TURNAROUND WORLD: In CPS turnaround world, 2 + 2 equals 6, or 66, or WTF as Babara Byrd Bennett and Rahm's minions vote to do whatever they want, and 'independent hearing officers' can remain on the gravy train for two decades -- as long as they rubber stamp what CPS wants

As students of CPS history know, the first hearings on "reconstitution" (now called "turnaround" but legally still "reconstitution") were held back in 1997 -- nearly two decades ago -- and the first hearing officer to bully the public and get on the lucrative hearing officer gravy train was Frederick Bates. That's right: The same Bates who just served as the "independent hearing officer" for the 2004 "turnarounds" was hearing the hearings on the 1997 ones, when Englewood High School became the first school to be subjected to the scheme. Since then, Bates has been paid anywhere from $30,000 up for his services during various years to rubber stamp the latest CPS version of reality?

Hearing officer Frederick Bates orders security to remove protesters from the podium during the hearing on the proposed "turnaround" of Gresham Elementary School. Bate (visible on monitor) has been being paid tens of thousands of dollars per year by CPS since the Paul Vallas years to act as the supposedly "independent hearing officer" at the show trials for schools facing so-called "turnaround." Although CPS changes the rules every couple of years so that usually even the principals do not realize what the latest "matrices" have become, Bates knows because his only job is to rubber stamp the testimony of the witnesses from the Board's various bureaucratic offices. After the 2013 Hit List (Dvorak, Gresham and McNair) has been legally lunched by a vote of the seven members of the Chicago Board of Education at its April 23, 2014 meeting, the Board will begin the process of changing the implementation of the new rules (approved at the August 28, 2013 meeting) to prepare the 2015 Hit List. What the public doesn't realize at the hearings is that the "hearing" has actually ended when the Board people have read from their scripts (which are never made available to the public) since the "hearing officer" is being paid to approve what CPS has presented, no matter what facts are brought before the hearing. Another job of the hearing offices has been to prevent people from denouncing the sham of the show trials, by calling a Security Swam against anyone who speaks out against the scams. Substance photo by Jean Scbwab. Rubber Stamp? Isn't that a little harsh, even when one is criticizing a highly paid public official?

Not really. All the hearing officer has to do is see to it that the paperwork is in order. That means that the "hearings," as most people have noticed for years and years, are a cruel sham. How? The hearing is held to determine if the Board officials complied with the Board's official rules to do what it wants to do this year.

And for the past 17 years, as Frederick Bates would have noticed more than anyone except perhaps one reporter who has been covering these events that long, the Board has changed the rules every year or two so it can do what it wants -- legally -- the next time it wants to. The most recent rule changes were approved by the Board at its August 28, 2013 meeting, when the Board voted for the latest bunch of "matrices" to screw the city's real public schools. Anyone who wants to can go back and read the Power Point delivered by Barabara Byrd Bennett and even watch her presentation at the August 28, 2013 Board meeting. But that Power Point and that Board Report are about how CPS will be screwing schools a year from now, when the new "five tier" system becomes policy. This year the turnarounds are still governed by the earlier policy that Barbara Byrd Bennet put into place when she still through that three (as in levels) was the magic number, instead of five.

Most principals, teachers, children and parents who show up for the hearings honestly believe that the hearing is a kind of hearing where evidence will matter.

Not true.

In effect, the hearing is over once the Board's officials have presented their version of the "facts" in conformity with the criteria, whatever year it happens to be. That's why the officials -- the law department, the guy (usually) from "accountability," the network chief, and usually someone to sing the praises of the "turnaround" outfit (almost always AUSL) -- read from carefully prepared scripts. Which, by the way, are as usual not posted anywhere on the CPS websites.

After that, if anyone has the energy (and naivete) to "testify," as always happens after a bit of the usual Bates bullying, the hearing has really been over. Bates's job is to rubber stamp what was repeated on the record in each of the four or five scripts. CPS has proved that it has the legal right to establish the every morphing criteria for "turnaround." Then CPS proves that it has tried to "help" the school on the gallows, but that the help has failed. Then CPS demonstrates that the "turnaround" outfit is really great at doing its job and therefore turnaround will be a great thing -- and all of that for the children.

And so as the 2013 - 2014 school year ends and Chicago prepares to hear a death sentence based on hypocrisy and cynicism read to three more schools, only one thing should be clear. Next year the scripts will only be slightly different, and the lucrative work of the "hearing officer" will continue. Insofar as a rubber stamp stamping requires much exercise at all.


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