The forest of lies in Claypool's claims serves only his masters, Rahm and Rauner, while ignoring Reality...Principals, teachers, students and others demand to know who wrote the silly 'Dear Families' message that they were asked to distribute across Chicago in early February 2016...

No sooner had the fourth Rahm Emanuel CEO of CPS sent his (undated and unsigned) letter around to the city's nearly 600 public schools than teachers began dumping the materials in the garbage. It's unethical to distribute materials that are untrue to children to bring home to their families. Moreover, as many teachers shared (example, above), Claypool's missive would have failed any of the criteria under which CPS teachers are in 2016 required to judge the writings of children and young adults in the city's high schools and elementary schools. But in the case of students, the teacher knows who wrote the stuff. In the case of Claypool's lies, nobody signs the stuff. The above was shared widely throughout the school system, one of many professional critiques of the work of the latest leader of the nation's third largest school system.From time to time newspaper editors fact check Op Eds, even those submitted by powerful and highly paid government officials. Had the Chicago Sun-Times bothered to consult with its own reporters, it would have been easy for the editors to note the lies, half truths, and self serving evasions in the Op Ed by Chicago Public Schools "Chief Executive Officer" Forrest Claypool. But instead of some facts, the newspapers readers on February 5 - 6, 2016 [February 5 on line; February 6 in the print edition], got a forest of lies, surrounded by a thick undergrowth of half truths and evasions of the rule of "nothing but the truth."

Let's begin with Claypool's claim that he has "cut administration." In his Op Ed, Claypool states: " least consider our actions in the first six months of my term as CPS chief: we have cut bureaucracy out of Central Office..."

Pants on Fire! That's not lie number one, but it's a big one, on the public record, and worth beginning with.


In fact, since his first Board of Education meeting in July 2015 and continuing through his most recent Board meeting of January 2016, Claypool has added new layers of bureaucracy at the most expensive "top" of the school system -- and brought in a crew of people who can only be described as Claypool Cronies.

No sooner had Claypool gotten the nod from Mayor Rahm Emanuel to move from his City Hall offices (where he had been Rahm's "Chief of Staff") to 42 W. Madison St., headquarters of CPS, where he would become "Chief Executive Officer," that the repopulation of Forrest's forest began. First appointed were former Chicago Transit Authority cronies Ronald Denard and Doug Kucia. Claypool had no sooner been acknowledged in his quarter million dollar a year job than he created on job ("Vice President for Finances") for Denard and elevated the other guy (Kucia) to the job of "Chief of Staff" -- to Claypool.


A message to Chicago Teachers Union: Trust is a two-way street


To solve Chicagos educational challenges, two things are required: trust and a willingness to share responsibility for getting our systems fiscal house in order once and for all.

The Chicago Teachers Union recently rejected a contract offer that provided higher salaries, no layoffs, limits on charter school growth and needed funding for pensions, arguing they cant trust the Chicago Public Schools.

The proposal, on the heels of extensive Central Office layoffs, asked teachers to share in the responsibility by paying more of their own pension and health care costs. CTU President Karen Lewis was supportive enough of the agreement to present it to a bargaining committee, but the committee flatly rejected it.

I understand the frustration of teachers. They work hard and give their hearts and souls to their students and in return they expect a fair salary and a dignified retirement. I truly believe that our proposal met those goals.

I appreciate that teachers dont put much stock in words, but at least consider our actions in the first six months of my term as CPS chief: we have cut bureaucracy out of Central Office, closed more charters than we have opened, reopened a neighborhood high school in Washington Park, and given the union a concrete offer that boosts pay while protecting students, teachers and pensions.

We recognize that trust is a two-way street and must continue to be earned by both sides. This will require both sides to cool the rhetoric and remain focused on the ultimate goal of reaching an agreement to support our childrens education. The children and parents of CPS need us working together now more than ever.

My hope was that, with a contract agreement in place, CPS and CTU could join forces on behalf of our children and work toward getting the funding they deserve from Springfield.

The fact is, Chicago has 20 percent of Illinois public school students but receives less than 15 percent of the states education funding. More precisely, Springfield provides 27 percent less funding for Chicagos kids than it does to the rest of the state on average.

With 86 percent of CPS children designated as low-income by the Illinois State Board of Education, thats a moral outrage.

Simple equality in funding would provide $500 million a year in new revenue. Thats not enough to eliminate the $1.1 billion budget deficit threatening our classrooms, but it could be the foundational piece of a partnership between the state, city, CPS and CTU to right our fiscal ship.

The only alternative is to continue to borrow at punishing interest rates and implement a new round of mid-year cuts that unfortunately will hit our classrooms in the coming weeks.

The irony of this fight is that our students are doing better today than ever before, even as our finances are increasingly imperiled.

Today, our kids are leading the state in academic growth. This year, they led the nation in math and reading gains among fourth and eighth graders. Since Mayor Rahm Emanuel was elected in 2011, CPS test scores, graduation rates and college attendance have reached record levels.

CPS has a long way to go, but the arrow is up. Way up.

There is so much at stake right now and we cannot afford to let our differences divide us. Lets get back to the table and get this deal done so we can lock arms and demand that Springfield meet its responsibilities. All the academic progress of recent years will be in vain if we cannot end the chronic financial instability that has plagued the system for years.

And then we can get on with the real work of educating our students, empowering our teachers and delivering on the promise of a quality education.

It starts with trust, but also shared responsibility.

Forrest Claypool is chief executive officer of the Chicago Public Schools.


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