Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Reinvention Mirrors: "College to Careers" Exposed by The Reader as Repackaging of Same Old

On Monday Mayor Emanuel announced in a speech to the Economic Club of Chicago an allegedly innovative workforce program for the City Colleges of Chicago. Promoted by the CCC as part the Reinvention campaign, the "new" College to Careers program has already been questioned by Reader reporter Deanna Isaacs. In her latest blog Isaacs ponders whether this is old stuff with new make up. We should remember that earlier this year the CCC announced with much fanfare a Reinvention accomplishment, the CVS-owned pharmacy tech program, which in reality had existed for several years at Truman College. We say CVS-owned because the program is entirely run by CVS. The instructors are CVS employees and the 60-hour internship takes place at a CVS site.

In addition, Isaacs asks why should taxpayers and students subsidize the training for jobs that employers used to pay for in the past. Taking advantage of the desperation caused by the high unemployment rate, the logic for this new offering to the corporations was clearly spelled out on Monday by Emanuel: “By making a diploma from our community colleges into a ticket to the workforce, we will make them a first option for job training and not a last resort.” So once again, despite Chancellor Hyman's denials, the CCC continues to go down the route of job-training and not academic preparation. As Isaacs puts it, "you don't need to go to college to be a truck driver."

You can go to the original Reader post, but we reproduce it below for your convenience.



City (Vocational) Colleges of Chicago

Posted by Deanna Isaacs on Tue, Dec 13, 2011 at 1:04 PM

In a speech at the Economic Club of Chicago last night, Mayor Rahm Emanuel touted the first steps in a "College to Careers" effort that—if it's more than just window dressing—will push the City Colleges of Chicago further into industry-driven job training.
Under this plan, experts from "industry partners" will help design certificate programs and individual courses that they or other "industry experts" may also teach. In addition, they'll provide "access to internships, on-site training, and job interviews."
Actual jobs? No promises there, but Emanuel claims that by "2020 Chicago will need approximately 75,000 more health care practitioners." And between now and then we'll also need "4,000 new truck drivers," he says. Accordingly, the first two programs are a healthcare partnership at Malcolm X College, with partners like Rush and Stroger Hospitals, and a "transportation and logistics industry" partnership at Olive-Harvey College, with partners that include the CTA and UPS.
Of course, relationships with institutions like local hospitals aren't a brand-new idea: the colleges already had some of them. At best, "College to Careers" will expand and build on that. At worst, it'll transfer job training costs from industry to students and taxpayers, without any assurance of employment to follow. And you don't need to go to college to be a truck driver. Here's the Mayor'spress release and speech, and here's our story about the overall "Reinvention" under way at CCC.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

CCC Chancellor Delivered List of Questions & Concerns Generated at Reinvention Roundtable

The co-sponsors of the Harold Washington Community Roundtable on Reinvention, held about two months ago at the Chicago Temple because the CCC cancelled their room reservation at their college, delivered a list of questions and concerns to the Chancellor of the CCC, Cheryl Hyman. Below we reproduce this document and the letter they sent to Hyman. A video of the Reinvention Roundtable was produced by Labor Beat, which we linked to in our 10/2/11 post. Evidently there is much disarray and dislocation being caused by the Reinvention, which the CCC administration is trying to keep from public view. We believe that it is very important to publicize this situation and even more important for the various affected sectors to come together to oppose these attacks on public higher education and the working people that make it possible.


Dear Chancellor Hyman:

On September 15, 2011 the Harold Washington College Chapter of Local 1600, the Faculty Council of Harold Washington College, Local 1708 (which represents all CCC clerical and technical workers) and CCCLOC (which represents most CCC adjunct faculty) co-sponsored the Harold Washington College Community Roundtable on Reinvention. At this discussion we had panelists representing each of the organizations listed above and, in the audience, a variety of HWC and other CCC students, faculty members and staff, as well as community members and administrators both from HWC and CCC District Office.

Please find enclosed a document summarizing the questions and concerns raised at the event. This summary has been reviewed and edited by each of the panelists. The collection of views expressed in this document does not represent a consensus of those present at the event. They are rather a reflection of the variety of reactions to the Reinvention by those who spoke at the event, either from the panel or from the audience.

We forward you this information in fulfillment of a commitment we made to our union chapter membership and to the co-sponsors of the event to share the issues discussed during the Roundtable with the leadership of the CCC, HWC, and Local 1600. It is also the hope of every co-sponsor that this information will help the CCC administration gain a better perspective of how the developments arising from the Reinvention are affecting every sector of the Harold Washington College Community.


María de Jesús Estrada, Chair
Harold Washington Chapter of AFT Local 1600

Héctor R. Reyes, Vice Chair
Harold Washington Chapter of AFT Local 1600

cc  Mr. Alvin Bisarya, Vice Chancellor of Strategy and Institutional Intelligence, CCC
      Mr. Donald L. Laackman, President, Harold Washington College
      Mr. Perry Buckley, President, AFT Local 1600

Key Questions and Concerns Expressed at the HWC Community Roundtable
on Reinvention Held at the Chicago Temple on September 15, 2011

1.    “The task forces of the Reinvention spent much time and effort talking to students, faculty and staff, visiting various colleges and looking at the practice of other community colleges. However, the members of the task forces feel that the important information they have gathered is not properly disseminated within the CCC community. There are a lot of misconceptions because people don’t have enough information. You don’t need to go outside the CCC to find outstanding programs. Truman College’s nursing program is one of the best that you could find, a model for what you could do with other programs.”

2.     Full-time and part-time professionals have lost many coworkers due to transfers, layoffs or retirement due to a stressful work environment caused by management, particularly at the Office of Information Technology (OIT). “There used to be six full-timers and two part-timers. We are down to three full-timers and two part-timers. We lost our webmaster during last fall’s wave of illegal layoffs. The OIT supervisor lacks enough human resources to cover all the IT needs of the college and therefore repeatedly engages in practices that breach the Union contract or displays abusive behavior toward the workers.”  A common sentiment is that “There is not enough bodies to do the work that needs to be done and there is a lot of pressure on us because the supervisor comes down on us pretty hard.” Even though as the college’s president became aware of the effects of this insufficiency and pledged to hire more IT personnel, the main point is that the situation should have never degenerated to the current state. This is the result of unwise removal of the IT personnel from the college through the pervasive practice of one-dimensionally examined centralization by District Office administrators who have zero or little experience in education; this concern is one that people continue to raise regarding Reinvention proposals.

3.     “The Reinvention contains some good aspects, but much of it has resulted in mass destruction. The clerical and technical workers represented by Local 1708 are a foundational element in the architecture of the CCC because they are the frontline workers. They are the first group of people that students meet when they come to a college seeking services. In the guise of the pursuit of best practices, the CCC administration through its Reinvention has ignored the practice of showing respect for the foundational success of 1708 members for more than 30 years. Now, there is a total disconnection between the CCC administration and 1708 and the outcome, under the pretense of centralization of services, has been a significant number of layoffs that have negatively affected the capacity of 1708 personnel to properly provide student services.”  The President of 1708 Dolores Whithers asserted, “It’s more than communication, it’s more than a perception; it’s actually a destruction of what we know as an educational system…How do you support student success when you take the very foundational person and you display that person, that office, you take their duties and you throw them up in the air? There are offices in which the number of 1708 staff has been reduced from four to one. The part-time 1708 personnel is overworked and underpaid. They have no benefits and no right to take days off.” She also claimed, “There is a reversal of our system in play right now where part-time will become the more predominant jobs and full-time will become the minority of the jobs.”

4.     1708 understands that the proposals of the task forces of the Reinvention are taken seriously only if these proposals are in sync with the preconceived notions of the top leadership of the CCC. And they are implemented from the top. Furthermore, the experience of 1708 has led them to conclude that there are a number of members of the task forces that do not understand what a labor contract is.

5.     “The total disrespect toward the clerical/technical personnel has reached previously unseen lows, with 1708 having filed more grievances now than in the previous ten years. The administration needs to start opening real lines of communication.”

6.     The cavalier ways of the Reinvention “have led to a juggling of the duties between the members of Local 1708 and Local 1600, with local 1708 being compelled to file grievances to address contract violations.”

7.     “The major effect of the demands and actions of the CCC administration through the Reinvention has been to downgrade the membership of 1708 from a professional unit to a collection of professional clerks.” It has transformed 1708 from traditionally being very cooperative with the administration to becoming very suspicious of the intents and decisions from CCC administration.

8.     1708 is watching the effects of the Reinvention and sees the City Colleges being transformed, but until now it has been hard to figure out what CCC is being transformed into.

9.     Regarding the figures often cited by the administration of declining student enrollment, it is important for people to understand that given the work that 1708 personnel performs, they are the first ones to see the information concerning student enrollment, and that what they have observed is the growth of enrollment, in contradiction to the claims of the CCC administration.

10.   “The District Faculty Council met with the CCC Chancellor and her staff earlier this year after it perceived an atmosphere of fear and explicit concerns by the faculty that they did not know what was going on with Reinvention.” There was and still is a concern that a lot of talk between the administration and the Faculty Council has taken place, with no discernible outcome observed afterwards. “Sometimes there is a lot of talk and then you leave the meeting and nothing happens and then that becomes entertainment.” In response, the College and District Faculty Councils have taken a proactive approach to communication with the administration.

11.   “In meetings with the administration the Faculty Council has emphasized trust building and asked for clear disclosure. In one response to this emphasis in terms of Reinvention, the administration offered two poster sessions about the work of the task forces. Still, there is much work to be done.”

12.   “The Faculty Councils have consistently pressed for more proactive responses to faculty-administrative relations through  more faculty involvement, maintenance of  the curriculum approval process, and consistent follow-up with administration on issues still to be addressed.”

13.   The Faculty Council is also continuously reaching out to local task force members to inform the Faculty Council about developments in the task forces.

14.   “The College and District Faculty Councils are interested in  : (1) ensuring adequate cross-communication among individual task forces, (2) figuring out new strategies to enhance communication and transparency from the administration, and (3) ensuring that administration follows through on stated commitments.”

15.  Adjunct faculty feel left out of the politics of the Reinvention. “So far it has not left a good impression in terms of transparency, communication, or clear cut goals. They understand that most students come to the CCC needing more than a just certificate. The quality of the relationship between the instructor and the student and the classroom environment created by instructors are essential to ultimate professionalism and academic success, such that quality teaching will hopefully become and remain a top priority. The adjuncts believe in the importance of a second chance for students and thus are hopeful about Reinvention’s recent attempts to become more transparent. There is concern that budget cuts resulting in personnel layoffs will ultimately affect long-term morale, availability of student services, and the quality and quantity of those who constitute the “front line” in encouraging our students to persevere.” They are concerned that students will leave the CCC with some form of credentials that will leave them with a low salary ten years from now.

16.   The Reinvention’s public portrayal of the City Colleges as a failure, citing questionable student enrollment and success numbers, has resulted in pronounced anger and demoralization among faculty and staff. They are still waiting for an apology from the administration regarding the misrepresentation of said failure rates. During this year’s district faculty development week the new provost and college presidents were introduced. Some of these individuals described how they were the children of immigrants and that through sheer determination and support of others they managed to overcome great odds to obtain their bachelor’s degrees after ten years or more of tenacious work. These individuals and the CCC administration missed the rich irony that these stories today would be described as a failure by the current criteria of the Reinvention.

17.  At the beginning of this year, the level of frustration with Reinvention had reached such a high pitch that the District Faculty Council felt compelled to call for a full-time faculty meeting at Malcolm X College. Dozens of grievances were aired by the faculty, but perhaps more telling was the fact that many of those faculty members that attended the meeting (between 150 and 200) came to the meeting because they thought that a vote of no confidence on the Chancellor was going to be taken.

18.  After the firing of all college presidents, the new hires had the four goals of Reinvention added to their job descriptions. Through email messages everyone was told that every aspect of our jobs was to be judged through the prism of Reinvention. Then, after the administration proceed to make changes, large and small, we were told that not everything had to do with Reinvention. What are we supposed to believe?

19.   “So far the greatest impact of Reinvention has taken place outside the confines of the task forces, such as the poorly examined and executed layoffs and or transfers of 1708 and 1600 personnel; the business-modeled centralization through District Office of purchasing, personnel reallocation, the fading of the individual colleges identities, the execution of one graduation ceremony for all colleges at UIC, the taking over of large rooms at every college to be assigned for reservation directly by District Office, etc. are all outside of the scope of the task forces. The four goals of the Reinvention were decided beforehand (we do not know by whom,) and then, handed down to the people that were recruited into the task forces.”

20.   The first goal of Reinvention, which seems to be the most important one judging from the emphasis placed on it by the administration, that emphasizes the evaluation of every program, structure and course from the stand point of the economic value of the credentials that CCC students are supposed to obtain is particularly worrisome to the faculty and staff. It makes many people ponder about the fragility of programs and courses and the indifference to the benefits of a liberal arts education in the mind’s eye of the upper level administration of the CCC.

21.  It is hard to miss the immense contradiction posed by the hiring of about 50 administrators at District Office at cost of more than $5 million, while the members of Local 1708 are being offered no pay raises for their new contract. The members of the task forces have looked at the budget priorities of the CCC in contrast to other higher education institutions across the nation. They found out that typically the whole budget of these institutions has a higher fraction of the budget assigned to education and the lower fraction goes into administration, while in contrast at the CCC it is the opposite: more money is spent on administration than on education.

22.   Every member of the Roundtable panel as well as many people in the audience expressed their dismay at the lack of communication, the lack of information forthcoming from the administration as to what it is that they intend to do. “The faculty, professional, clerical and technical staffs feel a lot of uncertainty and feel that they are in the dark as to the intended path of the administration.” There is a widespread sense that students are the most poorly informed sector of the CCC community regarding all aspects of the Reinvention. “So people are asking themselves which programs and courses have been marked for elimination. What new programs are in the works that we do not know of, and what resources are going to be diverted for these purposes? Faculty are asking how academic freedom and shared governance are going to be respected given what has taken place so far ? With things like the decision to install software in every college computer that effectively allows District Office to monitor every single keystroke and webpage visit in a faculty’s computer, how can they ignore the chilling effect that this has on academic freedom, when it amounts to District Office looking over teachers’ shoulders when they are performing their work.”

23.  “Many faculty and staff feel disheartened as District Office increasingly hires business men and women without any prior experience in education and becomes profoundly guided by the priorities of the business world. Since the most influential advisors of the Reinvention are the Commercial Club of Chicago, Accenture, etc., and the faculty, professional, clerical and technical staff feel so uninformed and distant from the process, and since the students are so uniformed about it, and their parents and communities are not even considered to be part of the CCC community, it is understandable that so many sectors within the college have a sense of gloom about what direction the Reinvention will take.”

24.  As 1708 employees get treated as insignificant and the students services they offer are negatively impacted, many students get angry. But they get angry regarding specific issues and are not necessarily aware of the larger context in which these deficiencies have been imposed by the Reinvention regimen.

25.   An audience member described the faculty morale as being in the basement. Students complained that their involvement has been limited to the task forces where their contributions have been ignored. Frustrated, students have quit the task forces. No alternative method has been offered to allow for student input into the Reinvention, and there is no realistic plan to fully inform the student body about it beyond the suggestion that students can go to the Reinvention’s website and blog and read more about it.

26.   A faculty member said that to primarily judge the success of students by their graduation rates at HWC is shortsighted because many students come to take a few classes to go back to their original schools or to move on to professional programs, etc. The student’s idea of success is more important than the government’s definition of success. Large-scale participation of students discussing the Reinvention is absolutely necessary.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

District Faculty Council President Denounces CCC's Office of The Inspector General Thought Police Tactics

Below we reproduce a speech delivered by the president of the District Faculty Council (FC4) of the City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) to the CCC's Board of Trustees denouncing the McCarthyist tactics of the CCC's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for a public campaign that seems taken out of Orwell's 1984. Much like 1984's Thought Police, the OIG is publicly recruiting people to spy on their coworkers. Thanks to The Harold Lounge for this report (


FCCCC President’s Address
CCC Board of Trustee’s Meeting
Thursday, November 3rd, 2011
Chairman Cabrera, Chancellor Hyman, members of the Board, Officers of the District, faculty, staff and all others present, good morning.
For this board report, I had prepared a nuanced and thoughtful discussion of remediation, of the City College’s various attempts to address remediation and of a comparison with Mayor Bloomberg ’s Start program in New York City, but that will be another time. Instead, I want to discuss the corrosive campaign initiated by the Inspector General’s Office and, in particular, the new posters that are displayed around the colleges.
This poster has in large red letters the word
Report and then lists the words Waste, Fraud, and Misconduct. It then lists all the ways an individual can submit this report to the Inspector Generals Office and reminds the audience that this report can be confidential and anonymous. Moreover, the webpage associated with the office says nothing about specifics of waste, fraud, or misconduct, just more verbiage about reporting incidents.
Please note a couple of things. The language is vague and legalistic; it doesn’t tell the reader what constitutes waste, fraud or misconduct. Note, too, that the linguistic vagary allows anything to be reported, particularly under the cloak of anonymity: any rumor, any salacious story, any anger-driven narrative. Moreover, the language seems to be purposefully accusatory and assumes an adversarial position; it seemingly targets behavior that the accuser can claim as wasteful or fraudulent, but who can assess that? Only the Inspector General’s Office and only in secret: the Office can interrogate anyone it deems appropriate without revealing who made the report or about what activity is being investigated. It’ s intentionally secret, because, as the head of the department said to us in his presentation, “you wouldn’t tell the truth if you knew the reason why.“ This is a slippery slope, and one we’ve seen before.
The House Un-American Activities Committee and its Senate counterpart began just this way, by asking for information about activities, initially in a special committee on pro-German influence on the liquor distribution, and it bloomed into the fiasco of the 1950s in which fear and uncertainty ruled. It’s the same language and the same techniques, and it’s divisive, destructive and detrimental to what, I believe, we’re trying to build at the City Colleges: colleges that encourage and support our students in their academic journey. And reporting on each other is not the way to do this.
In contrast, for example, the University of Illinois on its webpage for the University’s Ethics Office, says,“The University ’s Code of Conduct establishes guidelines for professional conduct and indicates those acting on behalf of the University have a general duty to conduct themselves in a manner that will maintain and strengthen the public’s trust and confidence in the integrity of the University and take no actions incompatible with their obligations to the University.“
Moreover, the University makes it clear what that process is:
Management employees [and it lists exactly who those individuals are later in the text] are responsible for detecting fraudulent activities or misconduct in their areas of responsibility. Each manager should be familiar with the types of improprieties that might occur in his/her area and be alert for any indication that improper or dishonest activity is or was in existence in his/her area. When dishonest or improper activity is detected or suspected, management should determine whether an error or misunderstanding has occurred or whether possible fraud exists. Management is responsible for taking appropriate corrective actions to ensure adequate controls exist to prevent the recurrence of fraud. It then goes on to list the rules and authority of the Inspector Generals Office, and it lists definitions and examples of fraud, which, and again Im quoting, Fraud generally involves intentional misuse or conversion of University property or resources for personal non-University uses.
This site assumes that there are areas of possible misconduct associated with particular positions, which one’s supervisor can detect and correct, and that part of the supervision is the recognition of the difference between intentional and unintentional activity. Finally, the assumption is that the apparent fraud may have been perpetrated through error or misunderstanding, not that misconduct is rampant at the University. It is also noteworthy that there is nothing on this page about waste. (See for the full report. Accessed November 2, 2011)
When we look at the Federal Government’s Office of the Inspector General under the auspices of the Department of Health and Human Resources, it deals primarily with health care fraud, such as improper billing for closed or nonexistent health care or nursing home facilities, and it is clear about what does not fal l under its purview. It does not investigate, for instance, discrimination (race, sexual orientation, disability and so on) at the workplace; that is handled by the EEO officer. This webpage, similarly to the University of Illinois webpage, is a very explicit and detailed site that includes various compliance training resources and lists of examples of fraud and misconduct. Moreover, similar to the University of Illinois site, it assumes that no one wants to commit fraud or mishandle resources. The Office trusts its employees and assumes compliance. (See for the full page. Accessed November 2, 2011)
Let me be clear. No one supports waste, fraud and misconduct. No one wants a whistle blower to be punished.
But this poster is different: This encourages an atmosphere of distrust among us all; it divides departments and colleges; and it focuses on absolutely the wrong thing, not on what we’re doing, how we should act to strengthen our mission and uphold the integrity of our institution, but on reporting what someone else is doing.
This is make-work, and it’s particularly pernicious make-work. Indeed, if the Inspector General’s Office needs to advertise for work, then we have too many individuals in that office.
We are unequivocal about this. This kind of campaign is absolutely reprehensible  and wasteful and smacks of overweening arrogance and misconduct. The posters need to be removed NOW.
Respectfully submitted,
Polly Hoover
President of FC4

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Biggest Shark in the Reinvention Pond: The Commercial Club of Chicago

As we sketched out in our posting of May 24, 2011, it is the rich and the corporations who have been molding the Reinvention through the Advisory Councils ( and the “Partners” listed by the CCC in their website ( One particularly influential business organization is not listed as a “Partner”: the Commercial Club of Chicago (ComCC). The ComCC is only referred to indirectly through its pro bono government-consulting arm, the Civic Consulting Alliance. But we should be clear here, the huge white elephant in the room is the Commercial Club of Chicago, which is not only the most powerful force behind the Reinvention, but in the city of Chicago itself. And it has been this way for more than a century.
The ComCC is sort of the executive committee of Chicagoland’s ruling elite. Mayors have come and gone, with their own personal quirks, ambitions, corruption schemes, etc., but when it came to the major adjustments in the direction of the city, the ComCC has always been present, directing the flow in relative obscurity. In an unabashed description of how it conceives its role, the ComCC says in its website that “As the 20th century dawned, Commercial Club members turned their attention to the broader objective of molding Chicago into one of the great cities of the world.”  (
A History of Disdainfully Exercised Power
The ComCC does not exaggerate when it claims that its main goal was and is to mold the city. Its own description of its historical accomplishments in the web link listed above clearly details the overwhelming power of this club of rich elites.
Going as far back as 1877, its first goals were ambitious: restructuring taxation (still working at it today), addressing the infrastructure of the city, mainly streets and schools, and founding the first vocational school for boys. Clearly all these goals were not selfless acts of human generosity, but they were aimed at improving the business environment of Chicago. The ComCC’s meddling with education dates back to its inception, and clearly the vocational school for boys was a direct means to produce workers with the skills its industrial barons desired.
Through architect Daniel Burnham’s 1909 Plan, they shaped the city, being the force behind the scene in the building of Wacker Drive, Grant Park, and “most of the major rail and highway corridors serving Chicago today.” Its power overflowed the city’s boundaries.  It “championed a 16-year … campaign to reform the Federal Reserve system and helped draft the Federal Reserve Banking Act of 1913.” And it was the major force pressuring for the “referendum [that lead to] a convention to rewrite the Illinois constitution in 1970.” With its Chicago Metropolis 2020 report in 1999, the ComCC developed a master plan to shape 6 major areas of public policy for the city: “education; economic development; taxation; governance; transportation, and land use and housing.
As writers Beth G and Lisa Sousa point out:
The Commercial Club created an organization to carry out the lofty, ‘global city’ goals of Metropolis 2020, bearing the same name. The drive to attain ‘global city’ status has meant engaging in intense competition to attract business (particularly in the financial and hi-tech services sectors: think Boeing), a focus on city image over substance (think the campaign for “greenest city in America”), remaking particular areas as playgrounds (think Millennium Park), and an overall increase in the polarization of rich and poor as priorities shift. (
The Civic Committee
In 1983 the ComCC “formed its Civic Committee - a smaller group of member CEO's and senior executives from Chicago's leading businesses, professional firms and universities - to consider needs and plans for the development of the Chicago metropolitan area.” [from the same ComCC link listed above, emphasis ours] Two of the Civic Committee’s major preoccupations were “reforming” the Chicago public schools (CPS) and expanding O'Hare airport. If you look at the list of “accomplishments” of the Chicago bosses, Daley the father and Daley the son, and compare it with the information described so far, a different picture emerges of who has always been the real boss of Chicago: the Commercial Club of Chicago.
The blatant self-serving intrusion of the ComCC in the city’s education system is highlighted by the fact that its Civic Committee issued a report titled “Left Behind” whose recommendations became the basis for CPS’s draconian Renaissance 2010. The Renaissance 2020 plan called for the closing of 60 to 70 neighborhood schools and for the introduction of up to 70 charter schools. According to DePaul University professor Pauline Lipman “Renaissance 2010 opens up the third largest school system in the USA to a market model of school choice, privatization, and elimination of school employee unions and elected local school councils.” (
By now the Chicago Teachers Union has lost thousands of members due to the school closings and the transformation of the schools into non-union charters schools. The charter school crusade has reached unseen lows, with former Chicago CPS CEO Arne Duncan (and now Obama’s Secretary of Education), who oversaw the implementation of Renaissance 2010, stating that “The best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans was Hurricane Katrina.” ( Why? Because it allowed the New Orleans government to fire all school teachers and turn most schools into charter schools. So to this day the Civic Committee has poured about $70 million into the charters schools through its Renaissance Schools Fund. ( Currently, the Civic Committee continues to direct the “charterization” of Chicago’s public schools through an entity it named New Schools for Chicago (see
The City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) have a long history of hiring former CPS officers to their top-level administrative posts. With the Reinvention, the hiring trend has continued, but along very revealing lines. A good number of the new personnel at CCC headquarters comes from the CPS departments dealing with Renaissance 2010 matters or from the Civic Committee’s Renaissance Schools Fund staff. A key appointment that highlights the incestuous relationship between the ComCC and the CCC administration is that of  “Alvin Bisarya, Vice Chancellor of Strategy and Institutional Intelligence, [who] has previously served as a senior staff member at the Renaissance Schools Fund and a consultant with McKinsey & Co.” (, emphasis ours) Mr. Bisarya is none other but the Vice Chancellor in charge of the Reinvention Task Forces! Perhaps the choice of the term Reinvention is not so original given that it was used by CPS back in 2003 when it launched its first round of Renaissance 2010 schools in the mid-south side of Chicago because it wanted to “reinvent the area’s 25 schools and make them a magnet for the return of middle-class families.” (Lipman, op cit.)
The Civic Consulting Alliance
In its website, the Civic Consulting Alliance (CCA) describes itself in the following manner (
Civic Consulting Alliance is a partnership that reshapes how the city works.  We build pro bono teams of business experts, government leaders, and our own staff…For twenty-five years, Civic Consulting has led long-term series of projects to make a difference that no single firm could achieve on its own…Our government partners commit to implementing the changes we jointly identify as necessary, and we work with them to steward that implementation…In becoming involved, partners demonstrate their commitment to the city and can be assured their work will make a real impact.
Establishing implementation as a fundamental principle means that our teams facilitate and experience rewarding change on each project, thus making Civic Consulting the most effective way for firms to work pro bono on metropolitan issues…A small core staff is supported by funding from  the Civic Committee of The Commercial Club of Chicago, one of the oldest organizations representing the business, professional, educational, and cultural leaders of the Chicago region, and foundations that understand the value we provide…We only take on projects where we believe we have the opportunity for significant impact…Large, pressing problems affecting a broad swath of businesses and residents get top priority. (emphasis ours)
Evidently the CCA identifies the major changes it intends to promote, writes the blueprints and takes it all the way to implementation. From cradle to grave. This is the strategy that the ComCC has identified as the most productive in molding Chicago to its business development schemes and priorities. And the mayors assent. No wonder that the CCA brazenly quotes former Mayor Daley implicitly acknowledging who the instigator of his most impacting programs was:
“My hope is that Civic Consulting Alliance will continue to be a partner in change, and that both Civic Consulting and the private-sector leaders in Chicago will help us continue to make Chicago an even greater city.”
Richard M. Daley, Mayor, City of Chicago
Funding and human resources are provided to the pro bono projects of the CCA by companies and foundations. Some of the most significant ones are: McKinsey & Company, Inc. (for whom Vice Chancellor Bisarya also worked, and listed separately by the CCC as a “Partner” of the Reinvention), The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), Deloitte, Ernst & Young, IBM Corporation, KPMG LLP (listed separately by the CCC as a “Partner” of the Reinvention), Accenture (listed separately by the CCC as a “Partner” of the Reinvention). To examine the full list of Reinvention business and pro-business foundations “Partners” see
Another significant Reinvention appointment connected to the ComCC through the CCA (and also to Reinvention “Partner” Accenture) is that of Harold Washington College’s new president, Donald Laackman. He is described by the CCA as one of their former Principals, and in his previous life as “managing director of Accenture's North American Insurance program.” Laackman describes himself as having worked for Accenture for 23 years. This statement hides the fact that Accenture came only into existence in the 2000s after fully dissociating itself under the name Arthur Andersen Consulting from Arthur Andersen, the auditing company that went under after the multimillionaire ENRON scandal of the early 2000s. Laackman’s business experience and the fact that he directed Accenture’s North American operation, i.e., having under his supervision thousands of employees, dwarfs the business credentials of CCC Chancellor Cheryl Hyman—who at the time of her executive zenith at ComEd had managed a maximum of 14 employees.
 Considering that the Reinvention, as we have described in previous postings (September 5, 2011), is a response to the Obama administration’s plans to dramatically restructure the role of community colleges through Chicagoan Arne Duncan’s Department of Education, and that Laackman’s spouse is a key economic advisor at the White House, it is hard to avoid the following questions. Why isn’t Laackman the Chancellor and Hyman the subaltern? Is this scenario in the cards? Couldn’t it be that Hyman is the CCC’s counterpart to CPS’s new CEO Jean-Claude Brizard who has been brought to Chicago to break the back of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), and after he has shed enough blood, successful or not, he will be kissed good bye by Emanuel, and replaced by someone less controversial to stabilize the system?
The Commercial Club of Chicago and Public Employee Pensions
The ComCC wants to balance the Illinois state budget on the backs and corpses of public employees. Not content with having greased the way for Illinois state legislators to raise the age of retirement for new employees to 67 years, with lesser pension benefits, it wants to do the same with public employees who have worked at their posts for years or decades. (See the website built by the ComCC  to promote their crusade: Under the Illinois state constitution this is supposedly illegal. However, the ComCC and its political servants are betting that if the law is enacted, when the law is challenged at the state’s Supreme Court, the judges will follow the smell of the money that placed them there and decree that the law passes constitutional muster.
For this purpose it has designed a two-pronged approach to dismember the pensions of public employees. Under the banner “Illinois is Broke” it has funded an extensive public relations campaign demonizing public employees as fat cats who want to retire in luxury at the expense of state taxpayers. But as NBC Chicago blogger Edward McClelland wrote,
The class envy angle is particularly cynical, because the main reason private employees don’t enjoy the same benefits as public employees is that groups such as the Commercial Club have been so successful in destroying the labor movement. Now, they’re trying to turn the impoverished lower-middle class they helped create against one of the last remnants of the middle class, all so the upper class can pay less taxes. (
In addition, the ComCC has managed to gain extensive support from powerful Democrat politicians like House Speaker Charles Madigan who co-sponsored Senate Bill 512 with Republican Tom Cross. Although the voting on the bill has been postponed by the House of Representatives, if passed, SB 512 would offer current public employees three options, (1) pay higher contributions to keep their benefits unchanged, (2) lower retirement benefits with a minimum retirement age of 67 years, or (3) to do away with a defined benefit pension in exchange for a 401k-type of plan.
According to a statement, aired by WTTW on October 22, from the public employees union AFSCME, it would take 652 years for the average AFSCME retiree (at $30,000 per year) to receive as much money as the current chairman of the ComCC, Abbott Labs CEO Miles D. White, will receive from his pension.
And this goes to the heart of the matter. Who are these people that have been running and ruining our lives? At 500, the ComCC’s “[m]embership is “limited to residents of the Chicago metropolitan area who shall be deemed qualified by reason of their personality, general reputation, position in their business or profession, and service in the public welfare.” The club’s makeup is self-perpetuating: new members are accepted based on a written nomination by a current member, and requires seconds from at least six other members.” (G and Sousa, op cit.) Below is a selection of this elite crew (from
Ellen S. Alberding, President, Joyce Foundation
Anthony K. Anderson, Vice Chair and Midwest Managing Partner, Ernst & Young LLP
Gerald J. Arpey, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, AMR Corporation/American Airlines, Inc.
James A. Bell, Corporate President and Chief Financial Officer, The Boeing Company
James C. Borsum, Principal, KPMG LLP
William J. Brodsky, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Chicago Board Options Exchange
Greg Q. Brown, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Motorola Solutions
Kathleen L. Brown, Chairman, Investment Banking Midwest, Goldman Sachs & Company
David A. Carlquist, Vice President, IBM
Gregory C. Case, President and Chief Executive Officer, Aon Corporation
Frank M. Clark, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, ComEd
Christopher M. Crane, President and Chief Operating Officer, Exelon Corporation
Lester Crown, Chairman, Henry Crown and Company [family wealth = $4.8 billion]
William M. Daley, Chief of Staff, The White House
Deborah L. DeHaas, Vice Chairman and Central Region Managing Partner, Deloitte LLP
Rahm I. Emanuel, Mayor, City of Chicago
Charles L. Evans, President and Chief Executive Officer, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
David W. Fox, Jr., Vice Chairman, J. P. Morgan
James T. Glerum, Jr., Chairman, Head of North America Regional Banking, Citigroup
Kenneth C. Griffin, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Citadel, LLC [wealth =$3.7 billion]
Tony W. Hunter, Chief Executive Officer, Tribune Publishing Company
Valerie B. Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President, White House
Paul V. La Schiazza, President – Illinois, AT&T Illinois
Timothy P. Maloney, Illinois President, Bank of America
J. B. Pritzker, Managing Partner, The Pritzker Group [wealth = $1.6 billion]
Penny Pritzker, President and Chief Executive Officer, Pritzker Realty Group, LP [wealth = $1.7 billion]
Thomas J. Pritzker, Chairman, Hyatt Hotels Corporation [wealth = $1.8 billion]
J. Christopher Reyes, Chairman, Reyes Holdings, LLC [wealth = $2 billion]
Michael D. Scimo, Managing Director, Chicago Office, Accenture
William Wrigley, Jr., Chief Executive Officer, Wrigley Management, Inc. [wealth = $2.2 billion]
The Commercial Club of Chicago exercises its power regardless of who is in office, imposes its agenda and is accountable to no one. This disturbing reality explains much about the history of the city. As G and Sousa ponder,
What are the implications of city policy being framed around a corporate definition of a good society? Do we want our children’s educational opportunities to be dictated by JP Morgan Chase, Exelon, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America? Public policymaking should not be the domain of Chicago’s corporate elite, whose fundamental motives lie with increasing the potential for their own profit.
We should have no illusions that such powerful, ruthless and self-serving entity has the best interests of the city’s working people and its poor at heart when it pursues any policy. This should be very instructive to us at the CCC regarding the Reinvention. Reinvention in whose interest and at whose expense? Certainly not for the students and their communities, not for the faculty, nor the professional, clerical or physical plant workers. We need to understand what is the source of this hefty power that directs and prods the Reinvention ahead. But we also have to get organized to confront it. The Occupy Wall Street movement gives us a glimpse of our own power and the path that we need to take to stop these sharks on their tracks, to put people over profits.


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Denied Use of their Building Harold Washington College Community Holds Public Forum Critical of Reinvention

On September 15th, Harold Washington College's (HWC) faculty, staff, students and their communities got together to have a frank discussion about the harmful effects of the Reinvention. They named their forum  the HWC Community Roundtable on Reinvention. Even though the meeting was exclusively co-sponsored by the unions representing the faculty and professional, clerical and technical workers of the college and by the college's faculty council they could not hold their event at the facilities of the college. The organizers of the forum were forced to hold it at the Chicago Temple, several blocks away from the college, because the CCC administration cancelled their room reservation in a crass act of censorship. Fortunately, Labor Beat recorded the event and produced an edited version. We reproduce below Labor Beat's announcement and link to their video.


HWC Community Roundtable on Reinvention

Watch it on bliptv

The controversy surrounding the city-wide so-called Reinvention plan for City Colleges of Chicago continues and grows. On Sept. 15, 2011 a meeting was planned to take place at Harold Washington College (part of the CCC system), sponsored by the AFT Local 1600 chapter at HWC. The administration at HWC blocked this by claiming that, since the student's families and community were invited, it was not a sanctioned CCC event, and demanded a $500 vendor fee. The meeting was moved to another location in the Loop -- the Chicago Temple. The meeting that took place yielded a rich discussion and clarification of the concerns facing faculty, staff, and students that the Reinvention scheme will end the school's traditions as a portal to higher education for low-income and minority students, dismantle faculty and staff rights and income, and deepen cuts in the name of the business model. The meeting was edited down to 27 min. for Labor Beat.

Speaking (excerpts) are: Floyd Bednarz, President of CCC Labor Organizing Committee at HWC; Eric Taylor, HWC Data Processing Lab Manager, AFT 1600; Delores Withers, President of AFT 1708; Rosie Banks, President of HWC Faculty Council; Amy Rosenquist, Adjunct Faculty, CCCLOC NEA (Adjunct Faculty Union); Héctor Reyes, Vice Chair of HWC Chapter, AFT 1600. Also included in this show are some excerpts of the audience discussion that followed.

 Rosie Banks, Pres. of HWC Faculty Council speaking as panel listens.

Héctor Reyes, Vice Chair of HWC Chapter of AFT 1600 speaking.

Photos: Labor Beat

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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Federal Data System Used By CCC to Justify Reinvention Full of Holes

The journal Inside Higher Education reported that the federal Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is full of gaps that give an incomplete picture of the performance of community colleges.  This is the same data system that the CCC administration used as its main source to declare the CCC system a failure, providing it with the cover to go ahead with the whirlwind of Reinvention. No wonder that, while the faculty and staff have worked hard for years to help students advance academically, they have felt betrayed and offended by the branding of their efforts as a failure.

As revealing as this report is, the comments entered by people from various colleges around the country provide an even deeper insight into how short IPEDS falls in reflecting the actual positive educational consequences of the work carried out by community colleges. We reproduced some of these comments below the article.


Success by Another Name

September 7, 2011
WASHINGTON – A committee tasked by the Education Department with strengthening how the government measures the success of community colleges last week issued its draft report of recommendations, which will be discussed here today at the committee's finalmeeting.
The 20-page report from the Committee on Measures of Student Success calls for community colleges and states to collect and disclose more information about graduation rates, student learning and employment. This reporting should include more voluntarily released data, the committee said, as well as more thorough compliance with current federal disclosure requirements.
“Measures of student success need to more accurately reflect the comprehensive mission of two-year institutions and the diversity of students that these institutions serve,” the report said. “For example, current graduation rates do not adequately reflect these institutions’ multiple missions and diverse populations.”
Key recommendations include a call for part-time, degree-seeking students at community colleges to be counted toward federally reported graduation and transfer rates (they currently are not), and for more precise counting of students who transfer out of community colleges, such as lateral transfers to other two-year institutions. The current federal rate counts only first-time, full-time students -- a population that excludes the majority of students at many community colleges and significant numbers of students at most community colleges.
Another recommendation of the panel is that the federal definition take better account of remedial students.
The 14-member panel, which includes community college leaders and independent higher education policy experts, had internal disagreements as it worked to finish the report in previous meetings, which were open to the public. Those debates reflected broader discussions over measuring quality at community colleges, with committee members from colleges pushing back on what they see as burdensome reporting requirements while policy researchers called for more complete data.
The report gives a nod to worries about more red tape, noting that the “need for more information must be balanced by an understanding of the potential administrative and financial burdens” of collecting such data. And in many instances the report calls for the Education Department to lend a helping hand or do most of the work itself.
For example, the committee says the department should offer technical support to community colleges to help them meet disclosure requirements. It should also seek improved coordination between existing national and state databases to improve a “fragmented, incomplete picture of student success.”
Comparable Measures
Community colleges face tremendous political pressure to increase their graduation rates and better measure academic quality, most notably from the Obama administration and the Lumina and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundations. The colleges are also struggling with tight state budgets and, at most campuses, increasing enrollments.
The national graduation rate of community colleges, using current federal definitions, is 32 percent. But while community colleges are often criticized for this low number, the report said it is also a misleading, incomplete measure that does not account for the complex flow of students into and out of institutions.
The committee’s recommendations seek to create a fuller, more accurate view of graduation rates. That requires building upon data that are already reported by community colleges, according to the report, and the development of new and alternative methods of measuring student success.
Joshua Wyner of the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program, which is creating a list of what it considers top community colleges, praised the committee’s efforts. “We need comparable measures of student success to understand what is working on community college campuses,” Wyner said.
The institute has worked extensively with graduation rates and other data in the federal Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. Wyner said the information from community colleges in the system can be “spotty,” with many institutions not entering accurate data about transfer rates. Better self-reporting is needed, Wyner said, and the committee’s report will help better define success at community colleges.
“We’ve had so little conversation about that in concrete ways,” he says.

Comments on Success by Another Name

  • what is success at a community college
  • Posted by Mary Scott , Professor Anatomy and Physiology at Labette Community College on September 7, 2011 at 8:15am EDT
  • I have heard this before and internally we have discussed trying to keep track of our students and encouraging them to leave here with a degree. However, the wide scope of the community college is being missed. How do you count the part-time students who may be retired or already have a degree but looking for enrichment? A 65 year old who comes to take an art class and creates beautiful work has no plans to seek an art degree. Yet, there has been a positive outcome. Workers come to take computer classes to upgrade skills. Some may eventually decide on a return to college; but yet again, a provided service is being ignored. Students do not like a local university's teachers and feel they get a stronger background here. So they drive 30-60 minutes to take chemistry or anatomy and physiology needed to apply for nursing programs and medical schools. Their successful graduation and reaching of terminal degrees is due in part to the community college. How are you going to credit that. My daughter worked as a workstudy one year in a local nursing school. She was shocked to find so many of the students recognized her and asked if I was her mother. A significant portion of the class had taken my A&P class although their first choice was a different nursing program. How do you give my college the credit for that?
  • A good idea, but not just for community colleges
  • Posted by LatinoProf on September 7, 2011 at 8:31am EDT
  • This report shows the weakness in the current IPEDS reporting, which counts only those students with no other college experience than the college in the report. Transfer students (a significant population at community colleges, and at for-profit and non-profit colleges and universities) are ignored by IPEDS. These recommendations should apply equally to all sectors of higher education, be they community colleges, public universities, for-profit colleges & unviersities or non-profit private colleges and universities.
  • Transfer Reporting is 4 year Responsibility, not CC
  • Posted by Dan Nannini , Transfer Center Director at Santa Monica College on September 7, 2011 at 12:30pm EDT
  • To share the reporting responsiblity as it relates to transfer, the receiving institution, not the transferring institution, should be charged with this information. Only then will you have a better idea of where students go and know what they are doing. And those reports need to be generated each term. And baccalaureatte recipients that have any community college units should be reported. Any institution receing federal funds should be required to provide this data. All of these data points will give a better measure on how community colleges contribute to degree advancement. We need to quit trying to define everything as "transfer" or "not transfer."
  • Success?
  • Posted by DocV on September 7, 2011 at 1:00pm EDT
  • @Mary Scott - I agree with you that a definition needs to be placed on "success" which in this case would primarily and simply be completion of a degree and gainful employment based on the education. Many of the students that you describe - the 65 year old..., the transient student, the student seeking to improve skills, etc. - would not be included because they would be counted as "non-degree seekers" or one-time/term only enrollees. This information is captured during the admission phase to help differentiate the students and to determine eligibility for federal funds.

    Essentially, your school would not get credit for these because (1) the student's intent is NOT to earn a degree; and (2) if they are enrolled at another college it should be counted in the home school's numbers so as not to double-count from both schools and skew the data.

    The goal appears to be to determine if the government is getting back what it pays for through federal funds and to make sure schools that are training students are creating an educated and stable workforce.

    If one accepts the goal of having "5 million more community college GRADUATES by the year 2020" the data must be collected to support this endeavor.
  • progress
  • Posted by arthur m cohen , emeritus professor of education at ucla on September 7, 2011 at 2:30pm EDT
  • Slowly, gradually, haltingly, the system moves toward understanding what the community colleges contribute to American education. This has been a decades-long process, and it's not over yet. But any progress is certainly welcome.
  • Funding is a complicating factor
  • Posted by John , Associate Professor, Higher Education at Widener University on September 7, 2011 at 4:45pm EDT
  • Funding may inadvertently contribute to the problem of which students to "count" for the purposes of success. Some community colleges, which are funded on an FTE basis of students enrolled in degree programs, are compelled to place all students in a program, regardless of the student's intent to graduate or transfer (the 65 year old example from above might be placed into an art program or liberal studies program). Colleges may be reluctant to have students in a non-degree or non-matriculated status since this may hurt their funding. Therefore, in some states, the funding formula for community colleges may need to change to enhance better accounting for "success".