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.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Our Treat!

Dyett High School has become a prototype for how the Board of Education attempts to disappear a neighborhood school. Community members have fought the phase out of Dyett, submitted an RFP for a new school, and have requested to meet with the mayor and CPS officials. Their request has gone unanswered by CPS and ignored by the media. The best CPS can do is schedule a meeting on September 15th, after canceling one on August 26th. Twelve community members in an already food-insecure neighborhood are now on day 8 9 10 of a hunger strike.

If CPS or the mayor ever deign to issue a response it will probably be a variation on the theme of, "We're broke," or, "Talk to Springfield!"

Yet, the newly re-linked 2015 Supplier Report shows just how much money Chicago Public Schools is willing to toss around for food (this list doesn't include anything less than $4,000.00), while repeatedly stating they're going broke:

Alonti Cafe & Catering:               $501,044.00
A Tale of Two Chefs Catering:        $8,000.00
A Taste of Class:                            $5,000.00
Ain't She Sweet Cafe:                   $18,807.00
All On The Road Catering:            $59,489.00
Amazing Edibles:                          $56,811.00
Bake For Me:                               $22,794.00
Beggars Pizza Franchises:              $18,409.00    
Biagio's Events & Catering:            $16,344.00
Blue Plate Catering:                       $21,635.00
Buona Catering:                            $12,121.00
Byrons Hot Dogs:                           $4,150.00
Carnitas Don Rafa:                       $37,786.00
Catering Out The Box:                  $28,880.00
Connie's Pizza:                           $144,191.00
Corner Bakery:                             $12,790.00
Corky's Catering:                        $189,715.00
Famous Dave's:                            $13,343.00
Falco's Pizza:                               $13,419.00
Food for Thought Catering:           $29,757.00
Gibson's Bar & Steakhouse:            $4,287.00
Hel's Kitchen Cetering (sic):            $7,810.00
Jason's Deli:                                 $39,370.00
La Catedral Cafe:                           $7,600.00
Lou Malnati's:                              $10,108.00
Lucky Strike Chicago:                    $6,839.00
Maggiano's:                                   $5,556.00
Marcello's Restaurant:                    $6,415.00
Panera:                                        $69,030.00
Perry's Pizzaria:                           $15,035.00
Pompei Bakery:                           $25,324.00
Potbelly Sandwich Works:            $81,546.00
Subway Franchises:                    $208,091.00
Sugarplum Catering:                     $17,647.00
Wishbone:                                   $52,224.00

Food total:                                $1,771,367.00

Yes, these totals likely include food enjoyed by students, staff, and parents at events, meetings or appreciation days. However, if CPS can afford to pay $1,771,367 for catered food then perhaps they can either (1) stop saying they're broke or (2) ask everyone to brown bag it for the foreseeable future in the service of adequately funded schools.

Common Core Analogies Pt. 1

Learning Standards: What students should know and be able to do

Presumption that Common Core is predicated upon: More challenging learning standards will produce higher student achievement.

Analogies for Common Core learning standards' presumption:

  • More challenging expectations for Americans' fitness - obesity redefined as a BMI of 28 rather than 30 - will produce a reduction in the nation's obesity level.
  • Re-defining a marathon as 30 miles rather than 26.2 miles will produce faster, stronger runners.
  • Increased management expectations for a positive worker attitude will produce a happier workforce.
  • Stricter gun laws will produce safer communities.
  • Reducing women's access to abortion will result in lower rates of child neglect, child abuse and child poverty.
  • Telling your daughter that she must now clean the bathroom on Saturday in addition to doing her laundry, vacuuming and dusting will produce better chore completion.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

14 Year Old Chicago Assailant Shot by Police

We recently posted on an excellent project called Measure of America which defines and analyzes youth disconnect in cities.  Disconnected youth are defined as those who are "adrift at societies margins, unmoored from systems and structures that confer knowledge, skills, identity and purpose."

Following is a breakdown of information relating to the 14 year old CPS student who was shot on Thursday 8/20 by Chicago police:

Facts on timeline of police events:

  1. Police responded to shots fired at 8900 block of S. Escanaba
  2. Witnesses informed police that shooters were kids on bikes
  3. Police located kids on bikes
  4. Police questioned kids
  5. Kids attempted to flee, chase ensued, assailant Deguan Curry, 14 years old, pointed gun at officers, Curry shot in legs by police

Facts on Deguan Curry's circumstances:
  • At the time of the incident, Curry was in violation of Chicago's curfew laws
  • Curry's handgun was illegally obtained
  • Curry's mother, Ikyshia Webber, 35, has four children total aged 19, 18, 14 (Curry) and 13
  • Webber's pregnancies occurred at the ages of 15, 16, 20 and 21
  • Webber stated that on the night of the incident, Curry was in the company of his older brothers (19 and 18)
  • Webber stated that her oldest two sons have "not been living with her for some time." She further stated that "They're grown. So what they do, I don't know."
  • Curry is scheduled to begin school at CPS on Sept. 8th
Deguan Curry fits the profile of a disconnected youth.  His mother, Ikyshia Webber, fits the profile of a woman who was disconnected in her own youth.  Measure for Measure reminds us that we "spend our time, money and effort fighting the symptoms of youth disconnection instead of addressing its root causes."

This analysis is certainly accurate for CPS, where Deguan Curry can expect to be lectured on college readiness, reaching Common Core standards and the value of grit when he arrives to school on September 8th. And it's also accurate for the media, where condescending enablers will implicitly pin this incident on the police.

Forrest Claypool, Angry Liar

The Better Government Association's Sarah Karp published an op-ed in Monday's Sun Times noting the disparity between the funding of charter and neighborhood schools.

Many differences are noted, but an $11M increase in charter funding with a $146M reduction in funding to neighborhood schools stands out. Within Karp's report, mayoral puppet Emily Bittner calls such comparisons "apples to oranges" because of projected versus actual spending.

Forrest Claypool, feeling the apples to oranges deflection insufficient, has a tantrum in the Letters page. He whines:

"A column published in the Sun-Times this week from the Better Government Association uses faulty math to make wild and inaccurate generalizations about charter and neighborhood school funding."

Faulty math? Perhaps Claypool hopes readers will overlook the city's pension theft and botched contracts.

Wild and inaccurate generalizations?Claypool mustn't have read any comments to any article published about the CTU's contract negotiations in the Tribune

He pontificates:
"Using flawed analysis, the story also falsely claims that neighborhood schools citywide will receive $146 million less than last year." 

Claypool never specifices what is flawed about the analysis, nor does he provide a figure he feels is accurate.

He states the fucking obvious:
"...funding is increasing at both neighborhood and charter schools experiencing rising enrollment and declining at schools with fewer enrolling students."

Thanks for providing the definition of Student-Based-Budgeting, Sherlock.

He parrots Rahm's talking points:
Parent choice. Check! Budget deficit. Check! Pension mandates. Check!

Claypool then has the stones to moralize about transparency:
"In fact, Chicago Public Schools has a transparent and navigable database of school spending information online so that any member of the public can evaluate the data themselves..."

Sure, we trust whatever is online.

Repeat after us: We. Are. Not. Idiots.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Forrest Claypool, Still A Liar

Sun Times, August 10, 2015
"CPS already had announced $200 million in spending cuts, including $1 million in cuts from schools CEO Forrest Claypool’s executive office."

“Our goal is to protect pensions and to protect the classroom,” Claypool said during a conference call Monday morning. “To do that, it means everybody’s got to pitch in.”

Sun Times, August 11, 2015:
"In what’s likely to be a blueprint of his plan for the Chicago Teachers Union, Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool will announce Wednesday that the district will no longer pick up pension contributions for its nonunion central office employees."

The pension flip-flop didn't take long. What about the $1M in cuts from the CEO's office?

Tribune, August 21, 2015:
"Chicago Public Schools chief Forrest Claypool has hired another of his former staff members from the CTA, this time an executive charged with oversight of the district's financial operations.

Ronald DeNard, formerly the CTA's chief financial officer, joins CPS on Friday as senior vice president of finance, according to an email Claypool distributed Thursday.

Each of the district's finance-related divisions will report to DeNard, Claypool said in the email. Those responsibilities were previously handled by Chief Administrative Officer Tim Cawley."

Oversight of the district's financial operations? Ginger Ostro, Chief Financial Officer, would be the person who oversees the district's finances. One would assume DeNard will collect a similar $205,000 salary that he earned at the CTA to take up space in CPS management.

If it sounds like Tim Cawley is out the door, don't get too excited. He'll continue his accounting and contractual fuck-ups with seven other departments he oversees:

"Cawley, a former Motorola executive hired by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in 2011, will continue to supervise seven other administrative departments, according to Claypool's email...Cawley, who is paid $215,000 a year, oversees areas including facilities, food services and technology."

The other CTA hangers-on coming over to CPS:
  • Doug Kucia - Claypool's Chief of Staff
  • Andrell Holloway - Supervisor of Internal Audits
  • Hal Woods - Portfolio Planning and Strategy Director
Six-figure bureaucrats moving from one city organization to another isn't "pitching in." If each of these managers will make a comparable salary at CPS, that's $800,000 back of the $1M cuts Claypool was crowing about ten days ago.

Once again, Forrest, you may think teachers are idiots, but we're not.

CPS Teachers: Greedy Pigs or Priests and Nuns?

Another volunteer request from those who think CPS teachers are priests and nuns:

Dear Colleagues,

The first day of school for all CPS students is Tuesday, September 8, and we need your help to get the word out.

Beginning next week, you can support our Back-to-School efforts by phone banking (i.e., calling CPS families to make sure they know when school begins.) If you are interested, and have not already done so, please email  Once you have signed up, you will receive a follow up email with specific directions.

Thank you for supporting CPS students as they prepare to return to school on Sept. 8. If you have questions regarding other volunteer opportunities, please email

We do have a few questions:

  • Why is it assumed that teachers should want to work for free?  Especially since our new CEO wants to cut our pay by 7%? And especially since the city will not negotiate a new contract for us?
  • Why is it assumed that CPS parents cannot independently understand or find out when school starts?
  • Does the Back-to-School campaign have anything to do with the alarming rate at which CPS students are being shot this summer?

3 More CPS Students Shot This Week

Three more active CPS students have been shot during the week in progress: 8/18 Chicago Vocational Academy H.S., 8/19 Gage Park H.S and 8/20 Fenger H.S.  This brings the total number of CPS students shot during the week in progress to eight.  City-wide, 56 people have been shot in Chicago during the week of 8/16 - 8/22.  Of those, seven died. This reflects a 40.4% increase in shootings during this time period compared to 2014.

Rahm?  Claypool?  Anything to say?

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Rahm Emanuel: Out To Lunch

Bronzeville parents, activists, and educators are on day four day nine day 10 of a hunger strike to get a meeting with the Board of Ed, along with a vote on August 26th, for their idea for a revamped program at Dyett High School. There has been no public response from Rahm Emanuel, Forrest Claypool, or any member of the Board of Education. While the hunger strikers are going without food to simply get a meeting about their neighborhood school, WCT thought we'd take a look at some of Rahm's favorite places to chow down:
  • Lula Cafe, located in a trendy neighborhood populated by Chicago educational profiteers, is described as farm-to-table, funky, and eclectic. This spot offers crushed beets ($8), duck breast ($29), and poached salmon ($28). Simply bobo!
  • Naha, in chic River North, is praised for having nuanced and imaginative food. Today's menu offers foie gras with a "tarte tatin" of roasted pineapple, shallot, fennel, and mountain huckleberries ($28) as well as a ribeye of beef with a fondant of "Rose Finn" potatoes ($58). Bon appetit!
  • Mastro's Steakhouse, just around the corner from Naha, offers huge martinis and impeccable service. You can order up twin Lobster tails ($68) and a 48 oz. Porterhouse ($99). Cha-ching!
  • Chicago's Home of Chicken and Waffles, in ignored Bronzeville, is visited only during election season to court minority votes. Here, you can get various combinations of chicken and waffles with the most expensive item going for $15.50. Great for that political cameo!
Maybe Rahm will dine at one of these spots this week with Forrest Claypool or Garry McCarthy to discuss the too-late statement they will make expressing outrage over the 5 CPS students shot on Monday or exactly how long they'll let the hunger strike continue before giving Bronzeville community members a fucking meeting.

CPS Board of Ed = Bernie Madoff

Can someone please explain how those who raided the Chicago Teachers' Pension Fund are any different than Bernie Madoff?

  • The pension fund was close to 100% funded in 2000.
  • Between 1995-2005 and 2011-2013 CPS collected more than $2 billion in pension revenue from CTU members and paid none of that money into the pension fund
  • The School Board itself sanctioned the pension holidays, periods during which the district was exempt from putting teachers' pension money into the pension fund
  • The district does not account for where the pension money was spent; instead, new CEO Claypool lies and refers vaguely to the teacher pension system as "unfair"
  • Daley and Rahm's banking buddies are making big $$ from CPS's lucrative pension debt
To add insult to injury, Rahm + Rauner's media machine continues to paint teachers as greedy pigs by distorting the truth about pensions and publishing a useless reporter's desire for a Chicago Katrina.

The biggest insult, however, is Claypool's insistence that CTU members contribute 7% more of our salary into the pension fund.  So we're supposed to reimburse ourselves for the money that the district stole?  No thanks!  Although CPS thinks we're idiots, we're not.  

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Blame Game: CPS edition

In a sparsely attended Chicago Public Schools budget hearing tonight at Malcolm X College, about twenty speakers addressed funding questions to BOE VP Jesse Ruiz and CPS chiefs Ginger Ostro and Dr. Markay Winston. Assorted other CPS bureaucrats shared the stage, but they did nothing but nod or smile when appropriate. Tonight's theme: blame Springfield! Lack of pension parity? Springfield. Cuts to Special Education? Springfield. Decreased funding for CPS? Springfield.

Bruce Rauner likely doesn't know or care that all fingers are pointing at him as he had a grand old time at the Illinois State Fair today. To prove he has the biggest stones (and checkbook) of anyone, he purchased a prize steer at auction for $61,000. Then, he moseyed over to the dairy barn to get himself a raspberry milkshake! It sure must be hard work trying to bust unions and implode public education, but you'd never know it from his insipid grin.

Something else Bruce Rauner doesn't know or care about: the families who are already bracing for the impact of CPS budget cuts. In particular, families who send their kids to Jackie Vaughn Occupational High School were vocal about the loss of 23 paraprofessionals and 5 teachers at this school which serves the needs of 208 students with cognitive and developmental disabilities. While $61,000 is a drop in the bucket for Rauner, students who attend Vaughn will be hard-pressed to earn this much in the workforce. A 2014 article notes that only 11% of people with a cognitive disability work full-time, while 33% live in poverty.

Some of the more pointed remarks Vaughn parents directed to the coterie of assembled CPS brass:
  • Do any of you have a child with disabilities?
  • How would you feel if you had a blind child going down stairs at school without an aide?
  • Have you visited Vaughn? You'd be pleased and proud.
  • I'm pleading to your humanity to stop cutting to the bone, we're the bone.
  • I want my child to be able to fill out a job application and be productive.
One woman, a 33 year old single mother, spoke with a trembling voice and begged to have some positions restored at the school. Her son, she said, is 16 years old with Cerebral Palsy and she equated the slated cuts to limiting her son's life.  After this, all Dr. Winston could guarantee was that one position at Vaughn has been restored.

Tomorrow will likely bring another round of dire warnings, finger-pointing, and tough talk. Meanwhile, Bruce Rauner will continue living out his State Fair dreams as parents and students appear to be the unfortunate losers in this blame game.

5 CPS Students Shot on Monday

Of the 33 people shot in Chicago during the week in progress, five are active CPS students:  Camelot Safe Academy, UNO Hector Garcia H.S., Bogan H.S., Englewood Academy H.S.and Mahalia Jackson E.S.  All five were shot on Monday 8/18.  And as usual, nobody with influence cares. Where's Rahm's outrage?  Where's Claypool's statement?

CPS students are scheduled to report to school on Sept. 8th.  We're assuming that the city is currently digging up some money to provide the requisite yard signs, door hangers and public service announcements urging CPS students to attend school.  And giving thanks that they had the foresight to stall on CTU contract negotiations in order to avert another fall strike.

Ed Reform Fails to Cure Youth Disconnect

The Social Science Research Council recently published a project called Measure of America which, among other things, defines and analyzes youth disconnect.  

Youth disconnect: "Youth between the ages of 16-24 who are neither working nor in school.  Disconnected youth are adrift at societies margins, unmoored from systems and structures that confer knowledge, skills, identity and purpose."

National average of youth disconnect: 14.7%

Ed reformers promise excellence, college readiness, bright futures, disciplined lives, meaningful lives, intellectual growth and the ability to make students' dreams come true.

Let's compare U.S. cities with the most charters to rates of youth disconnect (YD) in those cities:

CITY                       % of Charters            Black YD        Latino YD        White YD
NOLA                      92                              27.5                 n/a                     10.5
Detroit                     51                              25.3                 19.2                   13.5
D.C.                         43                              19                    11.7                   7
Indianapolis           28                              22.3                 n/a                     14
Philadelphia           28                              19.7                 19                      8
Phoenix                  27                              28.2                 23.5                   13.3     

We can conclude that ed reform doesn't seem to be working.  Perhaps this is because ed reform emphasizes an elitist college-for-all agenda which demonizes teachers and unions in the process.

Instead, ed reformers should consider following Measure for America's suggestions, which include providing wrap-around services for disconnected youth, such as medical care and therapeutic counseling.  Another Measure for America suggestion is to bring back vocational training in schools. 

But can you imagine Campbell Brown advocating for shop classes?  The horror!        

Monday, August 17, 2015

Rahm Channels His Inner-Orwell

Rahm Emanuel and CPS are gunning for a new entry in the Newspeak dictionary: Un-school.

Here's how Rahm and CPS would define Un-school: An open school that has no students, teachers, or staff.

Take the Moses Montefiore Specialty School, for example. Chicago Public Schools have pink-slipped all teachers in the building, but an assistant principal, clerk, and budget line item remain. It's not closed. Rahm is man of his word: no school closings from 2013 - 2018. Given this, Montefiore is the first, but probably not the last, un-school.

WCT wonders what charter, magnet, IB, STEM, or selective enrollment Montefiore will become. Certainly, after putting $1.4M towards renovations, it won't be empty for long. Even more certain is the Board puts no premium on helping those students who need it most but do recognize a neighborhood with condos abounding and all sorts of privatizing opportunities on the horizon.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Useless Reporter: Kristen McQueary

After offending Americans nation-wide with her insulting and insensitive suggestion that Chicago would benefit from being hit by Hurricane Katrina, Chicago Tribune Board member Kristin McQueary issued a non-apology in today's Trib.  Highlights:

  • "I used the hurricane as a metaphor for the urgent and dramatic change needed in Chicago."
  • "I wrote what I did ... out of long-standing frustration with Chicago's poorly managed finances."
  • "It's a theme on our editorial page - we see how wasteful spending and inefficient government hurt people."
We love how McQueary's ego is of the sort to require apologies of others but not to be able to issue an authentic one herself.

We also love how McQueary pats herself and the Trib's editorial board on the back for having a "theme" regarding wasteful spending.  However, we wonder why Ms. McQueary (or any other Trib reporter) doesn't actually investigate and report on wasteful spending.  Why has the Trib left the Daley administration alone?  Where's the reporting on oligarch Ken Griffin's racketeering?  Instead, the Trib's Watchdog reporters manipulate pension information in their service of Rahm + Rauner's anti-union, pro-oligarch agenda.

Looks like  John Kass and Ben Joravsky of the Chicago Reader are the only reporters in town with actual investigative stones.

More Trib Truth Distortion

As expected, the Trib published today another front page story designed to turn the public against those greedy pigs who collect a pension.

The headline reads:  Pension spikes cost taxpayers millions

To "prove" that Illinois taxpayers are being cornholed out of their hard-earned cash by greedy retirees, the Trib cites the cases of 511 Illinois outliers who have managed to work the system to their unfair advantage.  What the Trib wouldn't want the public to know about pensions, however, is the truth:

Illinois membership in the state's various pension systems:  961,952 people

The Trib's 511 pension thieves as percentage of total membership:  0.0531%

Average Illinois pension benefit: $ 2,012 per month

Probability that Tribune Watchdog reporters are servants to Rahm + Rauner's interests: 100%

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Shill Spotlight on: Sandy Stuart!

Bruce Rauner, running on a platform of shaking things up in Springfield, proves he's all talk and more business as usual with his latest appointment of Republican donor and rainmaker Alexander "Sandy" Stuart to the Teacher Retirement System Board. The president of North Star Investments only interest in teachers is likely directing funds and associated fees to his investment firm.

Plutocrat credentials: Heir to the Quaker Oats fortune, his father was the former ambassador to Norway, and he made Wedding Page of the New York Times.

Quirky plutocrat hobby: Member of a capella singing group the Buckthorns.

Illinois Public School credentials: Zero. Graduate of Hotchkiss (1:5 teacher-to-student ratio, current tuition $53,000), Princeton, and Harvard.

Outlook on public schools: Murky. A trustee of the St. Andrews School - Delaware, where full tuition is $55,500.

Philanthropic do-gooding: Stuart Family Foundation, Chair of Chicago Public Media, Director of Northwestern Memorial Lake Forest Hospital.

Current home value: $2,638,333.00

Stuart joins some illustrious appointee-shills in the Rauner's universe: rooftop opportunist pastor Corey Brooks and Democrat flip-flopper Rev. James Meeks.

Rock on, Sandy Stuart!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

CPS Confusion Concern: Cured

An investigation by the Inspector General and more bad press about its stance on transparency seems to have alleviated CPS's need to ensure nobody is confused. Instead, all about the quick follow-up (click to enlarge):

Monday, August 10, 2015

Concede, Teacher Pigs! Part 2

In today's installment of teachers better make some fucking concessions, Bruce Rauner picks up where Forrest Claypool left off. We learn:
  • Rauner is selling faulty idea that the CTU is a dictatorship and controls everyone from the mayor to the mayoral appointed School Board and is responsible for the financial malfeasance of Chicago politicians. Rauner:  “The power of the teachers union has been overwhelming. Chicago has given and given and given. It’s created a financial crisis that the Chicago schools face now...” Unlike Bruce Rauner, the CTU can't issue Executive Orders rescinding laws, as Rauner did 10 weeks into his term.  Maybe Rauner was at his wine club when Mayor Daley issued pension holidays to divert the funds.
  • Rauner finds the notion of destroying teachers' unions and all public-sector unions empowering. Rauner, "We believe the right answer is to empower the people of Chicago, the voters, the mayor...should be enabled to decide what gets collectively bargained." Wisconsin residents likely don't find it empowering that dismantling unions has meant lower median incomes and average earnings growth.
  • Rauner sees no value in students who attend our schools as he talks about the benefits of outsourcing (i.e., firing everyone's union ass) to save money. No doubt he's ensured TFA's contract is paid-in-full so a steady stream of replacements are at the ready.
Online comments continue to show Rauner and Rahm's highly effective manipulation of the media and public perception continues:
  • "It is those CTU thugs that have failed children."
  • "Amend the constitution to eliminate those outrageous pensions."
  • "Entitlement! Give me more than I've rightfully earned! Screw everyone else, I want mine!"
  • "Too bad we can't eviscerate the CTU...they're all corrupt, inefficient, radical leftists anyway."
Thugs! Outrageous pensions! Entitled leftists! Yes, everyone still fully on board with Plan A: concede, swine.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Chief Resilience Officer?

Proving no layer of bureaucracy is too much for Chicago, the city is looking to add a Chief Resilience Officer to the already bloated load the city carries. We're certain, readers, that your question is the same as ours: what the #$% is that? 

The description provided by the Rockfeller Foundation, the bankrollers of this Orwellian endeavor, doesn't clarify much: "The CRO (Chief Resilience Officer) is an innovative position in city government that ideally reports directly to the city’s chief executive, and acts as the city's point person for resilience building, helping to coordinate all of the city's resilience efforts."  Resilience building? WCT imagines this *innovative* new hire having to organize trust falls and ropes courses for the various directors of city departments. Nobody will want to be partners with Forrest Claypool, that's for sure.

Between the city's job description and the Rockfeller Foundation blog post, "What a Chief Resilience Officer Does," every en vogue reform buzzword is employed:
  • Innovative
  • Resilience
  • Stakeholders
  • Impactful 
  • Holistic
  • Leverage
  • Synergy
  • Scalable, scalability
  • Cohort
  • Evolution
  • Tool
  • Vision document
  • Transform
  • Framework
  • Buy-in
  • Disruption
Uh-oh. As our Thought Partners have demonstrated time and again, nothing good comes from such vapid, vacuous language.

After further reading, this resilience effort is cloaked in the practicalities of saving a city from dangers ranging from endemic violence to terrorism, but really appears to be a vehicle for disaster capitalism whereby crises are exploited to push through initiatives citizens would otherwise resist. In fact, the first world's first (and only) Chief Resilience Officer Summit was held in New Orleans, current ground zero for all manner of reform.

Chicago, currently facing man-made crises of chronic violence, staggering debt, and a possible labor action is the perfect place refine such loathsome practices

Friday, August 7, 2015

Hypocrite Spotlight: Henry Bienen, Effete Union-Hater

Henry Bienen, outgoing CPS Board Member, ex-President of Northwestern and interim head of the Poetry Foundation, recently discussed his thoughts on CPS and the CTU.  In response, WCT turns our spotlight on Henry Bienen:

Bienen's thoughts on CPS during Rahm's 1st term:  "The schools improved, no doubt about it..I can't see that it comes from any lowering of standards in any way."

Chance that Bienen understands the realities of grade/attendance manipulation: 0

Amount of regular CPS teachers spoken to by Bienen while serving on BoE:  0

Opinion of CTU:  "There are very few places that have as good a deal as the CTU."

Assessment of his own wealth: "I'm not that rich."

Value of his 161 E. Chicago Ave. condo:  $1.3 M

Percentage of CPS teachers eligible to collect Social Security: 0

Percentage of retired CPS teachers collecting less than $3,000/month pension: 42%

Percentage of retired CPS teachers collecting less than $2,500/month pension: 27%

Opinion of elected CPS School Board: "Poor idea."

Bald-faced lie:  "I believe in democracy."

Effete false-modest musings on new poetry job: "When I was a freshman at Cornell, my poetry teacher was W. D. Snodgrass, a great poet.  I met my wife in his class...I had lunch with Snodgrass, who was a very wonderful guy, very informal.  He said to me, "Henry, either you have a very complicated ear for poetry, or..." And the 'or' just hung there."

Behavior during CPS Board Meetings:  "When parents would come before the board with questions, he never even made eye contact, like, 'I have to endure these unwashed masses in front of me.'"
-Karen Lewis

Wife Leigh Bienen's job:  Law Professor at Northwestern, special interest in capital punishment reform

Likelihood that Northwestern's Innocence Project sent an innocent man to jail: 100%

Probability that Henry and Leigh Bienen are clueless about life in Chicago: 100%

CPS's Acute Case of Confusion Concern

According to Transparency International"As a principle, public officials, civil servants, the managers and directors of companies and organisations, and board trustees have a duty to act visibly, predictably and understandably to promote participation and accountability and allow third parties to easily perceive what actions are being performed." Right on! 


You might wonder what the principle of transparency has to do with anything, at least in Chicago. A reader emailed to let us know our links to the CPS Supplier Reports were not working. Sure enough, there's not one CPS Supplier Report to be found online. These reports list listed awards to vendors not found in the Contract Award Report. WCT enjoyed browsing the vendors in the Suppliers Doing Business with the Chicago Public Schools Report because it was a clear list of how much money was going to which profiteer, kick-back artist, and scammer cashing in on CPS and taxpayers. Thanks to such reports, it was obvious who the biggest and best shakedown artists infiltrating CPS were. 

Let's time travel, reader. In 2011 Rahm Emanuel made a transparency pledge to, "...make the city government more accessible to everybody," and, "to create the most open, accountable, and transparent government the City of Chicago has ever seen." Ironically, any evidence of Emanuel speaking these words has been removed from the internet, so WCT has to rely on references to this statement. WCT also assumes the transparency pledge was strictly a first-term pledge.

In a February 2012 Tribune interview, Rahm Emanuel used some form of the word transparent 19 times. A sample:

" I did talk about transparency and I feel — to what I said — I am achieving it. Achieving, not achieved. And I don't put any period at the end of the sentence. This is only nine months into it [Emanuel administration], but there is no doubt given the backlog of potentiality from a transparency standpoint, I am making government information available, I am making sure people have access to it, I am bringing back a level of trust."


Let's see where Rahm's "backlog of potentiality from a transparency standpoint" has brought us. In August 2015 the city finances are shredded, Chicago Public Schools in disarray, and pensions disappeared. Residents would like to know exactly how the city has accrued such a sizable debt, where the money went, and why it keeps going. Documents, like the Supplier Report, while maddening to read, clearly show whose pockets are getting lined. 

Harkeing back to Rahm's transparency pledge, WCT emailed the CPS Purchasing Department inquiring about the missing reports.

The legalese response: "This report used to be required by a city ordinance, but that ordinance was repealed and the report is no longer legally required.  We actually took the link down from the website quite a while ago after the ordinance was repealed, but we learned recently that the direct link still worked, even though the data was stale or incorrect.  We recently have removed the old file to eliminate the confusion, as it was not accurate." 

Accuracy! Obeying the law! Non-confusion! Suddenly, City Hall and CPS have taken it upon themselves to not confuse people who are seeking day-ta, stale as it might be. Yes, let's remove the information so nobody is confused. Let's get all revisionist and hide information, substituting one piece of nonsense for another. God forbid anybody know anything in case they ask questions or attempt to hold the people doling out the money accountable. 

This must be an acute onset of Confusion Concern, as there is a long history of Chicago's confusion-inducing decisions:

October 16, 2009 headline: Calendar confusion--Or Citywide Chaos

May 23, 2013 headline: Confusion follows CPS school closing decision

February 24, 2015 headline: Confusion continues over standardized-testing in Chicago

May 24, 2015 headline: CPS forgot 22 schools in estimate for Aramark at a cost of $7M

Fortunately, for those of us who don't mind being confused, the internet is crawled frequently and pages cached (saved). As our Thought Partners would chirp, "daaay-ta!" Here are the cached Supplier Reports (copy and paste into browser) so you may be predictably, visibly, and understandably angered: