Gone Swimming / Open Thread

Back from the AFT conference and now I’m off to the beach for the rest of the week. Feel free to talk amongst yourselves while I’m gone. Updates, secret memos, and “did you see this?” comments always welcome. This would be a great time to write in if you sent me an email about a situation at your school or a concern about an issue and I didn’t get back to you yet.  There’s lots going on.  You can also check out the Tribune’s education page, or the Sun Times, or CNC’s, or Catalyst while I’m gone. See you on Monday.


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  • Seriously, the CPS students are assessed to death with mostly questionable tests of dubious merit! Really, why not get rid of dibels and stop CAO's from wasting money on really bad assessment tests that are of inferior quality.

    I am tired of assessments like ISAT whose results are then played with by ISBE. They play with the formula so they look like they are "competent" and doing something right.

    NCLB needs to be gone. Race to the Top should be shown the door like Duncan.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    When you say "NCLB needs to be gone," what do you mean?

    NCLB is the last reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act--the largest grant of federal money to states for education. In 2010, that was about $36.4 billion, or about 8-to-9 percent of all government money spent on K-12 education.

    So, are you saying that you want to get rid of that money?

  • In reply to Danaidh:

    Your joking, right! Money doesn't not go into the classroom. Big companies get big bucks from state offices of education to "accountability" systems and school districts to buy their "silver bullet" specials that dumb down curriculum and provide unproven methods of assessing children for the most part.

    This is the Research and Evidence Free Education Policies of Bush and Obama. Get a clue!

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Is there something other than Dibels that is more cost effective or superior? I agree that kids seem at times overly assessed, but I actually like the oral reading fluency tests for progress monitoring. Beats the heck out of doing running records by hand! And the fall/winter/spring tests don't bug me either, since it is helpful to the students to see their progress and because it helps us plan instruction. Their does need to be some reliable way to get data, especially for rti, so if we could develop a plan and stick with it, I'd be pleased.

  • In reply to 2ndcityteacher:

    With all the assessments in total for the whole year, our upper grade teachers did a count and at minimum lost 15 days of instruction. That was a rough count. Not good and not sound.

  • In reply to 2ndcityteacher:

    The only problem with DIBELS is it assess students many times at their frustration level so the info you get really isn't very good and tells you little about the reading level at which they need to be instructed. I agree it is easier than running records by hand, however the info isn't useful after MOY of 1st grade. The phonics and phonemic awareness assessments are OK, but there are other assessments that give you the same info without the forcing students to read passages that many will not be able to do successfully and does little to nothing to assess comprehension. Counting words for a recall doesn't mean it is a good recall that includes inference skills. Not to mention the serious hardware issues arising so the cost will become huge as the old palms die and the replacement plan isn't clear.

  • In reply to besensible:

    You are right on, regarding Dibels! Dibels was clouted in during the Bush Era and it was not based on its merits. There is plenty of research noting its many defects. CPS still buys into that garbage. DRA would be a better choice by far. It provides miscue analysis + retell and an in-depth reading inventory.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    via email - is this the kind of thing that gets sent out to CPS principals for real?:

    CPS VENDOR 96020

    Dear Principal,

    Now is the time to educate our youth about the importance of finances, budgeting, and wealth building. Save That Penny For A Sunny Day Play will be performed throughout Chicago Public Schools. I am X’ernona Woods author of “Save That Penny For A Sunny Day” children book and workbook and “Save That Penny For A Sunny Day Wealth Building Kit”, and facilitator of the “Save That Penny For A Sunny Day Seminar and Workshop”.

    It is with excitement and pleasure that I introduce to your students an unique, innovative, interactive fun-filled play “Save That Penny For A Sunny Day Play”, created from the Secretary of State and State Recommended Children Book “Save That Penny For A Sunny Day”, that educates youth about money, wealth building and prosperity.

    Save That Penny For A Sunny Day Play – offers an innovative lesson on learning about investing, savings with a special bonus of a twenty-five dollar savings certificate from Marquette Bank that will be given to every student for attending the play.

    “Save That Penny For A Sunny Day”, has been recognized and acknowledge by Chicago Defender, North Community Lawndale Newspaper, Mayor Daley Spring Book Conference, The Honorable Jesse White, Senator Pat Murray, Former Treasurer Anna Cabral, Principal For A Day, Lynn Richardson –Russell Simmons Hip-Hop Summit, and was featured on Channel 7 ABC at Chicago Public Schools Woodlawn, Chicago Public School Librarians K.C. Boyd, Mrs. Johnson, and Mrs. Travis, City Year to name a few.

    · According to Scarborough Statistics 74% of youth are worried about the economy.
    · 95% of parents would like financially literacy within the school’s curriculum.

    About The Play: “Save That Penny For A Sunny Day - Prosperity Play”, is a phenomenal , innovative, fun and interactive play that offers youth the opportunity to discover their inner wealth by introducing prosperity conscious thinking to support the importance of learning through powerful lessons on how to build wealth now versus later. Youth will learn the four things you can do with money, difference between the bulls and bear market, why they should be interested in interest and much more.

    About The Director/Writer: Featured on ABC Channel 7 X'ernona Woods has received tremendous support from leading financial institutions and local small businesses: Ariel Capital Management, Marquette Bank, ING Direct, Bronzeville Signs and Printing, Potter Studios, and Black Pages as she pursues her passion to educate and inspire youth to create infinite possibilities. X’ernona Woods has committed and dedicated her career to supporting economically challenged youth through her State of Illinois State Librarian recommended financial literacy children’s book and workbook, “ Save That Penny For A Sunny Day”, coupled with powerful, innovative workshops. In 2007 she became a partner with Chicago Federal Reserve Money Smart Week where they reach thousands through community outreach educating Chicago land citizen’s youth the importance of budgeting finances and entrepreneurship and 2010 Advisory Council for National Youth Financial Literacy Coordinator Hip-Hop Summit.

    What others are saying:

    In the areas of finance and budgeting, “Save That Penny For A Sunny Day” serves as a catalyst for youth to accelerate their learning pace with improved thinking skills and an expanded repertoire of ideas and concepts. As young people learn from the monetary aspects and components emphasized in this literary effort, they increase their competitive edge and forge liaisons to future opportunities and growth and growth. Unquestionably, Woods’ financial learning approach will foster viable work processes and sharing of fresh knowledge. - Secretary of State and State Librarian The Honorable Jesse White

    Thank you for teaching us about money! We learned alot! -City Year

    Thank you for recommending Ms. Woods. My fifth grade students enjoyed her. Mrs. Travis Chicago Public School Librarian.

    How it Works:
    You choose the date and time.
    Students will receive $25 Marquette Bank Savings Certificate
    Refer a school receive a free gift! (based upon confirmed contract)
    Experience " The Money Machine!"
    Call now to secure your school’s date and time!
    August 1- September 31, 2011 Cost per student $5.00 \
    After September 31, 2011 Cost per student $7.00
    For more information please contact 1-800- 514-3060 Ext 1 or via www.savethatpenny.com


    X’ernona Woods

  • In reply to Alexander Russo:

    Alexander - you wouldn't believe the crap emails we get from vendors! We didn't used to get many solicitor emails but I think CPS must have sold our emails to vendors!

  • Eight-forty Eight on WBEZ aired a story about Scott's suicide today.

    from the BEZ website: When Michael Scott was found dead in the Chicago River back in 2009, the news came as a shock to many. Scott spent much of his life in different capacities for the city--at the time of his death he was president of Chicago’s school board. He was close to then-Mayor Daley and a respected member of his community.

    Many people were surprised to learn that Scott may have taken his own life but his death was ruled a suicide by the Cook County medical examiner and then the Chicago Police Department. To this day members of Scott’s community and family resist that conclusion and have questions about the investigation of his death. Now writer David Bernstein has revisited the case of Michael Scott. His report "Shadows of Doubt" will be in Thursday's Chicago magazine and contains new details that raise troubling questions about the case. Bernstein joined Eight Forty-Eight to discuss the lingering questions surrounding Michael's Scott's death.

  • TeacherFit: a 40 question survey/questionnaire/assessment that CPS teacher applicants must pass to be hired. Fail this and you cannot reapply for 18 months. Principals are going nuts because they cannot hire who they want. Developed by Polaris ($$) - supposedly measures sensitivity, communication, adaptability, potential for success. All in 40 questions. hmmmm Follow the money.

  • Have any of the teachers who were notified by their principals that they were let go received their certified letters yet? It's been 2 weeks and I haven't received anything yet, nor have the other teachers at my school.

  • The CPS employees that I have talked to who lost their positions, none of them have received their letters from Human Capital. What a shame!

  • Substance News reports that teachers began to receive "pernonal and confidental" letters in the mail on Wednesday, July 13, 2011 about their job losses.

  • Re: NCLB funds
    So does that mean you want to get rid of NCLB and its nearly $40 billion of federal funding? And wouldn't that result in more teacher layoffs?

  • Sounds you need to learn first about the NCLB debacle before you make any comments.


  • Retired Principal, I'd love to hear your take on TeacherFit. From what I hear the CPS applicant pool has dropped from 4000 to 2000 because applicants are failing this "inventory" -- applicants do not know that they have failed until a principal tries to hire them and then find they have the red light do-not-hire indicator. I guess I'm just a little surprised we are not hearing more about this. While this may be a godsend for displaced teachers, I find it troubling that a 40 question survey can determine potential for success for anybody. Polaris. Follow the money.

  • http://www.ctunet.com/blog/ctu-president-lewis-issues-job-fit-questionnaire-alert

    The CTU reached out about this a while back. It was the NBC teachers who developed this inventory, not Polaris.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    In response to Anonymous who wrote that NBC teachers developed the TeacherFit inventory:

    That is 100% incorrect. Polaris designed the metric (and they've done it for about 400 other school districts in the country) the 750 NBC teachers was a norm group. It doesn't make the situation any better or worse. I just thought you should know. What's more appalling is how blatantly this relates to time and money conservation. Go to the Polaris web site and use their "calculator" and see how much--or rather how little--it costs to role this product out in CPS.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Let's get real, CPS top brass would fail any metric on how they run CPS when compared with real world class public school districts. It is the cold hard truth that they lack any experience on a systemic level on implementing teacher leadership development. That is what you get when you hire Brizard, who is a friend of educational deformers not a nationally recognized leader in developing teacher leadership. Not surprising they use such a tool to screen potential teachers. It shows Chicago, how lazy they are. These clowns are wined and dined at "conferences" to buy the next "silver bullet that will keep them from rolling up their sleeves and getting to work. Until Rahm hires competent top administrators, who are not "friends of deformers" and have real genuine experience and positive results on developing teacher leadership without using gimmicks, we will get more of the same. That is the cold hard truth about the Chicago Public Schools and their leadership. Get a clue Rahm!

  • Dear Cleo, I don't know what TeacherFit is. I'll check in to it and get back to you.

  • Teachers who lost their jobs began to receive official letters marked "personal and confidental" by certified mail on Wednesday, July 13, 2011. Reassigned teachers can retain their salary and benefits for one year while working as substitute or "interim" teachers. If they do not find a teaching position by the end of the 10 months, they will be "honorable terminated" (i.e., laid off, FIRED!). The Board of Education will provide some help for them to find positions at other CPS schools, such as online job applications, and a displaced teacher job fair, to be held on Thursday, July 21, 2011. The "personal and confidential" letter sent to displaced teachers also offers "Resume Writing and Interview Tips Workshops" on July 11, 2011 and July 15, 2011.

  • What's worst about TeacherFit is that prospective teachers aren't being told they've failed, hence they go on applying without knowing they don't have a chance. This is why there aren't more angry applicants blogging about this. They don't even know. Also, the inventory takes the human element out of the hiring process and it completely disregards all other achievement, recommendations, educational experience, resume, cover letters, etc.

    Look, I appreciate CPS trying to get the best and brightest but a person's ability to teach can't be captured in one subjective scenario-based survey. (And it's being piloted!!!!!) I have more info if anyone cares. And, yes, I'm one of the over-qualified, highly educated, lived-my-whole-life-in-an-urban-setting, "red" applicants.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Does anyone know what this questionnaire includes? I'm terribly curious about what it asks and what the perceived "correct" answers are.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    The questions are subjective in nature. And a lot of them are situational. (which of the following would you do in X situation) Some of the questions are statements in which you have to Strongly Agree, Agree, Neither, Disagree or Strongly Disagree.

    What's correct is what CPS wants to be correct. If you're working in a group with a person whose principles you don't agree with do you: a) avoid the person during group meeting, b) take extra time to try to solve your problems so you can work effectively, c) get as much support for your ideas from the rest of the group as possible, or d) Work together on issued in which you agree, but seek out others for support when you have a disagreement.

    What do you think? I'm sure CPS wants everyone to just get along.

  • In reply to Disillusioned:

    To quote another poster re the TeacherFit tool:

    "What CPS wants to be correct is correct." Not necessarily. The questions are used to get at the following:

    Fairness and Respect
    Concern for Student Learning
    Communication and Persuasion
    Planning and Organizing
    Cultural Competence

    CPS would probably decide the cutoff score and how it would be used based on a large camparison group of teachers who have performed well in the classroom, which of course is subjective also. But this is not an uncommon practice.

    In reality, most principals compare what they think of a potential teacher to teachers in their school who have performed well to make a hiring decision and that is no less subjective, in fact far more so. I have seen principals like a teacher because they know their cousin or not like a teacher based on what they wore that day. If principals were universally very good at hiring the best teachers, then we would have very few ineffective teachers and that is simply not the case.

    It is also no different really from taking a GRE and having to score at a certain level to get into graduate school. Is the GRE perfectly predictive? Probably not. But given resource constratnts, it is fairly common practice.

  • In reply to Disillusioned:

    Well said. We know the politically correct answer, but I could present a strong argument for the "wrong" answer I would choose. A member of my department was an arrogant bully who would try to start every meeting with "Look, this is what we are going to do:" And then he would pontificate about his greatness. Everyone was intimidated or didn't have the energy to stand up to him. One day I finally let him have it and did let him know all eight of us had a voice and he needed to change his M.O. He backed off and we moved forward. Things did get better after and we did begin to work as a team. I solved the problem, but not in the way TeacherFit would approve.

  • In response to Anonymous who wrote: "What's worst about TeacherFit is that prospective..."

    Yesterday, I received a form e-mail saying that "based on our selection criteria and the information you provided as part of our TeacherFit Inventory process, we are not moving forward with your candidacy at this time."

    I was livid. I just completed my student teaching in a CPS school (and presumably "fit" into the CPS culture enough to pass that screening process) and received high marks and stellar recommendations. I have two graduate degrees and previous teaching experience. Sounds like I'm in the same drifting boat as some other people here.

    Here's the rub - I hadn't even submitted the full application (I was drafting my essays). I know I was disqualified based solely on that inventory.

    To Anonymous - You mentioned you had more information - would love more information about this test. Can anything be done, or am I out? Anyone at CPS to talk to about this?

  • In reply to Improv10:

    If you go to Polaris' website, you will see that TeacherFit is being used in 26 other districts in Illinois and many more nationally. How CPS uses it is up to them (part of the hiring decision, or minimum criteria for prescreening applicants), but it is a tool that's been used widely, validated extensively and used by many, many districts, not just CPS.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    40 multiple choice questions defines a person? With no opportunity to defend/explain your answer? Bull.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Again, it seems like the apologists for CPS leaders are on this blog. You can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig! Policies like TeacherFit is the reason why we are in this situation. Hiring should be left to principals.

  • In reply to Improv10:

    I am sad to say - CPS has dug in their heels on this. As it stands now, you cannot retake for 18 months. Principals are livid, too, because they cannot hire some of the people they already deemed a good fit for their schools. This is just wrong. Maybe this is blessing in disguise for you. Just start looking elsewhere.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    The school system that has been at the core of my passion and advocacy for two years of graduate school and many years before that does not think I am a viable teaching candidate only one month after I completed an approved (by them!) teaching stint...after I was trusted to teach thirty-three of their most at-risk, underserved and under-appreciated young learners, unpaid for many months to great success...based on a survey?

    I was realistic about the job situation. I knew it would be difficult, if not impossible. I just wanted a chance.

    It's possible this is a blessing in disguise. But today, as I think about all the resumes I sent to principals already (before I knew that I had no potential as a teacher) and how many opportunities I may miss out on now because I'm red-flagged or whatever, this is a major, devastating blow.

    This may be the frustrated, bitter me talking - but this survey screening tool seems suspect to me. And hardly a good indication of someone's potential to be a great educator.

    P.S. Always love reading this blog and the comments - sorry my first posts are rants.

  • In reply to Improv10:

    I know this is an old blog but I am grateful. I am also in teacher limbo but down state. I just experienced something called the Haberman star teacher what a lode of crap. I spent so much time and effort jumping through this hoop and that just to take a test then concludes with this as my results: Although research has shown a strong relationship between responses to these items and effective teaching of children from poverty areas, it is possible that a teacher who scores moderately high or high, might for some unknown reason teach ineffectively.

    Conclusions: Your score is in the third quartile of those taking this test. This score means you have several attributes that significantly differ from teachers who have been successful teachers of children in poverty. Shit I spent most of my adult life in poverty even lived in section 8 housing and road the public bus to a school when in AZ. I even saw many of my students on the bus from time to time. I did the best I could but apparently I can't relate. Well maybe if my dad was in jail like half of a kindergarten class revealed when one boy announced his dad was coming home from jail today. I wonder if we would do better opening up orphanages and taking children out of the dismal environments they are enshrined in. That would be less cruel then keeping them in environments of pimps, drug dealers and gangs who are often the parents and relatives and our tax dollars just keep pouring in so we can keep these "families" and ,I use term family loosely, together.

  • Sounds like the APT test that I took many years ago. I wonder how many currently employed teachers would pass this test. It sounds fishy but I'd have to see the questions before I could make any real judgements.

  • Brizard, what is up with the CPS legal department holding up Google Apps. We need to bury First Class like yesterday!

  • I'm real happy people are talking about this. I, too, got a 4.0 in grad school, student taught in CPS and then continued to work as a Sped ESP. I have great recommendations (From CPS principals) and I still got hosed on this survey. I learned I was red flagged about a week before I got the email, so I had a good 6 days to call everyone in the Office of Human Capital and get as much info as I could. Bottom line is that we can't be hired for 18 months, after which we can retake the survey. But since you'll never know where you went "wrong" you could presumably make the same "mistakes"

    In response to the the "apologist":

    A survey, in general, has value. And I understand and have researched what the TeacherFit Survey measures. But when CPS uses that metric as it's "go to" filtering measure, it sends several dangerous messages: a) human testimony from supervisors is unimportant; b) educational background, prior clinical experiences and successful CPS students teaching is meaningless; and c) Principals aren't competent enough to hire good teachers.

    If enough highly qualified educators get red flagged, the survey starts to seem arbitrary. And if it's arbitrary, and people get upset, they get together and file a class action against CPS for discriminatory hiring practices.

    Your comparison to the GRE is silly. People know the GRE is a high stakes test before they take it. People who took the TeacherFit did not know it would be the single determining factor in their future employment. (I know what you're thinking: Whether it's high stakes or not wouldn't affect your answers) The hell it wouldn't! If I knew this survey was so critical, I would have answered every question with political correctness in mind, not honesty. And a low score on the GRE doesn't disqualify you from anything. You can still apply anywhere you want. You also don't have to wait 18 months to take it again.

  • Not again

    Has anyone considered this: the survey is supposed to allow clouted people
    into the ranks, not to judge a person’s fitness to teach?
    Have we returned to the days of the oral exam? Or, maybe the rigged practical
    Exams are back.
    This survey sounds a lot like the old days to me when a arbitrary dishonest road block
    has been set up to filter out the unwanted.
    I know of a gym teacher who flunked the practical test in PE even though they had
    Lettered in three sports in college and had 35 trophies. It was a devastating blow to
    This kids self esteem which took years to forget. The part that incensed me was a politicians’
    Son passed the same test with his arm in a cast.
    I will personally monitor this scam to see if any trends develop .If they do I will not sit
    By this time.

  • PS
    The union must get on this survey right now. The state issues credentials not the Board.
    If any of you who were denied a job because of this survey are offered employment
    Anyhow then the play is obvious the return of the FTB.

  • Do teachers who were just laid off due to drop in enrollment, school closings, and/or program cuts need to complete this survey in order to be considered for a position?

  • From the Polaris website...

    "Polaris Assessment Systems provides pre-employment screening systems for entry level, front-line jobs..."

    EXCUSE ME! Teaching is not an entry level job. It is a profession. Is this what the people down at the board think of us?

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    You might be referring to another Polaris instrument called JobFit.

  • Couldn't tips that prep for this test be shared? It seems that the PC answers might be obvious?

  • To: One Day 4hrs Ago—
    I have never hired a teacher because they were related to someone, although I have been asked to. I have always involved our teachers in the hiring process. There were a few poor teachers when I first arrived; I motivated them OUT of the system, rather than have them go and do damage at other schools. I vet all applicants and dig deep; even going to observe them at their school if they wish to be at ours or they present a lesson to us. (We are a neighborhood school.)
    I will share that I am tired of résumés that do not show or make clear what certification the applicant has and/or what grade they are interested in teaching and why. So for that purpose, I like this process. I also reject the ones sent to me that have the wrong name, wrong school and/or misspellings-grammatical errors.
    I am concerned when a singular test is used. We surely would not do this with children. Savvy principals, as they find those outstanding candidates, will take the time to assist them with this process.

  • Students First Principal, savvy or not, if you found the perfect fit for your school - someone you observed and veted, someone who is a top-notch teacher, without TeacherFit approval you have been stripped of the power to hire that person.

  • Student First Principal,

    Just so I'm clear:

    You like this process because you find it to be a burden to weed through ambiguous resumes/cover letter on your own? That's what it sounds like you're alluding to in your comment.

    You said it yourself. YOU thoroughly vet all applicants. This survey does part of your job for you (against your will). Except it doesn't do it nearly as well.

    Get your hands on a survey, take it and see where you fall. You might be singing a different tune if you score red or yellow.

    Bottom line: Good, worthy, people are being hurt by this survey. People who you would hire otherwise. And I can guarantee that.

  • Dear Students come First.

    Nice title where did you get it? Excuse my caustic nature but this is a classic example
    Of double talk. You wrote” I have never hired a teacher because they were related to someone”
    Clout goes far beyond your quote let me expand:
    Have you ever been told to hire someone?
    Have you ever hired a frat boy or sorority sister?
    Have you ever hired a friend?
    If you are telling the truth you are a national treasure.

  • Students First Principal,
    I'm not sure what you mean when you say:
    "Savvy principals, as they find those outstanding candidates, will take the time to assist them with this process."

    Do you mean coach them on the TeacherFit responses? Do you imply your candidate might need your intervention to make sure they give the right response? So according to TeacherFit, your ourstanding candidate is not quite that outstanding - yet.

  • Saw this at Catalyst: During the new budget year that recently started, CPS principals, assistant principals and central office staff will not receive pay raises, but they also won’t be required to take furlough days, according to a letter schools CEO Jean Claude Brizard sent to them on Thursday. This will be the third consecutive year that non-union employees have gone without raises. All non-union employees had to take 15 furlough days last year. Brizard also said his administration aims to protect “core education priorities.” Those “include no increases to class size, and no cuts to early childhood and existing all-day kindergarten programming, school-based culture of calm, and magnet school and world language programming,” the letter said.

  • Any chance for something like this in IL? From Catalyst's post: A California bill would require charter schools to show their student demographics are appropriate for to the neighborhoods they serve. The legislation, A.B. 440, is one of three bills that would, along with increasing demographic requirements, make charters pay for financial audits and require stricter accountability for academic performance and public transparency. (California Watch)

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    If "Performance Counts", then we should have a lot more transparency coming from the Charter Schools! Great idea! Oh... but Juan Rangel of UNO hates transparency. He's Rahm and Madigan's buddy!

  • Rod's perspective is so interesting (on the Scott story in Chicago Mag), posted at Catalyst: By: Rod Estvan In the News: No raises, furlough days for CPS principals, staff; new details in Michael Scott death Every story has an angle to it, in fact a strategic angle, so does David Bernstein's Chicago magazine story on the death of former CPS Board President Scott. Mr. Bernstein's entire article centers on the issue of whether President Scott killed himself or he was murdered because of his debts and nefarious business dealings. That is an interesting issue, but not as interesting as the why and how of Mr. Scott's debts and the extent he leveraged his political relationship with former Mayor Daley to seek personal gain. As we know others leveraged that same relationship and sometimes ended up in jail.

    I would argue Mr. Berstein really cares very little about the public corruption aspect of Mr. Scott's death. Berstein writes: "Over the years, Scott had successfully parlayed his political connections into lucrative consulting and real-estate careers, but by the fall of 2009 his complex dealings were starting to catch up with him. Several high-stakes real-estate plays—including ventures whose success hinged on the city landing the 2016 Summer Olympics—had blown up on him and his partners. A fast-food restaurant chain he had invested in was also hemorrhaging money. On the political front, Scott had become the target of official investigations that would eventually erupt into mini scandals."

    The rest of Mr. Berstein's analysis is covered by this section of the story: "Scott was annoyed that Huberman had asked the CPS inspector general to investigate the entire board—in particular Scott and his longtime aide, Greg Minniefield—to see if members had improperly influenced admissions at the city’s top selective enrollment schools. Tensions mounted, say family members, when Scott confronted Huberman that spring or early summer about having both a taxpayer-funded car and driver and a second CPS-leased vehicle for personal use, a perk previous CEOs did not have. Soon after that, when the inspector general began looking into credit card spending and charitable donations made by Scott and other board members, Scott suspected that Huberman was quietly behind it. (Both matters would eventually become small-scale scandals.)"

    I would say that the CPS Inspector General in the 2009-2010 Annual Report did not view what Mr. Scott did in relation to various embezzlements at CPS as a "small-scale scandal." But the Inspector General never looked any further than these embezzlements, the IG never sought out information about Fogelson Properties which was apparently paying Mr. Scott $10,000 a month for "consulting." What these payments were all about remain a mystery and Fogelson Properties would not talk to the media about the payments. But we do know that some pastors who were part West Side Ministers group, that Mr. Scott worked on developments with that were totally dependent on Chicago getting the 2016 Olympics, also provided services to CPS. We also know that President Scott made an appearance at a meeting relating to lakefront developments where the creative uses of TIFs were eventually discussed, we know this thanks to Alderman Fioretti who offered the Sun Times (Chicago Sun Times December 14, 2009) a little insight into the type of consulting work Mr. Scott may have been performing. By the way the Alderman did not support the proposed development.

    Mr. Bernstein's article never attempts to examine the more systemic corruption that Mr. Scott may have been involved in, corruption that went far beyond the credit card misuse. But when one investigates pay to play in Chicago one opens up a Pandora's box and who knows where all that might lead. Looking for those answers might shed more light on the death of President Scott. Mr. Berstein's article looks down some paths to try to find answers, but they all are dead ends.

    At the end of the article Mr. Berstein interviewed President Scott's family and you can see that he left behind a financial nightmare, basically taking an upper income Black family and putting them in poverty. There is no doubt this is absolutely not what Mr. Scott wanted to happen - to leave his family with nothing - that was an incrediably sad ending to the story indeed.

    Rod Estvan

  • From Substancenews.net: Following the Big Lie about the $712 million 'deficit', attack on veteran teachers is renewed... CPS hosting another secret 'Job Fair'.. July 21 'Career Event' to be held at UIC Forum this year

    John Kugler - July 16, 2011

    Another Secret Invitation Only Government Job Fair? That's the question being asked by hundreds of Chicago teachers and others who were ripped out of their jobs during early and mid-July 2011, just as it was asked one year earlier. As usual, the Chicago Board of Education's "Office of Human Capital" is trying to remove as many full-time, veteran unionized Chicago public school teachers as possible and replace us with as many charter school and novice teachers as it can get away with. Once again, one of the many time wasters for the recently "displaced" teachers is a semi-secret "Job Fair" (by invitation only) hosted by the "Office of Human Capital," along with a number of generally insulting "resume writing workshops," also sponsored by "Human Capital." (more)

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Whatever happened to the cry for a forensic audit of CPS? A real genuine independent audit of CPS?

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    I just did a google search for "problem with TeacherFit Inventory" and came across this text on your blog - "Also, the inventory takes the human element out of the hiring process and it completely disregards all other achievement, recommendations," - but I can't find the exact page/link with the full blog post. Can someone point me to the page/link with the full post?

  • I agree with the great need for a forensic audit of CPS. On average, principals have the responsibility of preparing for and answering to an average of six annual audits, required by various CPS entities.
    Accountability starts at the top. It is time for a forensic audit of CPS. The tax payers and our public school children deserve no less.

  • I received a layoff letter from CPS Friday afternoon. Part of the documentation I received was an invitation to a resume writing workshop and an invitation to a job interviewing skills workshop. Both workshops took place before I received my letter. WTF?

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    I was a previous CPS teacher who recently got hired late May by my principal for Sept. 2011. I applied the online application before June 1 and applied again later because CPS wipe out the old application. My principal informed that my name hasn't shown in the system. I went to HR and asked why my principal can't find my name in the system. The lady asked did I submitted the application. I told her yes. She asked me to login into my account to show her. She saw my profile and went in the back for awhile. Then came back and asked for my name, number, and the school who hired me. She told me that they will call my principal.
    After I went to HR, I contacted my principal and told her what happened. My principal email me couple days later and told me that no one called. The following day, I went back to the school and showed her my account that I did applied. A week later, I received an email from CPS that based on our selection criteria and the information you provided as part of our TeacherFit Inventory process, we are not moving forward with your candidacy at this time. I quickly contacted my principal and told her about my email. We were surprised because we both know that I 'm qualified for the job.
    So I started to look up teacherfit inventory and came across chicagonow. The more I was reading about the blogs. I was devastated. The worst part was that I met my students and the parents before the school ends. Now, I have to go back and inform my principal that she can't hired me.
    What can I do now?

  • @King Lee - I am shocked and horrified by your experience listed below. Sadly, I have no suggestions/solutions for you on how you can move forward from this. It really seems as if this "TeacherFit" component has been put in place to eliminate a lot of people. I wonder if CPS is doing something like providing "correct" answers guides to new, cheaper applicants in order to weed out experienced, more expensive, possibly more "unionized" teachers who may not just roll-over and accept what CPS is shoving down our throats. There is no way this survey can truly determine who is a "Fit" in individual schools.

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    In reply to Anonymous:

    I worked at AMPS school for five years and I had "Superior" on evaluations. I was tenure. Because I left my job to care for family for few years, come back to this. I don't know what is my status anymore. New candidate? Previous CPS educator lost all teaching years from CPS?

  • Does anyone have the TeacherFit questionaire?

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    Yes. I printed out every single page of the TeacherFit Inventory.

  • In reply to Maureen Connell:

    Ms. Connell,

    I already took the survey, but I'd be interested in seeing it again. Is there any way you can post it?

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    In reply to Disillusioned:

    I am unable to post it because my scanner is basic and I would have to scan the survey one page at a time. I'd suggest that you or someone you know create a new profile on the CPS online application and access the survey that way.

  • I just want to warn folks who may have printed the TeacherFit survey or think that you will figure out the right "answers" to be very very careful. Most tests that are commercially developed such as this ask about the same thing in different versions and in several different ways to establish "patterns" and are also designed to catch efforts to "game" the test which will automatically hurt you (believe me, you can tell). . Answering what you think they want to hear vs what you would really do is usually a big big mistake and doesnt help you because a lot of the time you are wrong.

  • What are the legal liabilities to someone who posts this TeacherFit test? Might there be trouble? Probably prudent to find out. Read the fine print about TeacherFit, etc.

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    I absolutely did not print the TeacherFit survey with the intention of trying to figure out the "correct" answers. I agree that there's no point in trying to tell someone what you think they want to hear; the truth is always the best way to go. I don't want to be somebody I'm not to get a job.

  • In May I was offered a job at a CPS high school. On June 1st my application was wiped out and I had to redo it this summer. On July 13th I resubmitted my application and completed the new TeacherFit Inventory. I too received an email stating "Our application process in increasingly competitive with many talented candidates seeking a limited number of open vacancies. Please be advised that, based on our selection criteria and the information you provided as part of our TeacherFit Inventory process, we are not moving forward with your candidacy at this time."

    BEST PART: look what i found from the maker of the survey and from CPS human resources...
    From the Polaris Teacher Fit inventory website i found this...


    "While the completion of this tool is a required component of the CPS teacher application, the RESULTS WILL NOT BE USED in any way to assess or inform your candidacy for employment at CPS. Principals and other hiring managers will NOT have access to the data. The results of this tool will ONLY be used to research the accuracy and reliability of the Polaris tool itself. "

    From the CPS human resources website, i found this...


    "Polaris’ Teaching Style Inventory is currently used in more than 40 school districts nationwide and has been demonstrated to be both fair and unbiased. This year’s assessment results will ONLY be used to analyze the accuracy and reliability of the assessment itself and to ensure that the tool produces no biased impact on our candidates. Thank you in advance for completing the assessment; your participation will help us to improve our hiring process. "

    Seems like the email CPS sent me states it pretty clearly that because of my survey they will not proceed with candidacy but these websites seem to state the exact opposite....

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    In reply to Anonymous:

    I'm pretty sure these TeacherFit links you posted are outdated. I think they're links to the survey from when CPS was testing its use last year. The current wording on the intro page is different, but it still doesn't make it clear that there's a possibility of failing the survey and if you do that you'll no longer be a CPS teacher candidate.

  • I'm confused. After 18 months, we're allowed to complete the survey again. We aren't told the answers that caused us to score a red so we have no idea what areas we need to improve. Why 18 months? And what sort of transformation is supposed to occur over that time? If, on the second try, we answer the questions HONESTLY, wouldn't we score the same?
    I'm just trying to figure out what I'm supposed to be doing for the next year-and-a-half.

  • In reply to Disillusioned:

    If anything is arbitrary (besides the entire test), it's this strange 18-month waiting period. I, too, am at a loss as to what exactly I'm supposed to do since, technically, I'm out this school year and next (we don't have "potential" as teachers until spring of 2013).

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    In reply to Anonymous:

    If I fail teacherfit inventory in 2013, I will need to wait till 2015 to retake it. What is the purpose of teaching certificate if I can't use it?

  • I am concerned about this inventory, especially what has been printed below by Polaris and CPS, in the way it should be, will be and is used. Since it comes from the 'newer' HC, it may be suspect. I personally cannot rely on one test alone to judge a great teacher. However, I will not be able to hire those great teachers out there since they will never come my way, if they have 'failed' this test.
    This is very disappointing.

  • Huberman and now Brizard are copying a page from some generic business book and trying to apply it to the teacher profession. This is the "new" and "innovative" bullocks that they want to impress us with. Right! Total bullocks. These clowns want respect? Sorry, trying to pull the wool over the public eyes when the public knows they have no clue is sad! Why the 18 month wait? They got if from some book or some high paid consultant or most likely they made it up to show the public they are about quality! I have a bridge to sell you! There is NO ACCOUNTABILITY for those running CPS.

  • If those that took the inventory were told it would not impact them and then that information is used anyway, then that is totally unfair, deceptive and dishonest. I have nothing against the the inventory itself, but I do have a problem with the lack of integrity or ineptness, or both which I imagine might have some legal implications.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Maureen Connell is right: The links are old. They're the instructions to the 750 National Board Certified when they took it last year. What I find sneaky is that they didn't tell them their results would be used as a measuring stick for future teachers. Obviously, it wouldn't have changed their answers, but I still find it slimy. I have more of a problem with the language they used when describing the survey to this years candidates:

    Chicago Public Schools (CPS) uses an online pre-employment tool called the TeachingFit Inventory to measure a candidate's future potential with CPS. The results of this tool will produce an overall indicator of the fit between the candidate and teaching jobs within CPS and will be used as part of the candidate interview and selection process. The TeacherFit Inventory will require approximately 20 minutes to complete. A username and password is required. If you quit the Inventory for any reason part of the way through (e.g., lost internet connection, etc.), you can use the password to resume work at the point you left off. The results of the TeacherFit Inventory will stay with your application and on record for 18 months. Once the Inventory is taken you cannot take it again unless significant changes to the test have been made at CPS discretion. To access the tool, click on the link below.

    I'd like to bring attention to the following sentence:

    The results of this tool will produce an overall indicator of the fit between the candidate and teaching jobs within CPS and will be used as part of the candidate interview and selection process

    Well that's just a flat out lie. The results will not be used as a PART of anything. The results are clearly the single determining factor. In all honesty, I took this survey half seriously. I focused more on crafting solid essays, a strong resume, and contacting people to write stellar recommendations. Three things I thought were far more relevant. As described in the sentence above, I was though my answers might be referred back to in an interview. If I answered a question in an odd way, I would have the opportunity to explain. In that regard I thought the survey would be a great conversation piece. Obviously I was incorrect.

    As a sidebar, does anyone want to estimate the number of teachers negatively affected by this survey. It's clear a number of people on this thread were, but I'd like to know if we're the very small but vocal minority.

  • CPS has spent years trying to teacher-proof teaching and learning through mandated and scripted curricula, extensive kill-and-drill test prep, and a variety of ever-changing reading or math flavor-of-the-month initiatives. Now they're trying to principal-proof hiring. Brilliant.

    I'm not sure how anyone downtown thinks these types of policies will attracted the best and the brightest to either the classroom or the administrator's chair. They probably have a dazzling master plan. The rest of us mopes have yet seen that light.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Rahm and Brizard don't believe in teacher leadership. This is an essential component in successful genuine world class public school districts. That is how bankrupt Rahm and Brizard are about how to bring about a school system where they would send their own kids.

  • Lets call her Wilma a real person ,but not her name .She was only five feet tall
    And about ninety pounds .S he was given one of the roughest divisions ( homeroom)
    In the school .The administration in a seemingly act of mercy put them in the library
    Where I was to keep an eye on her ,and to intervene if she needed help.
    It became a revelation to me that she was superb at her job. The lady had a style all her own.
    No screaming ,yelling, threatening, just a nagging voice that drove all the kids nuts.
    Her homeroom was perfect because the kids would do anything just to shut her up
    For a while.
    Wilma was the best teacher I ever saw in action ,no survey can predict how a teacher
    Will perform in the real world. This newest roadblock is just an attempt to thin the
    Heard like rhetoric 101 was back in the day ,except now we have to please a machine
    In order to teach real people.

  • I also recently received an e-mail indicating that I am not eligible for employment as a teacher with CPS for the next 18 months as a result of the survey. Clearly, nothing in my resume, experience, or other qualifications was considered at all. I graduated cum laude with my bachelor's and also have a master's degree, both from top universities in the state, with stellar GPAs from both institutions. I have shining recommendations from my cooperating teachers when I student taught in CPS as well as from my supervisors in the suburban district where I've taught the last two years, with a similar student demographic to CPS (although these recs were never asked to be uploaded to the site - it's now apparent as to why). I am fluent in Spanish and have my ESL/bilingual endorsement. I've had great success coaching sports teams for years. As far as I'm concerned, I should be exactly what they are looking for.

    Yet again another standardized test doesn't actually measure anything it seeks to. Furthermore, the survey itself contained many grammatical errors and was so vague that I didn't even know what to answer at times. The de-contextualized hypotheticals in the survey make for a very, very invalid examination of a "teacher's fit" for "all of CPS," which is the essence of this sorry excuse for a valid determining factor. This survey takes 20 minutes to complete (and I, too, didn't take it that seriously, not even thinking it would be highly regarded, as would any logical and experienced professional), whereas my qualifications, degrees, and experience took YEARS to attain.

    I understand they probably have an overwhelming number of applicants to sift through, but shouldn't that be done by looking at VALID qualifications and criteria? And frankly, if CPS wants to continue to centralize everything, then this is part of their job. It blows my mind that they are this lazy about it. The irony is that they would expect us not to be lazy in our instruction and planning. In my opinion, if they are seeking "excellence," then they are going to have a difficult time finding it with their invalid selection criteria.

  • AnonymousTeacher-
    You are so correct in every way! Such good points made. I posted in the other section about teacherfit, and my impressions of it. I am not a teacher but had to take it nonetheless so my application would be sent. One would think since they were so desperate to move to a new application system they'd work out the kinks. I got an email too even though I was told to ignore it, when I called CPS explaining I am not applying for a teacher position. No one knows where they went wrong in this "inventory". The irony of it is there were grammatical errors in theat automated email they sent. The bottom line is, CPS doesn't know what the hell they are doing, when they send out emails telling applicants they don't qualify based on some ridiculous survey, when they can't even spell correctly. Whoever is in charge here needs to be forced out. There is something very very wrong with this picture. I encourage everyone to contact the State legislature and possibly file a class action lawsuit. They need to be independently audited and so does this survey. The bottom line is, there is nothing in the application that says the survey will be used against you and will ban you from employment for 18 months if you do not answer the way we want you to.

  • Big Brother,

    Nice points. It's heart breaking that so many qualified educators are being thrown under the bus. CPS rushed into this, and it's clear from the lack of time spent on the rejection letter. It's insulting. I am not a lawyer, but I'm pretty sure a job discrimination lawsuit can't be brought unless it's proven that the test is arbitrary.

    I've been reading a lot about problematic and not illegal surveys and found an interesting article about personality surveys given to prison inmates to determine their parole eligibility. The survey measured whether the prisoner was likely to commit a crime once released. Although the repercussions of scoring "red" on that survey are a bit more serious, the TeacherFit survey seems similar even though it measures across different domains (can't remember what they are but they're posted somewhere on this thread). I'm sure that comparison will upset a lot of people but it's like denying someone a job based on a blood test.

    I know for a fact, the Office of Human Capital and the Office of Recruitment and Workforce Planning are getting inundated with calls from confused and upset applicants. I think we have to wait for the dust to settle before CPS releases any sort of official response. That's just my opinion though. And don't be surprised if CPS digs its heels in just to keep face.

  • It's come to my attention that the Chicago Teachers' Union and the Board of Education are meeting about the unfairness of this situation with the TeacherFit survey. I urge any of you who failed the survey or are concerned about the situation for any reason to contact the Grievance Department at the Chicago Teachers' Union. The more people they hear from, the better. Also, please contact your State Representative and/or State Senator for your district and make them aware of this situation. The State Representative for our district called the Office of Human Capital to complain. Keep calling the Office of Human Capital at CPS too. They need to know this problem won't go away.
    Chicago Teachers' Union phone number: 312-329-9100
    CPS Office of Human Capital Teacher Recruitment & Workforce Planning phone number: 773-553-1045

  • Sad to say it, but at least it is nice to know that there are others (how many?) in the same boat with this TeacherFit failure crap. When I got my rejection email last Thursday ( a whole month after I took the silly test) I was stunned. I had a job offer on the table (offered on the spot at the first interview - never had that happen before!!). 20+ years of very, very successful teaching experience (most of it in private schools so I have no problem coming in at only Step 3 on the pay scale), Master's degree, inner-city experience, appropriate certification, references that could not possibly be better - in short, I'm really good at what I do and really no more expensive than a near beginner. When I called HR on Friday morning, of course I got nowhere. The person I talked to did say that the hiring principal could put in a request to Hire Support saying that they wanted me anyway, but that now seems to be a lie to get me off of the phone. The principal dropped me like a hot potato. Are they being told they can't hire the "lepers"? Although I'm not a union member (yet), I did talk to a field rep there who was not familiar with this new scam. Bottom line is that the CTU has no sway in hiring matters such as this, unfortunately. He also said that to him it seemed like a way to weed out potential new strong union members and others who might stick up for their rights. I'm sure that the CTU will be looking into this, but there really isn't much they can do. So, where do we all stand? I personally would like to get together with others and see if there might be a way to fight this - class action lawsuit, get some investigative coverage in the press, whatever.

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