TRICK, TREAT, OR SIMPLY 'BOO!' FOR HALLOWEEN? Management by Chaos continues as Barbara Byrd Bennett purges 'Networks' on Halloween Eve following network-induced confusion at hundreds of Chicago's real public schools since school began

Less than a week after Chicago Public Schools "Chief Executive Officer" Barbara Byrd Bennett did not put her latest management reorganization on the agenda for the monthly meeting of her Board (and six days after she showed herself clueless about the difference between "tiers", "tiers," and tears in Chicago's schools today), the CEO of the nation's third largest school system announced a major management reorganization. The announcement came just in time for Halloween and the school year's first report card pick-up. It came not in a Board Report on the public agenda of the seven-member Chicago Board of Education, but almost furtively. The massive change in sub-district reorganization had as expected by some (including this reporter), but was not brought before the Board. Instead, it came in the form of a letter to parents and other so-called "stakeholders" issued by the CEO on October 29, 2013.

Chicago public schools chief Barbara Byrd Bennett issued the above letter late in the day on October 29, 2013. She did not hold a press conference or explain why such a significant management shakeup was being institute a quarter of the way into the 2013 - 2014 school year, especially after several of her erstwhile "Chief Network Officers" had issued regular demands against principals and schools for "assessment" and other policies that my no longer be applied. In Chicago, the "Networks" are what traditional sub-districts are currently called. Since mayoral control and corporate "school reform" began in Chicago in 1995, the sub districts have been called "Regions," then "Areas" (in two different configurations) and (currently) "Networks." No word was included from CPS officials about which six "Network Chiefs" were being purged in this latest iteration of the Emanuel administration's latest Five-Year Plan.Late in the afternoon of October 29, 2013, Byrd Bennett told people who received the memo that she was cutting her middle-management bureaucracy by a third. According to the letter, the number of "Networks" will be reduced from 19 to 13. Given the fact that Byrd Bennett has also said that she is creating three sort-of networks (small "n" for now) -- which we will call "Networky Thingies" for want of a better term at this point -- the percentage decrease in Networks is less than a third but more than a fourth. But, then, who is counting in this strange version of Chicago-style Common Core. Once again, what a growing number of critics are now calling "Management by Chaos" continues into what will soon be the third year of Rahm Emanuel's reign or errors, mistakes, bluster, union busting and teacher bashing.

The complete text of the Barbara Byrd Bennett October 29, 2013 letter follows here:

"October 29, 2013

"Dear Colleagues, Parents and Friends,

"As part of our work to ensure that every child in every community has access to a high quality education, Chicago Public Schools is organized into academic Networks whose staff provides administrative support, strategic direction and leadership development to all District schools. Networks are led by Network Chiefs to provide critical supports to their schools to help enhance student learning and success. This includes professional development plans to support teacher growth and development, collecting and assessing data to drive academic interventions and investments for students in need, collaborating on best practices with other networks, and enhancing community and parental involvement.

"Starting immediately, we are restructuring our networks to better align both our academic goals and geographies of existing neighborhoods. This will allow us to better engage our community stakeholders while improving the allocation of Network resources to our schools. To accomplish this, we are moving from the existing structure of 19 separate networks for elementary schools and high schools to a new configuration consisting of 13 networks that encompass Pre-Kindergarten education through Grade 12. Combining elementary and high school networks will allow for a more coherent, continuous delivery of instruction for students starting in Pre-Kindergarten through the 12th grade.

"Some school types that require more specialized education supports will operate under their own organizational structure. The Alternative Schools Network, which has been renamed the Department of Option Schools, will report to the Office of Innovation and Incubation. Service Leadership Academies (Military) will be counted in the new Network structure, but will operate as a separate unit within the District. Lastly, AUSL schools will no longer be included under the new Network structure and will instead receive support directly from the Chief Officer of Network Supports. "I am confident that this revised network structure will strengthen our schools, better support school leaders and teachers, and help us reach our vision for every student in every neighborhood to be engaged in a rigorous, well-rounded instructional program to prepare them for success in college, career and life.

"Thank you for all you do to support our students and their learning.

"Sincerely, Barbara Byrd-Bennett, CEO, Chicago Public Schools"

There was no further information about who will be ousted under the purges or the fates of the various programs, some of which were intensely pushed on principals across the city, that originated from the "Network Offices" since school began in late August 2013.


October 30, 2013 at 10:44 AM

By: James Patrick

Network Changes

George, do you know which network chiefs will be let go?

October 30, 2013 at 4:34 PM

By: George Schmidt

Who needs a Board?... Rahm , 'BBB' stick it to public, Board

As of this afternoon (October 30, 2013) the Board is keeping the locations and names of the new networks secret from the public. Principals have been told, more or less, where their schools have landed, but CPS is withholding the information from the general public. Another thing to remember: This big a decision should have gone to a Board of Education meeting, one of which was held, with a public agenda, seven days ago. But like Rahm Emanuel (the "facilities" additions to Gallistel, Wildwood and Payton three weeks ago; the Ames announcement yesterday), Barbara Byrd Bennett doesn't have to go to a meeting of "her" Board of Education to do a major public policy action.

We will be publishing the list as soon as we know it here at Substance. If you get it share it. And ask around whether anyone in your part of town likes the idea of Barbara Byrd Bennett bringing in another Ohio Broadie for a $150,000-per-year Chicago administrative job!

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