Chicago's 'Data Driven' managers screw up the most basic form of data (a calendar)... Ron Huberman's official calendar tells students there are 'No Classes' today (October 16, 2009) when there are classes for most of them

The first mayor of Chicago named Richard Daley was famous for certain quotations, one of which went: "The police are not there to create disorder. The police are there to preserve disorder." Richard J. Daley made that comment in 1968 during the protests and confrontations surrounding the Democratic National Convention.

Every year since Mayor Daley took over the schools, CPS has produced a 'Calendar and Directory' that is distributed to all schools, students, families, teachers, parents, principals and the public. More than 500,000 copies of the calendar are typically printed and distributed during the opening months of school in Chicago. For the past several years, however, the editing, fact checking, and proofreading of the calendar have been so poorly done that the calendar has been inaccurate, misleading, or worse. This year the calendar lists more than ten days between October and June when students are told there are 'No Classes' even though 450 of the city's 600 regular public schools will be holding classes on those days. In previous years, the calendar has gotten school addresses and other information wrong. In one famous error, April 2007 was granted 31 days in Chicago, while the rest of the world stuck with the traditional April of 30 days. Substance caption and photo by George N. Schmidt.In 2009, Richard J. Daley's son, Richard M. Daley, might want to add to those famous quotations by reminding Chicago and the world that his miracle management teams are there both to create and preserve disorder.

Some examples of the disorder caused by Daley's CPS appointees are terrifying. These would include the recent murder of Fenger High School student Derrion Albet. The widely publicized murder resulted in part from the Daley administration's support for 'turnaround.' 'Turnaround' (one of many corporate fetishes grafted on to Chicago's public schools by management which has no experience in classrooms or school administration) is when veteran teachers are fired and replaced by novice FNG teachers who have supposedly been trained in the hottest new methods of saving the children of the inner city. More than 90 percent of the Fenger staff was replaced in June 2009, leaving the school stripped of its historical memory and the students deprived of their mentors, role models, coaches, and in some cases friends.

In addition to telling a half million Chicago public school students and their families to buy their dental floss at Walgreens and that October is Polish-American Heritage Month, the October 2009 CPS calendar, for the first time, combines the 'No Classes' notices for the so-called 'Year Round' schools with the notices for the majority of schools (which are not year-round). The result is that beginning on October 16, 2009, hundreds of thousands of CPS students and their families are confused, asking whether they should go to school or not. The same problem will happen on October 20 and October 21 (on which of those days are there really 'No Classes' for all CPS students?) — and at additional days across the remainder of the 2009 - 2010 school year. The reason for the mess? CPS top management now consists exclusively of people who have no classroom teaching experience, little or no school administrative experience, and who are mostly political patronage appointees whose professionalism is secondary to their political loyalty to Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley and his appointed 'Chief Executive Officer', Ron Huberman. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Other examples are just silly and the result of carelessness on the part of people who claim to be experienced corporate executives. In the silly category is the annual 'Chicago Public Schools Calendar and Directory', which once again is fouling up the schools. While claiming they are the masters of an arcane art form called 'Data Driven Management' and its Chicago brand, 'Performance Management', the new CPS leadership — centered around CEO Ron Huberman — neglects the simplest details while making a fetish of irrelevances. Fact checking and proofreading documents that will impact hundreds of schools and hundreds of thousands of people are beyond the capacity of Huberman and his group.

For the second time in four years, a significant failure on the part of top CPS officials to think about and proofread the annual glossy ‘Chicago public schools calendar and directory’ is causing confusion in Chicago’s more than 600 public schools.

But unlike three years ago, when CPS awarded an extra day to the month of April, this year the problem with the calendar will cost the school system unnecessary absences among students, and it has already forced dozens of principals across the city and thousands of teachers to have to waste time correcting an error that was easily foreseen by anyone with classroom or local school experience.

What is the latest problem?

The famous Huberman 2009 - 2010 CPS Calendar tells students there are 'No Classes' in red type on October 16, October 21, and October 23. Actually, students in most Chicago public schools — more than 450 of them — are supposed to be in classes on October 16 and October 21. Only October 23 is a 'No Classes' day for virtually all of Chicago's more than 600 public schools. The confusion caused by the failure of Chicago's 'Data Driven Management' team has cost teachers, principals, parents, and students thousands of hours checking to offset confusion that could have been avoided had common sense rather than pretension and Power Point been applied to the management of the third largest school system in the USA. Substance caption and photo by George N. Schmidt.Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Chicago children will be missing school today because they were told by an official document — the calendar — that there are 'No Classes' today. The reason is that nobody at CPS was assigned to test the new school year calendar against the reality of Chicago.

In the new calendar’s zeal to note the massive expansion of the so-called ‘Year-Round’ schools in Chicago, the Huberman administration has listed dozens of days throughout the school year when there are ‘No Classes.’

The words ‘No Classes’ are printed in red letters month after month in the calendar.

But only about half of those ‘No Classes’ notices days really mean no classes for the majority of the city’s public schools.

By April 2007, when Chicago decided that April had 31 days, corporate school reform was well entrenched at the Chicago Board of Education. At the time, the 'Chief Executive Officer' of the Chicago Public Schools was Arne Duncan (above, at the April 25, 2007 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education), who had been put into the job by Mayor Richard M. Daley despite the fact that Duncan, like his predecessor Paul Vallas, had no training, experience, or credentials in education. Since his appointment by President Obama as U.S. Secretary of Education Duncan has been giving speeches remind audiences that he learned all he needed to know to run the nation's third largest school system while serving as a volunteer tutor at a program run by his mother in Chicago's privileged Hyde Park - Kenwood community. Substance caption and photo by George N. Schmidt.What happened is that someone at CPS decided to combine the information about Staff Development days for the Year Round schools with the regular calendar. The result has been confusion for hundreds of thousands of children, parents, teachers, and principals. And it's not an accicent. Since January 2009, when he was appointed CEO of CPS by Mayor Daley, Ron Huberman has been purging the top executive ranks in the school system of veteran teachers and administrators. Anyone who actually knows what life is like inside a real school filled with real children has been kicked out, silenced, or warned that they could be next. Huberman has been replacing veteran administrators with patronage cronies and corporate types with MBA degrees and no public schools experience at all.

In Chicago, this is called 'school reform' and 'data driven management.' Despite fawning praise for his gifts from Chicago's media elite (including a hagiographic profile in Chicago magazine and limp interviews on Chicago Tonight and elsewhere), Ron Huberman is mismanaging just about every major aspect of Chicago's public school system while purging the top executive ranks of most veterans with the experience and training to know better. Common sense has been purged in the name of 'data driven management' and computer fetishists. Under weekly bullying sessions called 'Performance Management,' Huberman and his lieutenants have then been terrorizing principals and other managers into silence or worse (collaboration in what they know to be nonsense).

But the calendar is just one example of the turnaround at the top of CPS — a turnaround from the inept management of the Duncan years to even worse — complete incompetence coupled with ruthless, sadistic power.

Anyone with any classroom or school experience who saw the calendar before a half million copies of it were printed could have predicted the problem.

CPS prints in red type the words ‘No Classes’ for any day that is a holiday or a day when students do not have to come to school.

So far, so good.

But CPS has more than 600 schools, and only 142 of them this year are on the so-called ‘Year Round’ schedule being promoted by Mayor Richard M. Daley (and now by Barack Obama and the U.S. Department of Education — despite all the evidence that the plan has failed in the past and will continue to fail into the future; but that’s another story for another time).

The problems arose when someone at CPS gave the go ahead to list ‘No Classes’ in red not only for the days off that apply to all the schools, but also, on the same calendar, for the days off that apply only to the ‘Year-Round’ schools. In CPS jargon, these are called the ‘Track’ schools, and are divided into five so-called ‘Tracks’ — A, B, C, D, and E.

As a result, the calendar entries that list ‘No Classes’ not only list the days on which there are no classes for everybody (for example, the holidays and vacation), but also the days on which there are no classes for a handful of schools, the ‘No Classes’ days for the Track ___ schools.

The problem didn’t hit in September 2009, because there were not days on which the No Classes for the Track ___ schools diverged from the majority of regular public schools.

Thus, ‘No Classes’ on the September 2009 calendar was listed for September 2, 3, 4, 7, and 25. The first three of those days were before students arrived for most schools (again, the Track ___ schools were an exception). Labor Day was a school holidays for everyone. September 25 was a Staff Development Day for ‘All Schools.’

The problem hits today, October 16, 2009.

The calendar which is supposed to be displayed in every classroom says in red letters ‘No Classes.’ What is means is not ‘No Classes’ for the majority of CPS schools, but no classes for the ‘Tracks A, B and C’ schools because this is their Professional Development day. The problem gets worse next week, when the calendar tells everyone there at ‘No Classes’ on October 20 and October 21 when what it means is that there are no classes for ‘Track D…’ (on October 20) and no classes for Track A, B, C, and D (on October 21). The only day next week when the majority of CPS schools have no classes is Friday, October 23, when teachers across the city in the regular calendar schools have Staff Development.

The problem continues month after month. In November, it’s not as serious because, supposedly, November 6 is a Staff Development Day for all regular schools, as well as for Track E.

The problem returns on December 4, 2009 and continues into 2010.

The following are other confusions in the calendar: February 2010 (February 11, 25, 26); March 2010 (March 2, 3, 26); April 2010 (April 9); May 2010 (May 20); and June 2010 (the summer school day June 29). CPS officials have failed to check the calendar for several years. The list of schools has been incomplete and sometimes inaccurate (wrong addresses for certain schools).

April 2007, according to the official calendar and directory of the third largest school system in the USA, had 31 days. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.In the 2006 – 2007 school year, for example, April had 31 days, but at least May began on Tuesday as well, so CPS, with Arne Duncan as CEO, apparently gave Chicago the choice of ending April 2007 on April 31 (and beginning May on May 2) or ignoring the official last day of April and beginning May on May 1. The CPS ‘Calendar and Directory’ is sponsored by Walgreens, which places advertising in each edition. A good few minutes of comedy might include a reading of the Walgreens Reminders at the bottom of each page of the calendar. This month, students are reminded: "Trick or treating... Don't forget about brushing or flossing... Walgreens..."

Next month: "Too much turkey? We have lots of dependable remedias... Walgreens." 

Final edited version of this article posted at October 16, 2009, 6:00 a.m. CDT. If you choose to reproduce this article in whole or in part, or any of the graphical material included with it, please give full credit to SubstanceNews as follows: Copyright © 2009 Substance, Inc., Please provide Substance with a copy of any reproductions of this material and we will let you know our terms — or you can take out a subscription to Substance (see red button to the right) and make a donation. We are asking all of our readers to either subscribe to the print edition of Substance (a bargain at $16 per year) or make a donation. Both options are available on the right side of our Home Page. For further information, feel free to call us at our office at 773-725-7502.


October 16, 2009 at 11:51 PM

By: Yikes

Final? Really?

Ironic that an article about mistakes in a printed document has in its "final edited version" have so many mistakes... Here are a couple obvious ones.

"And it's not an accicent (sic)"

"Walgreens Reminders" (is this a proper nount?)

Such hypocrisy...

How about:

"For the past several years, however, the editing, fact checking, and proofreading of ____ (substance news?) have been so poorly done..."

If people would learn how to read (the calendar clearly says Tracks A, B, and C) then there wouldn't be a problem. Nobody missed school out of confusion at our school.

October 17, 2009 at 1:38 AM

By: alexanderrusso

my previous post wasn't published -- why was that?

all i was saying was that i thought this was a good catch (re the calendar) but way overblown and lacking in evidence of actual real-world impact.

i did a post about it and invited readers to say whether teachers and kids and parents were actually confused.

their mixed responses are here:

October 17, 2009 at 2:17 AM

By: xian


If people would learn how to read (the calendar clearly says Tracks A, B, and C) then there wouldn't be a problem. Nobody missed school out of confusion at our school.

Yes, and if people would just learn to not make typing errors, they could use First Class. And if students would learn how to learn without teachers, the ridiculous staffing formula wouldn't be a problem. And if students would learn to simply their myriad life challenges into red, green and yellow categories, PMO would actually help learn.

Or maybe we could actually get our money's worth from the resources spent on the district level, so you wouldn't have to blame everything on students, parents and teachers?

It would be better if the article had no typos, but I think readers are smart enough to understand the difference between a cosmetic typo which does not obfuscate the meaning and an error that had dozens of kids asking me if they were off school for today.

October 17, 2009 at 2:29 AM

By: George N. Schmidt

Don't know how post was not published...

" previous post wasn't published -- why was that? all i was saying was that i thought this was a good catch (re the calendar) but way overblown and lacking in evidence of actual real-world impact..." (Alexander Russo, yesterday).

That's a surprise. That's one I can't answer, since everything posted here in comments goes up immediately.

We've only closed comments on one thread/article (out of more than 1,000 articles posted to substancenews since January) for obsessive puerile sexual nastiness. Since then, to my knowledge, every comment goes straight up and remains there unless...

Heck, the only unless is writing out 13-year-old sexual fantasies about a principal or teacher. We even blocked most spam (cialis anyone?; not here) by knocking off that one 'comments' section.

October 17, 2009 at 8:11 AM

By: West Side Teacher

Yikes said:

"Ironic that an article about mistakes in a printed document has in its 'final edited version' have so many mistakes"

The irony thickens.

October 17, 2009 at 8:28 AM

By: bob

Off the Hook

Off the Hook

The phone rang off the hook yesterday morning as parents called to see

If school was in secession. Some frustrated, or savvy, parents began to call

Any school number they knew. What is so important that everyone cannot

Have the same date for in-service? The days are only one week apart. A

Lot of parents have to make arrangements for two days of non-attendance

Instead of just one.

October 17, 2009 at 4:15 PM

By: Margaret Wilson

Retired teacher

I found it kind of strange that so far I have received three phone calls from my granddaugther's school reminding me that she has school Monday-Thursday this coming week. It's on the school calendar and at most one reminder should have been enough. It seems the school is confused, not the parents.

October 18, 2009 at 12:02 AM

By: kugler

area offices

what is area 23 address? how do we find out the other area office addresses?

October 20, 2009 at 2:17 PM

By: kugler

bloodsuckers lined up outside my door

All you bloodsuckers lined up outside my door, go somewhere else and get a real job, like the honest citizens you sponge off of.

The voodoo budgets stop here. We're in this mess not just because of the recession, but because of the corrupt and wasteful way we operate.

Daley finally figures that he can no longer nettle taxpayers any more than he already has. Now the question becomes: Which of his other constituencies will he have to cross?

The leeches who land politically sponsored jobs requiring little or no work?

The insiders looking for a return on their generous campaign contributions?

No more clouting jobs and contracts.

Be sure to watch the magic show, beginning at 10 a.m. in the City Council chambers as the city's chief prestidigitator employs his best-ever sleight of hand to evaporate a $519.7 million (or whatever the latest number is) budget deficit without a tax increase.

Will Daley have the guts to stop voodoo budgeting?,0,7866791.column

good commentary today about city hall fake budgets. sounds like CPS and i did not write the article but seems to have the same theme of what huberman is doing with local, state and federal tax dollars meant for educating students in Chicago.

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