'Nix the Networks!' demands grow as Network intrusions, costs, and lies spread across Chicago's public schools...

From one end of the city to the other, teachers, students and even some principals have been demanding, as the school year flows on, 'Nix the Networks.' Few people in the schools can understand what the so-called "Networks" are doing to help the schools and the education of children, while most who watch the work of the Networks agree that the Networks are useless or worse. The "Nix the Networks" demand arises every time an inexperienced, arrogant, and untrained visitors wander in and out of teacher classes, armed with clipboards, Power Point, and the arrogance of Teach for America and a sense of unending entitlement to 'evaluate' something or other in your classroom, mine, or my neighbor.

Prior to her appointment as education advisor to "Chief Executive Officer" Forrest Claypool, Denise Little (above, second from right) held the position of "Chief of Chiefs." That strange designation came out of the fact that the Board of Education had decided to call the Network Chiefs "Chief Education Officers." As a result, someone in the central office had to be the "Chief of Chiefs." Above, during the August 26, 2015 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education, Little sat behind the newly appointed "Chief Education Officer" Janice Jackson and near the newly appointed "Vice President for Finances." Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.By October 1, 2015, there were about a dozen so-called "Networks" in Chicago's public schools. Each is headed by a so-called "Chief Officer." Each Chief Officer is paid $151,000 per year, and is surrounded by a group of similarly inexperienced cadre. Many of the Network Chiefs, their minions (often, literally), and their underlings have no Chicago teaching experience. Some of those who have been harassing real teachers and real principals in real schools are as young and fatuous as they appear, having been hired during the past three years, apparently for their mastery of Power Point and Excel. One might say, they excel at the "bottom line," even if, as is usually the case under corporate "school reform," the bottom line has nothing to do with the real education of real children and adolescents in real schools in a city as vast and complex as Chicago.

Not all the "networks," are Networks, at least in the sense they can be located in a Chicago Public Schools Position File data base easily. The "Military" network is a Network but not a Network. Similarly, the alternative schools network. Both were assigned Network department numbers years ago, so they still show up when the Board's Position Files are sorted by department, but they are not technically called "Networks."

Most of those actually working in the Networks are not working in the Networks, at least according to the Position File. Anyone trying to understand the vastness of the current CPS bureaucracy by locating the cost of people via the Position File would be misled. Most of those who are actually working out of the "Network Offices" (which are spread across Chicago, with only one located at the CPS central office at 42 W. Madison St.) are not officially on the budgets of the Networks within which they are working. Hence, the only way to find out how many people are working at any Network this month is to go to the Network, count the number of mailboxes listing all the people who get their mail there, and then ask someone why most of those are not listed in the Network in the Position File.

CPS "Communications" officials will ignore those questions, even if they might by some chance know the answer (which is unlikely). The job of the "Communications" staff is to repeat, over and over and over, that since Rahm Emanuel took over in May 2011 the leadership (i.e., Rahm Emanuel) has "cut" administration by more than $600 or $700 million! Since CPS administration has rarely in CPS history been larger than $120 million, that absurdity requires that the people proclaiming it (including the mayor, whom I have heard say it) are either lying or don't know what they are talking about.

This year, the official budgeted positions for all the CPS networks are costing nearly $16 million. The Network offices are also expensive, often rented from outside vendors despite the fact that CPS has dozens of vacant buildings across Chicago that could be converted (as some have) for use. The dispersal of the Network offices makes sense in only one way: the Networks should be near the schools included in the Networks. But from other points of view, the decision to locate certain Networks in certain buildings does not make any senses, especially during a year when CPS officials are again proclaiming an austerity budget and demanding that people get on the bus to Springfield, where the only relief for Chicago's schools can come from.


November 15, 2015 at 7:28 PM

By: ed hershey


A delegate from the far South Network raised this idea during Q&A at the September HoD meeting. It elicited widespread agreement -- my guess was from elementary delegates.

November 16, 2015 at 6:03 PM

By: Gerald J Rudolph

'Nix the Networks!

When I was working in an after-school program at the school Denise Little was principal, most of the school personnel found Little arrogant, ineffective, harassing nearly everyone in the building. At dismissal, there were students daily fighting on the sidewalks and the busy streets that are close to the schools entrances...and no sign of Little. They talked of her luxury car driven to the schools front door for her by staff, and how she bragged about her schools high test scores and other west-side schools doing so poorly--and there was a general doubt about these high scores. I too wonder what The Chief of Chiefs and her useless Chiefs are doing to help our schools.

November 22, 2015 at 3:46 PM

By: Susan Zupan

Negative Impacts

Network school visits and apparent influences...

On Thursday, November 5, 2015, the day of the CTU polling of strike-related questions, Network 13 Chief Dr. Karen Saffold visited Taylor School. Coincidently, shortly after that visit, I was drop-in observed by the principal, Dr. Truesdale, with extensive note-taking for the first time this school year.

Questions: I wonder if any other CTU delegate was observed in any similar manner by his/her principal on the day of the CTU polling? Was this supposed to be intimidating for whatever reason(s)?

It was noted by the principal that I did not appear to have something related to small instructional grouping readily, visibly available in my classroom, and usually this refers to the grouping of students by their NWEA scores/RIT bands.

I have a professional issue with grouping students continually in reference to one standardized test score. I have a professional issue with ability grouping for older students who totally and socially know how they are being grouped in such instances, period.

Questions: Is anyone else experiencing confusion over what is being directed, what is mandated, what is suggested, what is being called "supportive" or "a tool" but then appears to be required, etc.? Is anyone else experiencing confusion determining what of this is coming from the Networks, the Board, and/or your local administration?

Are any other classrooms out there in what's left of CPS neighborhood schools visually on overwhelming overload/overdrive due to the apparent needs of Network and or local administrators to readily be able to view 50 million things at a glance?

Is such visual overkill a good and helpful thing for the actual teachers of the classrooms? How about the students, especially any students who are easily distracted visually or have ADHD-type symptoms or diagnoses?

From what I have heard from across the city, "Nix the Networks!" and nix the administrators who appear to work for the Networks, not for the neighborhood school communities they are supposed to serve.

Add your own comment (all fields are necessary)

Substance readers:

You must give your first name and last name under "Name" when you post a comment at We are not operating a blog and do not allow anonymous or pseudonymous comments. Our readers deserve to know who is commenting, just as they deserve to know the source of our news reports and analysis.

Please respect this, and also provide us with an accurate e-mail address.

Thank you,

The Editors of Substance

Your Name

Your Email

What's your comment about?

Your Comment

Please answer this to prove you're not a robot:

3 + 1 =