Privatization continues and pension attack is coming... Chicago Board of Education's May 25, 2016 Agenda shows that even when it cries 'broke!' the Chicago Board of Education continues the massive and expensive expansion of privatization...

Members of the Chicago Board of Education and some of the latest bureaucrats reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at the March 25, 2016 meeting of the Board. Left to right (rear): Gail Ward, Michael Baranzini, Forrest Claypool (CEO of CPS) and Ronald Marmer. Substance photo by David Vance.A detailed analysis of the Agenda for the meeting of the Chicago Board of Education scheduled for May 25, 2016 makes it clear that even when the Board cries it is broke it continues to spend on privatization deals and increase spending on programs that would not be needed in a "crises budget." As the Board members prepare for their monthly public meeting, anyone who examined in detail the 152 pages of the Board's Agenda would notice that massive spending on controversial privatization schemes continues, while the Board is also planning to spend more than a quarter million dollars to hire a consultant to develop propaganda regarding the so-called "pension crisis."

There is a total $485,178,003.74 of spending on privatization deals and program increases in the Board Reports (the Agenda items the Board will vote on) that make no sense if the school district does not have money to spend on the salaries of teachers, principals, clinicians and others who actually work every day in the schools with Chicago's children.

The biggest spending continues with the privatization of custodial services. On the May 25 Agenda are deals with Aramark ($260,300,000) and Sodexomagic, owned by Magic Johnson, ($80,000,000) to begin or expand the privatization of custodial services in the nation's third largest school system. Despite claims that the privatization has been good for the schools, the Board members have ignored regular complaints from principals, parents, students, teachers and others that the privatization format has left the schools with filth and worse since the first contract (with Aramark) was entered into three years ago.

The continued privatization of custodial work is just one major thrust on the May 25 Agenda.

The next red flag is the 55 million being spent on "early childhood services." This would be good news for most people in a large district servicing a high minority population, but the caveat here is that over the year CPS has fired State Licensed employees who use to do this work for the district. The Board of Education is now replacing them with private vendors that do not have to provide and licensing information for their employees to the public. There is an additional $3.5 million being spent on computerized early childhood assessments.

What is troubling about this expenditure to most careful observers is that CPS workers are the ones inputting the data into the software for a Rupert Murdoch owned education company. It is these same employees inputting data who are getting replaced by private vendors and getting punished by Board administrators if data is not inputted regularly. Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) members are inputting data that is actually being used to privatized their own jobs.

There is the $475,000 contract with Aon Corporation to create pension propaganda and outreach. In the "Scope of Services the Consultant will continue to: (1) analyze and model the fiscal impact on the Board and the Chicago Teachers Fund of pension reform legislation being considered by the Illinois General Assembly; (2) analyze and model alternative pension reform proposals and assist Board staff in the development of such proposals; and (3) provide support for education and outreach to stakeholders that will accompany (1) and (2) above."

Sadly CPS is paying for this service, instead the money could have been used to pay the some of the pension obligations for Chicago teachers, as usual the Board decided to spend the money figuring out how not to pay its obligations.

In hard economic times it is surprising that the city would charge its own Board of Education rent when its 'broke." Yet that is also the case under the complex deals which almost always hurt the city's public schools to the benefit of some other city entity.

For example, the City Colleges will collect $3.87 million in rent for 5-year lease deal for the old Wright College building, which has been housing the "Chicago Academy", an ASUL contract school. While this is being done, the district continues to have dozens of empty school buildings in other parts of Chicago -- left over from the fifty that were closed a three years ago supposedly because they were "underutilized." Apparently, the AUSL Chicago Academy must be located in a mostly white part of town (where many of the adjacent schools are overcrowded!) rather than being re-located to the empty Board-owned buildings in the city's ghettos and barrios.

Another interesting contract is with "True North Logic" for $1,001,800 for "employee Performance Evaluation software." In a quick internet search of the company it was reported In The Buffalo News on September 9, 2015 that the company miscalculated scores for teacher ratings.

"Truenorthlogic miscalculated the scores for 1,089 Buffalo teachers and while it forthrightly acknowledged the mistake once it confirmed the error, its leaders didn’t know about the mistake until Buffalo school officials told them. And Buffalo school officials wouldn’t have known unless a teacher hadn’t manually calculated her own score and found that, despite Truenorthlogic’s calculations to the contrary, she had in fact met her performance targets."

In Chicago there are nearly 27,000 teachers and support staff serving the city's children in the city's real public schools. The members of the Chicago Board of Education have never explained why they are hiring outside contractors like Truenorthlogic to do the work that is supposed to be done by school administrators. When and if the results of this contract ever become public, it will be interesting to see how many of those scores are miscalculated.


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