Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Chicago's school-closing consultants

Consultant Avani Patel, left, talks with mayoral adviser Desiree Tate after a school utilization meeting. (Armando L. Sanchez, Chicago Tribune / December 9, 2012)
Byrd-Bennett's rump panel on Chicago school closings may not be paying much attention to the growing revolt in the neighborhoods, but they are listening to a gaggle of high-priced consultants with connections to the mayor.

The Tribune reports:
The commission's hearings are being organized by public relations executive Desiree Tate, a member of Emanuel's "kitchen Cabinet" of African-American advisers who received more than half a million dollars in contracts from Chicago Public Schools before he became mayor. 
Tate claims she is working for free for the commission. Right.
The commission also is being advised by the Civic Consulting Alliance, which has provided free advice to Emanuel since the start of his administration and has links to an organization pushing to replace the traditional neighborhood schools with privately run charters.
The consulting alliance is a pro bono government consulting arm of the Commercial Club of Chicago that has worked with the mayor's office and school officials since the days of Emanuel predecessor Richard M. Daley. But the Commercial Club also founded an organization called New Schools for Chicago, which has the expansion of charter schools as its goal. New Schools President Phyllis Lockett is a former leader of the consulting alliance who still sits on its board; she is credited by New Schools with helping triple the number of charters in Chicago in recent years. The consulting alliance shares a downtown office suite with New Schools.
"New Schools for Chicago and the Civic Consulting Alliance are two distinct and separate organizations, each with their own priorities and governed by their own boards," Lockett said. "New Schools for Chicago is not involved in any way with the Utilization Commission or school actions."
Right.
The CEO of the consulting alliance, Brian Fabes, dismissed any suggestion that his group favors charter schools and said New Schools is not a client. "CTU can make whatever connections they decide they want to make," he said.
Right.

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