Winkler Is Out (So What?)

Winkler Is Out (So What?)

Lots of news, though none of it massive: Alicia Winkler is leaving CPS (what real impact will that have, I wonder?).  The Board is pulling back its plan for an Obama High School (according to a NYC tabloid).  Ray Elementary is trying again to hire a new principal (FWP alum on the LSC!).  Plus: Lots of comments about Ray Salazar's critique of union leadership, non-educator advocates (who happen to be white), and overwhelming mandates. See it all below, and in previous posts.

Chicago Public Schools' personnel chief steps down Chicago Tribune: The Chicago Public Schools' top personnel officer has resigned from her position and will leave her job in the coming weeks, district officials said Wednesday. Alicia Winckler joined CPS in 2009, when it was led by chief executive Ron Huberman and former ...

Chicago quietly ditches plans for a Barack Obama High School New York Daily News: Chicago will not name a high school after President Obama, as previously announced. Two sources confirmed to The Daily News that the Chicago Board of Education has quietly decided to not go ahead with plans for the name of a new so-called selective ...

Ray Elementary introduces 13 candidates for principal in dramatic new approach HP Herald:  All of the candidates interested in the school were invited to the forum to speak to the Ray community. The previous local school council (LSC) at Ray, 5631 S. Kimbark Ave., was unable to make a final decision on a principal candidate last school year and voted to leave the decision up to the new LSC.

Hey Karen Lewis, I can still read your Tweets Chicago Sun-Times: This might come as a shock to Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis. But I can read her Tweets. I say this because for some reason months ago, Lewis blocked me as a follower after I tried sending her a direct message to follow up on a story.

Some Chicago Parents Say School Closures Created Problems EdWeek: After the closure of 49 schools in 2013, some Chicago Public Schools' parents say they are concerned about classroom overcrowding and $50 million in district budget cuts this year.

CPS Principals Say Schools Are Filthy Chicago Tonight | WTTW: The smell of sour milk, dusty lockers and bookshelves, and overflowing garbage cans—these are just a few of the complaints from principals in Chicago Public Schools who say the private company managing custodial services in their schools are not getting ...

Boy brought gun to school because he was being bullied CLTV: A 12-year-old Chicago Public School student is in some big trouble for bringing a handgun to school Monday. It all happened at Shmid Elementary on the South Side. Police are still working on where the child got the gun.


Nearly 1 in 5 Columbus Schools Qualify for Overhauls Under Parent-Trigger Law EdWeek: Three years after Ohio enacted a limited "parent trigger" law, nearly one-fifth of Columbus schools now qualify for major leadership overhauls if parents choose to initiate them.

Nearly 70 city charter schools covered by suit seeking facility funds ChalkbeatNY: Most of the nearly 200 charter schools that opened under Mayor Michael Bloomberg received free space in city-owned buildings. But 68 charter schools, serving 25,000 students, operate in private buildings and spend, according to one tally, an extra $2,300 for every student on facilities.

School district police stock up free military gear AP: School police departments across the country have taken advantage of free military surplus gear, stocking up on mine resistant armored vehicles, grenade launchers and scores of M16 rifles....

What's Happening At East Ramapo? WNYC:  Governor Cuomo has appointed a fiscal monitor, there's a district lawsuit over special education funding, and public school buildings have been sold.

What’s next *if* Deasy is out? Speculation abounds LA School Report: The seven-member elected school board, often split between Deasy supporters and Deasy critics, could deem his performance over the last year “unsatisfactory” at a his annual review slated for next month, automatically preventing his contract from rolling over into a new year. Or Deasy could choose to quit.


TFA Founder Voices Skepticism of Edtech EdSurge: Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach for America and Teach for All, is skeptical about the potential of technology as a cure-all in education. At a NationSwell Council event on September 12, she described her visit to Microsoft’s School of the Future in Philadelphia.


How To Make The Most Of Your 10 Minutes With Teacher NPR: Like a good Boy Scout, parents should be prepared: Educators agree that doing your homework can make a big difference. Here's expert advice on how to ace your next parent-teacher conference.

Rethinking A Fall Classic: The Parent-Teacher Conference WNYC: The New York City schools are overhauling the time, and format, of these conferences in an attempt to add depth and meaning. Among the changes: They'll be held four times a year instead of just two.

School Held Ring Until Mom Paid for Summer School NBC News: An Ohio mom's diamond ring is held by the local school district, until she can pay her son's summer school tuition in full, and he could move into the 8th grade.


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  • Winckler was the worst hire CPS ever made. Let's look at her record as "Chief Talent Officer".

    Teacher Strike
    100's of teacher vacancies for the 2014-2015 school year and every other year that she has been in charge (especially in Special Ed)--NO Recruitment
    Revolving door of HR department heads--Hired her friends to key positions who were incompetent (most have been fired or resigned)
    Substitute services in chaos due to adoption of AESOP-- leaving 100's of substitute positions vacant on a daily basis
    Teacher Fit!
    Big $$$$$ cases settled with CTU due to her breaches of contract
    Failed at Principal Support and placement

    Please feel free to add to this list!
    Hopefully, things will be better for employees in the future.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Huberman hired Winkler. She was not a good fit for CPS.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Ms' Winckler was hired during Ron Huberman's administration but he did not "hire" her. She was identified as a candidate for the Chief HR Officer job as a replacement for Ascencion Juarez by the Chicago Public Education Fund, whose Executive Director at that time was none other than Penny Priztker, who later became a Board Member when Emanuel became mayor. She worked hard at ingratiating herself to Huberman but was not a part of Ron's Inner Circle. Ms. Winckler had extensive experience in HR at Sears Holding before joining CPS. She is the only holdover from Huberman's administration still at CPS. Most of his key cabinet members were people he brought over from the CTA and to my knowledge all of them left CPS not long after Ron suddenly resigned from CPS when his real boss announced he wasn't running for re-election. Ms. Winckler was well liked by upper management but her policies alienated and antagonized teachers. She brought a number of her cronies into HR and renamed it the "Talent Office" - she single-handedly took the "Human" out of Human Resources! Those able to get out of that department did, and those who were left are likely now celebrating her departure.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Where do all of the laid off (from the school closings) teachers go?

    Where are the teachers who were displaced last year?

    We have had a special education teacher shortage for at least twenty years yet CPS has done nothing to attract/retain new sped teachers.

    Markey Wilson, head of Diverse Learners, did make an attempt in 2012 to hire retired teachers to cover sped rooms so that the children would have some consistency instead of having a different sub everyday. I thought Ms Wilson had a great idea but Im not sure that it was fully implemented.

    When I retired in 2012 from a Tier 1 school my caseload of 23 was split between two teachers, one left the first year and the one hired last year from a suburban system was totally clueless and from my observation and conversations with her was in need of mental health counseling. I feel that my group of students (based upon observation and conversations with staff, parents and the students when I am at the school subbing) some of whom I had for three years lost ground over the last two years. Students with disabiliites need top level teachers not teachers who have been shuffled from school to school or district to district and CPS needs to do a better job recruiting teachers-signing bonuses/free coursework/normal caseloads and strict implementation of the IEP would be a start.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    The one of the best special educators with Director of Special Educator license and numerous degrees including MBA was "honorably terminated" by the principal who acted on the will of his superiors.
    The principal was a liar (misrepresented facts in the federal court) and was fired shortly after that.
    The problem is that the union leaders requested his termination and refused to represent him.
    So ,what did he?
    Sued a CPS and moved out of the School District 299.
    Now he runs one of the better ED programs we know.
    Shame. On the City(Shitty?) and crooks working together(CTU/CPS).

  • In reply to district299reader:

    This is very interesting altough I don't understand how a tenured teacher can be honorably terminated unless the school is closing.
    Would you explain this case especially how the teacher sued? I really think more teachers need to sue.

    I have observed that teachers of children with disabilities who often advocate for their students are targeted by administrators and those from central office. Simpy emailing the case manager to ask why the child hasn't receved the services listed on the IEP can brand the teacher as a "troublemaker or the question is asked, "aren't you a team player?"
    Teachers of children with disabilities who advocate for their students have a very difficult time in CPS and I believe this is why we have such a shortage of special education teachers.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    How do you differentiate by an admin doing their job and persecuting an employee? If admins in CPS confront poor performance, they are bad. If they allow it to proliferate, they are bad. Inquiring about IEP implementation seems to be legitimate. The case described above surely has more nuances than presented. All teachers aren't bad and all aren't martyrs. Same thing for admin.

    There is a shortage of SPED teachers bc it is ridiculous to expect a teacher to teach all day or 5 classes AND manage a caseload of 20-25. CPS should limit class loads to no more than 4 classes per teacher and give SPED teachers time to manage their caseloads. Additionally, the constant churn in curriculum and assessment causes undue burdens on the team providing services.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    I inquired about IEP implementation and the obvious CPS misdiagnosis of a child with disabilities. I was crucified and was moved several times within the program and within the building/different classroom mid-year. I was a veteran teacher who had no issues with any previous principals-awards, superior ratings, parent letters etc. I was also the long time CTU delegate (ran interference for this principal many times) and had sided with a group of teachers (LSC) who dared to question why a certain staff member was receiving a substantial stipend from discetionary funds. I was not supported by the case manager who was also receiving additional funds to do the principal's dirty work.
    I had to threaten a lawsuit (family members are attorneys) to get this principal to back off. I did resign as the CTU delegate becasue I realized he was using this misdiagnosed child as a form of retaliation. He retired two years later as did the case manager.

    The new principal was intelligent, personable and was very ethical -people were paid only for work done. The new administration was a breath of fresh air-highly visible and treated the staff humanely.

    It left a bitter taste in my mouth especially when I realized that no one from central office was going to stop this principal and case manager who while punishing me were aslo punishing the children in my room.
    I did call central office and a person was sent out but unfortunately she was a friend of the case manager's and did not know about the discretionary monies. I was very disappointed that she did not do the right thing.

    It took an entire school year to get the child retested and the CPS person who tested the child did agree that the diagnosis was incorrect so the child was relabeled and assigned a full time para. If someone else had told me this story which happened at a Tier 1 school I probably would have been skeptical. CPS needs to monitor the behavior of all its staff. Why in the world when a teacher is calling central office asking for someone from sped to observe a child in a safety issue situation would they not help the child?

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Joe Moriarty from the Law Department is the best person to explain all details.
    He serves his masters with a dedication and courage taking under consideration the possibility to be disbarred for participating in the conspiracy.
    Before, he was actively pushing people out(Wells) because of their ages.
    He personally delivered retirement papers to older teachers(according to the statement "four from Wells"
    There is a reasonable assumption that the CTU leaders conspired together with CPS administrators.
    Alicia is out ,so she may be forced to make a statement about it.
    Hopefully the law will prevail in the lawless school district 299.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Is there any lawsuit pending against Winkler?

  • A new documentary profiles 3 Chicago kids who are -- unbeknown to many others -- homeless

  • Insights From a Unionized Charter School Network - EdWeek @greendot @aftacts @SteveBarrLA

  • With nearly 30k applications, Indiana might be No. 1 in the U.S. for vouchers this year | @chalkbeatIN

  • The (snarky) phrases in parentheses have got to go. Alex, are you a journalist or a blogster? Well, you're a blogster... but c'mon, do you have to be so obvious? Do you want to be Woodward or Perez HIlton? Bernstein or Dear Dotti? I know you need a paycheck like the rest of us, but you also have to think about your legacy.

  • Mr. Russo spelled Alicia Winckler's name wrong. He is apparently not a fact-checking type of journalist. Also, to question what impact Alicia Winckler's departure will have on CPS demonstrates his lack of understanding of her role in running CPS and her reputation for being one of the nastiest administrators to ever work at CPS. Alex, you need some insiders to connect you to what really goes on at Central Office!

  • I think the fact that Alicia Winckler treated the principals as nasty as some princiapsl treat their staffs hit a nerve. Her reign of terror did force some principals to finally verbalize what teachers have been saying for years. The sharpest principal I ever had left this system two years ago for a promotion in the suburbs. I'm sure we lost a lot of excellent administrators and teachers during the last five years. It is hard to fight central office and it does take a toll. I wish the AAPLE group of principals well and hope that they remember that their staffs are not the enemy.

  • CPS is a nasty place to work. Despite everything that is said, every group in CPS has it's problematic people - from Central Office down to the teachers. There is ridiculous, unprofessional behavior from ALL.

    I hope that there is a shift in the negative culture that is perpetuated in our schools. If Ms. Winckler was part of that problem, then good riddance.

    It is a shame that the 3rd largest district in the country cannot recruit high quality candidates and that great people are walking out the door. It is a testimony to the toxic culture that we have seen unfolding in the media over the past couple of years. Everyone is pointing fingers, but the fact is, and we all see it, is that CPS is filled with badly behaving adults who don't put kids first.

    If CO doesn't respect principals, shame on them. If principals don't respect teachers, shame on them. If teachers don't respect principals, shame on you, too. We didn't hire you to bicker. We hired you to educate our kids.

    Great people and professionals don't have to put up with crap - other people will hire them and pay them for their time.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Where do you get the idea that CPS is a nasty place to work? Most schools run fairly well, and most teachers are reasonably satisfied with their jobs.

    It's in the interest of CTU zealots to present the system as a organizational disaster. Clearly the basic structure is not appropriate for high need students. But it's usually not a "nasty place to work".

    Look at how Karen Lewis spent most of her career. A five hour school day for nine months, and fewer than 800 instructional hours per year. Marry a PE teacher and get a couple of vacation houses. Then write tweets from Hawaii about "Mayor 1%".

    Sounds like an enjoyable life and career to me.

    Too many non-poor people are being suckered into believing in the suffering of urban teachers. That is the point of most of the nonsense emanating from the CTU.

  • In reply to Donn:

    Rahm uh Donn- Where do we get that idea? From you. You constantly regale us in tales of your imaginary army of urban educator daughters. You rarely report that they have anything positive to say.

  • In reply to Donn:

    Donn, I used to work for CPS and am not a CTU zealot. I am now teaching in a very well run suburban district. We have a sizable poverty rate, so its not Naperville or Glencoe by any means. The differences are stunning. In CPS, my paychecks were frequently incorrect and once I was dropped from the health insurance mid year for no reason, which meant I had to take multiple days off to go downtown to resolve the issue because no one seemed to be able to help me unless I came down in person. I had overcrowded classrooms and the entire classroom library was stocked by me. Every year, there were foolish and rashly implemented mandates. Kids who needed services of any kind waited years to get them, if at all. The teacher turnover rate was shocking. There were no reading specialists, 1 ESL teacher for 800 kids, no math specialists, and no instructional coaches.
    My current district? Paycheck is right every single time and anytime I have a question, I can get someone on the phone in seconds. 20-25 kids in the classroom (and this is a high poverty district). I literally purchase nothing for the classroom saving me several hundred dollars each month. Whatever I need, I ask for and the district purchases. Well thought out mandates, though not perfect, at least they make sense. Kids get services in weeks, not years. Low teacher turnover. Student body of 700, 8 ESL teachers, 4 reading specialists, 1 math specialist, 2 instructional coaches and we even have teacher assistants.
    I don't come home exhausted every night. I don't come home angry all the time because CPS did one more stupid thing that made my work harder. No feelings of being set up to fail. No feelings of this is a wasteland. I am actually being supported instead of finding roadblocks at every turn. I would never recommend anyone teach in CPS, send a child to CPS or go anywhere the system at all.

  • In reply to teacherparent:

    Well said, teacher-parent. Working for CPS is stressful-it's not the children, parents or co-workers. I love teaching-its everthing you said and more-throw in personal safety.

  • In reply to teacherparent:

    Teaching is a bitch.combine that with a hostile bureaucracy that
    actually hates teachers and it is little wonder some teachers suffer
    everything from physical assault to what we used to call burnout.
    If our battles were only against the ravages of poverty, ignorance,
    and kids that come to us with little concept of what we know is importance, we could devise a plan to achieve success.
    When we have to fight against those, placed in positions of authority, who despise us the whole equation becomes a dire struggle to survive.A classic example of this two front war is Marshall High School.everything except listening to the teachers has kept that school in a constant state of flux for a decade.When will they learn?

  • In reply to rbusch:

    Hmmm...I don't think Marshall illustrates the points you are trying to make. Marshall WANTS the displaced principal (the displaced principal got the direct screw from the Board). The issue at Marshall is the same that principals across the district complain about, being asked to create a 2 yr miracle for schools that have been low performing for 10 plus years and then have a churn of administrators who the Board have passed off or chucked (because we are even more expendable than teachers, especially since the list now seems obsolete).

    Principals suffer physical assaults from teachers, students, and parents, held to individual accountability, and fight multiple battles to do their jobs.

    But of course, principals are nobodies, so let's continue to vilify the principals to proliferate a story about teacher hate.

    In order for CO to hate you, they ' d have to be paying attention. There is a difference between policy and personal vendettas.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Marshall demonstrates the points i am trying to illustrate.
    One former principal i worked for was sent packing from Marshall
    during one of the many purges inflicted on that school.He was a decent person who tried his best.Then at my school a three year grant was forced on the school.After all the big money was spent on outside
    advice he got chopped at my school.No body was inferring principals are to blame ,it would be nice if some principals remembered to the board many of them are just useful idiots only good for spreading chaos and fear.

  • In reply to rbusch:

    You are not writing about the liar principal Gardner do not you?
    The federal judge called him liar ,anyway.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    I am not writing about anyone named Gardner and i do not know anything about what a federal judge said.i only bring up Marshall
    because of all the different attempts to change that school,going all theway back to Vallas.Since the Board keeps trying whatever they have done must have failed,again and again and again. It would be a hoot to find out how much money that poor school has generated for outside partners,experts,software and testing companies,stool pigeons,er coordinators and various experts.I also would like to know how much money spent on these failed attempts has been paid back to "The Children"by all those educational experts who apparently failed to change things.

  • In reply to teacherparent:

    Kudos to you teacherparent! If I knew where you were I'd give you a big hug. After being displaced, I've ended up in special education classroom that is more of a holding cell than classroom. I have students fighting, physically assulting each othe,r and verbally threatening each other and staff members including me. Administration is of no help. No detentions, no suspensions of any kind. Parents who refuse to come in and meet with teachers.
    I've had five initial meetings to place more students in my classroom these first few weeks of school. I've had no notice of any kind. I've been up writing IEPs til all hours at night. At school all I do is break up fights, never actually teaching, looking at the clock waiting for time to pass. My students who are willing and eager to learn are being deprived of an education. They sit and watch me break up fights and suffer abuses from these students.
    I am physically and mentally exhausted. My suburban counterpart teachers don't deal with this. These behaviors, special ed or not, are not tolerated. These students would be placed somewhere else immediately.
    I spend hours writing worthless lesson plans, getting pulled from preps for worthless meetings and data driven information, all while the school is "burning" and administration is pumping their top-down mandates, turning a blind eye to the chaos.
    Each day it gets harder and harder to go into work. I'd like to see anyone who is against our "high" salaries last a week in under these circumstances.

  • In reply to displacedteach:

    Interesting group of comments, considering Rahm's initial disagreement with Karen Lewis.

    It's the CTU's position that all students should be educated together in similiar institutions. The position of most reformers is that school choice should provide differentiated institutions with specific, achievable missions.

    Yet CTU teachers' put the blame on "the bureaucracy", instead of their own efforts to keep students in unworkable schools.

  • I wonder if the fact that almost everyone in the principal talent office quit in the last few weeks had anything to do with Winckler being sacked? Several long-time people left.

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