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The [Friday] Papers

"Chicago Public Schools admits that it mischaracterized some of its students who dropped out as 'transfers,' thereby inflating its 2014 graduation rates, but the district refuses to consider changing those graduation numbers," Lauren FitzPatrick reports for the Sun-Times.

Wait.

The district refuses to consider changing those graduation numbers. Which it admits are wrong.

CPS can't even be bothered to pretend to care about facts anymore. Not even a listening tour!

It's just gonna double-down on false data.

"At least 2,200 students from 25 district-run schools were coded as transfers out of the district between 2011 and 2014 - and therefore not factored into CPS graduation rates, according to a joint report released Wednesday by WBEZ and the Better Government Association ["Emanuel Touts Bogus Graduation Rate"]. Some 610 were listed as getting a GED - meaning, according to state law, they should have been counted as dropouts against the district's graduation rate."

Which, it turns out, is 67 percent, not 69.4 percent.

So it's a 2.4 percent lie. Worth it, Rahm?

*

"District spokesman Bill McCaffrey said that CPS has no plans to go back and recalculate the 2014 graduation rate accounting for added dropouts. Nor did he refute any of the numbers. Asked whether any of the students were miscoded on purpose for political purposes, he said, 'Absolutely not.'"

Ah, but is CPS not considering correcting the numbers for political purposes? Because why else?

*

So how will future increases/decreases be calculated - much less talked about - if CPS doesn't correct the numbers? Will unknowing reporters be made aware that the numbers are wrong? Will Rahm use the right figure or the wrong official figure in his speeches?

*

"McCaffrey said the district became aware of the problem when CPS' inspector general began investigating similar patterns at a few CPS schools. The IG reported that at one school, now known to be Farragut Career Academy High School, 'the miscoding of purported GED dropouts as transfers appears to have been done to reduce the high school's reported dropout rate,' that would have negatively affected its official school rating."

To paraphrase a business aphorism, that which gets maniacally measured gets maniacally managed. See also: Test score scandals.

*

"But McCaffrey declined to make any of the 25 principals whose schools were examined by the two media outlets available for an interview, instead proffering leaders from other schools, and a statement from interim CEO Jesse Ruiz:

"CPS takes any report of miscoding very seriously, and has already instituted additional rigorous safeguards and training to ensure the quality of its records," Ruiz said.

Thanks, Jesse Byrd-Bennett. You're doing exactly the job that's been asked of you. Were you trained by SUPES?

*

"All clerks will have to attend district-led training sessions on how to properly code transfer students and will make principals sign a document this summer taking responsibility for their school's student transfer process, according to CPS. Spot-checks at schools are ongoing, as is an internal review, and questionable activity will be referred to the inspector general's office.

"'The University of Chicago not only agrees that CPS' graduation numbers are on the rise and that progress is being made. More students are graduating than ever before, and are prepared for college, careers, and life,' mayoral spokeswoman Kelley Quinn said in a statement."

Okay, this is a distraction. Why won't you fix the numbers?

*

"The University of Chicago's Consortium on Chicago School Research, which has studied graduation rates in detail, stood by its own independent findings of 'significant improvements in Chicago graduation rates,' said Consortium spokeswoman Emily Krone. But she did not dispute the miscoded students.

"That upward trend cannot be explained away by accounting errors at the school or district level," she said. "In fact, UChicago CCSR research finds double-digit improvements in graduation rates over the last several years, even using a very conservative method of calculation" that counts every students who transfers or goes to an alternative school as a dropout.

Okay, again, don't let the administration take control of the narrative. And shame on you, Consortium, for doing Rahm's PR bidding. By doing so, your credibility is now damaged.

*

"But Emanuel and the CPS officials he appointed have a history of making bold claims that either can't be verified or turn out to be exaggerated to make them look better."

Thank you, Lauren FitzPatrick!

Because it's not just about this incident - it's about a pattern that started in Rahm's first campaign and has continued apace.

Rahm is so allergic to the actual facts you'd think he was a right-wing Republican climate-change denier who never vaccinated his children and thinks Barack Obama was born in Kenya. Only worse, because he's running your schools.

*

"[T]he 2.4 percentage points might seem small, but Emanuel mentioned rising graduation rates in virtually every speech he gave on education during a hard-fought mayoral campaign dominated by education issues and his controversial decision to close a record 50 public schools."

So he was really Mayor 2.4% all along.

*

I've written this before and I'll write it again: People inside the political system - consultants, officeholders, policymakers - have said long before Rahm became mayor that he has a penchant for, well, lying. He's a serial exaggerator quick to take credit for anything in his general vicinity and not at all shy about straight-out making shit up. I know this because those people inside the political system have told me this - long before Rahm became mayor. And if I know this, reporters actually inside the system themselves must know it . . . or so you would think.

And now the little bugger has been re-elected despite a credibility gap that reporters never made an issue of in the campaign - perhaps thinking (wrongly) that it would be up to his opponents to make that case. We also now have a governor who got elected running the most disingenuous gubernatorial campaign I can remember in my lifetime. And both Rahm and Rauner - wouldn't they be good together in a remake of Running Scared, a totally underappreciated Chicago movie? - are running secret governments.

But I digress. Let's go back to the original WBEZ/BGA report.

"Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been talking proudly about something that is really a bit of a miracle: Even during a time of tight budgets and leadership chaos, Chicago Public Schools graduation rates have climbed to a record 69.4 percent.

"But new data obtained by WBEZ and the Better Government Association shows that number is wrong.

"CPS records recently obtained under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act show at least 2,200 students from 25 Chicago high schools were counted as having transferred out of the district between 2011 and 2014. In reality, they were dropouts. The transfers aren't factored into CPS graduation rates, while dropouts are."

*

"Asked about all this by WBEZ and the BGA, district officials acknowledged problems with the system's accounting, but said they had no plan to go back and adjust the numbers. They insisted the numbers weren't purposely skewed to help Emanuel look better to potential voters.

"The mayor is absolutely interested in making sure we have accurate data," said John Barker, CPS' chief accountability officer.

BUT WE REFUSE TO GO BACK AND MAKE OUR DATA ACCURATE!

Paging fucking Orwell - or Dennis DeYoung: Welcome to the Grand Illusion, come on in and see what's happening!

I don't know how our city's education reporters continue to function without having totally torn their hair out by now.

"Emanuel released a statement late Tuesday that said in part: 'No one questions the facts: more CPS students are graduating than ever before, those students are more prepared for their futures and we're making huge strides in helping struggling kids graduate.'"

No, we all question the facts! They're wrong! Your team even admits it!

My God.

*

"School district officials said they did not know how widespread the problem was until contacted by reporters.

"Barker [the district's chief accountability officer] said now the district is doing a systemwide audit of what are called verified transfers. He also said school staff has been trained on how to enter information into the system, but as of Tuesday, CPS officials could provide no evidence of such trainings or audits."

Well, Barker just made that up, but he has no intention of going back and correcting his lie.

*

"WBEZ and the BGA attempted to contact several of the principals of the schools whose data we looked at. We tried to reach them through phone calls, e-mails and stops by the schools, but each declined our request for interviews on the subject. CPS spokesman Bill McCaffrey also refused to make any principals available to talk about this story."

In other words, WBEZ and BGA tried way harder to contact principals than CPS tried to get their numbers right. Unless CPS tried really hard to get the numbers wrong.

*

Oh, and also:

The most transparent administration ever.

*

Wonder what the city's Rahm-loving techies think of all this data manipulation . . .

*

Next: Plow Tracker doesn't track all the plows . . .

*

"It's not just about graduation rates, said Sheila Venson, executive director of Youth Connection Charter School, a network of more than 20 alternative schools in CPS.

"We have to get a better handle on (the dropout problem)," Venson said. "You can't get a better handle on it if you're hiding it. If you're not looking at it, you're not even looking at who these kids are."

Oh yeah, there are actually kids involved!

*

"McCaffrey acknowledged that the district has a problem, but said officials don't plan to go back and adjust the rates because of the 'billion dollar deficit.'"

Bill McCaffrey, you are Today's Worst Person In Chicago. Congratulations, it's been just 16 days since you last won (see item No. 7).

Previously in Bill McCaffrey:
* Item: Speaking Rahm.

* Item: Mayor Banksy.

* The [Whittier] Papers.

* On Xerox's red-light camera program.

It's disingenuity all the way down.

*

*

One more excerpt from the WBEZ/BGA report, which I hope induces you to click through and read the whole thing:

For decades, CPS has used a number system to identify where and when students are enrolled. The information is used to determine school funding, and also to track students from grade school to graduation.

In examining high school records, WBEZ and the BGA found a number of red flags.

At Curie Metropolitan High School, the third largest high school in the city, more than 100 students every year since 2011 supposedly transferred out to be homeschooled. Homeschooled students are removed from the graduation rate. But annually, most high schools only listed a handful of students as being homeschooled.

Curie Principal Phillip Perry did not respond to phone calls or e-mails. When reporters stopped by his school, they were not allowed past the front foyer and escorted out by a security guard and a woman who identified herself as a police officer, though she did not have her badge evident and was not in uniform.

Students and teachers, however, scoffed at the idea that hundreds of high schoolers were being homeschooled on the Southwest Side of the city.

Click through to read why.

*

But this might be my favorite part:

"When WBEZ and the BGA asked about the questionable practices around the graduation rate, McCaffrey and Barker continued to point to the future. They said this year, CPS is going to completely redo the way it calculates graduation rates. As of Tuesday, they had not yet provided any details about the new formula. But McCaffrey says district officials are confident that it will result in an even higher graduation rate than in the past."

Dude! You're inching into Becky Carroll territory.

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Dimon In The Rough
"JPMorgan Chase Chief Executive Jamie Dimon said Wednesday in Chicago that he doesn't 'see any potholes to derail the American economy,'" the Tribune reports.

Well, it's pretty hard to see potholes from the window of a private jet.

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National Football Losers
A faithful tipster notes, in response to yesterday's Beach Ball item, that "[the city] asked the NFL for a favor eight years ago and they nixed it. But [they're] fine waiving the park fee for them."

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Beachwood Photo Booth: Sud-Z Bubble
Sex-Z.

TrackNotes: American Pharoah's Long Strange Trip
"As many horses have since the turn of the century, American Pharoah defied current common wisdom," our man on the rail Tom Chambers writes.

The Week In Chicago Rock
Featuring: The Pixies, Grape Juice Plus, Matt Christensen, Hozier, My Morning Jacket, and Phillip Phillips.

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BeachBook
* Harvard Just Made $4 Million From People Losing Their Homes.

* Charges Dropped Against Virginia Student From Chicago Bloodied In Arrest.

* Two TV Reporters Cited For Violating Rules During Hastert's Arraignment.

* Hockey Analytics Show Patrick Sharp's Scoring Dropped As Role Changed.

* U.S. Government Starting To Allow CIA Torture Victims To Discuss Their Own Memories.

* Clarke's Closed For Good.

* Work Continues On 35th Street Bridge Over LSD.

* Most Chicago Restaurants Providing Poor Delivery.

* Pouch Beverage Delivery System Patent Fight.

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TweetWood
A sampling.

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The Beachwood Tip Line: Withering.



Permalink

Posted on June 11, 2015


MUSIC - The Week In Chicago Rock.
TV - Vizio Settles Spying Complaints.
POLITICS - WikiLeaks Reveals Staggering Breadth Of CIA Hacking.
SPORTS - Beachwood Sports Radio: Butt Fumbles.

BOOKS - Bannon, The Best And The Brightest.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Beachwood Photo Booth: Descending Darkly.


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