The Board of Education of the Chicago Public Schools has announced that they are in desperate need of new office spaces, furnishings and related services. I am sure it must just have slipped their minds, but there is no way that such major spending on secondary expenses (as opposed to the primary responsibilities of the district) could possibly be allowed without paperwork. We all know that CPS has at least 4 versions of the applications for each and every opportunity presented. The application process is the scared foundation of CPS itself. Without it, the district would descend into providing actual eduction unencumbered by bureaucracy.
Please print your own copy, as we have no budget for paper or ink.
Section One: Eligibility
Part A: Residency. Applicants must be permanent residents of the City of Chicago for any and all purposes. Please submit proof of residency, such as a voter registration card, with this application.
Part B: Income. Within a high-poverty district, the ethical thing to do is to meet the greatest needs first so as to truly create a level playing field with equal opportunities for all children. Income, when at or below subsistence levels, must be ranked on a micro scale, so as to better understand the nuances between “paycheck to paycheck, let some bills roll over” broke and “Man, beans again?” broke, and “OH. No more beans, huh?” broke.
We rank incomes in $1000 increments up to Tier 100, where the tiers max out. For Example, No income is Tier Zero. $1-$1000 is Tier One. $1001-$2000 is Tier Two. Incomes six figures and higher max out at Tier 100, not because we think you are too rich or because we hate capitalism or success, but rather because we recognize that while their are multi millionaires and billionaires that have insane wealth and make you look broke, you still have local relative wealth.
Once everyone in each tier has basic needs met (starting with Tier Zero and proceeding chronologically), then we begin on secondary needs, based on the following section. Please attach proof of income for the last 18 months in triplicate. We plan to lose these, so feel free to make extra copies now and hang onto them until after we lose the first set.
Section Two: Urgency
Please select the answer that best describes your situation for each of the following questions.
1. What is the primary emotion that is motivating your request for approval of additional funds at this time?
a. A passion for making sure that my least fortunate students get the extra materials they need to succeed.
b. An intense love of the subject matter I teach that compels me to find innovative ways to get my students excited about it too.
c. Fear that the commoners are getting too comfortable speaking their minds in my current workplace.
d. Envy over the spiffy exotic fishtanks and real wood desks that I see at the meetings of other boards when I hang with my friends in the private sector.
e. Cult-like devotion to the Messiah His Majestic Excellency Supreme Overlord Gates, who can rain grant money upon us from the sky. It is not our place to ask why The Lord of Silicon commands us to spend it as he does. It is our place to sign the checks back to him and his friends. Long May He Reign!
2. Sit in your regular seat in your regular workspace and look around. Which of the following best describes what you see?
a. Well, I’ve really done the best I can right now, and the kids did a great job with their reading projects, so those cover up the broken shelves. All of the broken lockers made a good “bulletin board,” so that’s okay, and when I get the gift card from my folks for my birthday, I’ll be able to get a new bookshelf from Target, so not too shabby.
b. Honestly, it used to be more colorful, but all of the data and charts take up what little usable space we had in our room, so we really need to fix the broken stuff before we can think about decorating.
c. Do you mean this year’s workspace or last year’s? The former is crowded and the latter is empty, for starters. You want me to elaborate? I’ll need extra paper if you want me to outline the problems with the path between them, too.
d. You have to understand, it doesn’t matter what I see. It only matters what I don’t see. Do you people understand that Arne Duncan has a life size golden giraffe that he can pretend to ride during phone conferences? When I worked/work/one day work at the Broad Foundation, the signing bonus package will include one of those electronic toilet seats with a pre- programmable temperature, a personal voicemail from Jay Z on my birthday and a Gucci stapler. We have to compete to keep the best and brightest minds in business willing to slum it in public service for a few years, even if they don’t particularly like kids.
3. How safe do you feel in your workspace?
a. Way safer than I feel anywhere else outside of it for miles.
b. Pretty good right now, but one of these days things are just gonna boil over with all of these kids crammed in here like this.
c. You know, we actually have a pool going over whose room is going to have the next major thing break. Last week Room 302’s vents obviously had something die in them over the weekend, but this week the last 3 locker doors fell off of the hinges by the 6th grade. At least we have a break until computer based standardized testing puts us on tech/power/internet rationing again.
d. Well, it used to be better, honestly, but every month, I have to spend one Wednesday morning being reminded that some of them are on to me, and I’m thinking of adding a request for a panic room to my application.
Section Three: Recommendations
Please include 4 letters of recommendation from the following sources:
One CPS student who is not related to you and supports your position. You will have several hundred thousand from whom to choose. No excuses.
One CPS parent unrelated to you from your choice of any the afore mentioned Tiers 0-75. This is the vast majority of CPS parents. You’d think at least one of them would do it…
One professional reference from an expert. In this profession, that obviously means a working teacher with 7 or more years of classroom experience.
One personal reference. We won’t read this one. Everybody just asks their friend to write it, and everyone knows that, so really, the personal reference is a big honking waste of everyone’s time, but it is standard operating procedure, and that is what matters in a bureaucracy.
Section Four: Personal Essay
Please answer one of the following questions in essay form. Bear in mind that it will be graded by either a computer running a word count-keyword search-based algorithm or a minimally-trained worker working off of a vague rubric and paid based on number of tests graded not quality of assessment made, so adjust the need for facts, information, accuracy, spelling, creativity, and effort accordingly.
Option 1: Why are failed and discarded industry standards and practices for the high tech industries good policies to import into public education? Make sure to address the reasons that this is best done by unfunded mandates, privatization and annual restructuring/re-restructuring.
Option 2: Compare and contrast the following: grit, moxie, gumption, spunk, guts, fortitude, stamina, tenacity, audacity, audacity of hope, balls, nerve, mettle and pluck. Which of the following best describes you? Be sure to explain why you need our help if you do have grit or the like and be sure to explain why you deserve our help if you don’t.
Section Five: Standardized Test Scores
Please submit proof of competency. Teachers and schools, having already been judged on the basis of data, may skip this step. All non-school personnel must submit proof that all students under their charge meet or exceed all of the district, state and federal standards for passing. If all students in all schools under your supervision/management did not meet or exceed the standard on all measures that matter for schools, students and teachers, you may instead submit proof of your own passing scores on every single assessment taken by every single student under you. For all those whose work is district-wide, this includes all tests given by the district at all levels Pre-K through 12.
You must also answer the following questions:
1. Standardized test scores are most strongly correlated to
c. Knowledge or understanding of material
d. Efforts of the teacher
e. Income tax bracket
2. Business interests are pouring billions into education reform because
a. Wall Street has proven to be such responsible managers of the nation’s trust and money.
b. They genuinely believe in these reforms so much that they want to make sure that the nation’s poorest kids get first crack at them…while they will make their own kids suffer in art classes and science labs and go without a steady diet of testing.
c. Businesses are known for giving honestly and openly with no strings attached.
d. Something about it being for the children… what was the talking point again?
e. They obviously expect a fairly large return on investment given the size of the investment if they are halfway decent businesspeople.
2. The best kind of school board is
a. Appointed and under mayoral control in a city with a century-and-a-quarter-old political machine, unprecedented corruption among public officials and low voter turnout.
b. Made up of mostly career educators and devoted public servants well-versed in child development and education theory.
c. One that works in collaboration with community organizations, teachers, parents and students to make sure all voices are heard and respected.
d. Elected by the citizens of the city because the quality of our education system is an integral part of the quality of life for everyone in the city and because taxpayers deserve a say in who is entrusted with both managing all of that taxpayer money and making decisions that directly impact our well being.
e. B, C and D only.
Please make sure you submit this application directly to a CPS school beginning with letter M or C by 3:00 p.m. on three Fridays ago or slip it under the door of the third stall in the last aisle of the ladies’ restroom in the lower level food court in what used to be Field’s on State Street by your best guess from the date and time listed above, the one we will say in the robo call, the one you will be told when you call to ask, and the random date to which we might change it later. Make sure to check back, because we usually update the forms. In that case, you will have to reapply. Make sure that all of your required proofs and letters are attached with one standard staple at an upward 45 degree angle to the left edge of the paper. Use standard margins with MLA formatting for even numbered pages, APA formatting for odd numbered pages, and no formatting, spacing or punctuation whatsoever for your essay-it will just make that twirly rainbow cursor show up on the Test-Grader 5000’s screen. Before you choose to submit this application, please indicate that you have read and agree to the following:
I the undersigned, understand that the fiscal responsibility of the district is contingent upon the ability of the district to prioritize the greatest needs. I declare that I have in the past and will continue to try to self-finance my own needs, in accordance with district-wide practices. I understand that many individuals in the district have reaped returns (albeit modest ones) via the following: bake sales, carnivals, car washes, donorschoose.org, Kickstarter campaigns, Friends Of organizations, PTA events, candy sales, flower sales, gift wrap sales, silent auctions, benefit dinners, raffles, soliciting donations from local businesses by going door to door, ad books, t-shirt sales, craft fairs, jog-a-thons, read-a-thons, walk-a-thons, dance-a-thons, sing-a-thons, grants from foundations, grants from private donors, grants from businesses, soliciting donations from families, collaborations with local organizations, and alumni booster clubs (has anyone asked Duncan or Vallas to endow actual chairs?).
On a personal note, we are really sympathetic to the plight of the Board. We can certainly empathize with feeling such a budget crunch that you have to choose between a chair and a CHAIR-if you know what we mean! (Or between eating 3 meals and having heat, same dif.)
If your application is denied, remember, when the budget is small, whether for a school or a district, it is really just an opportunity for greater administrator control over funding. And if a new chair isn’t incentive enough for you to spam your second cousins with sales pitches for $12 tissue paper, we have another motivator. Whichever board member is the first one to earn enough for their office collection gets a slice of room temperature pizza and a juice box.
Who needs fully funded schools from above when so many career-readiness opportunities are present in the administrative process? Good luck to all of the applicants.