Testimony of Robin Lowry to the BOE, September 17, 2020

Hi, Robin Lowry, Health and PE since 1993. Decisions on action items demonstrate whether this board creates futures with agency for students, or supports the work of Eli Broad, begun by Arlene Ackerman and continued by Dr. Hite, of shrinking schools as Mr. Huang suggests, defunding programs while outsourcing and hiring consultants, basing education decisions on management efficiencies, weakening unions, and pandering to HILCO for union jobs while cutting district union jobs.  You cannot work for equity if you speak of “right sizing” schools, but not class size. 

Demonstrate your commitment to students and end the Renaissance Initiative Policy 141, a ploy to divest from students in deeply underprivileged neighborhoods. Students from Wister Elementary should be represented in Masterman and Central and union jobs and Hilco jobs, but their education was mismanaged in the Renaissance program to create a narrative of a failing school that only charters could fix. As I described in previous testimony, Dr. Hite signed a letter distributed to the Wister community the day after Back to School 2015 stating Wister needed a “fundamental shift”. The community was given alternative facts about a shrinking enrollment, climate and progress. The district claimed and later rescinded data stating Wister had 175 students when it actually had 300.  Comparing the SPR for Wister at the time with the 2018/19 Mastery Wister numbers after 3 years, there is little difference. Mastery at Wister’s current Overall score on the SPR is 35%. Wister was at 33% in 2014. Comparing Climate, Wister earned a 15% for 358 points; yet, Mastery’s 295 points received 50%. Climate includes how many parents and students take the school district’s survey. These fudgeable numbers have been the reason a school is placed in the Renaissance Program.  Stop it! 

Last week in a PD on new behavioral health supports, we were told a UPENN study showed that low SPR Climate scores is highly correlated to the need for behavioral supports.  Is Climate then no longer considered the fault of school staff to feed the Hite/Broad Renaissance Narrative. Dr. Hite, you recently stated that “For too long the system has provided opportunities to some but not to all children.” But you, sir, are the architect of that system.  Time to move on.

Sweetheart tax deals for equity firms create fiscal distress. Under Philanthropy on HILCO’s wikipedia page from their 2011 liquidation of Borders Bookstores equaling $700,000,000, HILCO donated 8,000 books to Chicago Public Schools.[35]  We have unhealthy school buildings and oversized classrooms. MLK said it straight, “Philanthropy is only necessary in the face of economic inequality.”