Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day Thoughts

Labour cannot emancipate itself in the white skin where in the black it is branded. -- Karl Marx
The Wall St. Journal Reports...The White House and union leaders are using Labor Day to reinvigorate efforts to raise the minimum wage. “Raising the minimum wage would be one of the best ways to give a boost to working families,” President Barack Obama said Saturday in his weekly radio address. He pointed to stronger job creation gains this year but noted many workers are in low-paying jobs.
Raising the federal minimum wage “would help around 28 million Americans from all walks of life pay the bills, provide for their kids, and spend that money at local businesses,” he said.   “And that grows the economy for everyone.”
Congress has not heeded the president’s call. A bill that would have lifted the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour failed to pass the Senate earlier this year. And Republican House Speaker John Boehner indicated a similar measure wouldn’t be introduced in his chamber, arguing raising the wage will cost the country jobs.

A Labor Sec. sighting...Yes it's Thomas Perez (Who he?) speaking to business leaders, asking them do do a little more to help our downtrodden laborers. Please? Pretty Please??

Powerful statement from Emory Univ. Prof. Carol Anderson
Protests and looting naturally capture attention. But the real rage smolders in meetings where officials redraw precincts to dilute African American voting strength or seek to slash the government payrolls that have long served as sources of black employment. It goes virtually unnoticed, however, because white rage doesn’t have to take to the streets and face rubber bullets to be heard. Instead, white rage carries an aura of respectability and has access to the courts, police, legislatures and governors, who cast its efforts as noble, though they are actually driven by the most ignoble motivations.  -- Washington Post, Ferguson isn’t about black rage against cops. It’s white rage against progress.
This from the Walton Family (combined net wealth, $144.7 billion)
Labor Day online specials at Walmart this year “celebrate hard work with big savings.” -- Forbes, Labor Day Sales Could Be Bigger Than Black Friday


Bruce Rauner
 "I've worked with Rahm Emanuel and (former Mayor) Rich Daley because they control the schools," Rauner told the Tribune earlier this year. "And we've talked about school reform fairly extensively. We disagree on many things ... but on school reform we see things the same way. He believes in charter schools and competition and choice. He's starting to come around and be supportive of vouchers, which I am a definite believer in." -- Chicago Tribune
 Melissa Harris-Perry 
So, see, Ed? There’s no need for your teachers to change the subject. Because what we do as teachers is to offer guideposts, context, and space for disagreement. We can teach our students not to be afraid of the unknown and the complicated, by confronting the hard topics as well as the easy. Now is the time to teach, not to hide. -- Open Letter: How to teach students about Ferguson
 Chicago Tribune Editorial from Feb. 4, 2007
"Terrence Carter represents a new breed of principals who entered the profession from business through an excellent principal training program called New Leaders for New Schools. The program, which operates in Chicago and five other cities and is about to add two more, imposes higher expectations on principals." -- The Courant
Univ. of Illinois faculty members
 “With this vote of no confidence, the faculty of UIUC’s American Indian studies program also joins the thousands of scholars and organizations in the United States and across the world in seeing the chancellor’s action as a violation of academic freedom and freedom of speech.” -- New York Times

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Nine years since Katrina. Maybe some justice for New Orleans teachers.

On Sept. 4th, the State Supreme Court will hear the case of 7,000 teachers fired after Hurricane Katrina. 
"Katrina accomplished in a day ... what Louisiana school reformers couldn't do after years of trying". -- American Enterprise Institute. 
When Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast exactly nine years ago, New Orleans school chief Paul Vallas saw the disaster as an opportunity to carry out his long-standing mission  by replacing New Orleans' public schools with privately-run, union-free charter schools. He was brought in on the wake of  the firing of 7,500 teachers and other school employees -- most of them African-American -- and the crushing of United Teachers of New Orleans (UTNO), once Louisiana's largest labor union and its first racially integrated teachers' union.Vallas takes credit for installing the largest privately managed charter system in the nation.

His "grand experiment in urban education for the nation" worked, at least up until now and is seen by corporate reformers as a model for urban districts from Detroit to Chicago.. The so-called Recovery School District (RSD)  has become the first district in the nation to do away completely with traditional public schools, replacing most of its older, veteran teaching force with younger, whiter 5-week wonders from TFA.

But a class-action lawsuit could finally bring some justice for the fired teachers. The case will be heard by the State Supreme Court on Thursday, Sept. 4th,  following lower court decisions that held the employees were wrongfully terminated. Teachers and their lawyers are expecting a positive decision.

Quinn picked Vallas as running mate.
HE'S BACK...Now Vallas, the master of disaster and the king of school privatization, is gone from N.O., leaving behind a trail of lost, costly court cases and shattered public school systems from Haiti to Chile, from Philly to Bridgeport, CN. For some reason angry teachers will never understand, IL Gov. Pat Quinn has chosen  teachers-union-buster Vallas as his Democratic Party running mate in his upcoming election against right-wing Republican billionaire Bruce Rauner. Good luck on that one, Governor.

Cross-posted at Schooling in the Ownership Society.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Last night on the Patti Vasquez Show

I had a great time last night on WGN's Patti Vasquez Show even though I didn't get to say much. Great lesson there.

Dynamic rapper and political activist, Che "Rhymefest" Smith and the two outstanding young men he brought with him, Mike Taylor and Mammoth, carried the show which took off from the celebration of the Jackie Robinson West Little League Champs and then went global.

Rhymefest, who won a Grammy for his collaborative work with Kanye West, and who ran for Alderman of the 20th Ward in 2010, is doing great work with young people at Donda's House.

Thanks Patti and producer Craig Collins for pulling it all together.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Talking violence, trauma tonight on WGN

LATE-NIGHTERS...I'll be back on WGN tonight at 11:30, on the Patti Vasquez Show. Along with a few other noteworthy Chicagoans I'll be talking about gun violence. You can call in and join the conversation.

Doctors demand trauma center
I'm certainly going to take issue with the Univ. of Chicago getting approval from the State Board to build a new $67 million medical facility in suburban Orland Park. Meanwhile despite months of community protests, including some by doctors and med students, there is still no Level 1 adult trauma center on the south side to treat victims of gun violence who now must travel miles by ambulance to the North Side or West Side for emergency medical care. The University of Chicago Medical Center closed its adult trauma center in 1988. And though it moved into a new $700 million building last year, officials say the hospital lacks financial and other support to reopen a trauma center that can treat patients 17 and up.

I still remember Damian Turner, who died of a gunshot wound sustained in a drive-by shooting in 2010. Though the 18-year-old was shot just blocks away from the UC Medical Center, he was taken eight miles away by ambulance to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he died of his injuries, because there are no adult trauma centers on the city's South Side.

Sen. Durbin knows who butters his bread. 
It's shocking, yet predictable, that Sen. Dick Durbin won't support the trauma center.
“To say, ‘Let’s go open a trauma center two miles from here’ is not a casual decision. It has to be done very carefully, with a dramatic investment. So I don’t want to push them into something that is not practical,” Durbin said. “I understand the community concerns, because of all the violence and bloodshed, but we need to look at this in honest terms.”
Yes, Sen. Durbin. Let's be honest about where your campaign funds come from, including millions from the medical industry, Blue Cross & Blue Shield, and related PACs and lobbyists. UC is one of Durbin's biggest patrons. No, I'm not surprised.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Duncan's unsolicited confession: He's choking education.

EPIPHANY...Arne Duncan has been talking with lots of teachers, principals and other educators, he claims, and has had an aha! moment. In his blog post, he offers this unsolicited confession:
"I believe testing issues today are sucking the oxygen out of the room in a lot of schools – oxygen that is needed for a healthy transition to higher standards, improved systems for data, better aligned assessments, teacher professional development, evaluation and support, and more."
Duncan, the biggest oxygen sucker of them all, then allows a one-year reprieve on test-based teacher ratings. Thank you, Lord Duncan. I'm sure a year from now, the oxygen will be back.

What Duncan refuses to recognize is that his Race To The Top/Common Core testing regimen is also sucking wind when it comes to equity in the schools. Even with a one-year reprieve on federal test-based teacher ratings (will school districts follow suit?), dramatic cuts in funding will still leave poor, inner-city schools and districts at a disadvantage. Take Philadelphia, for example.With an $81 million budget gap, Philly schools are opening minus hundreds of classroom teachers, social workers, and librarians. Students are sitting in uncleaned classrooms. Sports and after-school programs are being decimated. Unlimited expansion of the city's privately-run charter schools is another oxygen sucker.

A year's reprieve on testing won't change any of that. A year from now, the gap will be a year wider, no matter how you measure it. Civil rights is still the civil rights issue of our generation.

Monday, August 25, 2014


Atty. Gen. Holder meets with students from St. Louis Community College

Eric Holder
“History simmers beneath the surface in more communities than just Ferguson.” -- New Republic
 Lesley McSpadden (Michael Brown's mother)
“We couldn’t even see him. They wouldn’t even let us go see him. They just left him out there, four and a half hours, with no answers. Wouldn’t nobody tell us nothing.” -- N.Y. Times
Tyona Fields 
“I’m praying to God we can get these kids in school because kids have been out too long,” said Tyona Fields, one of the cafeteria workers at Griffith Elementary School. School is scheduled to start next Monday. -- N.Y. Times
Rahm Emanuel
 “The narrative is: We’re the murder capital. Not close." -- Politico

Cornell West on Obama
"It’s a sad thing. It’s like you’re looking for John Coltrane and you get Kenny G..." --- Salon
Stephen Mihm
When we see broad areas of inequality in America today, what we are actually seeing is the lingering stain of slavery... Today, in the 21st century, it still casts an economic shadow over both blacks and whites: “Slavery.”  -- Boston Globe "Where Slavery Thrived, Inequality Rules Today"