Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.
1 Year After Chicago Closes 50 Public Schools, Chicago Teachers Union Report Assesses Lies & Lasting Damage

1 Year After Chicago Closes 50 Public Schools, Chicago Teachers Union Report Assesses Lies & Lasting Damage

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

The privatization of public schools is a public policy whose name is almost never spoken, and which is covered in the media as little as possible, and when some coverage is unavoidable, in misleading ways.

If CNN, MSNBC, or Fox News gave the school closings and privatization story a fraction of the coverage they gave deceptive and dishonest pro-privatization movies like Waiting For Superman and Won't Back Down, the outrage against the move to privatize education would be unstoppable.”

The one year anniversary of Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel's closing of 50 Chicago public schools passed last week with only a couple stories in local media and no mention we could find anyplace outside Chicago. This too, is. Corporate media have no interest in revealing the truth, in revisiting the lies and broken promises of privatizers, and most of our black political class, from the National Action Network and NAACP to members of the Congressional Black Caucus, depend on grants, donations and campaign contributions from the privatizers.

The Chicago Teachers Union, practically the only institutional force in that city that honors its obligations to parents, students and communities as well as teachers, released a thoroughly researched report titled Twelve Months Later, The Impact of School Closings in Chicago. Assembled from operating and capital budget documents, position files, vacancy reports, interviews with teachers and a mountain of class size and other data, the report is available at the Chicago Teachers Union web site,, that's, I'll give the address again at the end. It is a damning indictment not just of Mayor Emanuel and his hand picked Chicago Board of Education, but of similar policies forced upon parents and school communities across the country by the bipartisan drive, called Race To The Top under the Obama administration, to privatize education.

The mayor and his stooges claimed 50 schools needed closing to save money because of low enrollment, and that transferred students would benefit from hundreds of millions in new money spent at the receiving schools – the schools transferred students were sent to. All that turns out to be a lie.

In the real world, the report shows, receiving schools only got a tenth of the “transition money” to spend on those new students, some $230 per pupil. By contrast, new Chicago charter schools got a dozen times as much, $2,770 per student. Only 38% of the receiving schools have librarians on staff, so the libraries in schools which have them cannot even be used for their intended purpose. Receiving schools got computer lab upgrades but only a fifth of them got a tech teacher. They got iPads but no instruction for teachers on how to integrate these into the children's learning. And of course, the shuttered schools and receiving schools are exclusively in poor communities, with a media income of $36K per year, compared to the $53K per year in the rest of the system's schools. In Chicago of course, the poor are almost entirely black and brown.

Among much else, the CTU report points out the creative, community building uses to which some schools were putting their so-called “underutilized” facilities to before the shutdowns, as well as the incredible chasm between the funds Chicago spends on its upper-tier selective enrollment schools – 3 of which got $68K per pupil in capital funds, compared to $3800 in the receiving schools.

The powers that be are not especially creative. The same lies Mayor Emanuel and the Chicago Public Schools told the world to justify these closings are being repeated in New York, Philly, Atlanta, Los Angeles and scores of other US cities. By recording, recounting and reviewing these lies, comparing them to facts on the ground, CTU, the Chicago Teachers Union is doing an important service to students, parents, teachers and communities around the country. Read their report, Twelve Months Later, The Impact of School Closings in Chicago at their site,, that's and keep it in mind when the mayor and school board in your town tell you the same lies.

For Black Agenda Report, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at


 Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and a member of the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. He can be reached via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)

Direct download: 20140528_bd_one_year_after.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:42pm EDT

Black Caucus Members Shame Themselves, as South America Warns U.S. Not to Sanction Venezuela

Black Caucus Members Shame Themselves, as South America Warns U.S. Not to Sanction Venezuela

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Even Colombia, Washington’s client state in the region, joined in rejecting U.S. sanctions.”

The U.S. House of Representatives began debating, on Wednesday, a bill to impose sanctions on Venezuela for supposed human rights violations. A similar bill has already cleared important hurdles in the Senate, and it is questionable whether the Obama administration could prevent passage in both Houses of Congress, even if wanted to. It’s all part of U.S. blustering and bullying in Latin America, a continent that refuses to be treated as Uncle Sam’s back yard. Foreign ministers from all 12 members of the Union of South American Nations last week spoke with one voice, declaring that U.S. sanctions would represent "an obstacle” for the Venezuelan people to “overcome their difficulties with independence, and in democratic peace.” Even Colombia, Washington’s client state in the region, joined in rejecting U.S. sanctions.

Unlike the Organization of American States, or OAS, the Union of South American Nations has no role for the United States or Canada, although Mexico and Panama have observer status. The late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez was a prime mover in creating the Union, to allow South Americans to forge their own economic and political ties without interference from the imperial behemoth to the North. Were it not for South American solidarity in the face of constant U.S. threats against Venezuela, the U.S. would be moving even more aggressively to turn the socialist government into a failed state, ripe of plucking.

These overtly racist elements have staged violent demonstrations since February.”

Ever since the defeat of a U.S.-backed coup in 2002, Washington has financed and trained a right-wing Venezuelan opposition centered in the mostly white upper classes of the country. Unable to win victory at the polls, these overtly racist elements have staged violent demonstrations since February, openly vowing to make the country ungovernable. President Nicolás Maduro’s government has been cautious in containing the outbreaks – more cautious than some of his comrades would like. Maduro has called on President Obama to stop destabilizing his country, to join a commission to discuss “peace and sovereignty” – and to call off those American factions that, Maduro says, are out to assassinate him. In his appeal to the U.S. president, Maduro noted that he, like Obama, has “African grandparents.” Hugo Chavez was also proud of his African ancestry.

However, the Black delegation to the U.S. Congress from Florida is nothing for any Black person to be proud off. All three Black Caucus members from the state – Corrine Brown, Frederica Wilson, and Alcee Hastings – signed on as co-sponsors of the Venezuela sanctions bill. Once again, the Black Misleadership Class shames 40 million African Americans with their slavish devotion to the imperial powers-that-be. Venezuela is overwhelmingly a black and brown country struggling to overcome centuries of racist internal rule and national subjugation to the will of the White Colossus in the North. The brown Obama is no better, nor are the sycophants of the Congressional Black Caucus, whose notions of solidarity begin and end with a checkbook.

If Venezuela’s sovereignty and dignity are to be preserved, it will be through their own efforts and the determination of South Americans to run their own affairs, to act in the spirit of Chavez, and the still-living example of Fidel.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to


BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at

Direct download: 20140528_gf_VenezuelaSanctions.mp3
Category:politics -- posted at: 9:00am EDT