CPS Unveils Lesson Plans To Teach Kids About Jon Burge Police Torture Scandal

By Stephen Gossett in News on Aug 28, 2017 6:55PM

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Getty Images / Photo: Scott Olson

The ugly history and of Jon Burge—the former Chicago Police Department commander who was accused of torture by more than 100 African-Americans—won't be swept under the rug in Chicago public schools. CPS unveiled on Monday the new curriculum that educators will use to teach eighth- and tenth-grade students about the awful, extended moment in Chicago history.

The curriculum was established in 2015 as a corollary component of a measure that delivered $5.5 million in reparations, related to the extensive charges of torture and coerced-confession attempts that Burge and officers under his command conducted. Disbursement of the those reparations started early last year.

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Jon Burge / AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
Burge was never convicted of torturing suspects due to expired statues of limitations; but he was convicted and sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison in 2010 on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, for lying under oath in testimony about the case. The pattern of torture under Burge extended from 1972 all the way through 1991. The police pension board in 2011 voted to allow Burge to draw a pension.

The Burge education curriculum was put together with the input of local black leaders, civil rights advocates, law enforcement, researchers and the Chicago Teachers Union, according to CPS. The lessons were "created thoughtfully and collaboratively," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a release. "I am confident it will be a meaningful, impactful and educational experience for students across Chicago Public Schools," he said.

The announcement follows a pilot run last year, which include guest-speaker visits by survivors of police torture. As part of the lesson plans, tenth-grade students are asked to crete a torture memorial, and eight-graders compose an opinion piece about how relations between police and the communities they serve can be improved.

"Confronting the sins of the past is critical to building a better future together," said Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool. "It's vital for students to closely examine past wrongs so that as future leaders they can make their community better."

Supt. Eddie Johnson spoke about Burge and the lesson in the video below.

Read the full eight-grade curriculum here and the tenth-grade curriculum here.