How many Chicago Public Schools 'Networks' are facing the axe? Will the Chicago Board agenda published on October 21 show that networks have been reduced to the 'unlucky 13' from the 20 or 21 CPS currently has?

The abrupt announcement that Leslie Boozer, the Harvard trained "Chief of Schools" (or "Chief Network Officer") for the Northside High School "Network" of Chicago's public schools was never made in public. But it became clear to principals across the city's north side by the end of school on October 17, 2013 that Boozer was going, and soon. The only question was whether her abrupt departure was the result of a warning that the Chicago Board of Education was on the verge of another whack at the stability of the system or just an example of one of many CPS executives who had put in a little time in Chicago, proclaimed how much they loved Chicago's schools and "the children," and then moved on to other jobs in other cities. If Boozer's exit was just another example of what some call the "Rick Mills Method" (after one of Boozer's predecessors, who left CPS a couple of years ago for a controversial executive job in Minneapolis and who is currently heading up the Sarasota schools), then the rumors about another purge are not true.

More than one CPS executive has had a curriculum vitae out since the Chicago Teachers Strike of 2012.But despite the ever-churning organizational charts published by America's third largest school system, if executive and organizational stability are on the agenda of any of the seven members of the Chicago Board of Education, their praxis since they were appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel two and a half years ago belies the public claims. Chicago's schools are being churned -- at great cost in dollars and stability -- like one of the old "" fantasy innovations just before the fatal tailspin and bankruptcy.

By October 18, 2013, the rumors were growing that the Chicago Board of Education would vote at its October 23 meeting to axe a third of the city's so-called "Networks", leaving dozens of the highest paid CPS bureaucrats out of work -- and the city's nearly 600 real public schools facing more turmoil. Since the 2013 - 2014 school year began, the edicts from the "Chiefs of Schools" had been churning out. But if a third of them became a thing of the past, then the value of all the work principals and "Instructional Leadership Teams" (ILTs) had been putting in were as useful as the clout a handful of gullible FNG teachers believed was true love when they were working for "Colonel" Mills -- one of Boozer's predecessors.

The question was: Who tipped Boozer off that it was time to get out, even though she hadn't been long in a job that was paying $151,000 per year in Chicago? The exiting of the top executives of the nation's third largest school system has become an inside joke since Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed his first school board in May 2011 following his inauguration. By the summer of 2013, barely two years after the Rahm Emanuel era began, the Chicago Board of Education had quietly paid off a dozen of the highest paid people in the system, so that the top administrators in Chicago in 2013 included virtually none of those who had been at the top in June 2011.

The most famous departure was Jean-Claude Brizard, who was brought in as the highest paid public school official in Chicago history at a salary of $250,000 per year after Emanuel appointed him in May 2011. Chicago also paid Brizard a "relocation allowance" of $30,000 to move to Chicago from Rochester New York that summer. During the following year, Brizard regularly traversed the city he was getting to know as a sidekick to Emanuel, who condescendingly called his taller buddy "J.C." But by Christmas 2012, Brizard was gone, with a golden parachute. Also gone were the top officials who had been installed by Brizard (and approved by Emanual's Board): Chief Education Officer Noemi Donoso; Chief of Staff Andrea Seanz; Chief of Family and Community Engagement (FACE) Jamiko Rose; Chief Portfolio Officer Oliver Sicat, and a dozen lesser names.

Except for Rose and Sicat, who were living in Chicago when she was hired, the majority of Brizard's "cabinet" was also paid "relocation fees" when Chicago hired them, without ever explaining why the nation's third largest city needed to go to placed like Denver, Rochester, Cleveland and Detroit to find the most qualified people to head its school system.

The "Networks" of Chicago's public schools are the latest naming for what traditionally have been Chicago's sub-districts. Under corporate school reform and mayoral control, Chicago went from having sub-districts (with sub-district "superintendents") to having "Regions," to having "Areas," to having, since May 2011, the so-called "Networks.'

The sub-districts were what Chicago called the administrative units prior to the advent of mayoral control in 1995, when the Illinois General Assembly passed the Amendatory Act to the 1987 school reform law and gave Chicago's mayor (then Richard M. Daley) control over the nation's third largest schools system. Under the Amendatory Act, the city's mayor had the power to appoint the members of the Chicago Board of Education (for a few years pretentiously called "The Chicago School Reform Board of Trustees") and the "Chief Executive Officer" of the school system. For the first time in Chicago history, the chief of the school system did not have to be an experienced and certified public schools administrator. Daley quickly used the law to appoint one of his City Hall fixers, City Hall budget chief Paul Vallas, as the school system's first "CEO." Another City Hall reliable, Gery Chico, was made head of the so-called "School Reform Board of Trustees." By the end of their first year in power, Vallas and Chico had abolished the city's 11 sub-districts and reduced the administrative segments to six so-called "Regions." Each of the Regions was headed by an REO (a "Region Education Officer"). That lasted as long as Vallas was CEO of the school system, but after Vallas was dumped by Daley in 2001 (following Vallas's mis-call on the Chicago Teachers Union election), the "Regions" shortly became "Areas." Arne Duncan succeeded Vallas as "CEO" of CPS in July 2001. Like Vallas, Duncan had no teaching or administrative experience or certification. Unlike Vallas, Duncan came not out of City Hall and the clout system of Chicago's political machine, but out of the increasingly influential Hyde Park-University of Chicago- Harvard group that was moving toward power both in Chicago and later nationally.

Duncan decided that Chicago Public Schools no longer needed "Regions" and created the "Areas." Under Duncan, there were anywhere between 16 and 23 "Areas." Generally, the areas required certified educators as their heads, and the areas were headed by officials called "Area Instruction Officers" (AIOs).


October 18, 2013 at 6:17 PM

By: Richard Biegaj

Dr. Boozer's departure

With her doctorate and masters degree from Harvard and a law degree from the University of Cincinnati, Dr. Boozer possesses impressive credentials on paper. Unfortunately, she lacks the most important credential for her current and new roles: she's never actually worked as a teacher in a K-12 setting. That, unfortunately, has become the norm in the world of Education "Reform".

October 19, 2013 at 3:14 AM

By: George N. Schmidt

Harvard and U of C = dangerous to public schools

Everyone who studied the huge messes created by the "masters of the universe" since the "" collapse began in 1999 now knows that the smartest guys (and ladies) in the room -- AREN'T. One of the most prescient reports that came out about ten years ago, I believe it was called "The Smartest Guys in the Room," was about how ENRON only hired guys with 1600 SAT or 36 ACT scores. Well, maybe they'd be a little flexible -- a 1500 combines SAT, a 34 or 35 on the ACT. But the whole scam was based on the idea that like Josef Goebbels and lots of other shadows of the 20th Century, these guys believed that 'SMARTEST' is always a synonym for BEST.

We went through this back in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and the result was never better described than by David Halberstram in his epic work, The Best and the Brightest. That one was about the guys (a bunch called "The Whiz Kids") who ran the Pentagon got the USA into a place and a war called Vietnam. Glib, self-important, detached -- and completely dumb about the real world of third world anti-imperialist guerilla wars.

Dumb is not a word the average person is supposed to associate with the words "Harvard" and "University of Chicago," but dumb they are when they declare, amid all that Enron style arrogance, that they are ready to RULE THE WORLD and dictate to the rest of the peasants how to do everything.

The only thing getting advanced degrees from Harvard or (my alma mater) the University of Chicago shows is that your mother loved you and was willing to keep paying the college bills while you kept going to school and avoiding the real world. That was as true for Arne Duncan and Barack Obama (both of whom were subsidized and didn't do any of that Horatio Alger stuff) it was for George W. Bush. Let's not forget, "W" did Yale and Harvard both! George W. Bush, for all that "Aw shcuks" pretending, was the first President of the United States to have a Harvard MBA. A true Master of the Universe type who never had to hold a real job because Daddy and Mommy could subsidize his every cocaine-fueled mess until he was ready to begin those half million dollar year executive jobs his family connections gave him.

If advanced Ivy League (throw in University of Chicago and Stanford to complete the list) degrees are proof that a guy or gal should be running the world, then we're in good hands.

Instead we've got Obamacare instead of a sane and civilized single payer health system (like the rest of the civilized world). Instead, we've got first No Child Left Behind, then Race To The Top -- both of which could be labelled "Brought to you by Harvard, Inc, Productions with some Yodo input from the University of Chicago and the Chicago Boys..."

And let's not forget the double-down updates to David Halberstam's book -- Irag, Afghanistan -- as well as Gitmo and Drone Murders.

If there is any true accountability, either here or in Hell, then by their work and fruits shall they be judged. It's not only rich guys like Bruce Rauner (Dartmouth, by the way, since we're keeping Ivy League scorecards tonight) who will find it hard to squeeze through the eye of that needle with that famous camel -- but all the preaching Harvard pontificators from Barack Obama to Leslie Boozer and beyond, beyond, beyond...

On criteria that include real impacts on real human beings, especially the children of "the least of our brethren", the Boozers, Duncans, Bushes, and Obamas have made a sorry mess of things and won't make it through the eye of the needle. So maybe it's time for a little more humility and a lot less of that starry-eyed worship of ACT and SAT numerologies and the hushed tones when some people say, "She's Harvard." WTF is that so special about?!!!

November 20, 2014 at 9:35 AM

By: Jennifer Snider

Leslie Boozer at Lincoln Park

Leslie Boozer was in the room observing my principal at the time while he told me to talk about my goal for 15 minutes. That was so ridiculous but yet I was fired for my supposed incompetence. She also was there when they told me the news and gave me a fake sad face I will never forget. It really gets me I was actually one of CPS's products that graduated with a Masters and they gutted my career for no reason. I can succeed in the real world but not at CPS. They are just cruel and heartless liars.

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