take part in its military program.
Calumet High School, at 8131 S. May St., was ordered to stop admitting 9th graders in September 2004. Calumet was closed as a general high school by Arne Duncan after graduating its final class in June 2007. The Calumet building, after a $20 million rehab, was given by the Chicago Board of Education to the Perspectives Charter Schools. Perspectives now operates three charter schools within the building, which is called its "Calumet Campus." Two of the Perspectives charter schools are high schools, and one is a middle school. Perspectives requires students to apply for admission and routinely gets rid of students who fail to follow the rules of Perspectives.
Perspectives administrators also pride themselves in rejecting calls to the Chicago Police Department, as has been reported previously in Substance and at www.substancenews.net. According to one former Perspectives teacher who left Perspectives and who testified at the January 10, 2009, hearing sponsored by CORE at Malcolm X College, Perspectives administrators have told the staff that the police oppress youth in the community.
Area 19 "Chief Area Officer" Akisha Craven (above left) was one of those who testified that Marshall High School had to be subjected to "turnaround" at the February 1, 2010 hearing. Like the others who represented the Chicago Board of Education, Craven said that the turnaround was necessary for the sake of the students. As usual, Craven delivered a prepared text from the Board of Education's binder, presented at each of the hearings. According to what Craven read into the record, CPS has the experience through the "Office of School Turnaround" to do successful turnaround at Marshall, just as it has allegedly done at Harper High School and Fenger High School. Craven was elevated to her CAO job despite the fact that she had less teaching or local school (principal) administrative experience than the average Marshall High School staff members. At Craven's side, above, is Ryan Crosby, who currently introduces himself as "Director of Performance Management." Crosby's experience and credentials are similar to those of Craven. Because the hearings do not allow cross examination of the witnesses sent up by the Board to destroy the reputations of school teachers and principals, no one was able to question, in the record, the lack of qualifications of either Craven or Crosby. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.
Englewood High School, located at 6201 S. Stewart Ave., was closed as a general high school (by stopping taking 9th graders in 2005) and graduated its last general high school class in June 2008. Englewood "campus" now houses the widely publicized "Urban Prep" charter high school and a smaller public high school (‘Team Englewood") on its so-called "campus."Complete Story - Fenger High School tragedy caused by 'New Schools,' and 'turnaround' policies
A Fenger Staff Member Speaks
The following was written by a staff member from within Chicago's 'Fenger Turnaround High School.' As the author explains, the new administration’s priority — far beyond the safety and education of the students — has been complete media control. The staff has been threatened with their jobs should they tell truthful stories from within Fenger. As a result, the whistleblower in this case has elected to hide their identity. We have confirmed, according to our procedures at Substance the identity of the writer, a teacher presently at Chicago's Christian Fenger "Turnaround" High School.
It has been stated that the Turn-Around Team at Fenger High School already judges itself a success. On October 30th at Orr High School, Mayor Daley himself insisted, "Fenger has a very good principal and it’s a very good school" just a month after Derrion Albert’s murder and even while Fenger has been mired in violence, corruption and mismanagement.
But our administration and city leadership judge it as a success because it has achieved compliance from its staff members. Not one of us has spoken out in the midst of the chaos and tragedy that have occurred and, so it is said, there is a feeling of victory over Fenger. No one has spoken: not upon the death of a student, which reached the public with full force, or upon the small deaths that are experienced daily within our silent walls.
Because of the unearned victory that is being claimed it is necessary that a voice reach beyond our walls, beyond the mandated silence imposed by the administration, that it might stand as a caution to this new "trend" (of anti-community turnaround) that is sweeping our nation. Even after what has happened in Chicago, the Chicago Public Schools Board of Education continues to push forward attempting to Turnaround both Marshall and Phillips this year. I cannot speak for those beyond Fenger’s walls. Perhaps there are ways of "turning around" a school that have been truly successful. It is possible.
I can only speak for Fenger and the rumblings coming from Harper High School. May these voices be heard: Turnaround has failed in Chicago.
We saw one testimony of its failure on Fox News the night after Derrion was killed. The fight and beating and all the violence and injustice done to our children since were not caused entirely by Turnaround, but speak of its utter inability to meet the needs of our students. Actual ill treatment of children speaks louder than lofty claims to the contrary. It speaks of the complete lack of care by so many of our city’s powerbrokers towards our community and other poor minority communities.
What else but a flippant lack of care stopped the bussing of students from Altgeld Gardens to Fenger and back again only a year after turning Carver into the selective enrollment military academy that it is today?
The District knew the danger it placed these students in and pacified both communities with that year of bussing and then dropped such a financial burden into our streets, which became a hotbed for fights like the one that caught up Derrion. It was spit upon our faces when Mayor Daley aired his call for an end to violence on TV while failing to provide enough police presence to stop or bring real justice to any of these fights.
The students, teachers and parents of our community were then slapped across our spit-damp faces with the appearance of police in our school corridors later that month. In incidents in late October, the officers moved through our students as if they were on the street. A lunchroom fight became pure chaos as billy clubs, fists, tazors and handcuffs came out. There was no evidence of the de-escalation training the Fenger staff had received the previous year. (But then, none of the adults making decisions had been in the building during that year.) Children who did not answer directions with a, "yes suh," or "yes ma’am," were thrown down and handcuffed.
Five students were arrested after at least a dozen fights broke out at Fenger High School today, 10 of them in the lunchroom alone.
As I watched a 90-some pound boy being handcuffed and led away after reacting with frustrated confusion when not allowed down the hall to his class, I realized how painfully alive the realities of the Harvard Civil Rights Project are. Our schools are back to the 1950’s in many ways. Beyond the violence is a complete and utter lack of the expertise and desire to run a school. While — as has been publicized heavily at Harper High School — hall sweeps are going well. This is the only bright spot in the administrative program. The extra resources that every school in the city should be receiving have been squandered. The administration actually approached a used textbook vendor and sold books only to rebuy them for more than the price at which they were sold.
The social studies department paid an outside vendor to produce four years worth of curriculum and only received the same curriculum for all four years, rearranged to be taught in a different order. To avoid the fact that a portion of our new staff are not certified in the area they are teaching, we have switched to general "Social Studies 1-4" so that we appear to be NCLB compliant. The first unit was on race, so we had a nearly all white group of inexperienced teachers teaching Fenger students about the mechanics of race with predictable results.
We have waited months for the vital teaching materials that our students need, but the exterior of the building had thousands poured into it from the first day. New trees were ready for the new year, but we as staff were asked to volunteer to remove lead paint from our classrooms or simply endure it. We received double the English books, but did not have adequate math books for much of the school year.
What else but a flippant carelessness would have allowed the powers that be to nod at a school like Fenger — its size, heated gang rivalry and painfully impoverished student body — and say, "Yeah, why not give ‘er a try. See what you can do with it. Keep good numbers so we know if our experiment worked"?
Are the voices in our community loud enough to count as a cry of dissent that will check the wave of turn-around plans rolling out across the nation? Does our pain speak loud enough that no other community will have to suffer such a placebo experiment? To ensure that no other child desperate for a future outside of poverty be treated as expendable to those who have never held a twenty-year-old textbook or Link card. Subtle racism and overt classism allow it to be so here in the Windy City. May our experience reveal this reality and, as in the days of Malcolm X and King, appeal to the humanity of those in power who stand with their feet upon our necks. May our nation understand and be wise in the manifestation of the Turnaround in each of her towns and cities that are affected. We must understand and remember the failure of the Fenger turnaround and firmly proclaim, "Never again."
Fenger High School has been Turned Around. There shall be no more trust in the administration to work with you or for you. There shall be no more appreciation for the work you do inside or outside the classroom that did not come in the job description.
You are a young White teacher. Why would you not work your fingers to the bone? We hired you to save these Black kids. Teach them (as best you can, you new college graduates, you) and then pour your all into them. You are expected to burn out after three to five years. That’s all we need you for. After that, there are younger ones to come and you can return to your suburban life with your conscience clean. You are not really expected to empathize with the students. Just please feel sorry for them and pass them so that our on-track numbers go up. After all, the goal (achieved and nurtured) was to bring in hundreds of you young white, middle-classed green professionals. You, who will lie down as the contract is raped before you, will not say no to any of the most absurd demands. Soak yourself in the guilt of being White. We want you to need the administration to bestow upon thee favors.
Experience is not appreciated. It endangers the absolute authority of a group of leaders floundering in their lack of administrative training and experience. It’s okay if our students miss the chance to apply for the maximum college funding. Just please smile and admire your bosses who hold before your blue eyes the ideals of a just society, where the white man has finally raised the black child to his level. Dream with them of the change that your presence can bring to the lives of your black students, but do not count on consistent discipline or quality curriculum. Please manage your classroom with your smile. Please do not question those above you. Live in the uncertainty of someone’s mood deciding the life of your next project or competition.
Do not mention the lack of supplies.
All equipment was removed from your classrooms to make way for the newest technology that our poor, black students deserve. How dare you complain that the flat screen TVs and LCD projects only began to arrive in December! Changing a school takes time. Be patient. After all, it is not as if we are running a company. You are in a poor ghetto school (that we are changing!); get over it. Let your frustration simmer over the weekend. Your students are Black ghetto kids. No one is going to care even if you would complain. No one really cares.
"These people are playing with kids’ lives."
Was that not made clear the minute you realized that those handling the money and structure of the school had no credit history in their career to fall back on? Give the administration a break. They have never run a school like Fenger before. Have patience for the one who orders those TVs. Did the trees not get delivered this summer? The TVs will come. Our leader’s lack of any business and educational sense makes her job all that more difficult. Just be patient. It is okay to mess up inside our walls. Just be quiet so no one knows. We rely on the hope that no one will come asking after the welfare of these Black south side kids. Did you not read the books we gave you? They made it clear that everyone except us white people in Fenger are racist. You need to be here to save these kids and work extra hard because they are Black and you owe it to them – you white middle-class teacher. Watch Freedom Writers again. Be that. Save these kids. Do not go to their homes. Do not go to their block parties. Do not trust their families. It is too dangerous. Save them from it all.
Original Article Published February 09, 2010
A Fenger Staff Member Speaks @ www.substancenews.net