Monday, September 30, 2013

A true love, hate relationship

Hates the unions, loves the votes.

Rahm Emanuel is beginning to bear a striking resemblance to Al Pacino in his turn as Alphonse "Big Boy" Caprice, the money and power hungry crime boss from Dick Tracy.

Nowhere is this more evident than in Thursday's Tribune lead story reporting his union and budget calculations. Last year, Rahm went down to Springfield and talked big about a "day of reckoning," in the hopes of dismantling the police and fire unions. This year, one of his aides must have opened up a calendar and pointed to the date of his looming re-election primary. Now, he's offered what may well be the contents of a fortune cookie: "Reform, revenue, and time all go together" as a way to untangle the pension mess the government has put unions in.

No city employee with a pension should leave their retirement up to the whims of fortune cookie finance. While Rahm is busy meditating on his next non-solution, Machine buddy John Cullerton calls for a delay in "big" pension payments until 2022, along with a "series of small property tax increases beginning in 2018." Let's see, delay property tax increases until after the 2015 election cycle (must get those votes!) and continue the habit of pension avoidance until the election cycle after that (must use the money for my pet projects!).

What Rahm meant to say was, "Reform, revenue, and time all go together to keep the unions nervous and me in office!"

Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Broad Institute: Infiltrating Urban School Districts Nation-wide

Think they have a high opinion of themselves?

Twenty-one of the nation's seventy-five largest school districts have superintendents or other highly-placed central office executives who have undergone Broad Institute training; BBB is a Broad grad.  Arne Duncan used to be on the Broad Foundation's board. Their goal is to "transform urban public education" through venture philanthropy. Meaning:  entrepreneur and charter school money-making opportunities (teachers exempt). Included in their list of "75 Examples of How Bureaucracy Gets in the Way" are the following digs:
"Students are not engaged because the curriculum or instruction they receive is not interesting or relevant."
"The bar for teaching and learning is low." 
"Teachers do not have the training or experience they need to keep an entire classroom of students disciplined, focused on, and excited about learning." 
"Teachers expect less of students with certain backgrounds, income levels or other family variables and don't challenge them as much, which means those students never have the opportunity to reach their full potential."
Thanks for the insight, Broad.  We were wondering why our students are under-performing.

SUPES Academy: Making Dupes of Us All

Is SUPES short for super-duper?

If the vision and mission statement of SUPES Academy, a Wilmette-based puppy superintendent mill CPS gave $20 million dollars to, is any indicator of educational know-how, it's time to worry:
" identify, develop and support a new generation of outstanding leaders for America's school systems who will provide our children with the skills they need to live as successful adults, in a world of competition.
SUPES Academy graduates will be highly sought after for their capacity to transform the culture of systems and school, to dramatically improve student achievement, and to close the achievement gaps."
After navigating the corporate jibber-jabber, the empty promises are evident. One is led to believe these super-humans, after just five convenient weekend sessions, will be able to: transform the culture of systems (whatever that might mean); impart adult-level, global competition skills to children; and close student achievement gaps. Wow! Solving society's ills only takes 10 days!

A quick look at the bios of this year's self-appointed "master teachers," and it's more mind numbing nonsense:
  • "...Matthews served as the educator in residence for NewSchools Venture Fund a venture philanthropy firm working to transform public education through powerful ideas and passionate entrepreneurs."
  • "...Wise continues as Managing Director for Atlantic Research Partners, LLC, a firm dedicated to supporting high potential leaders in important organizations. 

Transform, powerful ideas, passionate entrepreneurs, high potential leaders, important organizations. Each of these terms are as vague as the next and do nothing to actually show how this organization can manufacture superintendents who can alter the entrenched and systemic problems an urban school system faces. Even Captain Underpants, whose motto is, "truth, justice, and all that is pre-shrunk and cottony" has a more attainable goal than SUPES and its master teachers.

The speed with which the Board approved this with virtually no discussion is impressive. After the $20 million dollars is spent, and with no real accounting of identifiable results, we'll all be graduates of the DUPES Academy instead.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

New school year, new horseshit initiatives

Hey entrepreneurs! Get rich advising teachers how to teach better!

Last year, at least three CPS high schools "partnered" with outside organizations in the hopes of completely transforming their schools. Hancock High School paid one partner $740,264.00. This year, the city is going down the same road, partnering more schools with these organizations and once again lining the pockets of enterprising do-gooders with corporate agendas.

Research shows partner organizations to have limited classroom experience, yet copious knowledge of New Age corporate mumbo-jumbo.

Twenty days into the school year, the following has been heard from a "partner":

  • "We need a way to codify, contextualize, and normalize the protocols which we wish to use."
  • "It's all of our responsibility to socialize this information to create a longer shelf-life. Socialize refers to getting people familiar with what's happening. All of the stakeholders need to be socialized to this shared informational experience."
  • "Don't be afraid to lean into discomfort. To be vulnerable in a public space. This is when true growth occurs."
(In an attempt to appear friendly):
  • "Do you like being healthy?" 
Codify? Contextualize? Normalize? Last time WCT checked, English was the primary language spoken in public schools. And the verb socialize? The definition of this word is,  "to place under government or group ownership or control." Partners must not realize that most teachers did indeed read 1984 in high school.

As for the final question, the obvious answer is: "No, I don't like being healthy."