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MEDIA WATCH: How long will principals continue allowing themselves to be insulted and gagged by mercenaries running CPS? ...'We must manage the message in order to ensure consistency with the District's brand...' says CPS Communications Office memo that needed proofreading

As the confrontation between test crazed bureaucrats and thousands of teachers, parents, children -- and even Chicago public school principals -- grows in the weeks before the Chicago Board of Education tries to force more than 300,000 children to take the ISAT tests, top officials in the nation's third largest school system have issued a memorandum to principals basically ordering them to SIT DOWN, SHUT UP, AND DO AS WE TELL YOU.

A February 18, 2014 [undated, but principals tell Substance that's when the received it], memo arrived at the offices of all Chicago public schools from the CPS "Office of Communications." The memo basically demanded that principals refuse to talk with members of the press and allow CPS to continue to spin stories from the central office. Substance continues to attempt to verify the rumor that the CPS Office of Communications is offering the above items in blue, rainbow or pink for its principals as part of Chicago's plan to obliterate the First Amendment during the years of Rahm Emanuel. Principals are being reminded daily to sustain, maintain and promote the so-called CPS "Brand."But the question arises whether (a) Chicago is a democracy that still has the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and (b) whether America's third largest school system is doing the work of educating more than 400,000 children -- or has become a "Brand."

A key sentence in the memo reads as follows: "While we welcome and celebrate these kinds of public engagement opportunities, we must also manage the message and (sic) in order to ensure consistency with the District's brand."

Despite the fact that principals across the USA (including New York's principal of the year) have been speaking out boldly and professionally against Common Core and the regime of noisome so-called "standardized tests", Chicago principals -- and their organization, the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association -- have been silent on the major issues facing the schools in 2014. Above, CPAA president Clarice Berry speaking at a recent meeting of the Chicago Board of Education. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. While CPS communications officials have long acted as if the whole job of informing the public about what was going on in the huge school system consisted of "brand management," even former CPS communications chieftain Becky Carroll (who has disappeared) never put it quite that crudely. The Chicago Principals and Administrators Association has remained silent for the past several years as principals have been told to keep their mouths shut by public relations staff who have never taught a day in their lives.

The February 18 memo was signed not by CPS "Chief Executive Officer" Barbara Byrd Bennett, but by a person named Keiana Barrett, who is identified as "Interim Chief Communications Officer" in the memo. The complete memo, including phone numbers and contact information for all of the people involved in this exercise in gagging is reproduced below.

MEMO RECEIVED BY CPS PRINCIPALS ON FEBRUARY 18, 2014:

CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOLS PRESS PROTOCOL

The District Office of Communications is the clearinghouse for all media engagement, including, but not limited to: interview requests, press conferences/building access, press releases/statements, and third-party projects documentaries.

Network Chiefs and Principals that have developed relationships and partnerships with various external organizations will often participate in media events or interviews to highlight the success of those endeavors. While we welcome and celebrate these kinds of public engagement opportunities, we also must manage the message and (sic) in order to ensure consistency with the District's brand. Therefore, it is imperative that these actions are coordinated in advance with the Communications office. Barring emergencies/breaking news scenarios, these requests should be submitted to Communications at least one week before the event.

The following outlines a process to ensure effective two-way communication:

Points of Contact in Communications Office. Each Deputy Press Secretary has been assigned oversight of a network. As such, they will contact their designated Chief on a weekly basis to learn of upcoming events, activities, challenges and/or red flags. Likewise, the Office of Communications will immediately contact chiefs to vet schools/principals (and develop messaging) before authorizing any media interview.

If a school principal is approached to have either themselves or their school participate in a media event, activity or interview, they should inform both their network chief and the communications office in advance. They should provide the proposed dates of any such activities, list the participants, as well as an overview of what the event/activity (sic, the pseudo-sentence actually ends at this point).

Media consent forms: Parents/guardians should be encouraged to fill-out (sic) and return media consent forms so the school office has one on file for students. Robo calls/parent letters: Principals should be instructed to notify the Communications office before they release a robo call and/or send home backpack letters. While our primary role is not to edit the language, we do have to ensure the messaging is appropriate, given the fact that this information is likely to reach the media.

Media access in school buildings. Members of the press have been instructed to contact the Communications office, if they would like to shot (sic) b-roll inside a school building and/or interview school staff and students. However, many times they fail to do so and will arrive at the school seeking access, in those case the Communications office should be contacted right away by school officials or the media should be instructed to call our office (sic -- the device used here is called a "comma splice" and the second sic is because this becomes a runaway run-on sentence).

Local School Council Meetings: Since LSC meetings are governed by the Open Meetings Act, members of the press are allowed to attend without seeking consent from the Communications office. However, it is a good idea for the principal to notify our office post (sic, ??? does this mean "following" or "after"?) the meeting of which media was (sic) present, so we can follow-up and monitor coverage.

Communications Phone List

Main Line: 773 - 553 - 1620

Keiana Barrett, Interim Chief Communications Officer

Email: kabarrett1@cps.edu

Office: 773-553-1628

Cell: 312 - 505 - 6002

Joel Hood, Director of News Affairs

Email: jhood8@cps.edu

Office: 773-553-1638

Cell: 312 - 771 - 8445

Lauren Huffman, Deputy Press Secretary (Lauren is the liaison for Networks 1 - 4)

Email: lehuffman@cps.edu

Office: 773-553-1611

Cell: 773 - 569 - 9048

Michael Passman, Deputy Press Secretary (Michael is the liaison for Networks 5 - 9)

Email: mrpassman@cps.edu

Office: 773-553-1614

Cell: 773 - 251 - 6255

Jamila Johnson, Deputy Press Secretary (Jamila is the liaison for Networks 10 - 13)

Email: jhjohnson6@cps.edu

Office: 773-553-1616

Cell: 708 - 997 - 0005

Note: Jackie Rodgers, Director of Stakeholder Communications and Colleen Kozubowski, Manager of Stakeholder Communications, handle Spotlight stories for the CPS website.

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Comments:

February 22, 2014 at 12:07 AM

By: Darnell Glover

CPS Principals @/18/2014 Memo

It is understandable in what CPS is doing and why business men and women are currently running the cities governmental schools. Why not? Our students for many years in our schools and colleges around the country are being taught what to think and how to think, why should there be a Principal working for them that is teaching them how to think.

Most working parents view our public schools as no more or less then babysitters and not looking at the value of this system as how it should be as an educational system where our youths can learn how to become business men and women.

Our Local School Council members are being taught that they are powerless and have no power or say concerning their school business. They are taught that they are a school social club and not elective officials who have governmental powers to create a better educational environment for their sons and daughter. They do not understand that the CPS Local School Council's Community Dept over them.

This thing with the Principals has not just started too happen and those who fights the system on concerns of their students and staff loses every step of the way because of fear and lack of the community, students, staff, parents and community businesses support.

We, as the general public has to wake up and find that we are not powerless only if we work together as a team, for there is nothing impossible.

February 22, 2014 at 5:36 AM

By: Kimberly Bowsky

Where are the principals?

I'm glad to know about this memo. I was wondering where the principals were--or their association. A college professor, befuddled at some of the prohibitive testing, checklists, and standardization of teaching, asked if principals in this town stood up against any of the moves made against ed deform; the answer was no. No longer a principal, almost never a headmaster, but a manager of data.

If the CPS "brand" is limited to recreating the American business that squeezes the "product" or "client"--very abhorrent to objectify children--it'll go the way of Enron, Worldcom, and Lehman Brothers. The CTU, TSJ, and certain community groups are the only official entities holding up a mirror to the district. And Substance.

February 22, 2014 at 10:09 AM

By: Diane Durante

Standardization of Ignorance

How tragic that our public schools are being co-opted by business and political interests, all in the name of "our children". An educated population is not the goal of these non-educator creeps. Obviously there is something that CPS does NOT want the public to know. Otherwise, freedom of speech would be celebrated as a natural extension of intelligence and ideas. CPS puppeteers cannot hide. "They will know you by your works."

February 22, 2014 at 10:37 AM

By: Lee Alexander

Where is Becky Carroll?

Where is Becky Carroll now that CPS has an "Interim" Communciations Chief? Have we received a ransom letter? Is she stuck in Ohio because of the snow? Maybe she takes care of BBB's plants Monday - Thursday?

February 22, 2014 at 10:46 AM

By: George N. Schmidt

Where are the principals? Sucking up, mostly, for their bonuses

A handful of principals have spoken out lately against the school closings and the recent charter school attacks on their schools, but for the most part, anyone who wants to get the answer to the question "Where are the principals?" (of Chicago at least) can go to the CPS website and witness them sucking up to the Board of Education at the monthly meetings. They march out every month and genuflect before the altar of their masters and then go back to earning their annual salaries of between $130,000 and $150,000 per year -- the highest in Illinois and higher than most of the USA. They also line up for the next Rahm Emanuel photo opt smiling when they get their "performance bonuses" for juking the stats (as many of them do; think Juarez High School) and cash those extra checks without blushing.

As a friend of mine once said about Germany between 1933 and 1945 -- "Not ALL of them. Just the MAJORITY."

While principals across the USA have been speaking out against Common Core and other test based Race To The Top eugenics monstrosities, in Chicago we get two elementary principals sucking up so loudly that they provided a privatization scam charter school (that will be doing a religious thingy) with letters of support.

At least the ladies I used to pick up in my cab 40 years ago when I drove the night shift for Flash knew what profession they were in. Chicago principals (I know, not ALL of them...) are in a league of their own when it comes to the descendants of Rahab... But then again, that's not fair to Rahab. She was very cool about how she handled her business...

February 22, 2014 at 10:22 PM

By: Michael deterding

Provenance

Unfortunately, I am mostly a cynic. My wife is a CPS teacher and a union member. In my opinion, she is targeted by her admin. staff because she has a degree of seniority in her position (get the tenured staff out sooner to save the district pension funds),and therefor asked to jump inordinate hoops by her (in my opinion) sold out admin. staff. That said, in my compassionate view, I believe there are many admins. (Principals) who deeply care for , and regard their charges as treasure to be revered. I am at a crossroads and do not where to put my support and prayers today. I witness a corporate onslaught to privatize the education system, which removes any oversight by "we the people" , and an ever increasing media push to frame the present public system (with it's oversight by "we the people") as wasteful and indigent.

People , if you are concerned , as I am

(I have kids and grands, across this land)

become involved and request verification of the declarations of the talking heads before your eyes. Tho I have confessed to you I am a cynic, I do have a hopeful heart. 3128606655.

Michael Deterding

February 22, 2014 at 10:46 PM

By: michael deterdning

reiteration

Communications Phone List

Main Line: 773 - 553 - 1620

Keiana Barrett, Interim Chief Communications Officer

Email: kabarrett1@cps.edu

Office: 773-553-1628

Cell: 312 - 505 - 6002

Joel Hood, Director of News Affairs

Email: jhood8@cps.edu

Office: 773-553-1638

Cell: 312 - 771 - 8445

Lauren Huffman, Deputy Press Secretary (Lauren is the liaison for Networks 1 - 4)

Email: lehuffman@cps.edu

Office: 773-553-1611

Cell: 773 - 569 - 9048

Michael Passman, Deputy Press Secretary (Michael is the liaison for Networks 5 - 9)

Email: mrpassman@cps.edu

Office: 773-553-1614

Cell: 773 - 251 - 6255

Jamila Johnson, Deputy Press Secretary (Jamila is the liaison for Networks 10 - 13)

Email: jhjohnson6@cps.edu

Office: 773-553-1616

Cell: 708 - 997 - 0005

Note: Jackie Rodgers, Director of Stakeholder Communications and Colleen Kozubowski, Manager of Stakeholder Communications, handle Spotlight stories for the CPS website.

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February 22, 2014 at 11:24 PM

By: Michael deterding

George ?

Brother:

Innuendo ?

Just say what you think,print it out.

Walk your talk,post it!

You seem to take a position to speak truth to power.

More than ever need that quality from people today.

If you cannot provide back up for your declarations to nite, claim it, and get back to the page with provenance as you acquire it. We will wait.

February 23, 2014 at 9:27 PM

By: Samuel Hill

Censorship of All

This is almost communism. How in the world can you silence the experts and allow communications who knows nothing to manage every response or message? Screen Robo-calls? Come on, do we now have to get the okay to announce a school function or make an absence notification. The funny thing is the experts have to interpret for communications. Then communications gets to write it up and get the details wrong. If a question is asked communications will have to go back to the principal or administrator for the answer. How silly is this. It's another blatant act of disrespect to CPS administrators. They have all been trained in media relations, which has always been part of an administrators job. The messages are always better when communications does not speak for an expert. Rahm and Becky on behalf of Rahm has got this wrong since he became Mayor. Smart people let the experts speak, not communications. Freedom of speech is being eliminated?

May 24, 2017 at 8:11 AM

By: Darnell Glover

Things has not chance in this year of 2017

things have not chance in this new year of 2017, it's been a little over 17 years of being a Local School Council member.

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