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The race for City Hall

Jobs and schools promise to be top issues in next year’s city elections. The mayor’s education agenda faces its toughest test in the African-American communities that gave him strong support in 2011.

Comings & Goings: CPS appointments, New Leaders, United Way

Todd Babbitz has been named chief transformation officer to oversee CPS’ newly created Office of Strategy Management. He comes with extensive experience in corporate strategic planning and marketing, Previous employers include McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm, and the Chicago-based law firm of McDermott Will & Emery, where he focused on antitrust law.

Markey Winston is CPS’ new chief officer for the Office of Special Education and Supports. Winston is the former director of student services in Cincinnati Public Schools. Before that, she was a school psychologist and a mental health consultant in Cincinnati. She has also served as an adjunct professor at the University of Dayton, the University of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky University.

Luis Soria, a former principal at Mitchell Elementary, has been appointed chief of schools for the Midway Network. He is a National Board certified teacher who served as an advocate for teachers seeking National Board certification.

Jennifer Vidis, deputy chief of Alternative Schools and Pathways, has been named chief of the Alternative School Network. She also served as acting chief area officer for Area 30.

Nathan Pietrini, the assistant principal of Ogden Elementary, is now principal of Hawthorne Elementary.

Zipporah Hightower has been named managing director of programs for the Chicago team at New Leaders. Hightower is a former principal of Kellogg Elementary and of Bethune Elementary, an Academy for Urban School Leadership turnaround school. Allison Wagner, managing director of New Leaders, is leaving the organization in August. Wagner recently moved to Milwaukee to live closer to her family. She will become director of growth for Schools that Can in Milwaukee and will help bring national charter organizations to the city and develop teachers and school leaders for those organizations.

Richard Jones has been named senior vice president of community investment at United Way of Metropolitan Chicago. He will be responsible for the leadership, planning, execution and measurement of the organization’s strategic investment in the community under LIVE UNITED 2020. Jones was administrator of employment and family Services at the Child Support Enforcement Agency for Cuyahoga County, Ohio. Before that, he was president and CEO for Metropolitan Family Services for 13 years.

Anna Clarke has been named vice president of marketing and engagement for United Way. Clarke was vice president of marketing and communications at the Chicago Zoological Society, the non-profit conservation organization that manages Brookfield Zoo. She has also held senior marketing positions at BP, Bank One, Coca-Cola and Pizza Hut.



Kat wrote 2 years 24 weeks ago

This is slavery of the modern day!

In regards to modern slavery, I am speaking on behalf of the dictatorship and authoritarian environmental work climate within CPS. Teacher’s opinions and suggestions are of no value, if keeping a job is the priority for that teacher, from my perspective.

The work conditions & work relationships related to CPS teachers, in my opinion, negatively impact the day-to-day operations of classrooms and do not function in a healthy way.

When you are micromanaged, you are basically a slave to the management. Any time a teacher is faced with more demands than one person could realistically handle and compounded with stressful situations, then ask yourself, how could the teacher feel comfortable enough to relax within a position and genuinely teach? The enjoyment of teaching has become checklist of tasks to simply get done! The natural way of allowing teachers to put themselves into the lesson and genuinely express a concept has been replaced with scripted information that anyone off the street could follow. Thus, the teacher is a slave to the system and the way in which the system functions.

When you have to defend your teaching certification and walk on eggshells to avoid the E3 process, then you are in prison and a slave.

Who could focus on getting through a lesson, when the thought of loosing their job at any given moment is a constant reminder by administration? The focus for teachers has shifted to survival mode from genuinely teaching mode. From my perspective, many teachers are simply trying to survive one day at a time and try really hard to detach themselves from their work, the students, and of course the constant reminders of political injustice that plagues CPS.

For this longer school day, teachers will continue to teach (babysit) these students, who are often unmotivated and have the attention span of less then a minute, which metaphorically resembles the relationship the slaves had when caring for their masters’ children as oppose to spending that time with their own children. Teachers will now spend more time with these kids (not their own kids) then the kids own parents will, especially if the kids go to after school programs and or play sports. By the time the kid gets home, it’s time for bed (hopefully for some). What happened to family time? Is the message CPS is sending, highlighting the subliminal notion that academics and money are of more importance than family and individual time?

In my opinion, the grass IS greener elsewhere when compared with Chicago Public Schools.

Who wants to play mind games with a broken system, that functions as a business?

I am not going to tell CPS how to run their business. They do a good job at running the business and making sure that they appoint the right people politically. CPS could care less about what teachers or the union thinks simply because in numerous ways they have proved that they are not a system that has teachers or students best interest in mind when making decisions.

So the grass is greener for me.

I have become a licensed Professional Counselor and am 2 years away from having private practice. Thus, I am all about advocating for change and developing healthy relationships and living experiences.

Wake up and see the invisible chains and handcuffs. The invisible handcuffs are laced with such “important” lingo as “rigor”, and “common core”, to keep teachers focused on confusion and not see how they are enslaved.

This is similar to indentured servitude, metaphorically and realistically.

Truthfully, I bet people are working in a CPS school for their livelihood and trying to hold on to what they have during this depression/recession, NOT for the enjoyment of educating! If better were out there and available, would people really settle for the chaos CPS dispenses/offers?

The big picture that indicates teaching for CPS is slavery is the fact that the mayor wouldn’t even put his child/children in a CPS school. His children are too good/too privileged for the education that he oversees.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 24 weeks ago

as for the former principal at Mitchell Elementary, Mr. Soria's

Mitchell has 250 student--just 250. Mr. Soria moves up, only after 3 months as a 'deputy' , now to the largest network with the largest overcrowded schools and and school student, bilingual and special education populations. He is not prepared. CPS likes it that way.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 24 weeks ago

Are you serious?

A teacher comparing him or herself to an actual slave is sad. It shows an astounding lack of appreciation and knowledge for how brutal the institution of slavery was and how infinitely worse slavery was than having a bad job. Yes, you may have a bad principal and CPS is an awful bureaucracy, but no one is stopping you from walking out the door on any given day. To think that a teacher would make this adolescent type comparison is a discredit to the profession.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 24 weeks ago

Thank you

I will not be returning to CPS this fall. I was worn down to a nub, chewed up and spit out. I could not take it. You made some great points.

Rod Estvan wrote 2 years 24 weeks ago

Re: new specialized services officer

It should be noted that CPS did involve several outside entities in its search process that led to the hiring of Ms. Winston, we at Access Living thought that was overall a good development. Although the following comment is critical it is not critical of Ms. Winston or of the skill sets she brings with her to CPS.

In the FY 2011 budget the Chief Officer for specialized services was paid a base salary of $151,131, in FY12 that salary level went to $175,000 an increase of $23,869 or 15.8%. Based on the proposed FY 14 budget CPS will be starting the new Chief officer of this divison at $175,000. Given the over all situation CPS is in we hope the plan is not to increase the salary of this position in FY14 by another 15.8%.

Rod Estvan

Rod Estvan wrote 2 years 24 weeks ago

correction to salary comment

The Sun Times indicates that the new salary level for the Special ed Chief position will be $170,000 which is only 12.5% higher than that position paid in FY11.

Rod Estvan

Anonymous wrote 2 years 24 weeks ago

What the hell is that, you ask? I'm not sure.

In all my years working in and around public school districts, I've never heard of a Chief Transformation Officer. But according to CPS' announcement, Todd will "oversee the newly created Office of Strategy Management (OSM)."

What the hell is the OSM, you ask? Again, not sure. I've never heard of an OSM. But according to CPS' announcement, it has something to do with, "implementing the rigorous Common Core Standards and improving accountability systems at all levels."

What makes Todd qualified to implement rigorous Common Core Standards, you ask? Well that one's easy. Like Arne Duncan, Todd's mother was a teacher. But that's not all. Todd also worked for McKinsey & Company. He was also the Chief Marketing Officer, Benefits Outsourcing for Hewitt Associates and previously served as a partner at the Chicago-based law firm of McDermott Will & Emery, focusing on antitrust law.

A perfect choice for the CTO of the OSM at CPS. Wouldn't you agree?

My only advice to Todd -- be careful. The last major appointee at CPS was the new Chief Education Officer, Barbara Byrd-Bennett, and she has disappeared completely from view. Maybe she's hiding behind those file cabinets.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 22 weeks ago

Luis Soria

You clearly don't know Mr. Soria. Otherwise, you'd be grateful to learn that he's a new Chief of Schools.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 22 weeks ago
Anonymous wrote 2 years 22 weeks ago

Grateful for Soria

No, he didn't hire me. He came to my school, actually met and spoke with my teachers, discussed instruction beyond surface topics and provided explicit support that I can actually use regarding Common Core. Compared to our previous leaders, Dr. Ortega - a bully and Dr. Azcoitia -part time, he has already demonstrated that he's not the typical COS. Oh, and he's humorous, he had my teachers laughing out loud.

Truth be told, I'm grateful. Don't lose sleep or be sad over this one.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 22 weeks ago

You do not knwo what you do not know

Humor is fine, trreating leaders with disrespect is another.

Anonymous wrote 10 weeks 1 day ago

Luis Soria

Luis has a passion for education and strives to empower teachers, and build capacity for all interested in becoming leaders. He is strong, knowledgeable, genuine, and .. humorous too.. outstanding leader.

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