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"Since 2001, defendants have carried out school closings so as to contribute to a form of racial and economic segregation, as destructive as older forms of intentional racial segregation."--- McDaniel v. Board of Education of Chicago; the lawsuit goes to trial this week. Tuesday at 10:00am until Friday at 1:00pm at the Dirkson Federal Building. 

After the Civil War freed slaves demanded that schools be established as a tool of liberation. With the help of the Freedman's Bureau and hundreds of determined teachers, both black and white, they succeeded in creating the first large scale public education system in the American South.

Both black and white students benefited as the nation struggled to reunite after the costliest war in US history. One might think these African Americans would have received the thanks of a grateful nation and continued to be recognized for that accomplishment.  

That’s not what happened. Instead they and their African American descendants were subjected to decades of cruel school segregation and racial discrimination. Discrimination in education also affected other people of color, as well as students with special needs. These discriminatory practices continue today in many school districts. One of these districts is the Chicago Public Schools (CPS). 

That’s why Sherise McDaniel, a CPS parent, joined with other CPS parents to sue the Chicago Board of Education to stop the school closings. The closing of 49 Chicago public schools, most of them in African American working class neighborhoods is the latest example of CPS racial and special needs discrimination. McDaniel and the other parents were fed up with these harmful policies and the resulting inequities in educational achievement.  

Sherise McDaniel
Sherise McDaniel shortly before giving a speech on education justice: June 2013

With the help of the Chicago Teachers Union the parents filed suit on the basis of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for special needs students and the Illinois Civil Rights Act for African American students. The special needs part of the lawsuit is thoroughly explained in the article “Lives left in limbo” by Maureen Allen and Gala M. Pierce. The article you are reading will focus on the second part of the lawsuit dealing with racist nature of the closings.  

“The impact on African American children is in stark contrast to the impact on white children – who have been almost universally insulated from the negative educational consequences of school closings. The 54 schools selected by the CEO for closing have a combined enrollment of 125 white students out of a total enrollment of 16,059 students – less than one percent.”-- McDaniel v. Board of Education of Chicago

Claiming that the schools were underutilized and that CPS was facing a budget crisis, they were closed in the face of massive protest from across Chicago. 

The public hearings concerning the school closings were heartbreaking displays of community anguish before the stony faces of CPS representatives who would not answer questions or engage in dialog.

After the first round of hearings, most of the schools in predominantly white areas were taken off the closing list. After the second round, most of the schools in the predominantly Latino neighborhoods were taken off. That left Black Chicago as the main target.

This was a naked attempt to play upon Chicago’s historic and often violent racial divisions. It was especially painful to see high ranking African American administrators like CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett dutifully carrying out these policies. At public meetings and hearings African Americans would often say about Bennett and the small minority of African Americans who backed the closings,”They may look like us. But they are not us.”

Bennett of course was only carrying out policies set by Rahm Emanuel in consultation with Chicago’s powerful (and largely white) Commercial Club which represents the city business and financial elite.

"The mayor and the corporate community's sole purpose is to privatize schools--neighborhood schools--in African American and Latino communities. We reject all school actions and proposed turnarounds which only promote crony capitalism, and not a quality education for our children."-- Dwayne Truss, community activist in the Austin neighborhood in Chicago's West Side
3 Day March for Education Justice
Chicago 3 day March for Education Justice

For Black Chicago, “underutilized” classrooms were a way to lower class size after generations of overcrowding. According to black education activists any unused space in neighborhood schools could also be used for student enrichment activities, counseling services, adult education and community activities. In neighborhoods beset with disinvestment, unemployment and the attendant social problems, including high levels of personal violence, closing neighborhood schools was seen as just one more attack on African American educational opportunity.

As one African American education activist said to me in a discussion about school segregation in Chicago,”They just won’t leave us alone.”

It was in this context that McDaniel v. Board of Education was filed to stop the closings.

Some of the major points raised by the lawsuit: 
  1. The Board of Education has deployed a variety of justifications to make the closings appear “race neutral” when in fact they are not.
  2. Students from the closed school usually go to schools that are no better or sometimes worse academically, negating the claim that these closings are for education improvement.
  3. Students go to schools that are mostly black even when options to attend schools with white students are available, thus maintaining segregation.
  4. Students will have to travel a longer distance to school, often across violent parts of the city where they will not have neighbors to look out for them and where they may encounter rival gangs and cliques, increasing the chances of possibly fatal bullying.
  5. Many of the children live in extreme poverty or are homeless and closings have had a “negative and stigmatizing” effect upon them.
  6. The closings have eliminated Local School Councils and removed an important vehicle for African American parents to have a voice in their schools.
  7. Besides the racial segregation the closings add an economic segregation worse than older forms of segregation.
  8. These closings interfere with children's learning and traps them in poverty while demoralizing already distressed communities.
  9. The removal of community institutions like neighborhood schools are detrimental when trying to solve social problems like poverty and crime.
  10. School closings in black communities often coincide with white people moving in nearby and real estate prices rising, leading to gentrification and displacement.
  11. A 2009 study by Consortium on Chicago School Research at the University of Chicago, showed that the children displaced by such closings received no educational benefit to justify such closings.
  12. The school closings will result in class sizes of 30 or above which have greater impact on the performance of low income black children.
  13. The school closings will result in more charter schools being opened which will not benefit African American children.

But why on earth, 60 years after the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision, and hundreds of other school desegregation cases later, do we still have segregated schools and vast racial inequities in education in the second decade of the 21st century?

The troubled legacy of the Brown decision

The Brown v. Board of Education decision issued on May 17, 1954 made racial segregation in the schools unconstitutional. The decision was the culmination of a decades long battle by the NAACP to challenge the legal basis of segregation using 14th amendment’s principle of equal protection under the laws.

The Brown decision was a direct slap at the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson decision declaring that racially separate but otherwise equal public facilities were legal. Handed down during a wave of lynchings and the adoption of harsh new segregation laws, Plessy v. Ferguson was a judicial fiction. No one seriously expected black people to be granted racially segregated equal facilities. Who would enforce such a standard? With white supremacy on the rise, the police power of state and local governments could easily enforce the separate but ignore the requirement of the equal. 

Brown recognized the fictional nature of Plessy v. Ferguson, but went much further, saying that legal segregation itself was inherently unequal even if the “physical and tangible factors” were equal. The Court was convinced that segregation generated among blacks “a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way that was unlikely to ever be undone.”

However the Court failed to adequately address the flip side: how whites were affected by segregation. Segregation created a widespread false sense of racial superiority based on white economic and social privileges. That these privileges could be quite meager for impoverished whites did not make them any less real. Desegregation would not be easy given the deep racial divide that transcended lines of social class. 

Thurgood Marshall, one of the NAACP lawyers who argued the case had this to say during the night of dancing and celebration at NAACP headquarters after the Brown case was won,”You fools go ahead and have your fun, but we ain’t begun to work yet.”

Massive resistance to Brown 

Brown was an enormous morale boost for the civil rights movement and helped ignite the next 10 years of sit-ins, freedom rides, and voter registration drives. After thousands of arrests and racist violence that cost both injuries and deaths, Congress passed civil rights laws that effectively ended formal segregation in the USA. 

What Brown did not do was put an end to school segregation. According to veteran researcher Gary Orfield, co-director of the Civil Rights Project at UCLA, schools now are even more segregated than they were in the 1960s. 

What went wrong? 

The  Supreme Court led by Chief Justice Earl Warren had announced a momentous decision on May 17, 1954, but then left enforcement details to the lower district courts who would issue desegregation orders to be obeyed with “...all deliberate speed.” Some of these district judges were either segregationists themselves or had a lukewarm enthusiasm for desegregation. For them a snails pace was too fast for “all deliberate speed.” 

In the segregationist heartland of Dixie, public officials from governors on down defied the courts in an effort they called “massive resistance”. A federal government that was visibly reluctant to enforce desegregation helped to stoke the segregationist fire.

Elizabeth Eckford attempts to enter Central High School in Little Rock AK

President Eisenhower did send troops to Little Rock, AK in 1957 to allow 9 black students to enter Central High School and President Kennedy sent federal marshals to the University of Mississippi so James Meredith could enter there in 1962, but those were exceptional.  Desegregation was met by repression, violence and official roadblocks as literally hundreds of desegregation cases had to be argued and then monitored for compliance. 

 There was progress toward desegregating American schools after Brown, but that was accompanied by considerable resegregation because of a problem that Brown could not solve: white flight. 

 White flight and the persistence of segregation in the USA 

The idea behind the Brown decision was that if black and white students were in the same classroom that would deal with the racial disparities in funding and resources. There was also the hope that it would end racial animosity and expose the racial myths of white supremacy and black inferiority. 

But what if white parents simply moved away into all-white enclaves? What if segregation was maintained within schools through tracking and standardized testing? Brown had answers for none of these. If de jure (legal) segregation was finally ended by court action, de facto (actual) segregation is still very much alive. 

Massive resistance to desegregation was not just confined to the Old Confederacy. It was also a feature of northern cities as well, but it took a different form. Segregation in Northern cities solidified when large numbers of African Americans moved from the South after WWI and WWII and encountered traditional white hostility,  aided by federal and city government policy. African Americans were excluded from white neighborhoods through restrictive covenants, mob violence and terrorist attacks by nightriders, often with little protection by local authorities. Federal housing policy through the FHA favored racial segregation as federal highway programs contributed to the growth of segregated suburbs making it easier for whites to flee. These factors also contributed to the deterioration of older city neighborhoods. 

For working class whites, home ownership meant economic security and a source of inheritable family capital. Any threat to “property values” was met by resistance, often swift and violent as blacks who tried to buy homes in white communities found out. Many African Americans found themselves trapped in segregated areas attending segregated resource-starved schools. Widespread job discrimination kept black incomes lower than white incomes, making home ownership outside of segregated neighborhoods a distant dream for many. 

In 1964 the Supreme Court finally lost patience with “all deliberate speed” and imposed stricter standards which did hasten some school desegregation, but those successes often encouraged even more white flight. Northern cities (including Chicago) tried court ordered busing for desegregation which was met by fierce resistance from whites and a growing skepticism from blacks. Why send black children to white schools far from home so they could be attacked, bullied and confined to lower academic tracks?

Chicago school boycotts 1963
The 1963 Chicago school boycotts

In 1960’s Chicago there were huge protests and school boycotts against de facto segregation with its overcrowded and under-resourced schools in black neighborhoods while schools in white neighborhoods were usually well-resourced and even “underutilized” (irony intended). Mayor Richard J. Daley made some minor conciliatory concessions, but the pattern of residential and school segregation remained solidly entrenched. Daley's many years in office were dedicated to maintaining racial segregation while simultaneously denying that segregation even existed.

In 1962 a federal judge dismissed a suit brought by 22 parents against Chicago school segregation on procedural grounds but did say:

“[Segregation] deprives both the white and the Negro child of the rich experience of working together, learning from one another, and acquiring habits of good citizenship….It is painful to speculate on the amount of talent that the nation loses through failure to provide Negro children with sufficient opportunity and incentive to develop that talent."

By the 1970’s the flight to the suburbs was accelerating. In Chicago the real estate industry made huge profits off of panic selling and “blockbusting” through racial fear. The joke was that an integrated neighborhood was one where the whites couldn’t find a moving truck fast enough.  A court ordered desegregation consent decree could not stop the white flight and the white student population fell by nearly 75 percent from 1970-1990

Nationally a substantial number of students did finally attend desegregated schools, especially in middle class areas, but the trend toward resegregation continued, especially for low income people of color. Segregation also affected the USA’s growing Latino population. In 1970 Mexican-Americans were finally included as a group that had been subjected to school segregation and they also entered into school desegregation litigation. 

Racial segregation and the myth of a colorblind society 

McDaniel v. Board of Education is a direct result of the inadequacy of Brown. White supremacy is so much a part of the US political economy, that simply establishing formal equality before the law as Brown did, was not enough. Any illusions about that were shattered by white flight, resistance by local governments and a federal government that retreated from the goal of desegregation. 

Brown also did not address the issue of social class which is also a major factor in educational inequities. Poverty and exploitation in the USA has traditionally been and continues to be, heavily racialized. 

Brown could only establish a kind of colorblind equality before the law. It could not generate an equity of outcomes in education. Racial equity of outcomes would require a massive transformation of American capitalism. From its beginnings American capitalism has depended on racial division and racialized labor exploitation for its profitability and growth. Institutional racism is as much a part of American economy as the dollar sign. 

The interests of wealthy white property owners have always been a greater priority than overcoming racial exploitation and division. When the American Republic was founded, the authors of the Constitution did little to disturb the “property rights” of wealthy white slave owners.  Today we see the same deference to the wealthy mostly white property owners of industry and finance. They favor economic policies that maintain the racial caste system which feeds exploitation, poverty and their own profits. It is hard to imagine American-style capitalism even surviving without these racial divisions in the working class. 

In Chicago white flight and racialized poverty was intensified by the wholesale loss of industry

The deindustrialization that marked 1980's Chicago was followed by the modern neo-liberal agenda of austerity, privatization and the remaking of cities as havens for the middle class. Investment went to downtown development and gentrification to “bring the middle class back to the city”. This was understood to mean mostly affluent white people through displacement of low income minorities. 

Abandoned factory
Deindustrialization: The abandoned Brachs candy factory on the West Side of Chicago

Deindustrialization and disinvestment hit African American and Latino neighborhoods particularly hard.  Schools in low income minority communities continued to be under-resourced as social problems intensified. Many lacked the most basic facilities and programs such as libraries, computer labs, physical education, music and art. 

This also meant the growing privatization of public education and the closing of neighborhood schools through schemes like the Renaissance 2010 plan. Charters and turnaround schools proliferated in minority communities, draining resources from neighborhood schools and resulting in the loss of experienced (and often black) teachers. Charters and turnarounds proved to be no panacea for segregated inequitable education. Curriculum shifted toward preparation for endless standardized tests rather than critical thinking, inquiry and more advanced subject material.

The turmoil in the schools along with the destabilization in minority communities resulted in an exodus from Chicago for 200,000 African Americans. Instead of raising wages and investing in black neighborhoods to expand and strengthen the existing middle class, the Chicago elite preferred to import a mostly white one from elsewhere. The whole process was an ugly form of ethnic cleansing.

This helped set the stage for the “underutilization” crisis of 2012-2013 which resulted in the closing of 49 schools in mostly African American areas of the city and widespread community protests. 

Sit-in for education justice
Sit-in at City Hall to protest racist school closings

CPS  is following the tradition of Plessy v. Ferguson by simply ignoring the gross racial inequities and repeating platitudes like,” We're trying to provide quality opportunities across the city,” a statement recently made by CPS official Annette Gurley.

CPS  is also following in the tradition of the segregationist "massive resistance" that followed the Brown decision:  lies, evasion, delay and subterfuge to maintain racial and class discrimination. One example of a recent lie is when after weeks of almost unanimous opposition to school closings at public hearings attended by thousands of Chicagoans, Barbara Byrd Bennett said,”Everybody got it, that we really needed to close schools.” 

That was a lie that no one was actually supposed to believe. It was an assertion of her license to say the most outrageous things knowing she had the full backing of Chicago’s most powerful political and business leaders. It was a display of naked political power against truth as if she were speaking for Big Brother in George Orwell’s 1984

Barbara Byrd Bennett with Mayor Emanuel
Barbara Byrd Bennett with Mayor Emanuel

By raising the issue of discrimination by social class as well as race, McDaniel v. Board of Education goes beyond Brown and begins to address equity of outcomes. But if Brown has taught us anything, it is that court decisions alone cannot substantially change the USA’s entrenched racial caste system or our growing class inequities.  

Brown helped ignite a civil rights movement that did make substantial changes in the racial caste system. If McDaniel v. Board of Education is successful, could it boost a social movement that addresses both class and race? At least on the local level? 

Such a movement already exists in Chicago as demonstrated by the public support for the teachers strike, the massive opposition to school closings in all neighborhoods and the emerging low wage workers movement typified by Fight for 15

A favorable court decision could help boost the kind of radical multi-racial movement that Martin Luther King died trying to build. McDaniel is a direct challenge to the urban austerity agenda in which public funds go to the mostly white, wealthy and affluent instead of where they are needed. In a nation where racial inequality feeds class inequities, that could be a powerful challenge indeed. It may even begin to end school segregation. 

Sherise McDaniel puts it this way:

It's going to take a lot of people of all colors, because now, it's turning into your socioeconomic status. Whether you're white, Black, Latino or whatever, if you're poor, they're going to walk all over you, and you're not going to have a say in your future--unless you get up there and make people aware. People have to join together to stand up, shout, climb on top of buildings and do whatever it takes to tell Rahm Emanuel: You leave my kids alone!” 

Chicago public school student
A Chicago public school student

Sources consulted

 Class Actions Challenge Closure of 53 Chicago Elementary Schools By Jack Bouboushian

 The Political Resistance to Brown v. Board of Education by Timuel Black and others

 Lives left in limbo by Maureen Allen and Gala M. Pierce  

 Trying to make separate equal by Steve Bogira

 Still Separate Still Unequal by the Chicago Teachers Union

 The Black and White of Education in Chicago’s Public Schools by the Quest Center

 Closing schools, cutting resources by Curtis Black

 Fighting for our schools and neighborhoods by Lauren Fleer and Marilena Marchetti

 The perpetuation of residential racial segregation in America by Marc Seitles

 Schools Are More Segregated Today Than During the Late 1960s by Emily Richmond

 Brown v. Board of Education: Caste Culture and the Constitution by Robert Cottrol, Raymond T. Diamond and Leland Ware

 Chicago parents file federal lawsuit charging CPS with racial, disabilities violations; seeks to halt school closings by Stephanie Gadlin

 Behind the racist school closings agenda by Lee Sustar

 Silent Covenants by Derrick Bell

 In The United States District Court For The Northern District Of Illinois Eastern Division (Text of McDaniel v. Board of Education)

Originally posted to Chicago Kossacks on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 06:28 AM PDT.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions, Progressive Policy Zone, Hellraisers Journal, Invisible People, and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The current issue of The Nation magazine (7+ / 0-)

         has a good article on Chicago. ☛ Chicago Rising

    The free market is not the solution, the free market is the problem.

    by Azazello on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 06:42:30 AM PDT

  •  As a product of a Chicago neighborhood school (13+ / 0-)

    I can attest to how having a neighborhood school unifies a neighborhood, serving as an anchor, a safe haven, and a forging of relationships between neighbors — and how closing a local school and sending children miles away rips their moorings from them. And these are the children with the least stability in their lives to begin with.

    I'm heading back to Chicago this weekend for a memorial for my late mother's best friend, who was 92 when she died in March. They met over 50 years ago at our local elementary school PTA where my mother was president.

    Rahm Emanuel and the execrable Barbara Byrd-Bennett, who we evicted from here in Cleveland, should be ashamed. The real shame is they are not. The lives of these kids and their families are disposable to them.

    Ed FitzGerald for governor Of Ohio. Women's lives depend on it.

    by anastasia p on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 06:55:17 AM PDT

  •  tip rec repub X2 (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BobboSphere, figbash

    to Invisible People and
    to Hellraisers

    Good on y'all in Chicago that you are standing up and being heard.


    Glad to see this on Spotlight.

    Bobbo you are one of the very best authors on DK.

    God spare me the Heart to fight them... I'll fight the Pirates forever. -Mother Jones

    by JayRaye on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 12:18:33 PM PDT

  •  Hopefully school cuts !~ library cuts (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BobboSphere, aliasalias, figbash

    First things first: Good work in the diary, good work people in the pictures.

    Well, except Mayor Emanuel. Geez he looks smug in that pic. I have to admit, I just don't like him. I just don't trust him. So I may be biased. But for someone who clearly cultivates his political persona--ugh.

    And if his budget cutting is similar to what happened in the libraries, this will be very harsh indeed--it's an open secret that the Harold Washington Library Center (main branch) has many carts of unshelved books due to budget cuts. It's very bad. I go to HWLC with 5 books that've been marked returned 1 months ago & 3 of em is pretty good. And I feel like a jerk asking someone to take 15 minutes to find a book because, drudgery.

    Granted the city council passed that budget and those cuts. But when I see "Rahm's Readers" and have some trouble finding a book of my own, then I hear Emmanuel (and I refuse to take him on a first-name basis like so many of us do) also say he's dedicated to education, it is hard not to groan.

  •  I don't really have a dog in this fight (0+ / 0-)

    as I don't have children...But even here in Portland the City id trying to respond to changing demographics by closing some schools...and it is always contentious.

    I would refer you to this article from not too long ago by the paints a picture that most don't see:

    Cause he gets up in the morning, And he goes to work at nine, And he comes back home at five-thirty, Gets the same train every time.

    by Keith930 on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 05:06:43 PM PDT

  •  you don't think that an exodus of 200,000 (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Utahrd, Bush Bites

    from Chicago won't translate into fewer schools?

    What universe do you live in?

    Cause he gets up in the morning, And he goes to work at nine, And he comes back home at five-thirty, Gets the same train every time.

    by Keith930 on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 05:12:09 PM PDT

    •  These are distressed communities... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Linda Wood, figbash, julifolo, Chi

      ...and while some school neighborhoods did have a population drop, this could be dealt with by having smaller classes and using  school facilities for much needed community wraparound services.

      Detailed plans for this were submitted to CPS and were ignored. For example, the Austin neighborhood near where I live,  had the highest murder rate in the city for a time. That community needs real help and closing down some of the most important stabilizing institutions, the neighborhood schools, was wrong in so many ways.

      In some cases the schools were termed underutilized because CPS had counted the rooms wrong, whether by malice or incompetence is hard to say.

      The whole process was rushed & fraught with error using criteria that changed whenever CPS "mistakes" were exposed. At the same they were closing neighborhood schools, they were opening up new charters, which pretty much shot down their "underutilization" argument.

      I'm not suggesting that schools should never be closed, but it should done using real data and with transparency and accountability. None of which was present in 2012-2013.

      "Don't believe everything you think."

      by BobboSphere on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 06:02:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  if you aren't suggesting that schools should never (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        be closed...have you ever published anything which suggests that you are down with any school ever being closed?  

        Cause he gets up in the morning, And he goes to work at nine, And he comes back home at five-thirty, Gets the same train every time.

        by Keith930 on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 06:37:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The process in Chicago is corrupt (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Linda Wood, figbash, Chi

          The whole process here is is based on racist politics, rigged data, real estate speculation, gentrification, and outright lies. It does not take into consideration either the needs or the desires of the working class majority. We need more democracy, more transparency, an elected school board and more working class control over the educational policies.

          Right now important decisions are made by a small financial elite whose interests are financial, not educational.

          Until we have a fair and open process  in this city, it is unlikely I would support any school being closed.

          "Don't believe everything you think."

          by BobboSphere on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 06:51:18 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I see.... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Cause he gets up in the morning, And he goes to work at nine, And he comes back home at five-thirty, Gets the same train every time.

            by Keith930 on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 07:07:24 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  I grew up in Chicago when schools were very (0+ / 0-)

            Good. But Chicago has basically been the most corrupt of cities one can imagine. Although I imagine Mayor Jane Byrne was decent and tried to get the city on a more honest footing, under most mayors,  the city continues to exist despite the graft and corruption.

            I certainly applaud any and everything that people are doing to help keep neighborhood schools open.

            When in the early Seventies, I moved away from Chicago and voted elsewhere, I felt so wonderful. Before I moved away from Chicago, I never doubted who would win!

            BTW, Byrne is currently hospitalized. I  don't know what her condition is, other than that she suffered a stroke in January. Some news stories about this have this to add: "Byrne’s legacy was given short shrift by subsequent Chicago mayors, who exempted her from major city events and failed to relocate her Children’s Fountain back to a comparable Wacker Drive location following the street’s reconstruction."

            She gained nation wide attention by moving into one of the worst of the housing projects for several weeks, after her election to the Office of Mayor.

            Offer your heart some Joy every day of your life, and spread it along to others.

            by Truedelphi on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 07:30:35 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  what is the nature of corruption, in Chicago? (0+ / 0-)

              How would you characterize it from your own experience?  Most of us are not familiar with Chicago politics from first hand experience.

              Cause he gets up in the morning, And he goes to work at nine, And he comes back home at five-thirty, Gets the same train every time.

              by Keith930 on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 08:27:15 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  One of the issues is the growth of charters. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                For the most part, I'm in favor of the school closings because, as you noted, large parts of the South and West sides are depopulating.

                However, there are some areas where public schools are closing and charters are moving in, which leads me to believe those schools didn't need to close, but are closing under the influence of the charter operators.

                Of course, when people say an elected school board will fix things, they're really not thinking too clearly. The charter operators and their libertarian allies would love the chance to buy a school board election in the third largest city in the country.

              •  Chicago's corruption is not what it used to be (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                When I moved to the city in the 1970's there was still a big city political machine with city workers who would turn out the votes in exchange for jobs and favors. City contracts were  a bonanza for the business interests and the bribery and kickbacks were legendary. The crime syndicate played a role  in this arrangement as well.

                That political machine is gone and has been replaced by an alliance between the Democrats like  Rahm (along with their political appointees), and the downtown business interests (mainly Republican), who want to see as much public money fill their pockets as possible. This comes at the expense of the city's working class population who struggle with declining city services, stagnant wages, major issues with the schools, unemployment and crime.

                City contracts, corporate tax breaks, TIF schemes and the like tip the balance toward the city's financial elite over the needs of the working class. Unlike the old fashioned Chicago corruption, much of this is perfectly legal which makes it even more insidious.

                There is still some of the old fashioned corruption though. One of the city's biggest charter school operators got snagged by it recently,  although he seems to have recovered.

                "Don't believe everything you think."

                by BobboSphere on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 10:34:01 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Just to respond to your initial question: (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                BobboSphere, Truedelphi, figbash

                Chicago Public Schools somehow came up with a formula that suggests that some schools with classrooms containing 30 students were "underutilized." The children from these closed schools will be attending other schools, where the classes will hold as many as 40 kids.

                Some of the 50 schools that were closed are sitting in areas of the city that are primed for gentrification. The property will be a gold mine for some well-connected real estate developer. Other public schools that are closed will certainly be replaced by charter schools, where there is little accountability to taxpayers, students, and parents.

              •  Okay, here's some huge instances of corruption - (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                BobboSphere, julifolo

                The 1968 Democratic Convention riots - which were basically the police going ballistic on one and all. My folks did not let me go downtown to participate in the convention; I was only 16 that summer. (I was a big Eugene McCarthy fan, and I wanted to go. )The police were going ape shit, attacking those who were protesting the Convention. But some of the people who were attacked were simply "civilians" out on Chicago's main downtown streets, going to lunch or shopping while on work breaks. (Young people wanted the war to end, so they were opposing Humphrey, the Establishment's choice for president. Bobby Kennedy had been the front runner, but he was killed early in  June. McCarthy had captured many people's imaginations.)  

                From"Battleground  Chicago,"  Frank Kusch, author,  
                "Many in the movement knew that they were getting under the skin of those in authority. “Yippies are voluntary Niggers,” observed Realist editor Paul Krassner. “We live outside the system, and those inside it despise and fear us.” Krassner was more right than perhaps he even knew. Hoffman had gotten his way, making police believe that hippies were unpredictable and dangerous, and therefore would more likely bring about a crisis mentality on Chicago streets as the convention neared. Police officer Grant Brown was one of many cops who didn’t know what to expect. 'The problem for all of us was that we didn’t know what or where the hit was going to come from. We worried about the delegates, we worried about the infrastructure, the power, the water, and worried about them putting acid (that is, LSD) in the water—we didn’t know what was going to happen, and there was fear, all right, as silly as some of that fear may seem now.' ”
                Eugene McCarthy and his whole campaign held a suite of rooms in one of the posher hotels set up for the work his volunteers planned on doing. However, those young people ended up tending to wounded people. And thsoe hotel rooms became chaotic, to say the least. Blood everywhere! I have no idea what went on to bring this about - I attended many protests in Chi town after this; and police were always very nice and polite. I have the feeling that Mayor Daley wanted to have something bad happen to defame the McCarthy effort. Instead, since the police knocked around the major news outlet's reporters, and also manhandled Playboy photographers and journalists, the media took a definite swing against the war in Vietnam, and also against the Establishment (Hugh Hefner's "Playboy" magazine, then based in Chicago,  went on to be come very radical in its approach to politics. Nixon was portrayed as being stuffy and non-sexual, while us radicals and liberals were seen as being sexy. And f course, let's face it - we radicals had the better parties, and better music! Plus a lot more sex and drugs and rock and roll.)

                Corruption charge number two: the murderous raid on the Black Panther headquarters. About a year and four months after the Democratic Convention riots,  early December 1969, the Chicago police and the FBI moved in to assassinate Fred Hampton and some of his followers. At the time of this travesty, it was claimed that the police acted legally, that when they entered the apartment the Black Panthers opened fire on the police and that they had no choice but to return the fire power and take out those firing on them. (Over three hundred shots had been fired.) Subsequent investigation turned up the reality that only one shot had been fired by any of the people in the apartment.
                All of the gun shots had been from the police, who had come  in shooting.


                The Black Panthers had a very successful organization. Although when you hear Fred Hampton speaking, he may sound scarey, in actuality, the Black Panthers opened up day care centers, youth education centers and helped their local communities in many ways. However, the fact that they might have been able to flourish and grow, then over the long haul, they would obviously garner political power. They would be a direct threat to the Old Boys' Club who ran the city. African Americans had to vote for white politicians - there weren't any alternatives. The Old Boys' Club certainly did not want there to be any alternatives to how they  had all the power.  

                BTW, although wounded Hampton survived the raid, but the cops shot him as he lay on a gurney waiting for an ambulance.

                Then there was just the day in, day out corruption. Since I never could  bring myself to support anyone regardless of party label if the candidate was for the War, I often campaigned for local Republicans who were against the war. (So I voted for instance, for McGovern, the Democratic candidate  for President, but for local Republicans for local office.)

                Within ten minutes of my leaving my apartment with my campaign information, a tall man in a trench coat would start following me. Trenchcoat Man  never spoke to me; he was intimidating.  He had a clip board. I assumed that he noted which houses answered my knock. Which people invited me in. Which people smiled and were friendly to me. Often, people would say things, like, "I'd love to support someone, anyone  but the Big Daley  ticket, but my husband would  lose his job if anyone found out I didn't vote for the Daley machine."

                And if the person answering my knock saw the  man in the trench coat, they would immediately slam the door, rather than getting a black mark in Trenchcoat Man's notebook for being less than fully supporting the Daley machinery.

                Offer your heart some Joy every day of your life, and spread it along to others.

                by Truedelphi on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 02:47:30 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Those were horrible incidents which (0+ / 0-)

                  I recall well, having been a college student with a sister in the SDS. However, they are not examples of institutional corruption, but rather of misuse of power, especially the former which was panicked lashing out and a naked attempt to control an out-of-control situation. A completely corrupt-free government could have done the same thing.

                  Ed FitzGerald for governor Of Ohio. Women's lives depend on it.

                  by anastasia p on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 08:50:17 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

  •  probably out of date information (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BobboSphere, Linda Wood

    When I worked in Los Angeles, one of my Latino coworkers worked 2 jobs to send his kids to Catholic school.  I have to imagine that the same thing happens in Chicago.

    This isn't Donny and Marie 's Utah any more.  A Salt Lake City high school in a challenging area has the International Baccalaureate program to attract in more students.   Could schools in Chicago do something similar?  

    What's up with these racist policies?  When was the last time a Republican won any kind of municipal election in Chicago?   The 19th Century?  How can a place that consistently elects Democrats have racist policies?

    "states like VT and ID are not 'real america'" -icemilkcoffee

    by Utahrd on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 07:58:09 PM PDT

    •  This is the question of all questions! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BobboSphere, figbash

      You ask,

      How can a place that consistently elects Democrats have racist policies?
      How indeed!
    •  I worked in a Catholic school... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ...for most of my teaching career. It was working class so it was not unusual for parents to work more than one job to send their kids  there.

      That is less of a practical  alternative these days.

      Many Catholic schools are closed now for financial reasons and good paying jobs in Chicago are on the decline. I don't know a whole lot about International Baccalaureate, but I know it has been adopted by some schools in the city.

      Chicago is run by a Republican-Democratic alliance. The financial and business community which is mostly Republican is very happy with Rahm Emanuel because he diverts public money into their pet projects and favors lower wages for most workers.

      The working class sections of the city, especially the Black and Latino neighborhoods, suffer from disinvestment, unemployment and low wage jobs.There is a concerted effort to push working class people of color out of Chicago to make way for gentrification.

      There is a city-wide multi-racial resistance movement that wants to raise the working class standard of living and stabilize neighborhoods. This would  reduce poverty which is the main reason for much of the city's violence and social problems. There is relatively little violent street crime in the Chicago neighborhoods that have more money.

      This is not traditional gentrification which involves displacement of working class populations.

      At this point the movement is not strong enough to win major victories, but it does have a surprising amount of sympathy from working class Chicagoans. This sympathy has not been translated into organized numbers. What will happen in the future is anybody's guess.

      "Don't believe everything you think."

      by BobboSphere on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 10:12:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Cleveland is doing that (0+ / 0-)

      even though the state Republicans and for-profit charter interests are trying to nuke the public schools. We have an International Baccalaureate school which the daughter of some friends of mine attends.. We have a School of the Arts with a nearly 100% graduation rate that sends nearly all its students to college. There are lots of good schools. There are also failing schools mired in poverty that fall further behind with each destabilizing "turnaround."

      Ed FitzGerald for governor Of Ohio. Women's lives depend on it.

      by anastasia p on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 08:52:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Chicago does have the best and worst schools in IL (0+ / 0-)

      The best ones attract lots of students and are a great preparation for college, etc.

      As for the Democratic machine of Chicago enacting racist policies, see Bobbosphere's response about the coalition of political and business interests. Most democrats here are not super progressive. On economic issues, they're downright regressive/neoliberal. They give tax breaks to corporations, they oppose raising wages for workers, and attack unions, among other things.

      The racism is largely systemic in that the city has typically neglected the non-white parts of town. But when you pursue a policy of attracting businesses and white people to populate and take up the professional positions created by said businesses, you push others out. First, you give tax money to businesses in central areas. This deprives the outlying neighborhoods of resources. Second, gentrification drives working-class folks out of the city. Rather than focusing on raising the living standards of those who are already here by creating jobs and sustainable neighborhoods, Chicago's democrats and business elite have chosen to bring in an outside group of affluent, college-educated professionals. Chicago is vibrant because it does attract people from around the midwest, but there's a cost.

  •  Rahm Emmanuel is now a Republican (0+ / 0-)

    I no longer see Rahm Emmanuel as relevant to the Democratic Party anymore considering he's now become the Jean Quan of Chicago.

    •  He's a neoliberal, which is to say, a Republican (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BobboSphere, figbash

      on the economic issues (he did make a ton of money working in the banking industry). He's attacked labor in Chicago since he stepped into city hall. Emanuel was a major supporter of NAFTA during Clinton's term. But people assume that because he's socially liberal, that he's a good Democrat. He's pretty unpopular in Chicago right now, though.

      •  And he should be defeated for re-election (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Neoliberal in my view is someone who is a liberal that is exactly like a neoconservative on foreign policy.  Whenever I heard of the term "neoconservative" it always had national security and foreign policy correlations.  Perhaps on social issues there may be a difference here.

        Emmanuel, for the lack of a better word, has always been a dick.  There was then-Eric Massa in I believe 2009 who said Emmanuel came into the shower room and poked Massa and scolded him for not voting favorably for the Affordable Healthcare Act.  Massa though started off being a Kossack and was very pro-healthcare to begin with.  His only objection with the Affordable Healthcare Act was that it didn't include the public health option.

        Emmanuel also was President Obama's first Chief of Staff and so it's embarrassing to know he used to be in that position.

      •  Rahm wants $49 million... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        figbash build a new stadium for DePaul (a private university) after closing 49 schools. The school closings were then immediately followed by massive budget cuts for education.

        "Don't believe everything you think."

        by BobboSphere on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 03:55:45 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  In my opinion, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    figbash, rexxnyc, anastasia p

    one of the best and most informative D-Kos diaries ever. Congratulations, BobboSphere.

    "...on the (catch a) human network. Cisco."

    by hoplite9 on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 04:52:09 AM PDT

  •  maybe a map would help illustrate (0+ / 0-)
  •  Sorry I missed this first time around (0+ / 0-)

    This is a very good diary. I love how you tied everything together with the historical and more recent elements. Chicago has a special place in my heart. I was actually born in Illinois, though I barely spent a year of my life there. I've been to Chicago as a tourist a couple times, and it was always an interesting experience.

    I spent an entire week there once, and I loved it, but it was clear that Downtown Chicago is designed for upper middle class and rich white people. It felt kind of how the Biltmore Estate here in North Carolina feels: for outsiders only. Considering how much money I know was spent on that area of Chicago, it must have been galling to folks living on the South Side who can barely get any funding.

    Time is of no account with great thoughts, which are as fresh to-day as when they first passed through their authors' minds ages ago. - Samuel Smiles

    by moviemeister76 on Tue Jul 16, 2013 at 10:39:09 AM PDT

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