REACH grief! REACH grief: Was CPS’S REACH Students anti-demoralization PD misinterpreted …?

SATIRE: trenchant wit, irony, or sarcasm used for the purpose of exposing and discrediting vice or folly. BACKGROUND Substance has (finally) obtained copies of both documents (below) related to a Chicago Public Schools (CPS) 2013-2014 REACH Students professional development (PD) for administrators that had left in their wake a gamut from confusion to total chaos out in the schools.

Barbara Byrd Bennett reached her apogee at the May 22, 2013 meeting of the Board of Education when she presented the Board with the proposals to close 49 of the city's real public schools. During the 12-month period which included the massive school closings, Byrd Bennett had also proposed the opening of two dozen charter schools or "campuses." During the meeting, she ordered that security staff drag away from the podium protesters, including Erika Clark of Parents4Teachers, who was trying to read the list of all the schools being closed by vote of the Board that day. Byrd Bennett's secretary called TIME! after just half the list was read, and Clark was dragged from the podium as she continued to read the rest of the school names. The names were never actually read when the Board members voted to close the schools, since only the abstract "Board Report" numbers were read before the Board voted. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. For those who are unfamiliar, the REACH acronym stands for: Recognizing Educators Advancing Chicago Students.

This, of course, is the opposite of educators who HCAER or "Hate Children And Education Respectively." Modified from Charlotte Danielson’s "Framework for Teaching," the CPS Framework for Teaching purports that students across the city are finally, equitably, and educationally REACHed (hence the trying-to-be clever moniker “REACH Students”) without any additional material or monetary resources going into any classrooms. It is accomplished via a panaceaic, hyperbolic check-listing of “things for administrators to observe in a classroom lesson” that purports to objectively sort teachers into evaluative categories ranging from unsatisfactory and developing (aka basic) to proficient and distinguished based on “observed performance evidence.”

For further information, sign up (and pay) for any of many CTU Quest Center courses.

As one example in this evaluative system, for our purposes here forward to be referred to as D/REACH for DANIELSON/REACH (even though said author allegedly disavows herself from the way her system is supposedly being mutated by such as CPS), tenured teachers might be officially observed twice per year: once for 15 minutes during an Informal Observation; and once for 45 minutes during a Formal Observation.

John Barker, the current "Chief Accountability Officer" of Chicago's public schools, was hired by Barbara Byrd Bennett from Memphis. Barker's experience in "accountability" included touting the universally discredited VAM ("Value Added...") method of teacher accountability based on test scores. Above, Barker moving in to make a Power Point presentation at the August 29, 2014 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education. Substance photo by David Vance.As a result of last year’s CPS 2013-2014 PD, the following has been scientifically determined: From within that physical time span of one hour, plus variable additional time for pre and post conferences (~add 10-60 minutes), however with teacher preparation time in the hundreds to thousands of hours, teachers can be demoralized beyond all recognition (DBAR, a variation of FUBAR) for an entire school year and forth-going.

The pivotal question: Is that demoralization being done with intent?

CPS officials continue the attempt to distance themselves from the PD, placing blame on local administrative levels. One CPS deputy director to a deputy director’s deputy director reported “it wasn’t our fault” that “a handful” of principals and assistant principals were “utterly unable to comprehend the intended meaning” behind the CPS 10-point D/REACH handout and accompanying “chat” (both intact below) given during administrative levels of PD at the start of the previous 2013-21014 school year. “We can only hope to NOT have any ‘two-peats’ of this experience for the 2014-2015 school year.”

Sources have informed Substance that the PD originated in the at-that-time newly-created but now-defunct "Office of Hatching." This office had been highly touted as the place “where healthy incubation proceeds - unilaterally” (WHIP-U).

Bob Boik had been working in Detroit with Barbara Byrd Bennett before he was hired in March 2012 as "Chief of Staff to the Chief Executive Officer" at an annual salary of $165,000 per year. The Board members also voted that Boik would receive $16,000 in "relocation expenses" for moving to Chicago, but none of them ever discussed in public why they were hiring executives from out of town and paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in "relocation and transition expenses" when Illinois has thousands of certified, trained and qualified school leaders. Boik remained in the position of "Chief of Staff" after the Chief Executive Officer to whom he was attached (Jean Claude Brizard) was dumped by the Board in October 2012 and Barbara Byrd Bennett hired for the job. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The Office of Hatching developed administrative level PD courses as part of the ongoing SMART (Succeed Managerially And Reach Tops) program for CPS administrators, with joint funding provided by and created over a buddies-get-together poker game at Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s house in the summer of 2013 which included at that time, everyday, just-plain bizillionaire Bruce Rauner (now Governor of Illinois), the Koch brothers, the Walton family, Bill Gates and a guy representing a fledgling pro-education reform and private-public partnership group called SOAPS (Systematic Oppression Of All Public Schools or sometimes acronymed as Sap Out Allthings Public Systematically)...

...which on their website has the joint cheers/mottos “Let’s get the public out of public education!” and “Privatize the Public!”

An Office of Hatching’s expensively-paid, MBA (Masters in Business Administration) with a dual masters in English Literature, FNGNG (read: f’n new guy now gone) came up with the “creative” CPS 10-Point handout and “chat” entitled: “HOW NOT TO IMPLEMENT DANIELSON/REACH” along with “in order to not demoralize and not destroy your school.“ An awkward subtitle read: “Ways Toward ‘Fun’ With The Forced (WTFWTF) REACH Evaluations.”

Apparently some of the troubles began when the overuse of the word “not” caused administrators to experience what renowned scientists described to Substance as a brain freeze resulting in the mental flipping of the word “not” into “yes, do exactly that,” aka (read: alternatively known as) the “not knot.” Along with other alleged misinterpretations, one apparent attempt at “fun with acronyms” at the top of the CPS handout was: “SMART (the arrow reads: “leads to”) SMART as the GIVE RECEIVE of Management Union.” Attendees were informed verbally-only via the “chat” that the first SMART stood for the “Succeed Managerially And Reach Tops” (already mentioned above) leading to and causing the second SMART, which secretly stood for “Submit Masochistically As Rationality is Torpedoed.”

Todd Babbitz, above right, was hired to be Chicago's first and only "Chief Transformation Officer" by the Chicago Board of Education because he had an MBA from the University of Chicago. As "Chief Transformation Officer," Babbitz was overseer of the hearings that resulted in the massive school closings that the Board voted to approve in May 2013. Since the beginning of 2014, Babbitz's star has dipped in the CPS firmament. With Babbitz in the above photo (taken during the July 24, 2013 Board meeting) are Tim Cawley (left) and Alicia Winckler (center). Cawley and Winkler, like Babbitz, were hired into six-figure jobs by David Vitale and the Rahm Emanuel Board of Education because they had no educational experience or credentials. Cawley came from Motorol, Winckler from Sears Holdings. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Continuing, GIVE stood for “Generate Inflated Vitriolic Egos,” while RECEIVE stood for “Reject rEject rejeCt rEject Ignore eVict and rEject.”

Throughout and over the course of the 2013-2014 school year, CPS spokespersons, partnered with CTU representatives, were sent out to an alleged record number of schools for “we feel your pain” meetings with school faculties in attempts to mitigate the demoralization taking place. CPS representatives informed faculties across Chicago that “downtown was just trying to have a little fun with D/REACH,” and “it went wrong,” and in some cases “way wrong” as implemented out in the schools.

As one of the chiefs of the chief joked, with other chiefs of the chief chuckling in agreement: “Some of these guys are Really Exceptional Assholes Causing Havoc.” According to multiple, anonymous CPS sources, an unexpected number of principals’ and assistant principals’ “neural processes” apparently got “knotted-up without recovery” from the repeated use and interpretation of the word “not” along with the accompanying satire and sarcasm of the PD “chat.”

Witnesses stated that not enough of the administrators immediately understood the fun “what not to do” tone of the handout and “chat.” Too few were laughing appropriately and note-taking correctly on how to conduct D/REACH evaluations professionally, respectfully, and effectively. During the PD, a few principals were seen to be in tears; it was unclear whether or not this was due to excessive almost psychotic laughter or to the fact that these particular principals were newbies, fresh out of the city’s classrooms themselves.

Attempts at “re-education” and/or re-introduction for those administrators who “still just don’t get it” are ongoing at this time. One anonymous Board source told Substance that the particular administrators across the city who “went totally bonkers without return” in their misinterpretation of the CPS D/REACH administrative PD were exactly those principals and assistant principals who are usually greatly highly regarded for exhibiting the praiseworthy behaviors of “immediately obeying and implementing without any question or forethought or understanding or preparation everything as directed” from the Board of Education and/or their Network Chiefs and/or anyone else into their schools.

At this time, there is also still no word on whether or not anyone in a CPS leadership position that might actually do something will actually do anything concrete to mitigate what can only be described as D/REACH evaluation demoralization disasters at many local levels, such as perhaps declaring whole schools or whole Networks or the whole damn system “inabilitied to rate.”

Barbara Byrd Bennett, before her leave from CPS, was quoted in a startlingly candid moment off the record as stating: “It’s a little more freakin’complicated than that. Being an outsider looking in, I can see this much more clearly than those who have lived and worked and sweated and bled and cried and breathed here in Chicago their whole lives. (Eli) Broad research shows it is much better to implode a public school with extreme levels of demoralization from the inside first, before we close it or turn it around or allow charters to screen and skim students from the outside for the purposes of privatization along with planned development and union-busting and getting rid of all but especially veteran teachers for the ultimate goal of the total destruction of public education as per direction from Chicago’s mayor on up to Chicago’s Obama/Duncan U.S. Department of Education. Clearly, however, this does not mean that the 10-point CPS DANIELSON/REACH handout and ‘chat’ in question were meant to be taken literally.” Substance has been able to reproduce a verbatim transcript of the supplemental “chat,” the text of which is below.

The following is the CPS 10-Point Handout that was distributed; it is followed by the exact verbiage of the accompanying “chat” for the D/REACH PD: CPS 10-POINT DANIELSON/REACH EVALUATION HANDOUT HOW NOT TO IMPLEMENT DANIELSON/REACH in order to not demoralize and not destroy your school Ways Toward “Fun” With The Forced (WTFWTF) DANIELSON/REACH Evaluations

SMART SMART is the GIVE RECEIVE of Management Union

Important note for principals and assistant principals: Part of your own rating will be based on quiz scores immediately following this PD on your complete memorization of the acronyms below. This standardized testing is part of an experimental reading program called “DIBELS ON ADULTS” (DOA) brought to you via a tax-payer funded, joint venture among CPS with the University of Oregon, the University of Chicago, and the College of DuPage.











1) PRE-REACH RATINGS, RATE FIRST THEN “FAKE EVALUATE” (P-RR,RFT“FE”) First and foremost, keep in mind that D/REACH as implemented in CPS has absolutely nothing to do with actual evaluations of teachers in their classrooms in front of students. D/REACH is, simply put, about demoralizing and destroying your school by demoralizing and destroying teachers who in any way, shape, or form try to stop your, mine, and our tyrannical, power-hungry, micro-managing, control-freaky, self-righteous, megalomaniacal, and miserably-failing model of educational leadership. This is about us seeking to fulfill our destinies as leaders, bipartisanly-sanctioned and exemplified at local, state and federal levels of government. So, to implement D/REACH as it was meant to be implemented, you need only choose two courses of action: A) make an ordered listing of every teacher in your school starting at the bottom with your, mine, and our “enemies” (such as CTU, PPC, PPLC, and LSC representatives, as well as any other faculty and staff members, who might not otherwise rubber stamp and/or mirror everything you say or do) and work your way up as you deem appropriate; then once you have that listing, utilize our CPS calibrators to correlate the teachers accordingly with the numbers anticipated for pre-determined D/REACH summative ratings from UNSAT on up; or B) use our CPS calibrators to assign low, but not the lowest, ratings in a gamut from individuals to your entire faculty; the latter en mass scenario would be for cases in which you feel that on a school-wide basis you are simply not receiving the absolute respect you automatically deserve for breathing; and C) of course, any combo of the above is acceptable. (See #10 for what to do about unanticipated students’ standardized or other test scores interfering with any pre-determined ratings.)

Pointers re strategy A: Rate as many “problem” teachers as you can as “unsatisfactory” (UNSAT), especially teachers who challenge you the most, and especially those who do so rightfully. Use this strategy especially if you love having grievances filed against you, and you love generating excessive paperwork. The reason for this is that they will be able to seriously grieve it according to the 2012-2015 Agreement between the Chicago Board of Education and Chicago Teachers Union Local 1. UNSAT grievances may result in bringing certain ‘atrocities’ (review #1-10) to the light of day, and you definitely want that. And downtown we definitely want to deal with that, too.

Tips re strategy B: This strategy is for those of you who hate teachers and love extra paperwork but might not want to have to eventually deal with every little detail of D/REACH evaluation grievances filed against you. This is aka “Level: Developing (Needs Improvement)” and especially its “Emerging” sub category. The paperwork documentation necessary to go along with the need for additional observations is definitely a bonus. But, voila! You and the surrounding management system for public education do not need the remediation label, the teachers who stand up to you do! Besides, before any additional paperwork might kick in down the pike, in the meantime, these teachers may be eliminated for purposes of layoff and will need to also fight that! Yes, CTU members went on strike for 7 days then voted for this in their contract.

So, line up those teachers you want to get rid of like ready-made D/REACH bowling pins and STRIKE them out! (Hey! “Uh, oh,” if they decide to go on strike for even more days at the end of this contract due to all this crap, though, right? Ha ha…?) In summary, except for probable multiple individual as well as school-wide unforgiveable wrath and fury that will be generated and directed at you and the legitimacy of the entire evaluation system at full steam, plus an increase in the odds for an intense local atmosphere of divide-and-conquer, you can see that these two strategies or combos thereof are situations of win-win. So! Pre-rate away!

2) OTHER PEOPLE’S TIME IS NOT VALUABLE (OPTINV) Cancel and change dates and times for D/REACH observations and pre and post conferences “a lot.” The rule of thumb is to change it more often than not, with the goal being as close to 100% of the time as possible. This is aka as keeping other people beneath you off-balanced but still on their feet. “Stress management” in CPS (and as directed from the US Department of Education for across America) is totally meant for those at the top to cause the maximum amount of stress possible for those beneath them to have to attempt to continually manage. Aside: Our Wellness Program will scientifically document the impacts. If you do not share any scheduling with your teachers, power to you! If you create a schedule for some but not for others, that level of inequity is just plain admirable, and more power to you! If creating schedules or preparing in advance for any school stuff is just not ever your thing, most power to you! Schedules in schools are illusions that are under your control. Management in continual reflexibility mode is management that is flexibility squared.

To reschedule D/REACH observation lessons and conferences, the best practice is to plan to inadvertently catch the person in the hall on the very “day of” with a friendly, “Oh, yeah, hey-” greeting. Then tell him/her about the need for a reschedule.

Better yet, have them wait in the outer office for quite some time before telling them of the necessity for a reschedule.

The absolute best practice of all, however, is to: Just don’t show up. In this case, when the teacher probably eventually buzzes the office from his/her classroom to find out what the *bleep* is going on and where are you for the observation or where is the person for the class coverage for a “scheduled” conference, with the students in the room also waiting expectantly, the best practice is: You do not communicate anything directly. You direct the school secretary or clerk or anyone else in the office to inform the teacher over the intercom that an emergency situation has come up. Use this excuse as often as you like, as it is one that can continually be used without anyone thinking there is not really another emergency.

A recommended further yet opposite best practice is to select a teacher or two to inform that their evaluation pre-conference is being held right now, out-of-the-blue, on the morning of a right now, out-of-the-blue official observation lesson that has been scheduled or not and/or having already been postponed once or twice. (Eli) Broad-based research shows that, amazingly, as word of this “day of” treatment gets around, you can sock other teachers [note: punch fist to hand], figuratively-speaking, of course, in many other creative ways after that, and they will remarkably exhibit relief that at least that “day of” *bleep*didn’t happen to them. This is called “gratitude for being abused but less abused.” Rest assured that this is totally research-based. It has been for quite some time now the working foundation of the Democratic party’s try-to-get-out-the-vote strategy throughout the United States. We all want CPS employees “beneath us” to “hold-their-nose and vote for us” aka follow our leadership in a way that is really-stinking but not-AS-stinking-as-it-might-be.

And this is aka, everyone? Repeat after me: DIVIDE AND CONQUER! [Note: This should be followed by the audience’s loud group recitation: “Divide and conquer!” This should be followed by good-hearted, hearty chuckles all around.] Of course, that is your goal marker aka “objective” anyway for successfully running a bully-free CPS school for students: turn all the bullying onto the teachers.

Please note: Restorative Justice as we implement it is a supplemental part of all of this, of course, but that is a topic for another satire.

3) THERE SHALL BE NO IDENTIFIABLE EQUITY in the INFORMAL OBSERVATIONS (TSBNIEitIO) Following Broad-based research for best practices of the most respected and greatly appreciated business managers with absolutely no educational experience or background, you should already be popping unannounced into classrooms all day every day looking “all that” important while holding clipboards, marking “this and that” without letting anyone know ahead of time or even afterwards what the hell you are or were doing, and for sure referring to such as “coaching” or “support.”

But, hey! That’s us! The good definition of “voyeuristic”! Well, this can be practiced on-crack now and with great fun for you individually via the actual “Formal D/REACH Informal Observations.” Tell one teacher sternly at the door as you enter, “This will be counted as your Informal Observation.” Tell the next teacher nothing. Mention to the following teacher a day or two ahead of time, “Just giving you a heads-up that your unannounced Informal Observation will be next Tuesday at 9:00.”

Inform the next teacher a week afterwards: “Hey, remember when it was like that ‘gotcha!’ game last Monday when we walked into your room? That was your Informal Observation.” Tell the next teacher as you leave the room, “By the way, that was your Informal Observation.” Say this as well for sure if you “gotcha-ed” any teachers in any way during one of your clipboard prowling or stalking sessions. Tell the security guard to tell the next teacher to look out for an upcoming Informal Observation. Tell the third floor janitor in May to tell that one teacher that her Informal Observation was already completed last January. Also, be sure to pop in classrooms before holiday weekends or other such “down” times searching for all things Danielson/Framework. All of the above obviously creates a total buy-in of complete legitimacy for D/REACH evaluations. Another name for this is: differentiation.

4) OUTNUMBER THEM! EVERY BULLY KNOWS THAT NUMBERS MATTER (OT!EBKTNM) Admit it that in one-on-one encounters with teachers (or hell, staff members or parents or students or community members or other human beings in general and also companion animals of which we probably have none), we get slaughtered. We just ain’t got it, but “so what?!?” REACH evaluation time is exactly the time for big-time compensation on that! Although you know that we at CPS train to ensure that one administrator can be a solo supersonic individual bully, be sure to outnumber individual teachers as often as possible for any D/REACH conferences or observations. This will ensure the most effective bullying, and we know that, as a school system, “management by bullying” is the best way to stop students from bullying and being bullied in the schools, which is what we loudly, proudly, and publicly stand for in CPS.

At a minimum, both the principal and the assistant principal should be involved together in every step of the D/REACH evaluation process. However, if others CPS employees are in the building and especially if no one knows who they are, invite them to join in, too! The more the merrier! However, if it is just the two of you, that will be a respectable minimum for the individual teacher to experience: two-against-one at the pre-conference; two-against-one during the observation; and two-against-one at the post-conference. Who cares that every single reference in the Contract Agreement for D/REACH is written in singular regarding the word “evaluator”? A lot of damage can be done before that ever gets to any higher grievance or arbitration levels where we will eventually totally lose.

There are three recommended two-against-one scenarios: good cop/bad cop; bad cop/good cop; or two bad cops. The “good cop/bad cop” routine is particularly research-based as being effective on TV police shows. Be sure to project the image of (or, hell, say it aloud) as you walk through the halls, chest puffed out, in your school: “This here’s my town, and I’m the sheriff!” This is always universally respected and admired by other full-grown adults. During post conferences, be sure to disagree with the teacher and each other as much as possible regarding anything that took place during the Formal Observation lesson. This is meant to ensure in the mind of the teacher that there is not a thread of reality for them to grasp onto in this whole D/REACH experience. This in turn ensures that the teacher knows his/her evaluation is a total joke, with your laughter (if you can’t hold it in) proving it so and being the best medicine. Also, do the math: Who wins if there are two or more “truth benders” in a room with one teacher who can’t have a witness or a tape recorder or a camera present? Note, of course, that all or most of this can also be effectively accomplished by one evaluator.

But wait! There is an exception! The two of you need to totally agree ahead of time on the many negatives to focus in on and grossly exaggerate for post conferences. This will allow you both together to either experience the life-and-soul getting sucked right out of a teacher in front of your eyes or have a witness to any chair throwing. Invent negatives if there were none. Reducing teachers to tears and/or sobbing counts for extra points for you and your leadership! Especially enjoy how miserable you are making that newbie PAT feel over his/her career choice and the financial debts s/he has accumulated in going to college to be able to enthusiastically teach the students and subjects they love! Wipe that the *bleep*out!! We are succeeding nationally in not having new teachers remain in teaching for more than five years! Do you want to statistically screw that up?

Only those of us in the continual churn of administrative positions outside of the classrooms must remain in teaching. Especially enjoy the incredulous and/or stern and/or homicidally-PO’d looks of the veteran teachers as you completely violate their sense of what the entire school community has witnessed them doing successfully for years!! Ignore as unwarranted any verbal abuse directed right back at you, and refer back to #1 above. All of the above is a clear indication of how much your own life and experiences related to teaching or not do not bite the big one. (Note: Such two-against-one evaluations with two males to one female will never cross lines, so do not even worry about any potential discrimination grievances or lawsuits or husbands or boyfriends or significant others. In cases like this, put those women in their place in CPS and the educational system of the United States and enjoy it!) FOR PRINCIPALS ONLY. Assistant Principals are directed to please close their eyes and ears and open them at the next bullet point.

Psssst… Principals, if something goes way wrong (negative attention is somehow pointing at the D/REACH evaluations in your school, and you can’t seem to crush this down locally by other means) two-against-one is the ready-made option for blaming everything on the assistant principal! Now, skip to talking point #5.

FOR ASSISTANT PRINCIPALS ONLY. Principals, what are you doing? You should right now be on bullet point #5 as just directed. Assistant principals, psssst… if something goes way wrong (negative attention is somehow pointing at you regarding D/REACH evaluations in your school, and you can’t seem to wipe this out by other means) here is the ready-made option for blaming everything on the principal and then trying to get that job for yourself! What havoc you can wreck in the school to demoralize and implode it on your way either in or out!

5) RUDENESS RULES THE DAY (RRTD) During all conferences and observations, be sure to yawn continually, practically falling asleep until you demonstrably wake up with that “oops, just nodded off” head-jerk thing. Make and answer phone or GI Joe walkie-talkie calls loudly during the observation, with additional points for doing this as the teacher is instructing the students. There is a definite bonus for you if you can manage to invade the teacher’s space in that special violating way of yours. There is really no good reason for sitting in a teacher’s own chair or designated space, but do this anyway. If s/he is already there, wait until s/he moves during the lesson and run/leap to take over that space ASAP. The effect of this might be palpably felt throughout the room. Or, you are only leaning in that closely so that you can accurately record what is happening. (HA!!!!! See #7.) If you make anyone physically jump because s/he didn’t even know how close you were until you were right there, you win extra points! Causing gasps from students for any of these slick moves counts as extra points, too!

The jury is still out on pulling out a sandwich or otherwise setting up to eat something during any D/REACH observations or conferences. Opening pop cans can be fun, hearing that “fffffffssssssssssssstttppkk” in the middle of the lesson! We continue to advise that burping and/or passing gas are not acceptable unless you can successfully shift the blame for such onto someone else, such as nearby students or the teacher him/herself during any classroom observations or private conferences. For all of the above and more, because we know how creative you can be in this department, if students who are witnessing any observations end up with a “wtf-?” look on their faces, you win even more extra points!


Be absolutely sure to take whatever teachers entered into the D/REACH computerized system (aka “Reflect and Learn”) as a “celebration,” aka what they have chosen from their pathetic, idealistic hearts and souls as the best and most successful aspect of their lesson you observed, and administratively rate that as unsatisfactory or developing/basic at the highest.

Why? This will eventually ensure that teachers believe that you are in touch with reality, and they are not. Do not listen to or view any evidence the teacher attempts to present to the contrary at a post conference. (See #8.) Be sure to act as patronizing as you can. If the teacher figured out how to enter into the computerized system any response or paperwork as evidence ahead of time, do not be alarmed. Reassure yourself that no one of any importance (read: over your head with what you fear is the power to scalp you) will see it, at least not in any timely manner, and when/if they do, they won’t care. (See #1 and #10 re grievances.) You are not even going to look at it.

According to Broad-based research, the odds are astronomical that demoralized teachers (aka our management goal) whose basic sense of reality, as well as basic sense of right versus wrong or good versus evil, will not share poor rating experiences with anyone else but close colleagues or family members if that. (See #4 for individual pointers for principals and/or assistant principals if such a situation blows up in some way.) “Suffer in silence” is the motto of most teachers. In combination with Jedi mind-tricking, how else do you think politicians and CEOs of businesses and Chicago Tribune and other “mainstream” media editorial writers as well as all form of reform edupreneurs can have gotten away with using teachers as scapegoats for so long and so easily for being the cause of all evil in the world?!

7) JUST MAKE IT THE *BLEEP* UP (JMIT*B*U) Here’s the gist: Just plain consider the whole D/REACH documentation and evidence thingy as an exercise in creative writing for yourself. You are going to punch into the system [note: punch fist to hand], figuratively-speaking, of course, whatever you think you saw and heard or whatever you wanted to hear or see, and that is going to be totally accepted. (See #6 for a reminder of your special Jedi-mind trickin’ powers.)

Keep in mind that these teachers probably represent your unhappy recollections of your own childhood mother or father or other authority figures who did not worship the ground you walked on; either that or those childhood figures actually let you get your way 24/7 as a two-year old and you just kept right on going. For the former, D/REACH is the exact moment in time to make a significant, psychic, time-traveling, scapegoating correction for that injustice, as opposed to documenting the exact here-and-now of whatever is actually occurring. For the latter, if you were worshipped as a two-year old by stupid grown-ass adults, how dare these teachers not do so now, right? Either way, this is all about you and your to-be-valued psychosis!

Better yet, don’t do any writing or submitting of anything at all – just cut-and-paste any place or without rhyme or reason from what the teacher already submitted. Simply piggyback on all that stuff the diligent and workaholic teacher already submitted electronically for the pre and post conferences. However, if you feel the need to write or say something, resting-assured that the evaluation rating deal is already done nonetheless, here are three ready-made strategies to justify lower ratings at post conferences that have no basis in common sense because what is common sense worth in running a school anyway:

A) “Preponderance”: Point out that 1 student dropped a pencil during the observation lesson. Thusly, 1 out of 45 students was off task at that moment in time, therefore the preponderance of the evidence proves that the teacher does not meet any Charlotte Danielson standards for performance.

B) “No Evidence.” Even if you see something or the teacher points it out, submit a statement of “No evidence for X.” Remember, “no evidence” of something does not mean that you don’t have any evidence. You can totally hold it against the teacher if something wasn’t there, and especially so for the 15-minute random drop-in of the D/REACH Informal Observation. “No evidence” is the best evidence for submitting an unsatisfactory or developing/basic rating. c) Discipline. Be on the lookout for those students in the classrooms for whom you yourselves as disciplinarians in the building continually trigger negative behaviors. Utilize those skills to the detriment and demoralization of the teacher for the REACH observation. However, if the teacher in example A, for example, has the nerve to point out that the student did not drop the pencil, he aimed and threw it at your head or the teacher’s head to show-off for you, as he does every time you enter the room, in these cases immediately lower whatever the rating was that you already pre-determined (see #1), unless of course it was already UNSAT for this teacher. Then say to yourself: That takes care of that!

8) OUTPUT THE INPUT (OTI) Do not allow for any teacher input into the actual D/REACH ratings, unless, of course, you have pre-planned to strategically allow one or two domains to be interchangeably something higher than what is needed for the predetermined ratings. In other words, feel free to pre-set-up one or two categories so that they can go either way. The teacher either seeks a change or not, so you either change it or not. Who cares? In the case of making a change, however, this gives the teacher a very false sense of power from having just such a wee bit of perceived power over the D/REACH evaluation. This is another example of “gratitude for being abused but less abused.” This is also a great maneuver for? [Note: The audience’s loud group recitation should be: “Divide and conquer!” followed by good-hearted, hearty chuckles all around.]

The best practice, of course, is to declare aloud all the time that you seek and value input. Hell, we agreed on the phrase “Reflect and Learn” knowing it was total bullcrap. It’s right there, so use the verbiage. Just do not, in fact, OMG, ever put that into actual practice. Follow the example given of those above you in the CPS system, and run your D/REACH evaluations like the Board of Education runs public meetings and hearings: predetermined through your own top-down divine abilities, political considerations, retaliatory proclivities, unaddressed mental-health related issues, and/or orders from higher-up. There is no such thing as “evidence” to the contrary. In life there are simply times when one must deal with and try to humor the riff-raff.

Rationalize it. This is America. So what if something that is not true is on paper or on the record somewhere officially? Get some perspective. We are in a country whose paperwork started out with “all men are created equal.” Today, people are still fighting to attain that even as it is proudly and openly declared and the country is run with the motto that “corporations are people”! This is not red state (“right to work for less”) or blue state (“right to have a union negotiated contract that is completely ignored”). This historical power of and servitude to the 1% is red, white, and blue! And we in CPS management positions are their useful fools until we, too, are fired! Oops! Did I just say in ad-libbing what I think I just said? Wait, we couldn’t ever be treated this unfairly too, could we? [Brain freeze.] Let us move on…

9) TWO ‘LOAD AND LOCK’ OUT STRATEGIES (T’LAL’OS) First, regarding any teacher’s feedback and input, one fun tactic is to tell teachers, like the ones who might respond at the post conference by frantically presenting you with tons of evidence that their performance was way better than what you just now told them you have entered for their ratings (can you joyfully spell, “A-M-B-U-S-H!”), that you “will consider their input.” Hell, tell them flat-out that, oh my goodness, you agree and you will change something. You won’t, but tell them you will. Give them some hope of which there is none. Shoe them out of the post conference informing them, after you have loaded and locked in the D/REACH ratings, that you will re-open the system. Blame the system by playing the technological dummy, or even better if you really are. Then avoid them as their realization (noting for some this will manifest itself into a slow burn) grows over the fact that you are not going to change anything over as long a length of time as you can stretch it.

What can they do about it? Absolutely nothing. However, it can also be fun to really and actually totally change one or another teacher’s ratings from their “input” (ha, we know) but not all the others in such cases, especially if teachers are talking among themselves. This additional inequity can be added into the D/REACH stew you’ve already got brewing in your school! And this is also called? [Audience’s loud group recitation: “Divide and conquer!” followed by good-hearted, hearty chuckles all around.]

Second, however, if you somehow cannot get away with totally “loading and locking” everything even before the pre-conferences, be sure to “load and lock” in a way that does not allow the teacher any realistic time to respond to anything after the post conference. Who are these teachers to think they can contribute to their own evaluations? This is about YOU/US evaluating THEM. If you must wait until the “day of” the post conference to load in the ratings or other info, do so at a time that you know the teacher cannot possibly view it. Hit the teacher [note: punch fist to hand], figuratively-speaking, of course, at the post conference with his/her poor ratings, unexpected as they will be given the actual lesson s/he thought you observed in the eyes of said teacher, or not (if they have your number, which they shouldn’t but some might figure it out). Schedule these situations for as close to dismissal on Fridays as possible, especially holiday weekends, or as close to the end of the school year as possible. Do not allow any time for discussion, review, reflection, or any of that sort of reflective or collaborative crap or allow it but just ignore it. As soon as the teacher gets up to leave or abruptly and disgustedly walks out your office from the post conference, lock that load! Remember, to allow real input or show that teacher input and reflection have any value does not an effective or appreciated boss make! So, in respectful reverse word-borrowing from our “new sheriff in town” NRA compadres, “Load and Lock” those ratings ASAP!

10) SIMPLY RECALIBRATE #1 AS NEEDED (R#1AN) Unexpected, but not to worry. Be sure to contact a calibrator immediately to recalibrate your predetermined ratings for teachers (see #1) whose students’ standardized test scores were predictably randomly above or below what was predicted (basically, refer to zip codes with data on parental income and education levels) for their standardized test scores. As you know, aside from the absolute sociopathic joys of D/REACH (see all of the above #1-9), CPS is also sociopathically required by state law (with bipartisan federal approval and encouragement) to calculate scientifically-proven-unsound value-added test scores into teachers’ summative evaluation ratings.

If you have any teachers who continually challenge you (and especially if rightfully so) whose students did better than predicted, thus raising the overall evaluation score, also consider a change in position for these teachers. Put them into positions they never taught before to help lower the chances of students achieving on standardized tests again next year and to help lower the teachers’ ratings to where they were pre-calibrated to be. Change teachers all around anyway. Use their preference sheets to place them in positions they have not listed and fear like hell. For examples, especially move veteran primary teachers (PreK through second grade) into the upper middle school grades of 7th and 8th and vice-versa. This is an absolute and total no-brainer for running a collaborative, cooperative, and happy school! And, this is a great way to? [Audience’s loud group recitation: “Divide and conquer!” followed by good-hearted chuckles all around.] Children and the school community as a whole need the “stability” of your leadership and nothing else. If grievances are filed, the basic, CPS system-wide question repeats itself: Who cares? No one higher-up will do a damn thing to stop you in your demoralizing and destructive tracks no matter how many complaints they are made aware of! You have our reassurance that all preemptive evaluation grievances, as well as 99.9% of all other complaints and grievances as well, will be ignored and/or denied.

Only summative ratings of unsatisfactory will be seriously considered as per the Contract Agreement, along with developing/basic to a degree, but even these will be automatically denied and will take years and years and years if it is not dropped by the grievant (or the grievant him/herself “drops”) in the meantime waiting to get to an independent arbitrator with everything else. Rest assured that no one in the Board of Education is going to stop you and support teachers regarding what you are doing with the D/REACH evaluation tool!

This is a school system under the guise of “educational reform” bipartisanly-sanctioned up to federal levels we are running here! As principals and assistant principals, you are the front lines! It is not ass-backward that we’ve got your backs! Final Note: The above is only a limited listing! If you have other strategies that you employ, please share them with your colleagues and us. Remember, if D/REACH for teachers is not the life-and-soul-sucking experience akin to the Death Eaters of Harry Potter fame, something is definitely wrong! P.S. But, for real, do not – repeat – NOT implement all of the above! [Full disclosure: the author does not have no experience with D/REACH.]


May 4, 2015 at 8:32 AM

By: Susan Geuder


This is absolutely correct! I have told the Union repeatedly that these evaluations are demoralizing and ridiculous. I am the ONLY teacher to win the lawsuit concerning residency after teaching in CPS for 15 years. As a result, I was targeted all year long. My principal made life a living Hell, calling me out in front of students and during faculty meetings with my colleagues. The entire Danielson Framework reduces teaching to an idea that one method is appropriate for every classroom, which is crap. I went from Teacher of the Year in 2005 to "unsatisfactory" in 2013-2014. Everything I tried to change for my principal was unacceptable. When I went to the Union for help, they asked if I filed a grievance, to which I replied, "No! A grievance would have made the situation even worse than it was!" CPS is a bunch of vindictive hatchet people including the principal of my school, who will do anything to a teacher that "God forbid" fights back to stand up for what is right. My entire career has been thrown in the street, without the ability to find another job and I'm seriously thinking about calling it a day and resigning. Just can't do this anymore.

May 4, 2015 at 6:17 PM

By: Jere Smyth


Can you please clarify:

If a teacher receives 2 need improvement summative ratings in two consecutive years, does your teaching license get revoked by the state of Illinois?

May 5, 2015 at 10:43 AM

By: Jean Schwab


Susan:Once you are targeted, there's really nothing you can do to convince them that you are the wonderful teacher you are. Most of the remedial assignments given to you are really designed to keep you busy so you can't continue using activities that really teach.I finally told them that I knew my students better than they ever would and I knew what they needed. My last year was busy doing things that I really felt would make a difference. In many ways I succeeded, but it was still a tough year. Good luck with whatever you decide to do!

May 5, 2015 at 10:53 AM

By: Jean Schwab


Susan- File a grievance-work with the CTU- what, besides quitting, is your other option?

I did not have that option- you do. It is important to document your battle with CPS.

Hopefully some day things will turn around.

Also the extra work they are assigning you is usually things that are NOT IN YOUR STUDENTS BEST INTEREST and that needs to be documented.

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