Friday, June 24, 2016

Blog Fodder Rahm admonishes his alderman: 'Will yuze guys, keep some decorum?'

You've heard of the Godfather. Well for me, Rahm Emanuel is the Blog Fodder. He's the gift that keeps on giving for us bloggers and Tweeters.

Here's his latest. I know he's now residing at the bottom of the ratings food chain and trying to clean up his image. But really? Scolding Chicago aldermen for -- wait for it -- using profanity in public?

You all know what a high-class joint the Chicago City Council is. Right?

Fran Spielman writes:
Is the Chicago City Council “slouching towards Gomorrah,” as former federal appeals court justice Robert Bork once famously put it in a 1996 book by the same name?
You might think so from some of the debate at Wednesday’s City Council meeting. It prompted Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who is famous for his use of profanity, to admonish aldermen to maintain “decorum.”
 Emanuel has kept his tongue in check in public. But, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis has accused the mayor of telling her, “F— you, Lewis” during their earliest meeting.
Then there was the time when Rahm, as Obama's chief of staff, said "F--- the UAW." I read that in Steven Rattner's 2010 book "Overhaul."

Or that time when he told Attorney General Eric Holder to "Shut the F--- Up" about gun control.

I guess Rahm means, don't use profanity unless your talking to black women or about unions.

I actually liked it when Rahm, in 2006, after Dems took back the House, told Republicans to "go f---themselves." The way I look at it, it was just his way of reaching across the aisle.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Don't wade in the water, children.

"We'll spend whatever it takes to remove any devices or any piping that might pose lead hazard risk. Whatever that is, however much it costs, we will do it to make sure that our water pipes are safe and that our children, your children, are safe." --  Forrest Claypool
Claypool sounds like a guy trying to get out of a bad marriage after he's been caught cheating.

Lots of questions here. What does he mean, "whatever it takes"? What if it takes billions, like in Flint for example? I mean, we're only beginning to get a handle on the problem. Right? And why is that?

Every day, the number of schools found with leaded water grows. CPS is still awaiting test results from dozens of buildings but has disclosed that at least 27 28 schools have dangerous levels of lead in their water fountains.

Does Claypool have some unlimited mountain of money stashed somewhere that he's not telling us about? I thought the system was "broke". At least that's what he's been telling the CTU as an excuse for not settling contract negotiations with the union.

Does "whatever it takes" include making things right for the potentially tens of thousands of students, former students, and teachers who have drunk from those toxic fountains for years?

And finally, how can parents trust that current and past lead testing is on the up and up? The Guardian names Chicago as one of 33 U.S. cities that have used water testing “cheats” that potentially conceal dangerous levels of lead. It seems that the mayor's  water department testers have been using the same water testing methods that prompted criminal charges against three government employees in Flint. In one case, Chicago officials asked employees to test water safety in their own homes.

It's enough to make you wonder why Claypool brought over Jason Kierna, one of his cronies from the CTA, with no school building experience, to run the facilities department.

It also makes me wonder why State Senator Heather Steans suddenly rode in on her white horse last week to sponsor a new water-testing bill. Where has she and her bill been all these years?

Steans, who is exploring a run for governor, is right when she says:
“We know that exposure to lead can cause developmental delays, learning disabilities and many other significant health problems, and young children in low-income and predominantly minority neighborhoods are most at risk. That’s unacceptable. By mandating rigorous testing of water systems and communicating openly with the public, we can prevent our cities and towns from becoming another Flint – a community where children were poisoned unawares.”
But hasn't this horse already left the barn? Could lead poisoning be one of the causes of the so-called "achievement gap" in our test-crazy school system? The Steans testing bill, even if passed and signed by the governor, won't "prevent" anything for those like my former basketball players who guzzled water at practice from those fountains for years or for all those summer school students, going back decades, who tried to stay hydrated in 100-degree buildings with no A/C.

Steans claims that until her bill is passed, CPS is under no legal obligation to do lead testing. Who does she think she's protecting here? Does she really expect angry parents to buy the excuse that lead testing didn't go on, or that Chicago cheated on testing, because there was no legislation mandating it?

Do you think Claypool is at all worried about leaded water at Francis Parker, where where he sends his children?

No, this isn't just about  removing or fixing some water pipes. It's about trying to restore faith in the leadership of a school system that seems more concerned with political ass-covering than in the safety and well-being of other people's children.

Have we learned nothing from Flint?

A look back on the confederacy of racists, a year later.

Still no trial date for white supremacist killer, Dylann Roof. 

A year ago today, in response to Dylann Roof's act of racist terrorism in S. Carolina and the struggle to remove the confederate flag from the state house, I posted this: A Confederacy of Racists, which in my view, included the likes of S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley,  Lindsey Graham, Mark Sanford, League of the South,, Judge Gosnell, Strom Thurmond (deceased) and others.

Neo-confederate Haley, who was a long-time defender of flying the confederate flag, was then mentioned as a possible Trump running mate. But in May, she endorsed fellow confederate, Marco Rubio causing Trump to claim she was never in consideration for the VP job.

But despite their unspecified differences, Haley, like others in the GOP leadership from Speaker Paul Ryan on down, remains committed to "supporting the nominee", Trump. It's still a confederacy of dunces racists.

A year after Roof's racist act of terror, and in the wake of last week's slaughter of LGBT and Latino club goers in Orlando by Omar Mateen, the S.C. mass murderer still hasn't been brought to trial. Federal and state prosecutors are bumping heads over who will get the credit for his conviction. Roof and his lawyers are using the conflict to get him tried in a jurisdiction that is historically less likely to execute him as well as giving him the best stage to offer his racist views to a sympathetic audience.

Both cases have now become election campaign fodder as Republicans try and preempt any gun control moves by Dems and paint both crimes as part of a religious holy war. Yes, even white supremacist, Roof's attack a year ago, on black church goers, is now being described in right-wing media as "an attack on Christianity".

The Confederacy lives.

Monday, June 20, 2016


Rauner runs
“Can’t understand why the DuSable Museum will allow Gov. Rauner to speak there on Monday,” [Father Michael] Pfleger wrote on Facebook. “This man has abandoned and raped the community of resources,”
Rauner Spokesperson: "Out of an abundance of caution and respect for the safety of visitors and the museum, we have regretfully cancelled the planned Juneteenth event at the DuSable Museum." -- NBC5 Chicago
Chicago billionaire Hillary bundler J.B. Pritzker
 “This isn’t about lifestyles of the rich and famous. There’s nothing fancy about it. People just want to mingle with the candidate.”  -- Sun-Times
"I Feel Like a Supermodel" -- NBC News
Florida Prosecutor Kenneth Lewis
"Downtown Orlando has no bottom. The entire city should be leveled. It is void of a single redeeming quality." -- Daily News
 From July 8-10, educators, parents, and activists will rally in Washington, DC for three days of action in defense of public education. Featured speakers include author Jonathan Kozol, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, and Diane Ravitch. I will also be speaking at the rally.
On July 8 there will be a People’s March for Public Education and Social Justice. Save Our Schools is organizing a conference for July 9 to be followed by a July 10 Coalition Summit and organizing session. The program for the rally and meetings includes full, equitable funding for all public schools; safe, racially just schools and communities; community leadership in public school policies; professional, diverse educators for all students; child-centered, culturally appropriate curriculum for all, and no high-stakes standardized testing.

Friday, June 17, 2016

'Reforming' the cities

Expensive condos go up where public housing used to stand in Chicago. 
In just two weeks, Illinois will start its second year without a state budget, threatening the opening of schools in the fall and pushing school systems to the brink. But it's impossible to understand the near collapse of urban public school systems like ours in Chicago, outside the context of the great transformation (whitenizing) of the cities.

The nation's biggest cities, once centers of industry and manufacturing, have increasingly become concentration points of great wealth and deep poverty. They are becoming places where most people can no longer afford to live resulting in the out-migrations of the poor, particularly of African-American families. This, even as the U.S. economy recovers from it's latest deep recession.

The dramatic shift in the the mode of production has resulted in increasing loss of well-paying jobs and union representation for millions of workers as well as an erosion of the tax base. Because politicians are reluctant to bite the hand that feeds them, they are unwilling to increase taxes on the wealthiest. This unwillingness lies at the heart of cities' revenue problems. As a result, public schools have become beggars, looking, in the words of Gov. Rauner, for a "bailout".

A report released yesterday from John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, shows that almost half of adults living in Chicago are spending more than they can afford on their homes or apartments, and have to deal with the burden by taking on second jobs, moving to less safe areas, or cutting back on food or the quality of their children's education.

The Tribune reports:
While the problem of finding affordable housing is most acute among people ages 18 to 34, African-Americans and households with incomes under $40,000, 49% of those in households with incomes over $75,000 said "it's challenging to find affordable housing in my area... Nationally, 76% of people noted more difficulty holding onto a middle-class lifestyle.
On top of this, Chicago's small property and business owners are being hit with massive tax increases to make up for the revenue shortfall. The average Chicago homeowner’s property tax bill will go up 13% this year, and it will keep going up for years.

That means even more foreclosures, more families leaving the city and more homeless students in Chicago schools.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

WaPo's Strauss: Chicago's school system at the brink

Ed writer deluxe, Valerie Strauss at (Donald Trump's fave) Washington Post asks, "Is the nation’s third-largest school district in danger of collapse?" She's referring to Chicago, of course, even though technically, Puerto Rico  has the nation's third-largest. Chicago is fourth, especially now that so many African-American families have left the city.

But the answer to her question is a definite, YES.

Strauss writes:
Dozens of principals, including some from the district’s best schools, have decided to leave, but those who are staying were warned recently that they could see 39 percent cuts in funding. That goes for teachers, after-school programs and enrichment programs. Chicago public schools, long in dire financial straits, face a budget deficit of more than $1 billion and must contribute $676 million to the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund by June 30, which, the Chicago Sun Times says, would leave only $24 million in the district’s coffers.
 Meanwhile, problems with facilities have been growing  since the district, in what it said was a cost-cutting move, privatized cleaning services two years ago by awarding more than $300 million in contracts to two firms, Aramark and SodexoMAGIC (the latter associated with former NBA star Magic Johnson, who, incidentally, donated to Emanuel’s reelection campaign last year). Principals have repeatedly complained that schools were dirty and that complaints were not addressed in a timely manner.
Strauss gets it, that it's on Gov. Rauner, but not just on Gov. Rauner. 
Even as Emanuel fights with Rauner, public school educators are no fans of Emanuel. He has angered them for years by supporting key tenets of corporate school reform, including the privatization of public services, the expansion of charter schools and the closure of nearly 50 traditional public schools in a manner that infuriated parents.  In April, the union rejected an independent fact-finders recommendation that it accept a four-year contract offered by the city, and its president, Karen Lewis, said that the district’s financial problems could not solely be laid at the feet of the Republican governor, but also at the mayor’s and district leadership’s.
Good stuff, Valerie.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016


Jane Addams, American radical

From Merriam Webster
adjective rad·i·cal \ˈra-di-kəl\
of, relating to, or proceeding from a root: as
a (1) : of or growing from the root of a plant <radical tubers> (2) : growing from the base of a stem, from a rootlike stem, or from a stem that does not rise above the ground <radical leaves>
b : of, relating to, or constituting a linguistic root
c : of or relating to a mathematical root
d : designed to remove the root of a disease or all diseased and potentially diseased tissue <radical surgery> <radical mastectomy>

From the Guardian... "FBI and Obama confirm Omar Mateen was radicalized on the internet."
I still don't see anything radical about a homophobic psychopath with an AR-15. Seems pretty retrograde to me. It's certainly not in the tradition of American radicalism, ie. Radical Republicans who opposed slavery and the Confederacy, socialists like Eugene Debs, Jane Addams, labor organizers like I.W.W. and civil rights heroes in S.N.C.C.

From Merriam Webster
noun ren·di·tion \ren-ˈdi-shən\
: a performance of something

From the Daily Mail..."Under the rendition program, terror suspects were kidnapped on foreign soil and transferred to centers also outside the U.S., where they were interrogated and tortured." 
In CIA-speak, using U.S. embassies abroad to kidnap and torture people is now called "extraordinary rendition".

From CPS website:
Wanted: Executive Director of Personalized Learning 
Another example of how they've taken the language of progressive education and turned it into its opposite. One can only imagine what Personalized Learning means in an organization centered on standardization and testing madness. Possibly plopping more kids down in front of a computer screen for test prep while class size balloons to 40 in a class.

In 1916, John Dewey published “Democracy and Education,” which advocated for placing the child, as opposed to the curriculum, at the center of the classroom. Dewey saw education as a social interaction between children and adults, and believed that knowledge couldn’t simply be given to a child, but that a student must experience something and engage with it to learn.

Have Rahm Emanuel and Forrest Claypool suddenly become Deweyists? Answer: Only for their own kids who attend chi-chi progressive private schools. Not for other people's children.

Monday, June 13, 2016


Hundreds of CPS students walked-out of class and rallied at the Thompson Center demanding fair and adequate school funding. They targeted both Gov. Rauner and Mayor Emanuel. 
Sarah Jester, Payton College Prep student
"We live in a state where our governor calls our schools 'crumbling prisons,' but refuses to actively improve public education. We live in a city where our corrupt mayor appoints only his good friends to our Board of Education, although boards are usually elected in many other districts." -- Hundreds Of CPS Students Protest Against Rauner, Rahm On Education
Dave Zirin
To hear about the remorseless killing of predominantly Latino LGBT people during Pride month is shattering enough. To then see Donald Trump and a collection of the worst anti-gay bigots be boastful, almost gleeful, about it because the shooter was Muslim is all the worse. -- The Nation
Greg Hinz
The bottom line truly is a tale of two cities inside one.... Chicago's white population now appears to be growing while African-Americans are fleeing town. -- Crain's
Ken Burns at Stanford
Filmmaker Ken Burns 
"As a student of history, I recognize this type. He emerges everywhere and in all eras. We see nurtured in his campaign an incipient proto-fascism, a nativist anti-immigrant Know Nothing-ism, a disrespect for the judiciary, the prospect of women losing authority over their own bodies, African Americans again asked to go to the back of the line, voter suppression gleefully promoted, jingoistic saber rattling, a total lack of historical awareness, a political paranoia that, predictably, points fingers, always making the other wrong." -- At Stanford commencement
 Gary Younge
Some will say it is about Islam. Mateen was Muslim. But mass shootings are not unique to Islam or alien to America. There were 330 last year alone. -- The Guardian
H. "Rap" Brown
 “Violence is as American as cherry pie.” -- July 27, 1967 SNCC Press Conference