Another Education Insider Escapes Chicago

Lach, Michael Mike Lach, longtime science curriculum guru at the Chicago Public Schools, is heading to DC to work on STEM issues.

Watch out, DC.

Congrats, condolences. 

is the most recent of several Chicago education insiders who have flown
the coop since Arne Duncan left and Ron Huberman came in. 


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  • Our nightmare if finally over. His legacy is two fold. He managed to lower the scores on the PSAEs over his tenure and he managed to convince the state to lower the standards on the ISAT to show very marginal increases in the elementary scores. And he did it all while continuing to always self promote himself. What a guy.

  • remember, he made no move without Arne's blessing. bad former CEO takes bad employee with him. it is a win for CPS.

  • oh, please. lach rubbed some people the wrong way, no doubt. but there's no real evidence that lach did or is responsible for either of those things. and i'm not just saying this because i know the guy. show us some evidence, or just be honest and say you don't like the guy for personal reasons. what was lach's role in getting the ISATs lowered? what was his role in lowering PSAEs?

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    So you knew the guy, but some have us have worked with him, around him and his lack of expertise related to anything related to the jobs he held was astounding. How he found his way into a position of power is a mystery. Here's how he rubbed me the wrong way Alexander, his whole teacher coaching model was a farce and a complete waste of money. He filled these coaching positions with many incompetents, most of whom have just recetly been shuffled off to the instructional areas. So if that's no worse than anyone else in your book, cool, but for me, as a lifelong educator, his departure means one less gigantic ego sucking up all the air & wasting the taxpayers money. You want more example, ask.

  • AR--you have not had to go trough IDS in the high schools. This was a huge mistake on lach's part. he just did not get it and did not consult with the troops that had to use it with the students. It is not a matter of like or dislike, he was over his head-fine, who isn't?, but he refused to get the opinions from the troops before gobs of $$ was spent on something that CPS will now just throw away. When did he even go to schools and observe the implementation? When did he ask for or even consider principal and lead teacher problems with CMSI and C4MGP implementation?

  • I had the opportunity to work with Lach. Whether you saw it or not from your POV, the guy understood teaching. Every conversation I had with him he showed me he understood what the classroom teacher faced on an everyday basis. He insisted that teachers and building administration be included while these programs were being created (High School Transformation, etc

  • In reply to ExCPS:

    That staement about Lach understanding teaching is just plain bull. He understood little about the challenges the everyday classroom teacher faces in this city. How often did he ever get out there, into one of his IDS schools? How about South Shore, Bowen, Julian, was ever even in those buildings ever? He especially was clueless about those teachers in the most troubled schools. IDS will fail largely because it doesn't work. It's just not a good enough program, while some of the materials are good, one of the main problems is with these instructional coaches IDS employs and keeps very little watch over. Many of these coaches have little experience in the classroom, some have never taught in the city, and there is little oversight of what these coaches are actually doing and how many hours they are actually spending working with the IDS teachers. The real truth that will hopefully one day revolutionize education in this country is when this country decides to start giving a crap about it's poorest citizens, then we could start to make our way out the poverty crisis that many minorities have lived their whole lives in. Until we do that, and face our shameful conduct, much of the money spent on the next educational magic elixer will sadly be wasted like much of the money spent on these supposed bright ideas for the past few decades.

  • Lach was the only curriculum "expert" around cps the last few years. He did not follow Arne's orders. He told Arne what to do. He consistently took credit for the small increases in ISAT. He was in charge. He is responsible. He participated in the foolish glee the year the scores went up due to lowering the standards. All along, he knew the real reason why they went up. Alexander, he was the head of all this and he should be held responsible.
    He was responsible for HS curriculum while the PSAE scores declined and the ACT scores stagnated.
    Like him or not, he ran the show, he set the tone, he made the policies. Tell me what his legacy should be if not one of failure. ExCPS said the most interesting thing. He said "he was frustrated by the bureaucracy". Hell, he WAS the bureaucracy.

  • "He just did not get it and did not consult with the troops that had to use it with the students." There were plenty of "troops" consulted for HST. Didn't each school get a choice?

    Also, prior to HST Lach spearheaded the effort for each individual school to create their own core curriculum. Lack of effort and improvement forced CPS to move on to HST.

  • In reply to ExCPS:

    Again, I don't where this stuff is coming from but Lach didn't spearhead any curriculum programs in individual high schools. Maybe some of the AIO's tried to get that of the ground, but it wasn't Lach. When that effort was happeninghe was still with that Math & Science thingy.

    Schools were also not given a "choice" to be IDS. Absolutely not. If whomever decided that you were going to be IDS, then by god, you were going to become an IDS school.

  • In reply to ExCPS:

    Lach is one of the few people at CPS who consistently thought about what his decisions meant for schools. Sure, he wasn't a principal and he wasn't perfect, but he never pretended to be. With him gone, BEW is by herself to face the Huberpsychos and their goofy ideas. Where is he going in Washington? Is he working with Arne?

  • In reply to ExCPS:

    A colleague told me a few years ago that the best way to move people out of the way is to promote them. I have watched Lach be promoted in recent years and always questioned why? For those who have commented that he is truly concerned about teachers and knows how to manage curriculum then take a look at the science scores of many CPS schools and don't just look at recent scores but go back about five years. It is depressing to see that in some of our high schools not a single student meet national goals in science. How can this be? CMSI is in every CPS school with an expensive price tag at the elementary level for the curriculum. Now IDS is even more expensive. CPS always looks for some company that will give schools something. The honeymoon is always great but once schools and IDS partners settle in the landscape changes. The technology, supplies and equipment purchased for the science classes are great. Some three year Ren2010 IDS schools
    are now struggling with the tab for the curriculum and the coaches, concerned at keeping their jobs, debase and criticize teachers, run to the principals telling on what the teacher isn't doing, and basically ramming content down the throats of students in a fast paced format that according to the first wave of reports is working to raise scores at IDS schools. The true measure of this, as well as Lach's effectiveness as the head of CPS science and most recently head of CPS K-12 instruction, will be the success of CPS students in science majors when they graduate from high school. Will these students be competitive in college against peers who have graduated from other districts with more money per student and better science programs? Has anyone judged a local high school CPS science fair? The level of scientific inquiry of these projects is in many instances laughable. What bubble gum flavor loses it's taste fastest? Perhaps these projects won't find a solution to global warming but it will help students to choose a bubble gum that stays sweet and flavorful longer while ruining their teeth. Perhaps the district is too large and there isn't enough money to provide professional development to help teachers promote students doing better science.

    As far at Lach working on STEM, did he ever start a STEM initiative in CPS? Did he go after stimulus money to establish STEM labs in CPS high schools? Perfect he wasn't and as my grandmother used to say goodbye and good riddance! Unfortunately the country will now be subjected to his lack of effectiveness to make science and STEM matter in Chicago. Of all the really good STEM educators who have implemented excellent STEM programs in districts around the country was Lach the only candidate for what ever position he will be headed for? Sounds like Chicago politics at their worst
    and if he will be in control of furthering STEM efforts for all of America, our nation, our schools, our teachers, and our students are headed for an even greater crisis than the one that currently exists in our falling numbers of qualified graduates entering the STEM workforce and advancing America as a serious player in STEM fields.

    Keep your eyes on this one.

  • From above: Didn't each school get a choice?
    From below: No!

  • HSTI was an $80mil+ boondoggle. What miffed me most is how America's Choice stole and degraded Workshop, turning it into sweatshop and decapitated its most crucial element -- student choice. Without choice, workshop falls apart.
    But workshop works in the right hands.

  • If I remember: Wasn't HST led by David Gilligan? Then Allan Alson. Then Allan Alson & Angus Mairs. Then Allan, Angus and Mike Lach and David. Then Allan Alson left. Then Angus Mairs left. So it was left in Lach's lap (with David Gilligan involved? not sure), but by then, the vendors were chosen (America's Choice and Kaplan and others); the schools were two years into it. Could Lach have abandoned HST mid-grant (Gates $, right?)? Changed the model? Gotten new vendors?

  • Lach is a good guy - and he really gets teaching. He got saddled with some tough initiatives - let's not forget that he was 'told' to take over high schools at a time of year when it was impossible for him to make any substantive changes because everything was already in place. It's total crap to pretend that he was responsible for drops in test scores - PSAE scores have barely moved for the district in years. He was serious about instructional rigor, and he was seriously committed to doing research on the initiatives he was involved in so that he could understand how well they were working for teachers and schools and improve them. I for one am very sorry to see him go - as far as I'm concerned he was the last of the senior leadership vanguard who knew anything about education in this district. Now only the Huberteam is left - and who's standing up to them??


  • Yellowdart, So often people use this excuse for Mr. Lach. Who actually has been ordering him to do things he has not wanted to do over the past seven years? His friends always blame these "other" people. I think BEW gave him freedom. Arne was no curriculum expert, I doubt if Botana overruled him on curriculum issues. I am confused. I thought he had realy authority.

  • yellowdart! you're back! where've you been?

  • Hi Alexander!

    I actually never left...I got a bit leery of signing my posts. I'm embarrassed to say the Huberteam has us all running scared at Central - terrified for our jobs day to day. They either fired or ran out everyone who challenged their crazy ideas. We're all being asked to do things we're not comfortable with, then the administration keeps the details 'super secret' from the public. So much for transparency or accountability!!


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