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The secret is out. To work in the 'new' CPS administration you have to master ptydepe and pass a test on it administered by Jean-Claude Brizard and his handler Rahm Emanuel.

Some of us at Substance thought it was a joke when Rahm Emanuel's team made sure that suburbanite Tim Cawley because "Chief Administrative Officer" of CPS and then got a waiver, despite the inspector general's call to revoke that waiver,  so he could continue living in Wilmette (where class sizes are 20) while issuing guidelines for "efficient" space utilization in Chicago (where class sizes must be 30 or more).

Only one of the people siting joyfully in the bureaucrats' seats during the December 14, 2011 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education was still cramming for her Ptydepe test, as the above photo shows. Right to left, "Chief Officer, Community Outreach" Jamiko Rose and "Chief Administrative Officer" Tim Cawley. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.

After all, if bureaucratic experience at Motorola and AUSL didn't prepare you for a $205,00-per-year job in the nation's third largest school system, what does? The old "Do as I say — OR ELSE — not as I do" thing.

Chicago Public Schools "Chief Human Capital Officer" Alicia Winckler (above right at the October meeting of the Chicago Board of Education), like her counterpart Chief Financial Officer Diana Ferguson (above left) has no teaching, education, or public school administrative experience or qualifications. According to CEO Ron Huberman and the members of the Chicago Board of Education who hired Winckler in December 2009, Winckler's lack of teaching qualifications made her the perfect pick to become "Chief Human Capital Officer" for the third largest school system in the USA. Prior to coming to Chicago's public schools, Winckler was with Sears Holdings, where she reportedly helped organize the "synergy" when Sears acquired K-Mart. In Capitalspeak, "synergizing" means getting rid of people, er., "Reducing Human Capital Expenses." Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.

Then we heard the Alicia Winckler, the erstwhile "Chief Human Capital Officer" had morphed into the "Chief Talent Development Officer" (same job; same former Sears Holding buraucrat; "rebranding" she told us it was) and we could barely roll our eyes.

becky carroll
CPS Chief Communications Officer Becky Carroll was brought in to CPS by Rahm Emanuel's Board of Educationon June 22, 2011, at a salary of $165,000 per year. That salary that was more than $30,000 higher than that paid to any of her predecessors, including Peter Cunningham, who served in that position under Arne Duncan at an annual salary of $120,000 per year. Prior to the appointment to the CPS job, Carroll's experience with CPS consisted of her having attended (and graduated from) Lane Technical High School. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.

Not to be outdone, CPS created the post of "Chief Officer for Communications" for a young Lane Tech alumna named Becky Carroll at $160,000 per year, and almost made us long for, of all people, Monique Bond, who at least knew her way around Chicago's schools (and police bars). Carroll didn't hale from Motorola or Sears, like Cawley and Winckler. Even better: She had worked in the administration of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.

sicat 2
Since the Chicago Board of Education voted to make his its "Chief Portfolio Officer" (without defining what that meant) at its August 2011 Board meeting, Oliver Sicat (above, during the November 16, 2011 meeting) has been doing a Power Point just about every month, presenting the "Portfolio Mission" to "create quality seats." None of the Board members has yet asked Sicat to explain why his Power Points are using such Orwellian verbiage or how he suddenly qualified for his $162,000 per year executive job at CPS despite the fact that he had never taught in a real Chicago public school classroom. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.

But it was the gift that kept on giving as Chicago continued to expand its administrative ranks. A guy named Oliver Sicat, whose previous job had been running one of those Nobel Street charter schools that eliminates the unfit in a sort of rigged "Race to the Top" became the "Chief Portfolio Officer" of Chicago Public Schools. At a salary more than double that of the average teacher.

But there was more, and as good a stopping place as any. The new CPS "Chief Officer Security and Safety" is a mid-career lass named Jadine Chou, whose qualifications for the top cop job at CPS include an MBA from the University of Chicago, a stint at Motorola, and last but not least, a "Portfolio" job at the Chicago Housing Authority. As we said earlier, while Becky Carroll makes us (almost) long for Monique Bond, Chou definitely reminds us that her predecessor, Michael Shields, at least had some security and law enforcement experience.

Marie Antoinette, I’d Like You to Meet David Vitale
Moral courage comes in many forms, but sometimes not at all. Faced with adversity last week, David Vitale retreated into executive session. Mr. Vitale is a banker who was picked by Rahm Emanuel to be president of the Chicago Board of Education. And as the Missile confidently presided over a cowed City Council on Wednesday, his schools emissary co-starred in melancholy political theater that gave insight into the mayor’s ultimate challenges.
David Vitale

David Vitale served as Chief Administrative Officer of Chicago Public Schools under CEO Arne Duncan. Before joining CPS, Vitale was Chief Executive Officer of the Chicago Board of Trade and Vice Chairman and Director of Bank One Corporation. Vitale currently serves as Chairman of the Academy for Urban School Leadership, a nonprofit teacher residency program, and as Executive Chair of Urban Partnership Bank. Vitale's daughter is a CPS student. He holds a Bachelor's from Harvard University and an MBA from the University of Chicago. Mayor Rahm Emanuel reacted angrily Tuesday to questions of whether it was a conflict of interest to award management of six new turnaround schools to the Academy for Urban School Leadership, whose former executives were handpicked by the mayor to help run Chicago Public Schools, the Tribune reported.

The Board of Education didn't get to hear any of this at the meeting, as James Warren describes in the New York Times:

    David Vitale retreated into executive session. Mr. Vitale is a banker who was picked by Rahm Emanuel to be president of the Chicago Board of Education.

This was after the Mr. Vitale, much like a bad first-year teacher:

    ... told the crowd that he hoped they'd 'gotten it out of their system,' prompting more jeers.


'We need you out of our system,' one man yelled back.

Obviously, the two things that will disqualify someone from a top executive position in the Brizard/Emanuel school system are (a) experience in teaching and (b) a knowledge of Chicago's schools and their complexity. The more simple minded, the better, and the more corporate, the best, seems to be the new rule.

Unknown to most people in Chicago, Jean-Claude Brizard did not pass the qualification test to become the $250,000 per year "Chief Executive Officer" of the nation's third largest school system by getting an overwhelming vote of "no confidence" from teachers in Rochester New York — and three federal lawsuits before he was run out of town— during his last job. His most important qualification, according to insiders familiar with Rahm Emanuel's selectivities, was that he had mastered Ptydepe and had translated a classic European song into Ptydepe as "Rahmsland, Rahmsland Uber Alles" when he was administered the Ptydepe test by mayoral considliere Beth Swanson at the offices of the Pritzker - Traubert Family Fund. Substance photo taken at Chicago Police Headquarters December 13, 2011 by George N. Schmidt.

So what does all that have to do with the recent death of Vaclav Havel and the real qualification for a CPS administrative job in 2011 and 2012? In order to get a high paid boss job in Chicago's public schools, you have to not only have a corporate mindset, but you have to speak Ptydepe.

Every System, lingual or political, can get into a stage of ossification.
Then the system does not serve humans any longer, but humans serve the system.
--Václav Havel

Those who don't yet know what that is should review Haval's plays about Stalinist Czechslovakia. We had thought that we needed to update Ambrose Bierce's 19th Century classic "Devil's Dictionary" to illuminate what's going on behind those bland platitudes that continually come out of Jean-Claude's mouth, but Pdydepe is really the key.

Adourthus McDowell, a Chicago Public School parent and member of the Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization, began the takeover by rising from his chair and interrupting a presentation by Chicago Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard on a new $660 million capital construction plan.

Using a 'mic check' technique borrowed from Occupy Wall Street protestors, McDowell read from a prepared text in short bursts so comrades planted around the room could repeat his words and thereby amplify them for the crowd.


10:36 AM PT: Scientific principles of Ptydepe
Ptydepe was constructed along strictly scientific lines, with none of the messiness and ambiguity of natural languages.[1] Havel's younger brother, computer scientist Ivan M. Havel, helped in its formulation. In order to be able to express precisely all the subtle and easily-misunderstood nuances of natural language, Ptydepe has a large, non-expandable vocabulary. Another problem of natural language that Ptydepe was intended to eliminate is the frequent similarity of unrelated words, or homonyms. To entirely avoid the possibilities for confusion that arise with homonyms and similar unrelated words, Ptydepe was created according to the postulate that all words must be formed from the least probable combinations of letters. Specifically, it makes use of the so-called "sixty percent dissimilarity" rule; which states that any Ptydepe word must differ by at least sixty percent of its letters from any other word consisting of the same number of letters. This led to the necessity of creating some very long words. The inevitable problem of pronounceability is solved by breaking very long words up into smaller clusters of letters called "subwords", which nonetheless have no meaning outside of the word they belong to and are not interchangeable.

Length of words, like everything else in Ptydepe, is determined scientifically. The vocabulary of Ptydepe uses entropy encoding: shorter words have more common meanings. Therefore, the shortest word in Ptydepe, gh, corresponds to what is so far known to be the most general term in natural language, whatever. (The longest word in Ptydepe, which contains 319 letters, is the word for "wombat".) Theoretically an even shorter word than gh exists in Ptydepe, namely f, but it has no meaning assigned and is held in reserve in case a more general term than "whatever" is discovered.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (7+ / 0-)

    Those that know, do. Those that understand, teach. -Aristotle

    by Hyde Park Johnny on Mon Jan 02, 2012 at 10:13:41 AM PST

  •  would be better if you explain what (0+ / 0-)

    ptydepe is.  I had to ask Wikipedia.  Most people won't bother and will assume that it's an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory.

    Global warming is the inconvenient truth, nuclear power is the inconvenient alternative.

    by eigenlambda on Mon Jan 02, 2012 at 10:22:38 AM PST

  •  Corporatism comes to CPS... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...makes me glad we decided not to have children...

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Mon Jan 02, 2012 at 10:23:34 AM PST

  •  Great catch, Johnny (0+ / 0-)

    Now, and this is inspired by the Blago situation, there are only two explanations for any of these people having jobs of this importance: 1) that they paid Rahm for them and 2) that someone -- either Rahm or somebody in his inner circle -- is sleeping with them.

    On second thought it may also be 3) the hiring theory that made Dan Quayle our vice president for four years: If you think I'm bad, look at all the people who work for me.  Without my influence, the system would come crashing down.

    All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

    by Dave in Northridge on Mon Jan 02, 2012 at 11:19:10 AM PST

    •  Or, Rahm is a DLC privatizer and corporate whore (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Chicago has shot itself in the ass by electing this free trading corporaDem and wall st bag boy.

      Chicagoans won't own a single asset that they have spent 150 yrs building with their tax dollars. Rahm is going to give all to wall st.

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