RAHMSWORLD: 'Juking the Stats' and fraud result in declaration of suspension rate reduction... Violence increasing in the schools as gang bangers learn to play the 'peer jury' game

Years ago, whenever a statistical miracle showed up on some CPS data set, there was an audit which brought the claims closer to reality. This was especially true with test data on the old (non high-stakes) test scores on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills and the (high school version) Tests of Achievement and Proficiency (TAP).

Chicago Public Schools "Chief Executive Officer" Barbara Byrd Bennett (center) at Wells High School during the unveiling of the plan of CPS to juke the stats on suspensions. The audit was a good idea. It avoided many school-level problems and helped the kids. If a group of students with a certain teacher showed very large "gains" from one year to the next, the former CPS Department of Research and Evaluation (from the 1960s until the mid-1990s) re-tested the students, using a different form of the same test.

[The first year I taught AP English at Amundsen High School (after a decade when the school didn't have any AP classes in humanities or social sciences; only calculus held out), my students had a large increase in the TAP scores. So we were audited using a different form of the same TAP test. The audit showed an even greater gain than the previous test, so the reality of the gains was verified. What had happened was simple: More instruction, more intensely. What had happened was not a miracle, but increased instruction and greater intensity. I registered all the students (about 20) for that class that year, and told them and their parents that they would have to do a lot more work and also be in contact with me over the summer about the "summer reading list." They read (and discussed by mail, there was no email or Google Crome then) four books over the summer, then began the new school year in September with four short novels, including "Heart of Darkness" and "Benito Cereno." In October we had the ball buster -- a novel for which there was no Cliffs Notes or movie -- John LeCarre's "Honourable Schoolboy". (I had helped re-developed the AP curriculum guide the previous year and insisted that we include certain "contemporary classics" which had yet to be recognized as part of the canon). The only way to pass my tests on LeCarre was to read the whole book, do the homework nightly, and work hard on the Friday tests (which were always open book but too difficult to "pass" if you hadn't read the text). Several students who were used to "A's" were sad at first, and in one dramatic case I had to tell a very bright young lady that she could read the book, but just had to put aside more time to do it. As her grades moved up in the source of the month, she thanked me. And later semi-publicly (for being the first teacher who made her use all her talents, instead of allowing classroom politics and sort cuts to bring "up" her grades)].

Why this long essay as part of the elaboration of some very interesting coverage of the latest Rahmstuff? On February 12, most Chicago media reported another Rahm Emanuel miracle -- the reduction of the suspension rate in Chicago's public schools. Emanuel and Barbara Byrd Bennett called the media to Wells High School to learn about the miracle and see it in action. Really?

What's really happening? Once again, Rahm's solution in a "data driven" system is to "Juke The Stats" (to r

Rahm's been doing it a lot since he took office in May 2011, usually without getting caught.

In late 2011, Chicago had a similar staged event with two other Rahm sychophants. The late 2011 event took place at Police Headquarters. It featured Gery McCarthy, Rahm's police chief, and Jean-Claude Brizard, Rahm's CPS CEO 1.0.

The 2011 publicity stunt at police headquarters, also featuring "data," was called "COMPSTAT CPS" and supposedly showed a bit meeting of police officials and principals doing, with a straight face, COMPSTAT for reporters. It was straight out of "The Wire," including a bunch of ass-kissing principals who sat on the side waiting to sing the praises of Chicgo's latest Rahm induced miracle. The event was never held again, and after a year I stopped trying to get information under the FOIA about the "monthly" COMPSTAT CPS meetings. (I suspect they stopped existing as soon as the headlines had been grabbed).

Now let's fast forward to the moral of the story in February 2014.

On February 11, 2014 Substance missed the publicity stunt at Wells High School. It was really good, though, to read Fran Spielman's report in the Chicago Sun-Times noting that the child's "peer jury" as a media event was kind of tacky -- even for Rahm and Barbara Byrd Bennett -- he calls her "BBB", but she could be called CPS CEO 2.0.

Students were on display for TV and other reporters. That kind of exploitation of children is supposed to be a NO NO -- but not in Rahmland in Rahmtime.

[I served as "Director of Security and Safety" during the Debbie Lynch years (2001 - 2004) and we spent a lot of time working with the police on aligning CPS discipline with CPD security and court needs. Having worked as "Security Coordinator" at Bowen High School for several years in the late 1990s, I had worked hard to make sure that the school's discipline policies were aligned with the law enforcement realities -- including court.

The problem was simple. When a child committed a crime, we discovered, the schools often neglected to suspend the student even though the police had accomplished an arrest. One of the more dramatic examples in my time at Bowen came when a member of the Latin Dragons fired five shots a car load of Latin Kings behind the school (we were posted on 89th St.; the shooting took place on 88th St.). No injuries, but shooting at someone on school property is a crime, so we insisted that the Kings ID the shooter, which they did (based on our assurance that fair was fair, and that we would have arrested them had they tried the same stuff). I prepared the suspension paperwork, under Group VI (maybe category VI at that point) of the Uniform Discipline Code of CPS. The police prepared the arrest paperwork, with each of the three Kings as witnesses. The next morning, the shooter walked proudly into the school as usual, and the police promptly (but quietly) took him into the office and arrested him, while I presented him with the suspension paperwork. Ten days for attempted murder.

Had we not done that, the Dragon would have been the hit of the "Folks" at the school that day, having gotten away with trying to "light up" a bunch of "People." Instead, he was locked up -- and suspended.]

We are not doing kids a favor when we teach them as official policy that they can get away with attempted murder. I can only imagine what "Juanito" (the Dragon in question) would have cooed to a "jury of his peers" inside the school had we been forced NOT TO SUSPEND him under some dangerously lopsided policy. It would have increased his cynicism and undermined out ability to keep everyone at the school safe. That was my first suspension for attempted murder. A year or so later, I wrote up four students for murder after the December 1997 murder of Antwan Jordan outside the Bowen Annex at the end of a school day when the Spanish Disciples decided to "light up" the Black Stones and King. I was charged, as "coordinator of security" with verifying that the young man, who had a bullet through his head, was dead, having to wait for para-medics to tell me that his "lights are out" forever. (They also showed me the exit wound; I had been watching that surprised look in his eyes while I stood over him awaiting the para-medics for a professional version of what I couldn't verify over my walkie talkie...).

Thanks to good police work and our own security work, we were able to ID the four students who had been passing their "Nine" from one to the other and "cranking rounds" in the general direction of their enemies that fateful afternoon. The fact that they got off a "lucky" shot (a lot of times these shooters are really trying NOT to hit anyone) was probably a surprise to most there, not the least of whom was young Mr. Jordan, whom I watched die.

All four of those we suspended and arrested were "minority males." I have wondered every time I've heard stuff like the February 11, 2014 nonsense from Rahm and BBB whether we would have had to adhere to some kind of quota system in our suspensions. Would I have been quoted so that I could only suspend one Black murderer and on Mexican American murderer? Chicago may be helping some students with this publicity stunt version of discipline, but I have a hunch that once the worst kids (the younger gang bangers are good candidates) learn to game the system, things will get much much worse. As for me, I will not allow any school to put my sons on a peer jury. Can you imagine the pressure on a kid going through the peer ritual in the face of "Juanito" or any of the other major gang bangers in the community.

Sure. And the mayor and Gery McCarthy will protect the student on the peer jury who argues that the students who just beat up, or raped, or mutilated (I suspended for all three of those, and more) should be arrested and suspended. Juking the stats, whether in fiction in "The Wire" or in reality in Rahm's Chicago, is just another Hollywood script that crashes quickly into the reality of Chicago's streets.


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