'You're Next!' Duncan tells general high school principals

While the leaders of the Chicago Teachers Union have been preoccupied with their own internal soap operas and the public has been distracted with media dog-and-pony shows praising the Chicago Board of Education for another round of miracles in the cylce of miracle management that began when Mayor Richard M. Daley was given dictatorial power of Chicago’s more than 600 public schools, a nasty drama that will lead to thousands of tragedies is playing our behind the scenes.

Even as he is rehearsing his lines about having to do the “moral” thing by closing what he calls “failing” schools, schools CEO Arne Duncan is sabotaging the city’s general high schools in dozens of ways. At the same time, he is trying to threaten them to do the impossible: raise test scores on the Prairie State and ACT examinations, the two tests upon which Duncan bases most of his claims that high schools are succeeding or failing.

According to several sources, during the opening weeks of 2008, Duncan and his senior staff have been meeting with high school principals and telling them that their schools are “next” if they don’t raise test scores.

At the same time, Duncan has made it impossible for those schools to raise test scores. For more than a decade, the Daley administration has favored the selective enrollment high schools over the general high schools.

Selective enrollment high schools cannot fail because they are allowed to accept only students who are already scoring “above” CPS acceptability scores. At the present time, selective enrollment privileges are given to the city’s nine “college prep” high scools, to Lincoln Park High School, and to all of the charter high schools. As a result, these schools rarely have to face the challenges posed by students with poor test scores.

But that’s not all.

As Substance reported last fall, Duncan then adds to the problems of the general high schools by cutting their teachers after school has begun and by depriving thhem of security and other staff in the face of growing dangers from drug gang members and seriously disturbed students.

But this doesn’t matter when the Duncan administration invokes “Compstat”, the new computer program to drive “data driven management” in Chicago’s schools. Under Compstat, senior officials and Area Instruction Officers meet with high school principals and bully them using the data.

Led by Duncan’s most recent “Chief of Staff,” Byron Samuels, the Compstat review is basically a high tech bullying of middle management, much as it has been reported in “The Wire” and revealed as a hoax in reviews of the New York City Police Department under former New York Mayor Rudy Guilliana.

Samuels, who came to CPS from the Department of Children and Family Services of the State of Illinois, knows nothing about public schooling in the inner city, has no teaching experience, and has no credential to supervise teachers or other school staff in Illinois. As such, he is the perfect person to implement Compstat, because he can utilize spreadsheets and truncated data without any understanding of the complexities beneath them.

Aided by the AIOs, most of whom are working to ensure they will continue in their jobs to collect pensions they never beleived possioble, Arne Duncan has been preparing the groundwork for closing all of Chicago’s general high schools as “failures” within the next three year. 

This article was originally published in the February 2008 issue of Substance.


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