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Governor Called Chicago's Teachers ‘Virtually Illiterate’ When Arguing for Stronger Teacher Evaluations

Governor Called Chicago's Teachers ‘Virtually Illiterate’ When Arguing for Stronger Teacher Evaluations

A damning e-mail Illinois' now-governor Bruce Rauner sent in 2011 is likely to push an even bigger wedge between him and Chicago Public Schools’ teachers.

In an e-mail conversation with wealthy education reformers, Rauner called CPS teachers virtually illiterate and the district’s principals "managerially incompetent” when discussing the potential of implementing stronger teacher and principal evaluations.

"Teacher evaluation is critically important, but in a massive bureaucracy with a hostile union, where 50% of principals are managerially incompetent and half of teachers are virtually illiterate, a complete multi-dimensional evaluation system with huge subjectivity in it will be attacked, manipulated and marginalized — the status quo will prevail,” he said, according to The Chicago Tribune.

"It's much more critical that we develop a consistent, rigorous, objective, understandable measure and reporting system for student growth upon which all further evaluation of performance will depend.”

In the e-mails obtained under law by the Tribune, Rauner described his visions of reforming CPS and overseeing a “world-class transformation.”

A year later, during the 2012 Chicago teacher’s strike, Rauner took an offensive position against unions and teachers he perceived to be “bad.”

”It's the weak teachers. It's the lousy, ineffective, lazy teachers that — unfortunately there are a number of those — they're the ones that the union is protecting and that's where there's a conflict of interest between the good teachers and the union bosses,” he said, according to the Tribune.

In a follow-up tirade, he argued that he sat in on classrooms where division was taught correctly and insisted that a majority of the district’s teachers scored poorly on their college entrance exams.

Certainly, CPS is in need of some kind of reform. According to its mayor, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Illinois ranks 48th in the country for state funding of education, causing the nation’s largest school district to be on the verge of bankruptcy.

Emanuel and Rauner have been at odds the past several years over how CPS can be helped.

“This is not the state’s, voters’, taxpayers’ fault that CPS is in such big trouble. It’s the failure of the city itself, the failure of their elected officials, the failure of their school board, which is appointed by the mayor. That’s where the responsibility lies,” Rauner recently said, removing far more responsibility from himself than he seemed poised to do in 2011.

In May, Rauner’s approval ratings reached a record low with 57 percent of respondents believing he was not doing a good job, partly thanks to the state’s problem funding grade and high schools.

Read more about Rauner’s 2011 e-mail here.

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor


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