Board of Education meeting features heightened security paranoia, vigorous opposition to CPS policies

The June 23, 2010 Chicago Board of Education (BOE) meeting began with the usual June recognition of principals who are retiring. There were additional "good news" items as well. Damani Bolden, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Honorary Student Board member, was also thanked for his service and, at the end of the public participation portion of the meeting, presented his own Power Point presentation of his activities in the schools while he was the Student Honorary Board Member.

More than 120 people were confined by CPS security in the "holding room" on the 15th floor of CPS headquarters at the time the Board of Education began its meeting ten floors below. Increasing claims of "security" since the Board of Education president Mary Richardson Lowry, an attorney who was mentored by Mayor Richard M. Daley, became Board president have made it more and more difficult for the average person to participate in Board meeting. With each passing month, Lowry makes additional "security" rules, all of which restrict peoples' rights to participate in the Board's meetings. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. Damani Bolden, graduate of Lindbloom High School and now heading for Champaign-Urbana this fall, was the top student of ten chosen for 2009-2010 as BOE student representatives. He sat on the Board each month and sometimes offered comments or was asked to comment. The other nine students then became student "shadow" Board members of the month each month.

Public participation began at approximately 11:00 A.M. with fifty-four speakers lined up to speak.

Once again, the claim that "security" required the abuse of members of the public resulted in hundreds of people line up down the corridor in the building waiting to go through the metal detectors and then being relegated to the 15th floor "holding room" while more than 60 seats in the Board Chambers were taken up by smiling CPS officials who are assigned to fill the "Reserved" seats in order to keep the public out. "Security considerations" were routinely invoked by Board President Mary Richardson Lowry, a protege of Mayor Richard M. Daley, as she tried to stifle as much of the public as possible.

Board President Mary Richardson-Lowry reviewed the rules for participation. One person, who was required to go to the overflow room instead of the Board chambers, asked if new rules were being instituted. Richardson Lowry said that only five people were allowed to go down to the Board chambers from the overflow room with any speaker. In addition, only fifteen people could go up in front with any speaker. When a security guard was questioned about this, she was told that this was a new rule that had been put in place a couple of months ago.

Less than ten minutes before the Board meeting was scheduled to begin, CPS security, on orders from CEO Ron Huberman, was still stalling more than 100 people in the downstairs hallway, outside the metal detectors. While the majority of the people being stalled were forced to go to the 15th floor "holding room," some were admitted into the 5th floor Board chambers, where the actual meeting was taking place. Since January 2010 the Chicago Board of Education, under Ron Huberman and Mary Richardson Lowry, the Daley protege (and lawyer) who is now Board President, CPS officials have added insult to injury against anyone from outside the mayor's narrow circle of cronies who tries to speak at the Board. In addition to having to spend a day downtown during "bankers' hours" for the Board meeting itself, the majority of the people who come to the Board meetings are forced to watch the public meeting on closed circuit TV, rather than in the Board chambers. CPS officials pack the 5th floor meeting room with "reserved" seating, then fill those seats with bureaucrats carefully placed so that their smiling faces are on the TV monitor for later cable TV viewing. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. It immediately became clear that the rule was only being applied to critics of the Board. Virtually the first participant in public participation — the new "Air Force Academy High School" — was allowed to bring more than 20 people to the microphone when their speakers spoke.

Yashika Tippett-Eggleston, of Air Force Academy High School who had sought Board approval to move from Medill Elementary to the former Abbott, thanked the Board for establishing a permanent location for the school. The Air Force Academy is to move to the closed Abbott Elementary School building next school year. She cited a number of statistics to demonstrate improvements in achievement by students. She said the "Soaring Falcons Air Force Academy" is looking forward to the move.

Kalpana Plomin, of Galileo Elementary School, who mentioned that the principal of Galileo had passed away, asked the Board for assistance in selection of a new principal that the parents would like to have. The majority of parents and staff want to select an assistant principal who has been long at the school, but new Board rules hold that the parents' choice has not cleared the final hurdle in the latest principal certification process (a highly controversial oral examination and review). She mentioned the Dan Coyne situation as precedent for Chief Executive Officer Ron Huberman taking control over a situation. (Dan Coyne, a CPS Social Worker, donated a kidney in a highly publicized act of heroism. He was given a warning letter regarding residency after he had originally received a residency waiver because he was a Social Worker. Subsequently, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ron Huberman said he would meet with Dan Coyne about this situation.) Ms. Plomin also mentioned a Local School Council (LSC) letter, parent signatures, and the support from teachers, President Richardson-Lowry expressed sympathy regarding the principal who passed away and said she was not familiar with the issues expressed her and said dialogue would continue with the CEO.

Matthew Johnson, who is on the Local School Council at Dewey Elementary School, also spoke in support of Galileo. He asked CEO Huberman for assistance in the selection of an interim principal at Galileo. The principal of Dewey had died during the LSC meeting, and a stalemate on principal selection had resulted subsequently. In a matter unrelated to Galileo, he mentioned a violation of the Open Meetings Act at another school. He was told by President Richardson-Lowry that Chief Counsel Patrick Rocks would follow up on the Open Meetings Act.

Maneer Damra, of Roosevelt High School, a mentor of boys, said freshmen year is the most crucial year in high school. Achievement and attendance improved after freshmen went on freshmen retreats. Mr. Damra will be meeting with Drew Beres on July 11 at Dyett School. President Richardson-Lowry thanked him.

Darnell Flowers, of Senn High School, asked that the Automotive Tech program not be cut next year.

Syed Quadri, a first generation Indian student, whose parents would prefer that he become a doctor, wants to be a police officer and also work on cars. He went to North Side College Prep, but found that there were no automotive programs there. Then he went to Senn for the auto program there. Now he is the owner of Auto Techs, Inc. He requested that Senn Auto Shop be kept alive. He was told that the budget has yet to be finalized. CEO Huberman wants to talk to the students in this program.

Katherine Hogan, of Social Justice High School, a nine-year CPS veteran, said that last Friday was the worst day in nine years. Teachers are packing up their classrooms and students are in tears at the loss of teachers. She said the community is being ripped apart because one third of the adults at the school will be lost. She asked, "Would you purchase more fire detectors after you just fired all the firefighters?" She told of a social worker who lived in the community her whole life who is now gone as the social worker. She said we're cutting 27,000 chances of resiliency in kids. She added that when the outcomes go down, no computer or test will fix that.

Catherine Jones, of Morgan Elementary said the principal selection process at Morgan was illegal and requested CEO selection assistance of an interim principal and removal of Valerie Prendergast. President Richardson-Lowry said the illegal process will be investigated.

Kosi Bowman, of Gage Park High School, expressed sadness at the cuts of teachers. She added that you are toying with our lives, you are toying with our futures. She wore a T-shirt that indicates her membership in VOYSE. President Richardson-Lowry thanked her for her statements and remarked that no budget has been presented to the Board, no final decisions have been made, and public input is still welcome.

Eric Gaston, also of Gage Park High School, mentioned that many teachers who care have been cut from Gage Park High School. He went on to say that although Gage Park is not the best, we want to see the kids off the streets. He added that this goes beyond our pockets and wallets.

Carol Caref, a Math teacher at Chicago Vocational Career Academy (CVCA), cited data from the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) to illustrate that more African-American teachers worked in segregated and low-performing schools and suffered greater losses of employment because of turnaround schools. She remarked that CPS runs a racist school system that is separate, but unequal, one that is decimating the African-American teaching force.

William Buchanan, a high school Math teacher, claimed that the crisis is not a budget crisis, but a leadership crisis. He said teachers are being fired for budgetary reasons, not given ten months to seek another position, not given health insurance, and that the BOE financial crisis actions are callous.

Beth Pate, a twenty-two year teacher at Ellington Elementary School, who taught first to third grade and was a reading coach for six years, was given an honorable dismissal and now has no health benefits. Because of this, she had to have the date of a mammogram bumped up. She said her seniority is over. She added, "We have been left on the street.... We are highly qualified educators..."

Valerie Bathest-Danzy, a reading teacher and literacy coach, has been terminated. Her last day is June 30. After eighteen years of superior service, she will not be in reserve teacher pool and has lost her health benefits. She remarked, "I only have done what CPS has asked me to do..." adding "We are worthy of more. You guys should be ashamed."

Andrew Martinek, of Gage Park High School, was told in regard to teacher cuts, "It must be like losing an arm." He and others responded, "It's like losing our heart."

He asked, "Why would we terminate quality teachers?"..."Schools are more than bricks and mortar."

While the Chicago Board of Education was packing the seats in the fifth floor meeting room with Board bureaucrats, parents, teachers, students and principals were forced to wait in several long lines to participate in the supposedly public meeting. Proving that under Ron Huberman and Mary Richardson Lowry, the Board disrespects anyone who actually knows how to teacher or lead teachers in Chicago's public schools, the Board kept the people above waiting to pass through the metal detectors on June 23, 2010. Above, retired principal John Butterfield (left), Schurz High School Teacher Lois Jones, Gage Park High School teacher Debby Pope and McPherson Elementary School teacher Pam Touras. In the background is Jackie Robinson Elementary teacher Jack Silver, who previously served as vice president of the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund. Three of those above (Jones, Pope, and Silver) spoke during the public participation portion of the Board meeting. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Debby Pope, of Gage Park High School, said thirty-five kids in the classroom is an outrage. She added that it is hypocrisy for the Board, which says Children First, to do this... This decision is disparately hurting the poorest communities. While French language instruction is eliminated here, more privileged schools offer several languages. She asked that the Board not balance the budget on the backs of teachers and children.

Karen Lewis, President-Elect of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), asked the Board to be mindful that "Not one of you stood up for teachers and students last week." [When the Board voted at its emergency meeting on June 15 to allow Ron Huberman to raise class sizes and fire up to 2,700 teachers]. She questioned the Board's validity. In the past, the Board has almost unanimously voted on all items. She remarked that the "State didn't go broke because it put so much money into the schools." and "I guess there's no honeymoon for me. It's on."

One observer noted that Karen Lewis was treated with the same rudeness with which Mary Richardson Lowry, the Board President, treated most of those who testified criticizing Board policies. Lewis's predecessor, Marilyn Stewart, had always been recognized by the Board's secretary and given the right to speak prior to other speakers. The hostility of Richardson-Lowry and the administrators arrayed around Ron Huberman towards Lewis and CORE was almost palpable throughout the Board meeting, while the rudeness of Richardson Lowry and Huberman to the general public was generally felt.

Michael Brunson, Recording-Secretary-Elect of the CTU, reiterated his request from last week's emergency fiscal crisis meeting. He questioned how the budget crisis should be addressed. He mentioned that there are no educators on the Board, only business people. Yet with all this business expertise, he said, you're scrambling for money. He wants business people to work with educators and form a joint budget/oversight committee. Once again, the Board ignored him and continued with its claim, so far justified only in Huberman's Power Point presentations, that CPS was facing an enormous "deficit" (or "shot fall" or something else). Since January 19 when he first claimed the "deficit" without providing specific revenue and expenses figures, Huberman has refused to provide the public with precise figures.

Sandra Rector, a recent graduate who will attend Roosevelt University in the fall and a member of VOYCE, asked CEO Huberman if he would be present at the meeting on July 1 with Drew Beres on July. CEO Huberman replied that he would try my best to be there, but there are no final budget decisions. Sandra Rector answered, "Can we call you?" President Richardson-Lowry remarked, "I would advise you to become a lawyer."

Theodore Carter, also of VOYCE, shared Sandra Rector's point of view.

Greg Seaphus, said that seven years ago, I talked about prototyping our needs, adding that we need to discuss the needs of students based on current research - all are failing for somewhat the same reasons. President Richardson-Lowry asked CEO Huberman to set up a meeting.

Roland Poska, from Rockford, IL, wanted the Board to sign declarations to end prejudice and violence.

Lois Jones, of Schurz High School and a CTU delegate, said that in March, a programmer told them that he was directed to program for thirty-five in a classroom. She asked how many classrooms already have thirty-five students in elementary. She added that in Schurz, freshmen already have thirty-one and asked, "Are you really thinking forty?" She admonished them that you all said it's wrong, but we're going to do it anyway.

President Richardson-Lowry replied that we had a meeting earlier this month and we're acting within our fiduciary responsibilities... The budget has not been finalized... We are preparing for the budget deficit and it is still in flux.

Jennifer Johnson, of Lincoln Park High School, said that funding for computers, test, consultants and an online curriculum are new in the budget. She added that if there's this money, then we can find money for the cuts that have been made. She remarked that interaction, sharing, and face-to-face communication are more important than computers.

President Richardson-Lowry thanked Ms. Johnson for her remarks.

Jack Silver, teacher and former Pension Fund trustee, talked about the pension money owed to the Pension Fund. He said $2 billion had been borrowed in 1995 and never repaid. President Richardson-Lowry asked Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Diane Ferguson to follow up with Mr. Silver.

Pamela Greyer, from Marine Math and Science, asked for a commitment to have equipment moved before it is disbursed. She added that Drew Beres has agreed to help. President Richardson-Lowry asked CEO Huberman to follow up with her and report back to the Board.

Charlie Walker, of P.A.C., said he tried to set up a meeting with CEO Huberman, but received no response. He told CEO Huberman, you messed up CTA with the budget. He added that if Wal-Mart can roll back prices, you can roll back this budget. President Richardson-Lowry responded that we appreciate you.

Jackson Potter, CORE co-chair and a teacher at Little Village High School, talked about risky financial derivatives and asked for accountability. He remarked that in July of 2008, Mayor Daley said the system was well-financed and then asked. "What happened?" He added that fifteen years is a long time to be sealing financial information. President Richardson-Lowry told Mr. Potter that CEO Huberman will follow up with him.

Norine Gutekanst, a teacher of third-graders at Whittier Elementary, told of the difficulty split classes would cause in teaching Reading and Math when teachers are terminated. Also, two full-time kindergartens would be converted to half-day kindergartens. President Richardson-Lowry asked CEO Huberman to follow up. CEO Huberman stated that he wished to clarify that there's no final budget. Thirty-five students in a classroom is a worse-case scenario. He added that school based cuts have not occurred yet. The situation is fluid, it is changing, we are waiting for the state to determine the amount, and we are waiting for some restitution from the state. We appreciate input.

Sylvester Hendricks, the honorable Sylvester "Junebug" Hendricks, wanted all present to stand to honor Martin Luther King, Jr., Michael Scott, and other individuals. President Richardson-Lowry said that, for security purposes, we can't ask all to stand. Mr. Hendricks talked of a conspiracy of the Board members and the law department under Chief Counsel Patrick Rocks. He claimed that there was a violation of constitutional laws/rights in regard to an election process. President Richardson-Lowry requested that Chief Counsel Patrick Rocks give a report in respect to this. It was then referred to Miguel Rodriguez. Mr. Hendricks claimed that Mr. Rodriguez was an inept individual. President Richardson-Lowry said "Thank you, Mr. Junebug" to which he replied, "You're not welcome."

Katerine Kousouka, who had gone around the world and spoke five languages, came back to Chicago because she wanted her children to be educated in the same way that she and her brother had been educated in the Chicago Public Schools. After her children had taken some kind of tests and had gone to Department Headquarters downtown, she was unable to get her children enrolled. One child is a Special Needs student. She remarked that she didn't want to have to move to the suburbs just to enroll her children. She now lives in River North and requested a private meeting. CEO Huberman will follow up.

Patricia O'Keefe, a parent at Alcott, told the Board that she appreciated that Mayor Daley has made Chicago a place where I want to raise my children. She remarked that the budget is troubling and it is devastating when teachers are lost. She said that we need to come up with a long-term solution. President Richardson-Lowry said "Thank you very much" for your input.

Latonya Parker, a parent, said her son was raped by a coach at Barton School. Then he was teased and made fun of by teachers. The coach was proven guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. She was told by the school that her son will grow out of it. She responded, "He will not!" His attitude has become very violent and his grades have dropped. President Richardson-Lowry apologized on behalf of the district and told her CEO Huberman and Chief Counsel Patrick Rocks will work with you. She added that you have just presented something that's tragic and we will work with you for your son's sake.

Bobby Townsend, of the Dyett Advisory Park District, talked of the need for recreation. She asked, "What are the teenagers going to do?" She told of the need for volunteers and also asked Board members to go into the classrooms. She said some children don't have home training, some parents are on drugs, and some children are not learning. She said they need new ways of learning. In regard to Arne Duncan, she remarked "If I need to go to his mama again, I will." President Richardson-Lowry replied, "Thank you."

Rosita Chatonda talked of expulsion, termination and principal removal. She said she had watched the Board rubber stamp items. She claimed that there was no justice at CPS. She added that she wanted to show her children that we are all Americans even though there are some un-American things here today. She remarked that the system may be broken, but we can fix it. In regard to a retaliation problem, she asked that never again will we use children to testify and then expel them. She told the Board that we look to you for leadership. President Richardson-Lowry told her. "We appreciate your presentation," and asked CEO Huberman to follow up with the details. President Richardson-Lowry also took note of the many CORE buttons she had seen on participants today.

Nellie Cotton, a parent at Fleming, expressed concerns over the displaced teachers. She said that we need real live teachers in the classroom. President Richardson-Lowry repeated that there is a budget crisis and we want to hear from you. Richardson-Lowry added, "I don't have a salary...We (Board Members) don't get paid and we don't have an expense account either. Ms. Cotton replied, "Thank you for doing this out of the kindness of your heart." Layla Soria, a ten-year old child, who said she has a Learning Disability, mentioned that her teachers help her a lot. President Richardson-Lowry said, "Thank you for your comments," and asked CEO Huberman to follow up with this Special Needs child.

Bert Murrell spoke of taking children out of an achieving school and putting them in a failing school in seventh grade. He said this is still an issue a year later and it has not been addressed, so "I'm back here again." President Richardson-Lowry asked CEO Huberman to look into this and share what the findings are. Adrian Willis will follow up.

David Simpson, Director of Counselling for Youth Guidance, spoke in support of the Blue Ribbon Commission (a CPS mentoring project). This relates to the "Culture of Calm."

Wendell Floye, a Counselor at Phillips High School, added, "we believe in this program" and we "must address the community in which these students reside." President Richardson-Lowry said "Thank you for your statement."

Jose Hernandez, of McKinley Park Elementary, talked of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in regard to PIAB. He wanted to know "Who are these people?" and "How did they get elected?" President Richardson-Lowry said, "Thank you very much. Next speaker, please."

Wanda Hopkins remarked that she is doing this from her heart, she does not get paid, and she has no expense account. She said the BOE was uprooting children and teachers, even a Black Ph.D. can't pass the principal test, and asked "Who owns the contract for the Tech program?" She said segregation is different today. She added that she didn't expect much of Huberman or Bobins, (and possibly Carrera). President Richardson-Lowry said, "Thank you for your statement."

Susanne Dunn, from Prescott School, said of the twenty wealthiest nations in the world, the United States is at the bottom in several categories. She added that there are systemic inequities in the CPS. She mentioned a National Geographic issue devoted to water that told of an African community that got clean water and then saw attendance and test scores go up. She said when student are in poverty, we should not be blaming teachers for the lack of achievement.

At every Board meeting since Mary Richardson Lowry became Board President, the Board has invoked some new "security" rule to stifle public participation. The most bizarre during the June Board meeting came when long-time Board critic Sylvester ("Junebug") Hendricks took the podium. Hendricks, who has been speaking to the Board for more than a decade, generally prefaces his remarks with a call for a "moment of silence" for dead people. (He once referred to former Board President Michael Scott as having been "assassinated"). When he asked everyone to stand for the "moment of silence" on June 23, Board President Mary Richardson Lowry stunned the audience by announcing that "security" procedures made it so that nobody could stand! A few minutes later, Richard Lowry ordered the more than 20 security guards inside the Board meeting to surround Hendricks (above) and remove him. At each meeting of the Board, Richardson Lowry has been increasing the number of novel "security" procedures she is using to limit public participation (and criticism of the Board). Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.

Eben Credit, member of the Local School Counsel at Julian High School, asked Chief Counsel Patrick Rocks to look into an LSC election. He mentioned that Julian went on probation in April 2009, but there was no probation plan yet. He thinks they are trying to make Julian a turnaround school. President Richardson-Lowry spoke of a general meeting with parents and then thanked Eben Credit.

Francine Reizen, a teacher of Spanish, but not a native speaker, at Mireles, spoke of the importance of being exposed to other languages and cultures. President Richardson-Lowry thanked her.

The last public participation speaker was Trisha Kholodenko of the New Life Foundation who said the most important things were the student and relationships. She advocated for the mentoring program which she believes will improve attendance and achievement and lessen violence. President Richardson-Lowry thanked her for coming in and for her statement.

After the public participation portion of the Board meeting ended, everyone stood for the Pledge of Allegiance. Then two reports were presented, one by CEO Huberman on Safety and Security Issues and the state situation. Huberman was asked to postpone a planned report on the preliminary ISAT scores until the July Board meeting. He had previously appeared at a press conference at Burr Elementary School with Mayor Daley on the same subject.

Another report was give in Power Point by Damani Bolden, Honorary Student Member of the BOE.

The Board then recessed into executive session, coming out later to vote on most of the Board Reports before it. [A full report on the Board Reports not approved appears elsewhere in Substance]. 


June 25, 2010 at 11:53 AM

By: Looking for work...

Displaced Teacher

I was at the meeting on Wednesday and here are a couple of my observations: Ms. Richardson-Lowry said to a speaker during the public participation portion(best theater in Chicago!) that the members of the board "do not get paid" for sitting on the board. Is this true? The woman replied that she was thankful for the Board "screwing our children's education by displacing teachers from the bottom of her heart!"

Mr. Huberman kept saying that the budget hasn't been finalized, so the 2,700 teachers who face being "displaced" are the worst case scenario. I've already been displaced as I'm sure hundreds of others have been also. Let's try to be honest about it.

My final observation is how everyone passes the buck, you will talk to so and so, Mr. H. will see if he can attend, you will be passed on to the next Board of Ed. flunky just so we can wrap this meeting up. The way the President said a million times,"Thank you for your presentation, we appreciate your presentation", it is so unbelievably condescending as if they are all writing their grocery lists and killing time while they make their plans for the weekend!

There is no emotion, there is no concern for the people who are speaking who are fearing losing their jobs or have already lost them. My sense was that the board thinks they are so much smarter than everyone who goes up to the podium to speak, it is just so unbelievable the condescending attitude toward the public! It's sickening and they ALL SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF THEMSELVES!!!

I am displaced, I am scared of not finding another job. I am angry and disappointed by The Board of Education and the Union who allowed a tyrannical principal to lower my rank this evaluation year and then displace me even though I have tenure and seniority. The Board and the Union have allowed this behavior at my former school and I know it's going on else where. They have known about this situation since day one and they have done nothing to help us at our school!

The teachers are just the collateral damage in this corrupt system.

Hopefully the Karen Lewis will change things!

June 25, 2010 at 3:12 PM

By: Huberman can't get central office to work

Ron made central office a mess

For all his data and threats, central office still cannot get it right the first, second or third time. Depts. don't talk to each other, blame each other, voice mail is full or they do not know who is in charge of what--after over a year. Central office is even worse than before Hubie got there. Since he made more of a mess there, so will the rest of the CPS system go.

June 25, 2010 at 3:19 PM

By: kugler

Denial Of Due Process

contact me if you believe the following pertains to you.

Negotiating Points for Teachers on Value-Added Evaluations

My concerns regarding legal issues arose from statistical problems and some practical problems associated with using value-added assessment to reliably and validly measure teacher effectiveness. The main issue is to protect against wrongly firing teachers on the basis of statistical noise, or on the basis of factors that influenced the value-added scores that were not related to teacher effectiveness.

Among other things, I pointed out problems associated with the non-random assignment of students, and how non-random assignment of students across classrooms of teachers can influence significantly – bias that is – value-added estimates of teacher effectiveness. Non-random assignment could, under certain state policies or district contracts, lead to the “de-tenuring” and/or dismissal of a teacher simply on the basis of students assigned to that teacher. Links to research and more detailed explanation of the non-random assignment problem are provided on the previous post above.

Of course, this also means that school principals or superintendents – anyone with sufficient authority to influence teacher and student assignment – could intentionally stack classes against the interest of specific teachers. A principal could assign students to a teacher with the intent of harming that teacher’s value-added estimates.

Removing a teacher’s tenure status is denial of a teacher’s property interest and doing so requires “due process.” That’s not an insurmountable barrier, even under typical teacher contracts that don’t require dismissal based on student test scores. Simply declaring that “a teacher will be fired if he/she shows 2 straight years of bad student test scores (growth or value-added)” and then firing a teacher for as much does not mean that the teacher necessarily was provided due process.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act Challenges

The non-random assignment of students leads to the second likely legal claim that will flood the courts as student testing based teacher dismissals begin – Claims of racially disparate teacher dismissal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Given that students are not randomly assigned and that poor and minority – specifically black – students are densely clustered in certain schools and districts and that black teachers are much more likely to be working in schools with classrooms of low-income black students, it is highly likely that teacher dismissals will occur in a racially disparate pattern. Black teachers of low-income black students will be several times more likely to be dismissed on the basis of poor value-added test scores. This is especially true where a statewide fixed, rigid requirement is adopted and where a teacher must be de-tenured and/or dismissed if he/she shows value-added below some fixed value-added threshold on state assessments.

So, here’s how this one plays out. For every 1 white teacher dismissed on value-added basis, 10 or more black teachers are dismissed - relative to the overall proportions of black and white teachers. This gives the black teachers the argument that the policy has racially disparate effect. No, it doesn’t end there. A policy doesn’t violate Title VII merely because it has racially disparate effect. That just starts the ball rolling – gets the argument into court.

The state gets to defend itself – by claiming that producing value-added test scores is a legitimate part of a teacher’s job and then explaining how the use of those scores is, in fact neutral with respect to race. It just happens to have the disparate effect. Right? But, as the state would argue, that’s a good thing because it ensures that we can put better teachers in front of these poor minority kids, and get rid of the bad ones.

But, the problem is that the significant body of research on non-random assignment of students and its effect of value added scores indicates that it’s not necessarily differences in the actual effectiveness of black versus white teachers, but that the black teachers are concentrated in the poor black schools and that student clustering and not teacher effectiveness is leading to the disparate rates of teacher dismissal. So they weren’t fired because they were precisely measurably ineffective, they were fired because they had classrooms of poor minority students year after year? At the very least, it is statistically problematic to distill one effect from the other! As a result, it’s statistically problematic to argue that the teacher should be dismissed! There is at least equal likelihood that the teacher is wrongly dismissed as there is that the teacher is rightly dismissed. I suspect a court might be concerned by this.

Reduction in Force

Note that many of these same concerns apply to all of the recent rhetoric over teacher layoffs and the need to base those layoffs on effectiveness rather than seniority. It all sounds good, until you actually try to go into a school district of any size and identify the 100 “least effective” teachers given the current state of data for teacher evaluation. Simply writing into a reduction in force (RIF) policy a requirement of dismissal based on “effectiveness” does not instantly validate the “effectiveness” measures. And even the best “effectiveness” measures, as discussed above, remain really problematic, providing tenured teachers reduced on grounds of ineffectiveness multiple options for legal action.

for complete articles......

Pondering Legal Implications of Value-Added Teacher Evaluation

By Bruce Baker

June 2, 2010

Negotiating Points for Teachers on Value-Added Evaluations

By Bruce Baker

June 18, 2010

June 26, 2010 at 5:58 AM

By: George N. Schmidt

Central office working fine as patronage, crony center

Actually, if you had a score card (and I'll be providing one before the next Board meeting), central office is "working" just fine -- as a center for corporate, CTA, and City Hall patronage.

All of the people that Huberman hired (or inherited) at huge salaries since January 1, 2009, were still sitting around during the Board meeting last Wednesday. Diana Ferguson (the "Chief Financial Officer" at more than $200,000 per year) was sitting there, still unable to answer even the most basic questions about the budget (a week earlier, she had told me during an "on the record" interview that she's get back to me by e-mail about the size of the reserve on January 1, 2010 and June 15, 2010; still waiting; she said she didn't know).

Pat Taylor, the politically connected "Chief Operations Officer" (at $150,000 per year) was still there, while her main assistant (now working as a consultant, at more than $100,000 per year) Sean Murphy, who used to be chief of operations, was sitting right behind us in the press section. Because Pat Taylor (like Diane Ferguson) doesn't know anything about her job, CPS pays someone else to actually do the job.

How about Adam Case, one of the Huberteam sitting right up there in the box seats? Or Sarah Kremsner (usually hiding), the chief of voodoo "performance" art? Or two dozen others, all of whom came to CPS to "reform" education from the CTA (Case; Taylor; others); corporate Chicago (Ferguson, others), or City Hall and Clout City to run our school system.

Viewed from the point of view of clout and a huge money pump, Huberman's regime is a massive success. Every one of his cronies (and the other cronies) put into place since January 1, 2009, is still drawing a six-figure salary as of today.

The purpose of education dollars in Chicago is to provide propaganda, patronage, and puerility for the Daley guys and gals.

Of course the system is collapsing.

That's the reason Daley put Huberman and Richardson Lowry in charge.

Their slavish loyalty to Daley has been proven in the ways in which they've destroyed things in the past. The wreckage they've left behind them (did you see how CTA performed during the floods last week) was part of the program. If the strategic objective of the Daley administration is to privatize everything public, then the first thing they do is destabilize the system (CTA; public schools) and get everyone to scream about how "bad" things are and how the "bad" (bus drivers? teachers?) public employees are the reason.

The script requires that my colleagues in the mass media be as slavish in their subjugation to Daley and Daleyism as Richardson Lowry and Huberman. And that's certainly been proved true, once again, in the way all of them covered the "news" fed to them this week by Daley and Huberman. All of them -- including "public" radio and TV.

June 26, 2010 at 12:32 PM

By: Jim Vail

Wonderful Report

Great reporting Marybeth! This is wonderful intelligence that the Board would like to keep underwraps. I would love to know how many hits on this story come from 125 S. Clark Str.

June 26, 2010 at 11:49 PM

By: Danny

Fourteen hospital instructors get the axe

Okay, so this is off-thread, but I wanted to post it to the site.

Fourteen teachers providing hospital instruction with the Office of Specialized Services got their layoff letters today. That’s the whole department, excluding the program supervisor and clerical staff. These teachers were city-wide employees and provided instruction to students in hospitals and other treatment centers in Chicago.

The teacher I spoke with had more than a quarter century of service to Chicago Public Schools and possesses multiple certificates for both regular and special education.

The letters clearly stated the reason was for budgetary purposes and that the teachers were being honorably discharged as of June 30th. Nearly half the letter concerned some pabulum about a résumé writing workshop. (Listening to it being read to me, I thought it sounded as if it had been written by a twenty-something, fresh-out-of-college and trained by her own college’s placement office in résumé writing skills.)

The letter closed by thanking the teacher for her years of service.

And for the final insult, the letter contained a listing of PSRP/ESP position vacancies.

Earlier this spring, her field rep had told her that if she lost her job, the teacher would be placed in the reserve teachers pool per Appendix H of the Agreement. While I encouraged the teacher to contact her city-wide field rep at the CTU as soon as possible, I expressed the opinion that she would NOT be eligible for the reserve teacher pool.

I further expressed the opinion that she had missed the deadline for the PEP program.

Right? And what can be done about this?

June 27, 2010 at 10:40 PM

By: kugler

contact me


have the teachers/instructors contact me.

we are working with the literacy coaches that have also been terminated.

john kugler

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