Recently I was reading a press release from the Chicago Public Schools CEO announcing the pending opening of 19 new schools. Arne Duncan plans to recommend these schools to the Board of Education at their Oct. 24 meeting. Public hearings were scheduled for the week of Oct. 8. I attended one at what used to be Austin High School. It would be a joke if it were not such a serious matter.

It is a matter of public record that Renaissance 2010 is confined almost exclusively to the black community. All over this country, the burdens of so-called “Education Improvement” falls heavily upon the black community.

Arne Duncan was quoted as saying, “Each year we ask the best educators here in Chicago to submit proposals for new schools that will offer our children diverse, high-quality education options.” Duncan also said, “It is nice that more and more of these great proposals are being submitted by people who were born in Chicago, raised in Chicago and have strong roots in their communities.”

As someone deeply involved with the efforts of Austin community members to improve the quality of education and gain some measure of control over the process, I thought I should make some inquiries about Duncan’s statements. I began by calling his office and asking a couple of questions.

I was very impressed with the fact that Duncan was calling upon “the best educators in Chicago” to submit plans for new schools. My first question was “what is Duncan’s definition of, or criteria for, being considered a “best educator” in Chicago? After all, that’s heavy stuff.

Since each year Duncan asks the best educators here in Chicago to submit proposals for new schools, obviously he must have a list of those illustrious people. Therefore, my second question was: “May I have a list of those ‘best educators’?” After being shuttled to several different staff people, I finally was passed on to someone in communications.

I never received an answer to either of my questions. At one point the communications person seemed to be suggesting that they were “best educators” because Duncan said they were.

As I have stated before, the Austin High School situation follows a pattern being played out in many black communities: The schools are closed, privatized and turned over to white folk. This has created quite a hardship on high school students and their parents in Austin. All of us taxpayers should be entitled to know who these learned people are that Duncan is relying on.

I went online and looked at the achievement records of 137 Chicago public high schools. After 12 years of the Daley, Vallas, Duncan “miracle” with more resources, authority, and flexibility than ever existed before, they have very little to show for it. I could have walked to Springfield for that kind of support.

Of the 137 high schools only 11 have reading scores above 50 percent in 2006. That includes all of the selective enrollment schools. Thirty high schools are less than 20 percent, 55 are less than 30 percent, and 66 are less than 40 percent. The public has been subject to a continuous stream of gimmicks, smoke and mirrors, and endless empty rhetoric. Unfortunately, the media, including most of the black publications, have given the system a big whitewash. The media has been little more than a giant cheering section while demanding no accountability.

If our children are to be saved it is up to us.