Agenda for the May 28 Chicago Board of Education meeting... Board poised to continue spending more than $4 million on Teach for America and The New Teacher Project... while destroying the careers of veteran Chicago teachers through so-called 'turnaround' and school closings

Once again, principals and the public are being assured that Chicago Public Schools is "broke" and therefor local school budgets have to be cut and "pension reform" is imperative or things will get even worse. But most of the public and virtually all of Chicago's corporate media and pundits never bother to ask how Chicago's Board of Education spends its money -- or wastes it. Take the $4 million that Chicago, which has a huge personnel office (actually, offices, since its functions are spread around to different locations) called the "Talent Office") is spending to contract for teacher recruitment with two infamous organizations that don't even have offices in Chicago: The New Teacher Project and Teach for America.

Members of the Chicago Board of Education have never demanded to know why "Chief Talent Officer" Alicia Winckler or "Chief Executive Officer" Barbara Byrd Bennett report in detail on why the nation's third largest school system needs to spend millions of dollars in neoliberal patronage on teacher recruitment programs managed by the so-called "New Teacher Project" (Brooklyn New York) or "Teacher for America." Above, Winckler and Byrd Bennett explained stuff to the Board at a recent Chicago Board of Education meeting. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Buried deep inside the 266 page agenda for the May 28, 2014 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education are two Board Reports that will add insult to injury and another layer of racism on top of those already part of the policies of the nation's third largest school system. One adds another million dollars to the neoliberal patronage that CPS has long poured out to the controversial Teach for America organization. And right behind that is an addition to a $2.8 million contract for the even more controversial "New Teacher Project" whose most famous alumna is the teacher-bashing and union-busting national right wing celebrity Michelle Rhee. THE NEW TEACHER PROJECT CONTRACT: When the Chicago Board of Education approves Board Report 14-0528-PR29, “Authorize entering into an agreement with the New Teacher Project for Educational Support Services” the Board will be the New Teacher Project (office in Brooklyn New York), a total of $2,797,776, adding to an earlier contract. The contact person for CPS is Alicia Winckler, “Chief Talent Officer.” Without explaining why the so-called “Talent Office” can’t recruit teachers itself on its budget under its $200,000 per year “Chief Talent Officer,” the Board will be voting on the following description.

“SCOPE OF SERVICES. For the Chicago Teachers Fellow Program. Provider will recruit and train up to 150 provisionally-certified teachers for employment with Chicago Public Schools in hig need subject areas for the 2011 – 2012, 2012 – 2013, 2013 – 2014, 2014 – 2015, and 2015 – 2016 school years. Provider will develop and implement an intenseive recruitment and pre-service training. In addition, Provider will establish the Illinois Practitioner Teacher Program, modeled on The New Teacher Projects’ nationally recognized programs existing in several states to certify up to 150 Chicago Teaching Fellows annually in high need subject areas. As part of a pilot financed by the 2009 Transitions to Teaching Grant awarded by Chicago Public Schools, TNTP will provide targeted coaching and mentoring services for the 2014 – 2015 cohort of bilingual teaching Fellows…”

There is no accountability evidenced in the Board’s records for this project. For a school system that can micromanage accountability programs against individual schools (such as the “data” utilized by Board members to destroy Dvorak, McNair and Gresham elementary schools with its “turnaround” votes on April 23, 2014), the Board members have long shown absolutely no interest in a year-by-year report, available to the public, on the actual success or failure of this program. Nor have the Board members ever asked at a public meeting why Chicago needs to hire an outfit from Brooklyn to recruit teachers, when Chicago has long had an enormously expensive department (whether named “Human Resources,” “Human Capital,” or “Talent”) that is supposedly going this kind of work.

Observers may be taking bets on whether any of the seven members of the Chicago Board of Education will ask any questions – let alone critical ones – about this expensive projects, now in the middle of its expensive years.

Although the entire New Teacher Project program has been under Alicia Winckler since it was begun back when her department was known as “Human Capital”, the Board Report is singed by three officials who have come into their offices since the New Teacher Project program began:

Sebastien de Longeauz (Chief Procurement Officer)

Barbara Byrd Bennett (Chicago Executive Officer) and

James Bebley, General Counsel


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