Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Whittier Principal Latest Casuality in Firing Trend
By Jim Vail
Second City Teacher

We reported yesterday that the name of the game in the Chicago Public Schools today is to fire as many employees as you can.

While the recent so-called "budget woes" have the Chicago board of ed demanding to cut up to 20% of the teaching staffs at schools (in a fight over the pension payments), administrators are also under the gun.

Whittier Elementary School principal Zoila Garcia was removed as principal by the board of ed last month.  

The local school council is supposed to be responsible for hiring and firing principals; however, some have noted that there may be a clause in which the board can take certain actions that bypass the LSC rules if the school is on the so-called "academic probation" list.

It should be noted that a majority of Chicago public schools are on probation.

There has been a lot of speculation as to why principal Garcia was removed.  Whittier, a dual language CPS school in the Pilsen neighborhood, was well-known in the news for the successful parent struggle to save 'La Casita' and convert it into a community center.

Then school's chief Ron Huberman, who wanted to bulldoze the field house, had to call it off after a standoff between the activists fighting to save the building, and the police who came to enforce the demolition order.

The Whittier parents involved in the struggle kept up the valiant fight and were seen at numerous board meetings, demanding CPS hold to its promise to invest the money to renovate the building.  It was during this fight that the figure of 160 schools do not have a library came out.

In the middle of this fight was principal Garcia.  Garcia smartly played the political middle road, and did not come out strongly in favor of either side during the fight, sources say.

Perhaps this upset the Board which wants its administrators to toe the line and show not a hint of independence.

Garcia was first issued a "warning resolution," at the November Board of Education meeting.  Many principals in the past have been issued warning resolutions for malfeasance.  An infamous example was principal Erin Roach at Prescott Elementary who was involved in a bitter fight against the unionized teaching staff, who held protest marches and spoke out at numerous board of ed meetings.  After Roach was issued a warning resolution, Prescott was then put on the list to close a few years ago, but were one of a handful of schools saved.

According to an activist with the Whittier parents, Garcia lost the support of some community members during the "la casita" fight for not going on record to support them, and she fell out of favor with CPS because they apparently held her responsible for the community activists' behavior.

"In the end the installation of the library was cancelled and CPS may have perceived Zoila as a negative element," wrote the activist.  "Another component is that we think authorities see Zoila as being 'difficult' and unwilling to listen to them and work with them.  They think she defends the status quo and that Whittier's status quo is sub-par.  Part of this may be owing to her resistance to some of the changes they wanted to implement (many of which did not make sense for a dual language school).  So again, their conclusion is that she's a weak instructional leader and administrator."

So remember, principals are just as much on the firing line as teachers in this current trend to fire, fire, fire!

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