Saturday, November 23, 2013

Education Colonization

The Redcoats Are Coming!

Where's Paul Revere when you need him? 

Some 38 CPS schools have been visited by mega-Thought Partners Cambridge Education, LLCsubsidiary of the UK-based Mott MacDonald. Tagline: Global Engineering Management and Development Consultants. That sure has a local ring to it!

Mott MacDonald's Education division has made in-roads in the following countries: Burundi, Pakistan, Nigeria, and Uganda. Next stop: Chicago. 

One might ask why a foreign-owned corporation is advising urban, American schools?  Or, what a UK based company knows about American education? And, do urban, American schools so closely resemble the schools of developing nations they warrant advising from a global conglomerate? We're confused, but we do know that staff whose schools were visited were asked questions like:

  • How do you know students are learning?
  • What does good teaching look like?
  • How do you know you have a functioning school?
Valuable questions to be sure, but why does CPS need to pay an outside "partner" to ask these questions? Teachers do a lot of reading and thinking, and are even known to be reflective, so often teachers within a school are asking and answering these questions all the time. Since CPS has so much cash floating around, they must feel spending $2 million dollars to get such answers is wise. 

To Cambridge, districts and students are paying clients. Hence the 100+ page prospectus submitted to CPS. Highlights include:
  • $1.6 billion dollars in revenue (we're fond of this phrase at WCT: Cha-ching!)
  • Two large California charter school districts as clients (Thanks to them, California can now be rebranded "the Excellence State" instead of "the Golden State")
  • Work with Bridgeport, CT public schools (see: Paul Vallas)
The "services" they offer, aside from inquisitiveness, include baffling graphics that describe such unheard of phenomena as: 
  • The humid classroom
  • The cold classroom
  • The stormy classroom
One of the many dubious services they tout is change management. Change management is defined as, "an approach to transitioning individuals to a desired future state." This sounds like hospice to us. 

We can only imagine what CPS has in mind for the desired future state of its schools.

Teachers: Has your school been visited by Cambridge? What do you think?

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