From IMPACT to CPS@Google... CPS plans to waste another $20 or $30 million on the latest surefire can't miss technological solution

For the fifth or sixth time in the 21st Century, Chicago Public Schools officials are moving forward to waste more money on a new, much hyped, technological solution to various communications and data management problems within CPS. The latest stall comes from the Google@CPS plans, which are officially on hold as of this week (July 25, 2011). The Google boondoggle comes after First Class, which came after IMPACT, which came after....

CPS began privatizing its data management and computer services within two years after Mayor Richard M. Daley took over the schools in 1995 and appointed Paul Vallas Chief Executive Officer. Once the old in-house data management systems had been scrapped, instead of repaired and updated with CPS workers, the prospect of wasting hundreds of millions of dollar on outside hardware and software (including millions to subcontractors whose only job was to help the main contractors meet certain diversity requirements) loomed, then became reality.

By 1998, when City Hall ordered CPS to take the old Commonwealth Edison building (125 S. Clark St.) off the hands of Com Ed, the deal was finalized. CPS abandoned one of the most sophisticated computer centers in the state, scrapped the computers, fired most of those who were working in house maintaining them, began an orgy of expensive (and ultimately messy outsourcing), and made sure that the Inspector General never took a close look at every hardware and software contract, sub contract, and sub-sub contract that followed. (In addition to blowing the whistle on CPS whistle blowers, thus acting as an internal secret police for CPS and City Hall, the IG spends a hundred times more time and expense chasing teachers over "residency" than computer software crooks who fail to deliver on promises that any sane purchasing department would have known were screwy and impossible).

Now, the following comes from CPS, just as the Track E schools are to begin the 2011 - 2012 school year:

Dear CPS Colleagues:

We know you’ve been waiting a long time to hear what’s going on with Google@CPS, and we apologize for the delay. However, we will be issuing a new request for proposals (RFP) that will allow other interested vendors to participate in the process.

What this means to you is:

-- We will continue to use FirstClass and Exchange for the 2011-2012 school year.

-- We will reevaluate the qualifying email and collaboration services.

-- We will likely begin using a new email system (TBD) in 2012-2013.

We know that many of you put a lot of your time and effort into the previous evaluation process, and we are grateful for your participation. Yet, we are confident that when the new process is complete and a decision is made, it will be the right one for the district.

We pledge to keep you informed throughout the new process, and we thank you for your patience and your interest.

Best, Arshele Stevens, CIO, Chicago Public Schools

As one teacher reminded us... "Who else remembers going to the IMPACT training in '05 only to have it crash and us have to go back to SIMS while they paid another $15 million to another contractor to re-do their mess up? Well.... here we go again..."

For those who have short memories, the person in charge of the IMPACT fiasco (one of the former "CIOs" at CPS) was Robert Runcie, who went on to become Ron Huberman's "Chief Administrative Officer" and who is now a "Chief Area Officer" somewhere in the city. Runcie, whose qualifications for being a leading educator in Chicago came mostly from his training by the Broad Foundation, survived the IMPACT mess during the years when CPS was eliminating thousands of veteran teachers.


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