Chicago to pioneer the LEARNING WALK! 'The network told us that is how it will be -- no choice no discussion...' Byrd Bennett adds 'Learning Walks' to the nonsense that will face teachers (and principals) when school resumes in September

Since she was brought to Chicago at an annual salary of a quarter million dollars a year by Mayor Rahm Emanuel following the ouster of Emanuel's first "Chief Executive Officer" (Jean Claude Brizard), Barbara Byrd Bennett (above at a recent Board meeting) has continued to push forward every cliche in the national corporate "school reform" playbook (which she was trained in during her time at the Broad Leadership Academy). For at least part of the 2014 - 2015 school year, Byrd Bennett will be forcing principals and teachers to endure the newly created "Learning Walks" as her inspection teams disrupt classrooms across Chicago during the 2014- 2015 school year and she reports at every Board meeting how things are going swell in the schools, especially if you read her Power Point and Excel stuff. Substance photo by David Vance.If you haven't heard of "Leaning Walks" yet, it's because this is the latest nonsense being pushed by the top executives of Chicago's public schools to bully classroom teachers (and possibly drive principals insane) in the coming school year. The "Walk Through" part of teacher evalusations was generally a failure, so now the current administration is proposing to put the "Walk Through" on a form of bureaucratic steroids and making it a central piece of the Chicago version of teacher evaluations (and support for the Common Core).

This stuff is unfolding across Chicago as I write. Principals have been brief on the "Learning Walks" and warned that it is one of the most important parts of their jobs as "instructional leaders" in their schools.

According to briefings being received by Chicago Public Schools principals this week (August 4 - 8, 2014), teams to six principals are supposed to inspect classroom teachers during the 2014 - 2015 school year via "Learning Walks." The "Learning Walk" is strictly structured and will enforce the edict that every classroom in Chicago and every child in a Chicago public school is being learned at according to the prescriptions of the Common Core.

According to one educator who has been present at these meetings, "The network told us that is how it will be -- no choice no discussion."

The Learning Walk team of six -- yes, SIX -- principals will squeeze into a teacher's classroom observing different things in the room. As Substance has learned from people at the meetings, there is no consideration of the possibility that six older adults marching into a classroom might disrupt everything every child has been thinking, doing, or trying to do. The "Learning Walk" teams are basically the Common Core Enforcers.

-- Two principals are assigned to critique "environment"...

-- Two principals will cover "instruction"

-- and two principals in the Learning Walk team are supposed to observe how the students are "reacting to the teacher and lesson."

"Then,' one source continued, "after the observation, they meet with the school principal to discuss whether the classroom is meeting the new CEO's directions and directives. We did not get a lot of details yet--that is to come next week" [August 11 - 15].

Principals who tried to point out how ridiculous the entire idea is were basically told to sit down and shut up -- OR ELSE.

A year ago, less than one year after the Chicago Teachers Strike of 2012 and two months after the largest school closing in history, the Chicago Board of Education substituted the "Five Pillars" for everything that had gone before. And since then, nobody at the top of America's third largest school system has been allowed to talk about what's going on without noting which of the "pillars" is going on with this.

On top of the fact that teachers have been rebelling against this nonsense, the CPS administration (and the mayor's office) are now really angry that a group of principals has organized to meet and regularly discuss how absurd the current policies of the nation's third largest school system are.

As reported in Catalyst earlier this week, the principals, working through the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association (CPAA) are finally trying to stand up against the unprofessional stupidities foisted on them. What most citizens don't know is that today, in 2014, the city's schools are being overseen by the massive and expensive number of non-educators (most from out of town) now holding down all those six-figure executive positions in Barbara Byrd Bennett's "cabinet" and in the so-called "Network" offices. Most of the top jobs (the "officers" and "chiefs of staff") are no longer teachers, but young arrogant people with MBA degrees and an inability to imaginatively face the reality of dozens of children in a room with one adult -- the teachers. Barbara Byrd Bennett and her inner circle have made it a policy to hired people from out of town (Ohio is in the lead, followed by Michigan and Tennessee) and/or people who have never taught a day in their lives. Their skills are all in repeating current corporate jargons and reducing reality to the babble that accompanies their Power Point presentations and the claims they made about what they can glean from the "bottom line" on the spreadsheets they worship at.

"They expect to see student citing evidence to support their claims, close reading and students in collaborative conversations," a principal told Substance.

Although on feature of this craziness is a "rebranding" (the "Walk Through" is now this stuff) just as the "Human Capital" office became "Talent Office," a more significant feature is that the local school is being ordered to do this via the "Network" offices -- and the local control, such little as it was, is being taken away from the school's ILT (that's "Instructional Leadership Team") and placed under the dictatorship of the FNGs now expanding across the city in the "Network Offices."

[Final Note: One of the ways that the administration of Barbara Byrd Bennett has expanded the number of non-teaching executives at huge salaries while supposedly "cutting central administration" has been to put all those non-teaching people out into the "Network Offices." Given that it's hard enough for Chicago's corporate reporters to read the central office budget and tease out the latest lies from Byrd Bennett and members of her team, we have to assume that they know that when the bureaucrats have been spread from the far northwest side all the way out to the Indian border, no one but the victims of this latest stuff will be able to note what's going on, who is doing it, and how much money is being wasted while "Student Based Budgeting" rapes the schools and denudes that classrooms...].


August 13, 2014 at 5:32 PM

By: Margaret Wilson

Learning Walks

Six adults squeezing into over-crowded classrooms that already violate the fire codes is insane!!!!!!!! It is hard enough to keep student's attention as it is and then they are going to judge teachers based on their disruption. What about the special education students who are there because they can't focus with the disruptions in the general education classrooom? What idiot cam up with this idea?!

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