Friday, July 17, 2015

On the mess at CPS and Rahm's shake up on Clark St.

"We did everything we were supposed to do, but we did not spend enormous amounts of time on every single contract that came through. We had a lot going on. We were closing 50 schools and we were making sure 12,000 kids ended up in the right place."
Then Vitale finally found the black SUV he was looking for, climbed in and rode off. -- Tribune

There's a few pieces worth reading and lots that aren't, about the mess at CPS and Rahm's shake up at Clark Street. Here's some of the better:

Ruthhart and Byrne at the Tribune have a pretty good assessment:
Efficiency is political speak for budget cuts and layoffs, and CPS has faced plenty of those in recent days. And more await if Democratic lawmakers and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner don't break their summerlong stalemate and grant the district some form of financial relief.
Here's what efficiency means at the school level.

Blaine Principal Troy LaRaviere
In his latest blog post, Blaine Principal Troy LaRaviere takes us inside the July 13th principals budget meeting on the heels of the massive announced cuts in staffing and programs. The assembled school leaders were told that the problem arose because the district was forced to choose between "making pension payments and making needed investments in the classroom.”

LaRaviere responds:
CPS claiming their choice is between paying teachers salaries & benefits or improving classrooms is like the Chicago Bulls saying their choice is between paying player salaries or improving the team.  Is there a more important expense toward improving a team than investing in its players?  Is there a more important expense for improving a school system than investing in its teachers?  The funds used on a salary and benefits package aimed at attracting and retaining skilled and competent teachers for our students is the most important classroom investment a school district can make.  CPS’s “teacher compensation vs. classroom investments” conundrum is a false choice based on a misleading political talking point that had no place in a principals budget meeting.
He tries to question the CPS officials. Here's how that went:
I raised my hand. The CPS official looked my way but kept talking.I kept my hand up for five minutes.The official kept talking, reached the end of the presentation and began walking off stage.I projected my voice from the back of the auditorium toward the stage, “I have a question.”
“We will not take questions here.  We will break out in small groups in separate classrooms and you will be able to ask your question in your small group.”
The White Rhino, Ray Salazar, a Chicago Latino English teacher, has something to say about Rahm's appointment of Claypool. Salazar sees none of what he calls the necessary qualities of transformational leadership in Claypool, or in any of his six mayor-appointed predecessors.
For the fourth time in twenty years, we have a CEO with no teaching experience.  Because, let's face it, teacher experience and leadership is just not valued… No CEO in the last twenty years engaged our district or our communities in new ways of thinking that lead to productive long-term conversations for the benefit of students.  While some may have presented a good idea, he or she let the dirty politics of our city influence what could have been a good option for students.
Salazar thinks a teacher or a leader with teaching experience would have been a better choice.
While a teacher would likely find it challenging to go from the classroom to a CEO position, there's a great deal a Chicago Public Schools CEO can learn from the good teachers in our schools.
My take -- Rahm has covered himself here. He was smart enough to take the attention off of Claypool's lack of education expertise and his being another white, male insider, by announcing the appointment of former CPS teacher and Westinghouse principal, Janice Jackson as his new chief education officer. And Denise Little, a longtime CPS educator,  as Claypool's senior adviser.

I hope that Jackson will keep in mind the fate of former education chief Barbara Eason-Watkins who tried her best to put education first ahead of CPS political shenanigans. I wish her and Little the best of luck.

But, we've had educators, bureaucrats and even bagmen for the mayor holding down top CPS posts for the past two decades. So long as they serve completely at the pleasure of an autocratic mayor who has turned the school system into a wing of City Hall, his choice of CEO will make little difference. Real transformational leadership emerges  from a transformational movement.

We need an elected school board and an end to mayoral control.

Final thought…Please send some support and your best thoughts to the Chupp/Valdivia family. They sure could use it.


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