The corridors of 226 W. Jackson, the headquarters of the City Colleges of Chicago (CCC), have become increasingly surreal. While the full-time clerical workers represented by Local 1708 spent 20 months without a contract and the part-timers still have no contract (since the summer of 2011), the upper level administrators have been busy filling their ranks and sprucing up their so called District Office (DO). As we reported in our post of March 23, 2011, DO had managed to hire over a nine-month period, beginning in July, 2010, $5.1 worth of personnel (for only some 50 positions at an average of $95,000 per position) to work at their base of operations. As it was noted by many critics, none of these folks were going to be engaged in offering any education (i.e., teaching classes, staffing computer or science labs, tutoring, or providing necessary student services).
Politically embarrassed by this criticism, the administration did a tactical shift, engaged in a campaign of hiring more full-time faculty and advisors, and laid low for a while regarding their spending at DO. However, soon enough, the self-lavish switch was turned on again and the inflow resumed. Just in three months, during the period between July and December, the number of high-level, high-pay DO positions increased in pace, as if torrential rains were pouring down the CCC coffers. Particularly in November and December the number of Vice-Chancellors multiplied at the speed with which the Chancellor’s inner crew could come up with imaginative titles for their positions.
Education Leaders or Corporate Bosses?
Just in July, November and December of 2011, the CCC Board approved $2.5 million worth of DO positions. (You can see it yourself at the Board’s website http://apps.ccc.edu/brpublic.) Out of these $2.5 million, just under $1 million went to cover the salaries of eight high-level officers, including the new provost, Kojo Quartey, at $170,000 per year. It is important to note that for more than 100 years of existence, the CCC system did fine without a Provost. But the Gods must be crazy, or perhaps insatiably thirsty. Throughout their 20-month contract-seeking ordeal, 1708 kept on asking: what is Chancellor Hyman’s salary? Curiously enough her salary details have never been posted by the CCC Board of Trustees, which is required by law. In order to get an idea of her base salary (without those zany perks that allow her the perpetual renovation of her bullet proof, 14th floor office) one has to go to the website of the Illinois Higher Education Board: $275,000. Soon enough her title will be changed to CEO, to be in line with the complete corporatization of the CCC.
1708 was offered for nearly 20 months zero percent raises for five years. Yet out of the blue Emanuel found $240 million to build a new Malcolm X building for Obama’s, “College to Careers” vocationalization of the CCC crusade. WTF? Sorry we got confused, we meant, Emanuel’s “Collage to Careers” crusade. According to the CCC’s publicity rag named The 411, Obama’s vocationalization scheme is named “Community College to Career,” and has an $8 billion tag. See it for yourselves:
A Conversation with Michael Blake
Tonight at Kennedy-King College, join former Associate Director of the White House’s Office of Public Engagement for a discussion of the role of community colleges and the communities they serve (6pm-8pm, Main Theater, U-building). Blake will also speak about his road to the White House, the direction of education in the United States, and the announcement of the president’s proposed $8 billion “Community College to Career” program. (from The 411, Issue 10, March 21, 2012)
See the difference? Seriously, though, now the evidence is out in the open that “Collage to Careers” and the Reinvention were conceived at Arne Duncan’s office in DC, and that the CCC is the laboratory of the Obama administration. And guess who are the lab rats.
The corporate hacks that now soak the halls of 226 W. Jackson made their way there through the CPS Central Office and the Commercial Club of Chicago’s Civic Committee. Back then when Arne Duncan was in charge of CPS, he and the Civic Committee worked hand in hand to bring the plague of charter schools to Chicago’s neighborhoods. (If you have any questions about who the Commercial Club of Chicago is and its omnipresent power in the land of Al Capone, please read our post The Biggest Shark in the Reinvention Pond: The Commercial Club of Chicago.) Then Civic Committee fellows began showing up working for CPS. And then Abracadabra, once the Reinvention was invented, these same business operatives mushroomed at CCC headquarters and the various colleges. Vice Chancellor in Charge of Reinvention Alvin Bisarya and Harold Washington College President Donald Laackman are two prominent examples. Bisarya comes from the consulting firm McKinsey and Co. while Laackman spent 23 years at Andersen Consulting, nowadays known as Accenture. They both went to CPS through the Commercial Club of Chicago’s Civic Committee, and are now ruling over us at the CCC.
We haven’t seen yet the full extent of the transubstantiation of the CCC from a bridge for the working class and immigrants to a bachelor’s degree to the free, scouting farm for the corporations. We must not wait until this nightmare, like Freddy Krueger’s, fully overtakes our real world. There is a time to fight back, and the time is now.