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Today, Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) President Karen GJ Lewis, NBCT, asked the inspector general of the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to investigate why district officials accepted a $35 million grant two years ago requiring Union collaboration it did not receive.  CTU objected to the Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) proposal because its members are opposed to merit pay schemes that would link their salaries to standardized test scores and other value-added experiments.

The controversial grant proposal was submitted during the leadership transition shortly after Lewis and others were elected to office in June 2010. Upon review of the proposal, CTU decided it was not interested in the pilot project because it was deemed a merit pay study and several merit pay studies have already concluded that merit pay does not work.  In early March of this year, Lewis received a phone call from U.S. Education Department (DOE) official Jo Anderson inquiring about the TIF grant.  He (Anderson) was surprised to learn CPS and CTU had never agreed upon collaboration.

On March 9th,  19th,  and 20th CTU repeatedly requested copies of all documents and correspondence given to the DOE regarding the TIF grant. It received none. On May 30th, Lewis learned from  CPS officials that the district had been asked to return the federal dollars it had fraudulently received.

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.

In an email today to CPS Chief Talent Officer Alicia Winkler, who oversaw the project, Lewis once again reiterated her objections to the TIF proposal upon learning CPS was aggressively pitching local reporters a misleading story suggesting she had somehow “caused the district to ‘lose millions of dollars.”’:
“Today I received several phone calls from reporters alleging that CPS is pitching a story about my involvement with the TIF grant,” Lewis wrote. “I am disheartened that CPS chose to go public with this matter, but since you have decided to be extremely disingenuous let us recap the entirety of this issue.  This letter does not reflect the depth and breadth of our conversations.  You knew when you submitted this grant in 2010, the newly-elected leadership of CTU was philosophically opposed to merit pay, performance pay or whatever euphemism currently in use.

“You knew when you accepted the first federal dollar that your actions were in violation of the terms of the grant, which was supposed to include Union "buy-in.” You asked for a last-minute discussion about the grant, yet you refused to provide the Union with your correspondence with the DOE since 2010.  In essence, this entire discussion, prompted by a deadline, has been dealt with like so many other initiatives in your department - throw something together, slapdash and hope no one notices that it is a train wreck. We are serious about planning, while you want us to sign off on a plan that is not reflective of the written grant because you spent money to which you were not entitled.  This letter is a bold attempt to shift responsibility from you to us.  That is unacceptable,” she concluded.

Later, Lewis contacted Inspector General James M. Sullivan, and called for a formal investigation into Winkler’s actions.  She wrote:
“CPS Chief Talent Officer Alicia Winkler accepted a $35 million dollar Teacher Incentive Fund grant from the US Department of Education in 2010.  The terms of the grant included Union agreement and participation in a merit pay, differentiated pay, and performance pay scheme. Ms. Winkler accepted federal funds knowing she was in violation of the terms of the grant as the Union did not agree to participate.  On May 30, 2012 I was notified by Ms. Winkler that CPS was forced to return the remaining $34 million.  These monies should have never been accepted in the first place, given CPS had prior knowledge that the Chicago Teachers Union would not be party to a divisive pilot program that has been shown to be unsuccessful for over 100 years of previous research.  This misuse of taxpayer funds is extremely regrettable in light of the fiscal neglect of our schools.  I respectfully ask you to launch a full investigation into the fraudulent actions by CPS immediately.  I will also request the US DOE to look into this matter."

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Comment Preferences

  •  that bio on Winkler is just astounding. What are (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hyde Park Johnny, JeffW, Ckntfld

    these people thinking?

    If the plutocrats begin the program, we will end it. -- Eugene Debs.

    by livjack on Thu May 31, 2012 at 06:28:08 PM PDT

  •  Hmm. Huberman... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stevej, Hyde Park Johnny

    ..."he only had two years on the street", said my cousin, a Chicago Police officer, when I told him that my section was being ripped out of CDOT and moved to OEMC. Huberman had started out in the CPD.

    Then Huberman started his inexplicable odessey from OEMC, to being former Boy Mayor Daley's CoS, to running the CTA, to running CPS. Wasting money and time every time.

    What the hell did he have on Daley, to leave that much wreckage?

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

    by JeffW on Thu May 31, 2012 at 06:48:41 PM PDT

  •  Here's another question (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AoT, FG, Ckntfld, sayitaintso

    Why did DOE ever approve the grant application, much less release the funds?

    I work in public health research, university-based, that is funded by various federal agencies (e.g., NIH, CDC). If a funder mandates some kind of collaboration, we can't just pinky-swear. We must provide proof up front that we have partners officially committed.

    For example, if we are supposed to partner with community non-profits, we would submit a letter signed by each executive director and/or board chair on agency letterhead. The letter would specify what the agency expects of us, what the agency agrees to do, and so forth.

    Sometimes we need a statement from the health department that our proposal fits in with some 5-year-plan or another. Again, we'd have to provide a written letter from the chief health officer and a copy of the plan with the original grant application.

    So yeah. How the hell did the application ever pass review? Did the DOE just take the school system's word on it? What a joke.

    Just because you're not a drummer doesn't mean that you don't have to keep time. -- T. Monk

    by susanala on Thu May 31, 2012 at 07:28:13 PM PDT

  •  Be There Done That! (0+ / 0-)

    they tried this 32 years ago and its nice to have video to show what money like this is all about.

    Where they say money will buy everything. When they say I'll buy the Chicago Teachers Union with the checks. I'd spit in their eye before I'd vote for anything but the strike! -- CTU President Robert M. Healey, February 2, 1980

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

    by Hyde Park Johnny on Thu May 31, 2012 at 10:08:14 PM PDT

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