Friday, June 12, 2015

Read Between the Lines

In the halcyon days of 2010, Rahm Emanuel outlined his education platform: "Our goal should be nothing less than ensuring that every child in this city has access to a world-class education...but without a good qualified teacher, those things [infrastructure, small class sizes] cannot guarantee learning." Yes!

Mayor Emanuel in an uncharacteristically optimistic 2014 press release: "We will continue to make all the investments necessary for a high-quality education that prepares our students for success in college, career and life." Right on!

Mayor Emanuel in 2015 announcing that 6 CPS high schools (all non-charter...awkward!) are among the state's Top 10: "I applaud the hard work of our students, and also the teachers...who have supported them in attaining success in the classroom." Sing it, brother!

With all the big talk of a world-class, high-quality education and qualified teachers, one would expect CPS spending to put dollars directly into the classroom, not profiteers' pockets. The CPS Department of Procurement shows where rhetoric meets reality:

CPS contract with 10 vendors for the Chicago Leadership Collaborative: $4,300,000 (over 3 years) Ineffective principal training, Cha-ching!

CPS contract with University of Chicago: $1,800,000 Championing made-up metrics, Cha-ching!

CPS contract with Teach for America: $1,300,000 Contracting inexperienced teachers who have no interest in teaching, Cha-ching!

CPS contract with Wilson Reading: $72,000 Training teachers to help students learn to read, Cha-ching?

One might argue the most money should go to the most effective resources. Here is a testimonial from the contract awardee who provides training to teachers to become high-quality instructors, "I taught English in the village school [in the Sudan]...I am so glad I finished my certification before I going. I felt prepared to provide meaningful and relevant instruction to help the students and teachers...." No TFAer would ever be caught dead in the Sudan, unless it helped their impending law/med/biz school application, so TFA is out.

Still not sure which program puts effective teachers in front of students? Here's another testimonial, "Patrick Lombard has come full-circle; from a struggling reader in third grade to a master's candidate is elementary education pursuing certification." University of Chicago doesn't take struggling readers, even if it was way back in the third grade. U of C is off the list.

Yes, the jargon-free Wilson Reading provides relevant training and produces results, but only received a $72,000 contract award in 2014 (point of reference: Ken Griffin makes this much money in 48 minutes). Yet, the new-agey Leadership Collaborative which often pushes teachers with little time in the classroom into administration is raking in a cool million this year; the University of Chicago who've proven to be total education hacks by defending CPS's juking of graduation rates gets almost two million this year, and Teach for America, an organization that willfully puts under-trained teachers warm bodies in the classroom gets tossed another million.

Rahm Emanuel and CPS tell the kids of Chicago to sit and spin when it comes to directing dollars into the classroom and developing high-quality teachers whose instruction can make a difference.

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