Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Gettin' Testy!

WCT thinks we hear the distant sounds of trumpets in the air and the hounds a-barkin'. Yes, B3's system-wide email today with the tell-tale words, "rigorous" and "increased expectations" heralds the beginning of "testing season," and what a season it will be--if parents choose not to opt their kids out.

Uh-oh, looks like B3 is suffering from test anxiety:

  • "Students must score at or above the 24th percentile on NWEA MAP to qualify to take the selective enrollment exam.  I know that questions regarding opting out of NWEA MAP have been raised, so let me be clear: CPS students without an NWEA MAP score will not be eligible for selective enrollment or promotion in grades 3, 6, and 8. In addition, SQRP ratings will suffer for test participation rates of less than 95%."
Gee, it seems like B3 is trying to intimidate parents. Dangling grade promotion over parents' and students' heads is mental warfare. Also, B3 shows she's firmly in Camp Arne by giving parents--the people to whom a child's welfare is entrusted--no credit for making the decision to opt their child out of one of the 10 tests (down from 25!) that are given. This memo puts principals and teachers in the roles of enforcer issuing the not-so-gentle-reminder that a school's performance rating will suffer if test participation lags below 95%. Not only must the principal now serve as chief truant officer and miracle-worker on testing days, they must also force participation. Where's the choice love, B3?

And then:

  • "Parents requesting to have their children opt out of the NWEA MAP must first have a conversation with the principal to discuss the consequences to their children. If after this conversation they still wish to opt out, they must make their request in writing.   Parents should be informed that there will be no alternate instruction given during the assessment and that children who are not being assessed will be required to engage in a silent, self-guided activity while their peers are being tested."
Parents must? Of all the things parents must do, talking to the principal about a decision they're making, is not one of them. Most parents would say they must: keep their kids safe and healthy;  listen to their kids; pay the bills; provide their kids with food, clothing, and shelter; and save for college. Nowhere on this list is making an appointment for a stern talking to by a principal.

B3 must be awfully nervous that the $4,003,553.00 contract (cha-chiiiiing!) CPS has with NWEA will go to waste if enough parents choose to opt out. Or that without sufficient standardized testing CPS will not be able to deem schools as failing and close them. Or that parents, teachers, and principals may have had enough.

Parents and teachers, what do you think? Leave a comment or send an email to

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Do That Crazy Charter Dance! [Update]

Tuesday's Tribune op-ed page picks up where Sunday's left off: the sweet, sweet sounds of the School Choice Rag. Get your dancing shoes out, today's steps are: admonishment, half-truths, and rhetoric! We hope you can keep up, readers!

Step 1: The editorial board criticizes Toni Preckwinkle for daring to speak out against what she sees as the transfer of public resources into private hands. The Trib tut-tuts , "'s astonishing to see her [Preckwinkle] launch a pre-emptive strike on a Chicago school board that faces some hard decisions for the future of Chicago's children." 

Funny, but it's the Tribune who's launched a pre-emptive strike on city teachers by featuring a litany of guest editorials by non-educators BBB, Rahm Emanuel, and local profiteer Myles Mendoza. While they proclaim choice, excellence, and high standards, they are unwilling to invest in the resources we currently have.

Step 2: Deeming charter schools with questionable motives as "excellent." WCT wonders if the writer of this editorial bothered to Google, "Concept charter school" and learn anything about this organization. Dan Mihalopoulous over at the Sun-Times thoroughly dismantled Concept in December, citing trips by elected officials to Turkey as well as raising questions about the school's ties to the exiled Islamic cleric Fetullah Gulen.

Intrinsic Charter also gets the editorial nod thanks to their promise to staff "master teachers" as well as, "teachers who deeply understand what students need to know and be able to do...". We work in a building with many teachers like this. Unfortunately due to the consistent underfunding of neighborhood schools and shifting administrative mandates, their livelihoods are left to the whims of the me-first leadership from the Board of Ed.

What's left out of this unabashed endorsement of charters is the recent data analysis by Illinois Raise Your Hand which shows 11,000 empty seats in charters. Whoops!

Step 3: A form of the word innovate is used three times in this editorial. This appealing but vague term is apparently the only solution to the "staggering need" for new schools; the students who "languish" on waiting lists; and finally the "huge need" for quality schools. The students we see who have staggering needs, who languish, who are hugely in need don't need another choice, but they do need the schools they currently attend to be resourced at a functioning level.

When the Board of Education votes on the proposals tomorrow, they will undoubtedly add more confusing steps to this dance. They'll also likely add more money to the pockets of private charter operators and friends lining up to benefit from the crisis CPS has brought upon itself.

  • B3 was absent from today's meeting. It must be in the SUPES handbook to be absent from important meetings. Our REACH evaluation would surely get dinged for missing "big days," does the BOE follow the Danielson model?
  • The Board of Ed. approved seven charters today, the approved groups include Rauner-funded Noble Street, Concept, and Intrinsic. Mike Madigan and Bruce Rauner must be toasting somewhere. Cha-ching!
  • Boardmember Dr. Mahalia Hines said she was not aware that the Illinois State Charter Commission is able to overrule BOE approval, thus allowing denied charters to still open. It's helpful to know the rules before jumping into the game, Doc.

Monday, January 20, 2014

The School Choice Rag

It's a return to Ragtime for the latest musical craze sweeping our city: the School Choice Rag. The beat is a three-part harmony: 1. Stop funding public schools, 2. Declare them failing, and 3. Endorse choice at every turn!

The Tribune's op-ed "It's time for school choice in Illinois" cranks up the volume on school choice to a deafening level. Trendy as choice is, the op-ed loses its beat from the start:
  • Leading with a 2010 quote from City Clerk Susana Mendoza about the lone educational choice parents have, " send their child to a poor, overcrowded, and failing school." Ms. Mendoza shows she's a choice fan from way back based on her not one, but two trips, to Turkey courtesy of Fetullah Gulen's Niagara Foundation (Cha-ching!). So inspiring must these trips have been that she visited the Gulen-centric Chicago Math & Science Academy to videotape a testimonial.
  • Citing New Orleans as an education revolution of epic proportions. Yet, blogger Mercedes Schneider has found New Orleans and their change-making ways to be an education devolution of epic failure. Schneider specifically highlights a failed New Orleans school voucher program coupled with jug-headed John Arnold's misguided contributions as nothing more than a PR ploy.
  • Touting Cleveland--and the entire Buckeye State--as savvy choice operators. Instead, Ohio has a rich charter operator (cha-ching!) whose schools continually rank below Ohio's urban districts. Also, an NPR report shows that Ohio perpetually has a number of unused vouchers
  • The Editorial Board hedges its praise only in the slightest by the gentle criticism of vouchers stating, "[they] don't always perform miracles." Is Joan of Arc on the Board of Education or is that just BOE member Deborah Quazzo?
The Editorial Board states the obvious truths, "...luck should not determine who gets the opportunity for a better education. Wealth should not determine who gets a choice. ZIP codes should not determine who gets a choice."  

Yet, pricey ZIP codes win every time. No school voucher system will solve this:
  • An $18 million dollar Lincoln School annex (ZIP Code: 60614, average home price: $461,000).
  • The planned opening of GEMS World Academy, a Dubai-run school where tuition will run an astonishing $31,000 - $37,000. (ZIP Code: 60601, average home price: $386,000)
  • Bruce Rauner's clout nonsense to get his daughter into Walter Payton College Prep. (Rauner has too many zip codes list, but know he owns homes that range from a New York penthouse to a Livingston, Montana ranch.)
The Tribune throws its full support behind a questionably effective program that knowingly defunds neighborhood schools and destabilizes neighborhoods along with the way.

If a mainstream media outlet in Chicago wanted to be truly bold, it would begin a discussion about poverty in our city and why what we're currently doing to solve the problem doesn't work. Along with this might be the realization that until poverty is addressed, successful changes will be few and far between. But nobody wants to sing that song, instead they want to keep doing that old School Choice Rag.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Plutocrat Spotlight: John Arnold!


  • According to Forbes, Arnold is one of America's 400 richest people, with a net worth of 2.8 billion. Currently, he dabbles in philanthro-capitalism.

Employment background:
  • Trader at Enron; hedge-fund manager
Enron work environment, according to The Smartest Guys in the Room:
Traders cackling about raising energy prices on "Grandma Millie" and jamming electricity rates "right up her ass for fucking $250 a megawatt hour."
Arnold's work persona, according to The Smartest Guys in the Room:
Bragging about his minions manipulating energy prices, praising them for "learning how to use the Enron bat to push around the markets," comments which later earned Arnold visits from federal investigators, who let him get away with claiming he didn't mean what he said. 
Physical description, according to Rolling Stone:
He's a lipess, eager little jerk with the jug-eared face of a Division III women's basketball coach, exactly what you'd expect a former Enron commodities trader to look like.
Further information, according to Rolling Stone:
As Enron was imploding, Arnold played a footnote role, helping himself to an $8 million bonus while the company's pension fund was vaporizing. He and other executives were later rebuked by a bankruptcy judge for looting their own company.  Public funds nationwide, reportedly, lost more than $1.5 billion thanks to their investments in Enron.  In 2002, Arnold started a hedge-fund and over the course of the next few years, made roughly a $3 billion fortune as the world's most successful natural-gas trader.
Current devilry:

  • After suffering losses in 2010, Arnold left hedge-funding to begin philanthro-capitalizing, creating the John and Laura Arnold Foundation, an organization dedicated to reducing public workers' pensions and blaming inner-city teachers for "bad schools."
Quote from Arnold's blog:
The essence of our democracy [is] vigorous public discourse and debate in every forum.  In fact, Laura and I are among the largest financial supporters of organizations dedicated to safeguarding First Amendment Rights.
So to sum things up, John Arnold is a plutocrat who nevertheless believes that the illusion of American democracy is still worth maintaining.

He's one to keep our eyes on, readers.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Duncan's Bashfest

WCT hopes that Arne Duncan avails himself of the Federal Employees Health Benefits program and seeks mental health services. While the rest of us are stuck negotiating prescription coverage, allowed procedures, and general well-being care, FEHB members "enjoy the widest selection of plans in the country." Certainly, whatever choice-y plan Duncan has, can help him recognize and understand his pattern of Employee Emotional Abuse (EEA). 

Duncan's January 13th speech reveals he suffers from a serious case of EEA. Symptoms include: "repetitive, targeted, and destructive communication by more powerful members toward less powerful members in the workplace." EEA is also known as: bashing others, blame-shifting, and finger-pointing. How else to explain his statement that, "...a significant portion of new teachers come from the bottom third of their college class, and most new teachers say their training didn't prepare them for the realities of the classroom." We can file this away as yet another example of teacher-bashing by the Secretary of Education. Thanks, Arn.

Nevermind that Duncan doesn't use any real data besides "significant" and "most" when he belittles and shames working teachers everywhere not only for the job they are doing now, but for the grades they earned in the past. Since Duncan keeps preaching 21st century solutions to teaching problems, you'd think he'd ditch the 18th century solutions of admonishments and shame for every conceivable ill. 

Does Duncan have a solution to combat the bottom-dwellers permeating the U.S. schools? Why, yes reader, he does:
  • High expectations!
  • Raising voices for excellence!
  • Shake things up! 
  • Challenge the status quo! 
  • Walk the walk!
  • Stop settling for less!
Embedded in these phrases are criticisms of everyone--parents, teachers, politicians--except: Duncan's office, those with corporate reform agendas, and Amanda Ripley

Platitudes don't equal solutions. So while a robust array of platitudes are on offer, the solutions are more than a little, ahem, lacking. 

Perhaps we will know Arne has sought help when he starts to accept some of the blame for the problems that he sees, and stops bashing those whom he serves.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

REACH Evaluations

A reader emails that teachers' REACH evaluation ratings are being discussed at their school.

They relate that recently a tenured, well-liked, highly-respected and extremely nice teacher with two Master's degrees and National Board Certification received a "Developing" rating in all categories.  Hmmm.  Our reader wonders if maybe the teacher's colleagues have missed something in the years they've worked with this person or if it's the principal who suddenly doesn't like paying a teacher with 2 Master's degree and National Board Certification thanks to per-pupil-spending?

We've also recently heard of all sorts of REACH deviltry on behalf of administrators who come in multiple times for an unannounced, informal observation and then choose the visit that will "count." When do we get to drop in our administrator's office, watch them, and then decide how they're ranked?

CPS teachers, how are REACH evaluations going in your school?  Email interesting information to

Monday, January 13, 2014


Savvy investors that WCT are, when we saw the acronyms CTU and IPO together we immediately thought of an initial public offering of profitable teaching stock. We were quickly dismayed by our own hypocrisy as we realize we've spent some time railing against all things cha-ching!

Luckily, we see that Karen Lewis and the CTU have instead resolved to form an independent political organization to "engender authentic political engagement" to stem the tide against "privatized essential services" and those who continue to balance budgets "on the backs of our most vulnerable."

Working against the deep pockets and deep ties forged by a Machine city is no easy task. However, as others have noted here and here, it's time someone tries to move the city forward.

Charter Forum [Update]

On January 22nd the Board of Education will meet about the possible addition of 21 new charter schools. 

The world of charters is confusing, ever-changing, and has a direct impact on neighborhood schools. Consider attending the January 14th forum at Shields Middle School, 2611 W. 48th Street. The forum begins at 6:30 P.M., and is sure to be informative. 

Update: As promised, tonight's charter forum did not disappoint. The Southwest side communities of Brighton Park, McKinley Park, and Pilsen spoke up loud and clear in their resistance to charters. Specifically, these communities do not want outside organizations coming into their communities and dictating not only who serves their children, but who receives schools funding.

The research panel clearly detailed the many ways CPS undermines its own neighborhood schools:
  • While inflation and money to charters have increased, CPS budgets have not.
  • Charters are often treated to $1 rent and outside services to CPS.
  • Funding to charters has increased faster than enrollment.
Wonder how the CPS Board of Ed will vote on the 22nd? 

Readers, leave a comment or email if you attended this panel and have more information to share.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

2014: The (Continuing) Year of the Edupreneur

The Victorian Era. The Age of Discovery. The Byzantine. The Renaissance. The Enlightenment. The Edupreneur? Forbes Magazine has crowned 2014 the era of the Edupreneur (no longer just a year as fellow blogger EduShyster wrote in 2012). Last we checked, Forbes was a business magazine. But then, the lines between education and business are so blurry it's no wonder Forbes needs to issue a 30 Under 30 for education.

Behold: "This is the era of the edupreneur, when being a K-12 or higher ed professional can mean anything from cofounding a start-up with excess of $50 million in funding or launching a venture that uses the Kickstarter model to fund classrooms and libraries in at-risk communities in the U.S. and abroad. The 30 Under 30 in education are in forefront of this revolution."

In a word: cha-ching!

A start-up in excess of $50 million dollars? How about the revolutionary venture of spreading that dough around to some neighborhood schools so students can have textbooks that weren't written in the 1970s?

The bios of these profiteers go-getters feature what we're dubbing the 3 Is of education: incubator, investor, innovator. Cha-cha-cha-ching!

Some head companies with revenues in the tens of millions, others it seems are hell-bent on dismantling education, especially Andrew Buher, COO of NYC's school system: "The future of education is dependent upon our admitting that the very concept of an all-powerful school system is an outdated model that hinders learning instead of enhancing it." Have he and the new, un-reformy Chancellor of NYC Schools, Carmen Farina, met? 

The Ivy League and Teach for America alums feature prominently, and unless we missed something, the two (former) public school teachers featured--Jeremiah Kittredge and Caryn Voskuil--now work for charter organizations. Scrolling through the variously sleek, earnest, and ironic pictures of the 30, few resemble the students we teach. So, how can any of them know what's best for what's to come in urban education?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Corporate Police Reform: Cha-ching?

We at WCT like to wonder "what if?"  The "what if?" question for today is:

What if education reformers applied the same ideas to police departments?

Corporate Reform Efforts
Public Schools
Police Departments
Examine data
Student performance: low test scores reveal failure in inner-city schools.
Crime: high crime reveals failure in inner-city neighborhoods
Determine parties responsible for failure
teachers, schools
police officers, police departments
Initial action regarding failure
Offer corporate-sponsored charter school replacements for failing inner-city public schools
Offer corporate-sponsored alternate police squads for failing inner-city neighborhoods
Policies regarding older, tenured staff
Replace with young grads of selective universities with no policing experience
Policies regarding leadership
Train corporate-style administrators who have no educational experience in fast-track programs
Train corporate-style leaders who have no police experience in fast-track programs
Policies regarding standards
Assume that all American children -- regardless of location, background, socio-economic status, and English language proficiency -- will learn the same skills at the same time, given proper instruction
Assume that all American people -- regardless of location, background, and socio-economic status -- will behave in a cooperative, compliant and law-abiding manner, given proper police supervision
Policies regarding accountability
1. Schools that serve students with low test scores are threatened with punitive measures

2. Teachers’ salary increases tied to improvement in students’ test scores.
1. Police departments that serve communities with high crime rates are threatened with punitive measures.

2. Police officers’ salary increases tied to reduction in crime rates.

Maybe some Chicago ed reformers or thought partners could contact CPS to make a pitch!  Maybe they could go for a ride-along and offer advice on how to lean into discomfort, how to socialize all shareholders into the informational experience, and how to promote excellence and rigor?

Monday, January 6, 2014

You Did Great...No You Did!

Rahm Emanuel and his righthand gal B3, as he affectionately calls her, spent Monday congratulating themselves for their hands-on absentee response to  ChiBeria.

We don't need to remind anyone about Chicago's descent into the Arctic. However, for most of the weekend it appeared nobody at CPS knew what they were doing. Only after Karen Lewis logically, rationally, and rightly called for schools to close did anything happen. If B3 did have a plan, she kept it as well-hidden as she was.

It's common knowledge that Rahm, Karen, and B3 don't get along. Today's press conference proves again just how little Rahm & B3 think of Karen Lewis, CTU members, and CPS families. PR managers we're not, but WCT has some tips for the people who run our schools:

1. Thank the people (Karen Lewis and those who took to social media) who finally forced your hand and saved you from a PR nightmare of Bilandic proportions.

2. Pretend the decision was a team decision between CPS and CTU instead of giving zero credit to the lobbying CTU did on behalf of the families they serve.

Some of the other doozies from today's press conference include:
  • Rahm punting the first question about closing schools to B3. Her lingo got away from her as she referred to the "veracity of the winds" and being "in consultation with our cross-functional teams." She also managed to call the public liars for thinking that CPS publicized schools being open on Monday as early as Friday.
  • B3 pulling the old amnesiac routine when asked if the CTU campaign to close schools had any influence on her decision. She looked thoroughly baffled as she muttered, "Teachers...teachers..." before telling a big whopper and stating she was not aware the CTU even issued a statement, and further, such a statement didn't matter to her. We're curious to know if B3 is aware unions represent the working class, who also happen to vote and occasionally like to feel they matter.
  • Rahm's condescending and irritated response to questions of where he was as this was happening. He did admit he was on "holiday" with his family, but came off rather spoiled when he said he was in contact with his advisers so frequently that his family would question whether he was really vacationing. Oh, the plight of a working dad!
  • Rahm admitting he knew the Lab Schools his kids attend were closed before he knew CPS was. He used this as an opportunity to tout the fact preparations for an event such as this "don't just develop," but instead have been in the works since August. Really? If so, then you'd think closing the schools would have been a no-brainer on Saturday or Sunday morning, rather than Sunday evening.
  • Rahm & Co. charging off the stage as questions about CTA staffing and the timing of the school closing announcement persisted.
We have a hunch that somehow all of this is going to come back and bite teachers in the ass. 

Undoubtedly, Rahm and B3 found the real protestations over student safety to be just another plea from teachers who they value little and view as selfish and whiny. No matter what will be said later, our organization spoke up loud and long before CPS leaders did.

What's your take on the press conference and the city's handling of CPS's closure? Leave a comment or email 

Rahm Skips the Snow in Bali Ha'i

Rahm Emanuel, socialite mayor and best buddy of Chicago educational profiteers, was lucky enough to escape Chicago's polar vortex on an all-expenses paid vacation to Asia!  He was fortunate to miss the snow, the Arctic temperatures, and the CPS nonsense (which Karen Lewis thankfully resolved through tenacity and common sense). He returned just as the crisis was handled.

A trustworthy source speculates Rahm has been refreshing himself in beautiful Bali, where the current temperature is 75 and mild blue waves lap onto soft, white sand.  We hope that he's had the opportunity to sample a Balinese array of food in padang-style, where diners help themselves to a variety of delicacies, such as rendang, a spicy stew marinated in coconut milk.  And what would a vacation in Bali be without a visit to Tirta Gangga, the water playground designed by a prince in the Royal Family of Karengasem as a resting place?

You needn't have worried, Rahm!  Karen Lewis sorted out the silly little problems here in Chicago, like convincing Barbara Byrd-Bennet that frostbite isn't a necessary component of excellence.

We hope you wore your sunscreen, especially after swimming in those crystal-blue waters!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Myles Mendoza's Campaign Against Anonymity

Looks like we hit a nerve with our post on Myles Mendoza's ed reforming and choice-promoting devilry. First, he quickly changed his Twitter page from the original to an updated version (which oddly links "school choice" to support of abortion rights).

Next, he emailed us:
"Knowing you see [my efforts] as combative towards you and/or traditional education as you see it, I wanted to ask you to coffee or lunch to listen to your views, and if possible ask you to hear my imperfect perspective"
We responded (mollified by his pseudo-humility):
"Thanks for your kind email. If you've had a look through Windy City Teachers, you might have noticed that we have chosen to remain anonymous.  For that reason, we're unable to accept your invitation to meet in person, however, we are open to communication electronically, if that interests you."
We also posed a question:
"In your case, we are suspicious of Rupert Murdoch's funding of Education Reform Now, the group you worked for in Denver.  As you read in our post, we also strongly disagree with several of your claims regarding Chicago and CPS.  If you would be interested in further communication, we wonder if you would provide more information regarding your claim that "unfunded liabilities" are one of the results, rather than one of the causes, of under-performance in CPS?  We understand unfunded liabilities in Chicago to include the pensions of CPS, CPD, Streets and San, Cook County Sheriffs, Cook Country Forest Preserve, the Fire Dept., CTA and the Park District.  As the city nears junk bond status, can you further explain your beliefs regarding CPS's role in Chicago's fiscal disaster?  And can you explain how charter expansion will resolve this problem?"
Myles's response to our question:
"I appreciate the response.  My intention for reaching out was really to bring down the wall of anonymity.  That was my goal with you and an offer than will stand should you ever choose to take me up on it.  Warm regards and may you succeed in improving kids [sic] educational quality."
Perhaps picturing himself in league with the heroes who tore down the Berlin Wall, Myles is continuing to rail against the wall of anonymity during his Internet research of himself, as seen in his comment on Diane Ravitch's post about our blog.

Being an (albeit minor, at least for now) educational profiteer, Myles Mendoza is secure in his position of power, since he wears the educational bohemian bourgeois cloak that makes him irreproachable. Myles has the luxury of confidently pontificating his opinions on choice, excellence, high expectations, rigor, and tran$formation.

Unlike Myles, we are teachers.  We are not in positions of power.  It is understandable that the bohemian bourgeois might not understand the realities of not being powerful, even though they do enjoy buying local, $erving (but not living near) the poor , identifying with the common man,  and using heart-warming photos of cute minority kids for promotional purposes.

For that reason, we have laid out the consequence of not remaining anonymous:
  1. We might lose our jobs.  Permanently.  
We hope that Myles Mendoza might be willing to reconsider his unwillingness to provide an electronic answer to our question:  How has CPS ruined Chicago and why are charters the answer?

Thanks, Karen!

Barbara Byrd Bennet's response to the polar vortex descending upon Chicago was predictably indecisive and confusing, angering Chicago parents city-wide.  Perhaps BBB's SUPES Academy training teaches that there are no excuses for the effects of a polar vortex.  Her official statement was that "while all district schools are slated to be open on Monday, I strongly encourage parents to use their own discretion in deciding whether to send their child to school." Furthermore, "all student absences will be excused."

So basically, schools scheduled to be open, but students kinda/sorta don't have to come.

Thanks to Karen Lewis, however, for being the voice of reason.

Stay warm at home, CPS students and teachers!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

TOOT Your Way To Excellence

What have some administrators been up to over break? If you guessed crafting Dickensian policies about bathroom usage, you'd be right. While CPS uses many metrics to rank schools, restroom frequency is not yet one. However, one school's administrators, and perhaps their Thought Partners, have struck upon a new way to measure high standards and academic excellence: T.O.O.T. (Time out of Toilet).*

A friend shared the following:

Dear Faculty,
Welcome back and Happy New Year! In order to maximize student learning and reduce the loss of instructional time, we are implementing two new restroom policies.
1. Designated Restroom Times - Take your class to use the restroom only during your allotted time so that multiple groups of students are not competing to use the facilities. Also, the expectation is that the restroom break should last only five minutes. Before leaving for the restroom, clearly communicate the behavioral expectations and the time limit. Use your watch or stopwatch to time the students and praise them when they meet the behavior and time expectations.
Sign up for your restroom time slot in the main office by Tuesday, January 7. 
2. Restroom Passes - In addition to scheduled restroom breaks, students will be given restroom passes to use if they need to use the restroom outside of the scheduled time. Students will be given two restroom passes to use between now and the end of the quarter. They can choose to hold on to them and trade them in for a reward at the end of the quarter. Following these guidelines:
Have students fill in their names as soon as they receive them. Passes are invalid if names are crossed out for another name.
For the upper grades, students can use one teacher's pass in another classroom, but they still only get the same number of passes per quarter.
Use a class roster to have student initial next to their name to indicate that they received the passes.
Have students fill in the "time out" and "time in" and then turn the pass in to the teacher when finished. This will help them practice the CCS of telling time with both digital and analog clocks.
Promote the benefit of not using the passes by reminding students that rewards will be given for left over passes at the end of the quarter.
Let me know if you have any questions or concerns.
Thank you,
WCT notes a few problems (besides the continued employment of the administrative dolt who drafted this):
  • Designated restroom times. Teachers must now possess telepathic qualities on an unparalleled level to predict when the optimal 5 minute go time window for each class might be.
  • Stopwatch usage. We wonder if administrators--who we're told get private bathrooms in many schools--tried and succeeded with the five minute rule they're imposing on students.
  • Rewards for not using the restroom. 
  • Linking bathroom usage (via telling time) to CCSS. We doubt Arne Duncan and Bill Gates had the john on their minds when they rolled out the CCSS. Then again, Bill Gates is investing in the development of a urine powered cell phone so one never knows.
While the school goes unnamed, WCT has learned the following about the crack administration who's developed this:
  • The principal has only two years of classroom experience and is friends with Rahm.
  • The newly hired Assistant Principal is an "intern"...perhaps SUPES?
  •  Extra security has been hired to manage frustrated parents.
The entire memo generates many practical questions, among them: 
  • Why must students be monitored so closely by their teachers let alone the main office?
  • If a teacher does not follow this complicated set of instructions, will their REACH evaluation be negatively impacted?
  • If extra security has in fact been hired to manage already frustrated parents, how will a policy like this make any parent happy?
  • Since the principal is Rahm's clout hire, are these the types of "reforms" he expects to see at other CPS schools? What about the school his kids attend?
  • What unfortunate soul will need to track this? In the time it takes them to track an entire school's bathroom use, what could they have done instead?
*WCT is happy to sell this acronym to the administrative team searching for a way to cleverly capture their new policy. Cha-ching!
Teachers: does your school have any policies approaching this ridiculousness? Is this what passes for reform? Leave a comment or email