Quolke’s Corner Who is Advising the CEO, Volume 1

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Quolke’s Corner

Who is Advising the CEO, Volume 1  


Since the day that Eric Gordon and his team walked out on Negotiations (a move that is a slap in the face to all educators, parents, and students) and in the lead up to the No Confidence vote – I have heard two consistent questions from our members.  First – why did CEO Gordon walk away from negotiations?  Second – what is happening to CEO Gordon?  So many members who were in the district in the 2008-09 school year remember Eric as the Chief Academic Officer

under CEO Eugene Sanders.  If you weren’t in the district at the time it is important to know that Eric was a dynamic CAO.  He had vision and a map to help children reach higher academic success.  He supported teachers, paraprofessionals, and related service providers.  He came to schools and talked to staffs and met with teachers.  He had legions of educators in his corner when he was the CAO and I think most would say that they believed that Eric was in their corner too.  It was also clear that Eric was a close advisor to CEO Sanders.  


Oh my how times have changed.  It is by no means sudden and I am not implying that it just happened.  There have just been a lot of conversations about this in light of the events that have happened the past few weeks.  In education, reformers and performers talk so much about “transformative change” and what it should look like.  Well, one needs to look no further than the change that has taken place from the “old” CAO Gordon to the “new” CEO Gordon.  

One of the biggest differences between the “old” Eric and the “new” Eric are those who are advising him.  Eric gets a lot of bad advice.  I would love to have been a fly on the wall to listen to his team discuss if it is a good idea to talk to the Union about issues that are happening in the schools or is it better to walk away from negotiations and let a third party outsider make decisions that impact the students and the future of the school district.  Since many of his advisors outwardly hate educators – I would guess he got a lot of bad advice.

Now you don’t have to take my word for it.  Let me share some examples of things that have happened – and then you can determine for yourself.  In my next few Q Corners I am going to try and figure out exactly– “Who is Advising the CEO?”

I will start with an obvious one…the people who are telling Eric everything that is great in the schools.  It has been made very clear to the district that our members are not satisfied with the failure to build out the Diff Comp system and that our member are frustrated with countless administrators and employees parading through rooms, rifling through desks, snapping photos, and ruining classroom instruction with their assault on classroom integrity.  The message has been delivered that our members are angry that the TDES has become nothing more than a series of “gotcha” moments and our members are disgusted that the CEO’s promise that the 200 minutes was to bring the work that educators do “offstage” at home “on stage” where all could see what it takes to do our jobs has mostly become additional work and PD assigned by the principal.

Yet, mention any one of these concerns to Eric and his team and the response is – we are not hearing that from “our” people.  Basically, if any problem or dissatisfaction that the CTU says exists that has not been reported by principals or Network leaders (“our” people), then it does not exist.  I do not exaggerate – that is what Eric and his team says to us.  But let’s be honest, this district still operates under the belief that “the beatings will continue till morale improves”.  So I guess I shouldn’t expect principals to report to Eric that they are beating up their staff; treating people poorly; and demoralizing educators, parents, and students - and that people don’t like it.  I wouldn’t expect principals to report that they are evaluating teachers when they are not there and entering evidence in the portal.  I wouldn’t expect principals to report that they are not submitting payroll for class coverages, PD, extended day and that they berate educators and students on a regular basis.  This actually has happened – ask Ms. Gollate at Jane Addams or Ms. Cooper at Jamison.  Are these things acceptable?  Not by CTU standards or any of the organizations that I deal with.  But this is CMSD we are talking about and since the district allows this to continue it must be acceptable to CMSD administration.

Now in all due fairness to the CEO I am not sure of how aware is he of what is really happening in the schools and he certainly needs to rely on the people that are much closer to the situation to deal with these egregious actions.  To that end the CMSD has added layers of administration to supposedly help schools…. Barrier Breakers, Action Team Coaches, CIS, Deans of Engagement and Deans of Culture, and additional staff to help with schools based budgets.  So with all these alleged problem solvers assigned to support our schools I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that no one wants to let Eric know their schools are having problems.    Which leads me back to my premise – who is advising CEO Gordon?

Does the CEO ever hear the truth?  Do Network leaders, principals, assistant principals, and all of the added levels of bureaucracy value the work, commitment, and dedication of the professionals that are entrusted to work with the children of Cleveland each day?  I think we all feel that we can answer those questions now, but let’s continue to explore CEO Gordon and his advisors.   

      Stay tuned….next up, The Million Dollar Mistake.

In Union,