Chicago Principals and Administrators Association (CPAA) membership declined as the organization surrendered power to CPS administrations since the 1990s...

Barbara Byrd Bennett told the Board of Education that the closing of 50 of the city's real public schools was necessary so that the Board could save money and overcome what had been fed to the media as an "underutilization crisis." By the time of the May 22, 2013 meeting of the Board of Education (above), Byrd Bennett and the Board's attacks on the city's real public schools had continued the escalation that began with the inauguration of Mayor Rahm Emanuel in May 2011. Although privatization and charterization had been policies of Emanuel's predecessor, Richard M. Daley, the direct attacks on the Chicago Teachers Union, the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association, and other organizations representing those who worked in the schools escalated as soon as Emanuel took power. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. The outgoing President of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association, Clarice Berry, may have told some reporters that she was embarrassed by the conflicts between her soon-to-be successor, Troy LaRaviere and schools and city administrators, calling some of the issues raised in the recent election a "zoo." She said that she was also unhappy that LaRaviere's opponent, retired Prosser High School principal Ken ("Buzz") Hunter, had been arrested for harassing a female. According to Berry, the charges against the 63-year-old Hunter were brought as part of the campaign to elect LaRaviere. Berry said those things to reporters, but provided no evidence for the latter claim.

But a number of CPAA members (who provided Substance with additional information but asked to remain anonymous) have a different view of why the organization has declined in both paid members and power.

The real reason for some of the confusion aided and abetted by some CPAA leaders is that CPAA has been losing members for decades. And many say that the loss is because of CPAA's perceived impotence over the past quarter century in the face of legal and CPS attacks on principals and administrators, which are part of the overall privatization attacks on the city's real public schools since mayoral control began with the passage of the Amendatory Act in 1995.

The result has been that the CPAA membership reached what some say is an all time low of 1,216 by the time of the recent election, when the total eligible membership of the organization could be double that. Because CPAA is not an official union in the sense that it bargains collectively with the administration, CPAA does not have the right, as the Chicago Teachers Union does, to collect "agency fee" from those who do not wish to pay dues into the organization.

According to two CPAA members who asked to remain anonymous because they are very active in the organization, at the current time CPAA has 1,216 dues paying members. These include 337 principals, 243 assistance principals, 28 other administrators, and 71 associate members. Also, 537 retired principals and administrators are members of the organization.

Prior to the Amendatory Act, which launched dictatorial mayor control in Chicago (and which made the "Chicago model" of mayoral control a "model" for other major city school districts under attack by corporate school reform), CPAA represented principals (it was called the "Chicago Principals Association"). One of the many powers given to the Board of Education by the Amendatory Act was to remove Chicago's assistant principals from the collective bargaining group represented by the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU). As a result, the CPA changed its name to the "Chicago Principals and Administrators Association" and saw its membership potential soar to more than 2,000.

"Clarice doesn't want the public to know how weak CPAA has become," a CPAA member who asked to remain anonymous told Substance. "We should have at least 600 principals and 600 assistant principals, perhaps many more than that..." (Many schools have more than one assistant principal).

CPAA did little public complaining as Chicago Public Schools escalated its attacks on the city's real public schools and those working in the schools during the past quarter century. The opening of charter schools across Chicago's poorer communities beginning in the late 1990s took both dollars and students away from the city's real public schools. And when the Board of Education then claimed that there was an "underutilization crisis" CPAA did little to change the privatization trajectory orchestrated by City Hall and followed by the school system's "Chief Executive" officers and the members of the Board of Education, all of whom were appointed by the mayor and have followed the privatization agendas of the last two mayors (Richard M. Daley until 2011 and Rahm Emanuel since May 2011).


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