"I appreciate how painful this may be for these...teachers, and I also appreciate the fact that even the best data systems won't tell the whole story."--Arne Duncan
I ran into a old friend yesterday, a (former) Chicago teacher.
Visibly upset, she told me that last week, she received a paragraph-long notice from the board informing her that she has been "honorably separated" from CPS and that her long, distinguished teaching career is over. No notice. Just tossed out like an old coat. Plus, she and her family will lose her medical insurance coverage.
I'm sure there are thousands of stories just like hers. To Ron Huberman and his army of former Transit Authority bureaucrats down on Clark St., she is just another saved salary in the middle of a deficit-heavy spread sheet, along with thousands of other riffed Chicago teachers. She's also just another sacrifice on the altar of Arne Duncan's Race To The Top--one that has so far gone unrewarded with any RTTT funding for our state.
But to me (and I have watched her teach), she is good, skillful teacher, close to retirement, at the top of her game, being pulled away from the very students who need her the most, students she knows personally and know she cares about them. She's one whose added value does not show up on a test-score-only evaluation sheet. Now there's one more mountain of instability that those students will have to surmount.
Here also is one fewer skilled mentor for the school's younger teachers and one fewer change agent in a school and a system badly in need of change. One less bread winner in a family. One less tax payer in a state badly in need of tax payers and consumers.
Such is the sordid nature of Arne Duncan's so-called "school reform."