Education Committee Advances Appointment To City Colleges Board, Urges Review of Reinvention Overhaul

From Daily Line Chicago
by Claudia Morell

Aldermen urged Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s handpicked appointee to the Board of Trustees for City Colleges to address district-wide curriculum changes they say have made access to education less attainable for high school seniors and low income residents.

The Council’s Education Committee met Tuesday to approve the appointment of Deborah H. Telman to the eight-member board that serves as the governing body for Chicago City Colleges.

“I am proud to call Chicago my home, and believe in the potential of our citizens to do great things if there’s access to affordable education, and if we can change the expectations that everyone’s entitled to a quality education,” Telman said, detailing her philanthropic work and professional background. She’s currently Vice President and General Counsel at Johnson Controls.

Attendance: Chair Howard Brookins (21), Pat Dowell (3), Sophia King (4), Rod Sawyer (6), Sue Sadlowski-Garza (10), George Cardenas (12) Raymond Lopez (15), Rick Munoz (22), Jason Ervin (28), Scott Waguespack (32), Emma Mitts (37), Michele Smith (43), John Arena (45), Harry Osterman (48),

But aldermen were less interested in Telman’s credentials and more concerned with how she could use her new position to address the “real world effects” the district’s “Reinvention” plan has had on residents seeking higher education.

The program, first launched in 2010, put a greater emphasis on career-oriented programs, or “college credentials of economic value” with a focus on sectors with the most job growth.

The district embarked on a consolidation and reorganization plan that designated each campus a specialty hub. This meant students enrolled in child development classes at Olive-Harvey on the Far South Side or Kennedy-King in Englewood were required to finish their courses at Truman College in Uptown, which became the new hub for education.

“There’s been a lot of controversy in City Colleges over the last couple of years with the direction that things have been going, in terms of consolidating school programs, forcing people, in many cases mothers, to travel across the city to programs that have been consolidated,” Ald. Scott Waguespack (32) told Telman before asking for her opinion on how City Colleges can make these programs viable again.

“I’ve not studied all of those issues in detail, but I am aware of those issues,” Telman responded, saying that she’s “looking forward” to addressing it with incoming chancellor Juan Salgado.

“I would just like to offer some real world effects of what my colleague brought up,” added Ald. John Arena (45). Students who are studying auto mechanics and technology at Schurz High School in Irving Park now have to travel over an hour to Olive-Harvey, the designated transportation hub, if they want to take additional courses for college credit, he said. “That [consolidation] effectively killed the opportunity that these high school seniors were seeing in getting advance placement credits toward college and then tying it with work study opportunities with local dealerships.”

He referenced news coverage that details how this initiative has been especially hard on single parents returning to school, and lower income residents who are unable to travel long distances because they also work.

Telman’s appointment advanced out of committee, as well as the renewed appointments of D. Darrell Griffin and Karen Kent. Neither were present at the meeting.

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