Monday, March 31, 2014

Beware the Zombie Ideas

In Sunday's New York Times Paul Krugman talks about zombie ideas: "an idea that should have been killed by evidence, but refuses to die." While Krugman's op-ed is about an overstated skills gap in the American workforce, his point fits perfectly with CPS's current obsession with ideas that refuse to die. 

Some of these ideas are:

  • B3's insistence in her latest From the Desk of the CEO that the school closures over the past year have been successful, "Data is encouraging and trends are promising." As our Thought Partners are wont to demand, "Show us the day-ta!" B3's newsletter is a little spotty on the, ahem, numbers.
  • AUSL knows how to staff schools better than currently employed teachers, administrators, support staff, and maintenance crews. In fact, AUSL was just recommended to be the manager of three new turnarounds closings. This, despite a study from the organization Designs for Change which states that schools with democratically-led governing systems outperformed turnarounds. While we know Rahm and his ilk are likely to say, "Democracy, shmasocracy," this study shows how school-based democracies can be effective.
  • Teachers created the pension crisis. Wrong again. The CTU lays out some facts and figures which illustrate the consequences of "successive pension holidays" between 1995 and 2005.
Zombie ideas are everywhere, arm yourself properly!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Conscious Uncoupling

The Internet has been abuzz for the last 24 hours trying to figure out what Gwyneth Paltrow meant by the phrase conscious uncoupling. WCT only hears such mystifying terms during professional development sessions with our Thought Partners. It turns out, psychotherapist Katherine Thomas is a Thought Partner to the stars because conscious uncoupling means saying goodbye, but feeling okay about it.

Perhaps our elected school board retains the services of Katherine Thomas. The school board seems to have no problem uncoupling themselves from money to buy new office furniture. $5 million dollars worth of new furniture. That's in addition to the $4.5 million dollars they already had earmarked for new furniture. Herman Miller chairs for one and all! That's close to $10 million dollars to move into new offices while over 50 schools were closed this year, and 3 school turnarounds closings were just announced. 

The stellar decision-making from CPS just keeps on rolling.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Management & Labor Agree?!

This weekend was the first Network For Public Education Conference. Sadly, WCT was snowed in, but a speech given there by Superintendent John Kuhn of the Perrin-Whitt Independent School District in Texas and Chicago's own CTU President Karen Lewis shows that it is possible for management and labor to agree on educational issues.

Click the link to watch the joint keynote address by John Kuhn and Karen Lewis. John Kuhn is up first with Karen Lewis's portion beginning around 13:00. Enjoy and try to imagine any CPS superintendent co-speaking with any union president.