As a series of mayoral appointees has conducted a series of experiments with the Chicago Public Schools over the last 15 years, the City Council’s education committee has weighed in infrequently, at best—meeting no more than a couple times a year, typically to sign off on those mayoral picks. Rarely has the committee met to discuss the shifting district policies that have brought about, among other things, the closing of dozens of struggling schools.
To know why, you’d have to ask the aldermen who’ve chaired the committee at the mayor’s pleasure. For years that was Patrick O’Connor, one of Mayor Daley’s top council allies. When he stepped down in 2007 Daley picked 17th Ward alderman Latasha Thomas to take his place.
This afternoon, though, Thomas held a meeting at the behest of aldermen Pat Dowell (Third Ward) and Freddrenna Lyle (Sixth), who have called on schools chief Ron Huberman to impose a moratorium on school closings. “Due to a lack of transparency and community involvement, there is a growing distrust regarding CPS’s decisions,” they stated in a resolution [PDF] introduced to the council last week.
Naturally, the meeting was quickly engulfed in a dispute over just how much transparency and community involvement it should include.