What happens in CPS stays in CPS?
Many of you have asked us who is the "Power of Parents" after receiving a text or email invite to an event on Monday, Sept. 17 4:30 p.m. at Heritage Green Park.
Who are they? How did they get my phone and email?
At first it appeared the Reply-to address was from a Nevada-based p.r. agency, best known for the wildly successful "What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas" campaign.
Upon further inspection, it appears that CPS is working with an outside organization to resurrect the annual CPS conference brand of the same name. This conference ran from 2003 until 2010 when it was abruptly cancelled. That outside organization is "Ed Reform Now," a questionably legal tax shelter (or 501c3 arm) of the political PAC "Democrats for Education Reform." Evidently CPS shared our private information with ERN/DFER without our opt-in permission?
Will CPS never learn?
As an LSC member, I received a "stakeholder" email from CPS last Thursday with an update about the strike with links to editorials and articles. Two of the referred blurbs (here and here) were from "parent bloggers" which bore an uncanny resemblance to City Hall talking points.
Ironically these parents have one thing in common. Neither of them are CPS parents. One sends her child to Francis Xavier Warde, and the other to the British School.
CPS - hear me loud and clearly: I don't want to be spun.
I want authentic parent and teacher engagement. I want to empower communities and LSCs and leaders in pedagogy to be more actively involved in discussions of what success looks like and how do we measure it.
This report should be the blueprint for education reform discussions. The schools Don profiled have their own "secret sauce." Not turnarounds, not Ren10, not charter schools.
Charter schools are not all bad, nor all good. Former interim CPS CEO Terry Mazany noted that “Charters, based on . . . being freed from restrictions of bureaucracy, should be knocking the socks off neighborhood schools. But they’re not. It’s a dead heat.” Yet there's profitable L3Cs like UNO that divert $98 million from the state and additional millions from traditional neighborhood schools. Charters also raise hundreds of thousands if not millions from private donors and foundations as well.
Neighborhoods schools are being sucked dry. I'm not against making profit or innovation. I'm not for status quo. But I am against this particular manipulation which is like Munchausen by proxy syndrome, rolling out the red carpet for privateers to swoop in and save sick "failing schools" with "sub par" teachers.
So while I am heartened by reports of the strike being close to settled, I am discouraged even more that CPS still thinks it's a good idea to recruit non-CPS parents to blog about what CPS parents should think, and to spend millions of dollars spin doctoring and working with outside groups with no roots in this city to attempt to marshall my support post-strike. Collaboration should happen closer to home.
Right before the denouement of the protracted longer-extended-full-school-day-marketing-campaign, CPS admitted to Raise Your Hand that [the district] had not done a great job of parent engagement, and that they wanted to "hit the reset button."
But actions speak louder than words. Your do over chit is still looking like business as usual.
CPS, do you want the "Power of Parents"? Engage. Authentically. Meaningfully. Now.