CPS executes teacher-leader jobs, NKVD-style

Mike Vail’s coverage in Substance online outraged me today. What happened to more than 100 quality, veteran teachers yesterday in Chicago was a glaring instance of brute “market forces” where they don’t belong:  in schools where we teach our most precious children. The bully kids are mostly dealt with. But somehow it’s OK when the school administration is doing the bullying.

The injustice is huge:  all these fired teachers did in CPS was excel at difficult jobs. For their distinctive excellence and willingness to work with new teachers, they were set aside last year to mentor entering teachers in promising “New Teacher Centers,” an initiative backed by school reform proponents such as former CPS CEO Arne Duncan. They probably believed their current boss, CPS CEO (and former policeman, politico, and transit system boss) Ron Huberman when he told them they would be central to new reforms that would help kids and teachers. 

But in fact, like the victims of the famous 1940 Katyn massacres, these dedicated professionals had been separated from their units for an easier slaughter by a ruthless, embattled administration.  What a despicable way to trim a budget. What an effective way to destroy leadership in the ranks and intimidate a workforce!

I am sure that one reason my sympathies are so strong is that I know how close I am to these poor public servants. I could easily be in their place today. If my life path had gone a bit differently, and I had stayed working in the CPS back in the 1980s when I started*, I imagine that I would have been duped into their sturdy, and now unemployed shoes.  You sacrifice and endure at a thankless job, and at the end of twenty plus years your reward is… an undignified termination.

In April and May of 1940,  after the Soviets had swallowed the eastern half of Poland, they wanted to establish their rule over the citizenry and so they went for the head of the body politic. They gathered the 6 to 8 thousand Polish military officers they held prisoner and added about 14 thousand civic leaders. According to the Wikipedia article, these were ”Polish doctors, professors, lawmakers, police officers, and other public servants.” There were about 22,000 in all, carefully separated out from the rest of the population. They were taken out to a forest in Western Russia (Katyn) and for a period of over a month were systematically shot dead and buried in mass graves. 

What a way to deprive a people of its leadership and intimidate them into submission. How can this be happening in public education, in schools?

*as a day-to-day substitute, I worked at high schools all over the city, from Austin to DuSable, from Lakeview to Lincoln Park, and from Wells to Crane. I then did some intensive student teaching at Senn High School.

Images taken from Wikipedia and Substance Online

One response to “CPS executes teacher-leader jobs, NKVD-style”

  1. Any business owner, when faced with a tough decision to lay off employees, would let go of workers that are not doing their job. Teacher job descriptions


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