The extermination of quality teachers continues in Chicago Public Schools

This summer, I blogged my alarm at what the Chicago Public Schools was doing to go after experienced, highly-qualified teachers. In an effort to wipe their relatively high salaries off the books, the administration ghetto-ized and then exterminated them in a way that borrowed from the notorious NKVD.  Now from the Chicago Reader comes Ben Joravsky’s report of another totalitarian move against highly-qualified teachers in CPS.

The example of a nationally-certified art teacher, Sunny Neater-DuBow, is chilling. Just before school began in August, she received this creepy voicemail from her first-year principal:

As part of CPS’s ongoing effort to balance its fiscal year 2011 budget, they have closely examined the various support provided at each school in order to determine the budget and allocate resources for the upcoming school year. Due to these cost-saving measures, I just feel the need to inform you that your position at MAS will close and you will be laid off.”

Notice how the reason here is cost–allocating resources for the kids. Then she got a form letter in the mail which used the first person but had no signature. This time, the reason for her firing had nothing fiscal about it. In a method that Neater-DuBow correctly characterized as “Orwellian,” her adminstrators had “redefined” her position into the memory hole:

The “redefined” and thus unemployed Neater-DuBow
Dear colleague,” it began. “Please be advised that your position is no longer available effective August 31, 2010 due to Redefinition. As a result, I regret to inform you that you will be laid off and honorably dismissed effective August 31, 2010. Teachers honorably dismissed are not entitled to either the Reassigned Teacher Pool or the Cadre.”

The Cadre and Reassigned Teacher Pool would have allowed her some form of employment. But her “redefinition” means she gets nothing. And she has a family dependent on her.

The callousness with which Neater-DuBow was ditched is remarkable. But the trend it signals–one in which tenure rules of due process for teachers abrogated to solve budget holes, with no thought for the quality of education resulting for the students–is very troubling. From Chicago’s educational experiments the country has gotten choice vouchers, “turnarounds” for “failing” schools, and privately-run charter schools. Let’s hope this brutal anti-teacher management technique is one that gets no traction outside the “most corrupt city” in America.

photo from Chicago Reader

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