Sunday, October 4, 2015

The I word

This week, it wasn't CPS's bond rating that was downgraded. Instead, four years of inflated graduation rates were "adjusted" to discount the quick fixes, like numbers manipulation, that district schools engaged in. Such data-driven solutions tricks included drop-outs being coded as transfers or home-schooled. Whoops.
Then, CPS staff received an oddly congratulatory email from Forrest + Janice in their inboxes tonight. It said, in part:

"This week, you accomplished something that CPS has never done before: helped our students score a record high 18.2 on the ACT test. 

These results aren’t a coincidence, and they certainly aren’t a mistake. These accomplishments are the result of the years of hard work you’ve dedicated to our children, beginning in Pre-K through high school."

It would be nice to think that scores from the ACT are ironclad; however, this is the same company that sent CPS tests to give students that were previously available on the internet. Meaning, results from the tests freshmen and sophomores took were thrown out because some students had artificially inflated scores. 

Nope, no coincidences or mistakes here! As you were everyone!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Beulah McLoyd: Kickbacks Pay!

Chicago Public Schools press release, Sept. 24, 2015: "Chicago Public Schools (CPS) today announced that Beulah McLoyd, a distinguished principal who has served as the principal at Michele Clark Academic Prep Magnet High School, has been appointed to lead the new Walter H. Dyett High School. Because the new Dyett High School is opening next school year – and accepting freshmen applications in October – CPS appointed McLoyd to oversee planning and preparation at the school to ensure it is ready to provide a high-quality education to its students on day one."

Highlights of CPS Inspector General report, Jan. 5, 2015: "In another scheme, a businessman allegedly kicked back more than $111,000 to the unnamed employee “in connection with $216,000 worth of purchases” from the high schools.

The employee resigned while under investigation. Five other employees who helped with the scam were fired or resigned.

The principal of Michele Clark Academic Prep “facilitated” the scheme by giving the conniving employee her computer password, the report states.

But Beulah McLoyd was let off with a “warning resolution” and allowed to keep her job, it adds. McLoyd could not be reached."

Funny, the CPS press release neglects to mention McLoyd is also distinguished at facilitating kickbacks for fraudlent purchases.

The crack team of Forrest + Janice must be dead set on ensuring the revamped Dyett is doomed to fail.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Reform Hits Fire Festival

Redmoon Theater must be in the midst of reform. Their Kickstarter page for the 2nd Annual Great Chicago Fire Festival House Burning Festival is awash in reform-y buzzwords:

"The Great Chicago Fire Festival is a celebration of Chicago’s neighborhoods, and of the spirit of grit and resilience in its citizens. Last year’s Fire Festival wasn’t everything that we wanted it to be. We spent months in neighborhoods all over Chicago celebrating the grit and resilience of our city’s people, and were able to bring many of the talented artists we met along the way to the riverfront with us to share their work. Unfortunately, our failure to ignite overshadowed the festival’s seven months of programming and the amazing work by our community collaborators."

Grit. Reslience. Amazing work. Community collaborators. Yep, a Thought Partner is moonlighting at Redmoon Theater. Perhaps their Thought Partner suggested they get the full reform experience by having to beg for supplies, too, as they are on the artist equivalent of Donors Choose.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Welcome To The No Fun Zone

WCT realizes that CPS is currently a no money zone, but we didn't realize the beginning of the 2015 school year was also the start of the no fun zone. 

Students at some schools were greeted with following rule changes:
  • No outside food, even food brought from home, may be consumed (good luck to students trying to avoid fried, breaded foods, Aramark must be paid!)
  • No visible celebrations of birthdays (i.e., balloons) are permitted
  • Policing of footwear to exclude flip-flops and sandals

Monday, September 7, 2015

Happy Labor Day

"The only effective answer to organized greed is organized labor." -Thomas Donahue

WCT has scoured the internet for remarks by Rahm Emanuel and Bruce Rauner thanking, or simply recognizing, workers in our city and state on Labor Day. Our search turned up nothing.

Many CPS teachers spent some part of their weekend working so the first day of school goes as smoothly as can be expected. Not even Forrest Claypool, or any member of the Board of Education, could force an empty thanks to any teacher, aide, or paraprofessional.

Since they won't say it, WCT will: Thank you and Happy Labor Day!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

NYT Ignores AFT Survey Results

The American Federation of Teachers conducted a survey of about 30,000 teachers nation-wide.  Survey results, which were recently published, indicate many teachers feel that teaching sucks:

  • 86% do not trust their administrator or supervisor
  • Only 1 in 5 feel respected by government and media
  • 78% feel physically and/or emotionally exhausted by the end of the work day
  • 87% say job demands interfere with family life
  • Greatest workplace stressors: new initiatives without training, mandated curricula, standardized tests
The NYT recently published an article highlighting the nation-wide teacher shortage. In California, for example, the amount of people entering the profession has dropped more than 55 percent from 2008 to 2012. 

However, the NYT bungles the reason for the teacher shortage, describing it as "a result of the layoffs of the recession years combined with an improving economy in which fewer people are training to be teachers."  So there's a teacher shortage because fewer people are training to be teachers?  Wow. Insightful. 

If the NYT had talked to any teachers or to any unions that represent teachers, they might have realized that many teachers think that their current jobs suck.  We don't know any current teacher, at least in CPS, who would recommend entering the profession to their kids, their nieces and nephews, their younger siblings, their younger cousins or their friends' kids. Correct us if we're wrong.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Profiteer Spotlight: Mark F. Furlong!

Mark Furlong, part of Rahm's latest batch of appointees to the Board of Ed, is a profiteer nonpareil.  LEAP Innovations, a company Furlong was affiliated with, has received a contract extension from the Board for their $ervices. WCT thinks it's time to shine a spotlight on this deft kick-back artist:

1st Notable Profiteer Achievement: Receiving an $18.1M golden parachute payout despite the company he was CEO of, Marshall & Ilsley (M & I), not repaying a $1.7B TARP loan; receipt of bonus was contingent upon loan repayment while he was CEO. Chaaaaa-ching!

2nd Notable Profiteer Achievement: Orchestrating a cheap deal in which M & I, along with its debt, was taken over by BMO Harris. As part of the buyout, the TARP loan was paid by BMO Harris before the deal closed, thus ensuring bonus payout to its executives. Chaaaaa-ching!

3rd Notable Profiteer Achievement: Being offered an executive position by BMO Harris complete with a $6M "transition completion payment" for staying on one year after the 2011 buyout. You guessed it, he stayed. Furlong also collected a $600,000 salary, incentives of up to $800,000 a year, and equity awards of up to $1.1M. Chaaaaa-ching! 

All Chicago politicians rail against, "kicking the can down the road," but Furlong's actions while head of M & I are the very definition of that. Not only did BMO Harris repay a loan that wasn't theirs, but rewarded Furlong's delay with a lucrative deal. The collateral damage left M & I shareholders filing suit for the undervaluing of M & I's stock at the time of sale. 

This is who Rahm Emanuel wants to be a financial steward of our schools?

CPS parents, students, and teachers: you're about to get Furlonged, but good.