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A Fenger Staff Member Speaks

"Turnaround has failed in Chicago... Witness Fenger and say, 'Never Again'"

[Editor's Note: While the following narrative is begun for our local, national, and international readers, the Chicago Board of Education is being asked to "turnaround" two more high schools and four more elementary schools. The lies of "turnaround" are being repeated almost every night in the hearings being held at Chicago Board of Education headquarters at 125 S. Clark St. in Chicago. Whenever "turnaround" is on the agenda, a "witness" from the CPS administration proclaims that "turnaround" has "succeeded." The memory of the murder of Derrion Albert is being washed down what George Orwell, in 1984, called the "Memory Hole" — at least in Chicago. The following article 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 use a pseudonym to protect the identity. We have agreed to that, confirming according to our procedures at Substance the identity of the writer, a teacher presently at Chicago's Christian Fenger "Turnaround" High School. George N. Schmidt, Editor, Substance.].

The 'Chief Officer for Turnaround' in Chicago's public schools is Donald Fraynd, 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. . . .

By Ellie Weisel

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 . . . .

Read the rest of this tale of the Chicago Model that Duncan is taking nationwide at the url below. See the wrenching photos.

— Ellie Weisel
Substance News





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