Friday, October 31, 2014

THE BEN & JESSE SHOW

Ben and Jesse
Ben Joravsky had lots of good questions for acting CTU Pres. Jesse Sharkey at last night's Take Back Chicago event, organized by Parents 4 Teachers.

We were greeted outside the Luther Memorial Church by organizers from both the Fioretti and Garcia campaigns asking us to sign their petitions. What a dilemma! You can't legally sign both. Luckily, my daughter Joanna was with me, so we each signed one, avoiding my existential crisis. What a silly law.

Sharkey didn't speak directly to the union's endorsement in the upcoming mayor's race, but made his feelings clear that the more progressive candidates in the race, the better chance of forcing Rahm into a run-off. That comment drew the biggest response from the audience. The only announced mayoral candidate I saw in the room was long-shot Amara Enyia. I hope she does well.

Sharkey also made clear the union's support for a host of candidates running in ward elections and optimistically predicted an end to Rahm's super-majority in the City Council. He also predicted success for an elected-school-board initiative ultimately getting on the ballot.

I'm still struggling with this image for some reason. 
Joravsky had a busy day, yesterday. Aside from prepping for last night's forum, he also banged out some wit and wisdom in this timely Reader post, A reminder to Mayor Rahm's 2015 opponents: It's a runoff, dummies!
My point is that once Mayor Rahm fires up that propaganda machine to turn himself into the second coming of Abraham Lincoln, the best bet to beat him is to encourage as many people as possible to vote against him. No matter who they're voting for. And it's kind of hard to do that if Chuy's bashing Bob, and Bob's bashing Chuy, and so on and so forth, thus turning everybody off.
Phil Huckleberry's post at Gapers Block, Chuy Garcia Jumps In, Realignment Begins, has a similar, but slightly different ring than Ben's make-love-not-war plea to progressives. Huckleberry is realistic enough to know that the struggle for a runoff spot is bound to be intense. But he still sees a way for a common progressive strategy against belt-holder, Rahm.
What we see emerging is a classic WWE triple threat match. (If you think that high-stakes politics has little in common with professional wrestling, then you're probably not very familiar with either phenomenon!)
I'm not a big wrestling fan, but I get the point.

Gloomy Ben kept asking Jesse for some good news. Here's some. Everybody (including some 1%-ers) hates Rahm. Most polls I've seen, show the mayor's negative ratings up around 55%. Even Rahm's own hired gun David Axelrod, calls him a son-of-a-bitch. Only Axelrod thinks, that's a good thing.

S-T's Chad Merda writes:
And that's backed up by his dismal public support; an Early & Often poll showed he only had 29 percent support overall and 8 percent from African-Americans. “Thank God the election is not today," Emanuel said in August.
God's not on your side, Rahm. See picture above.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Latest polls show Rahm very beatable.

Chuy Garcia at UIC today says, "I'm a serious mayoral candidate, not just a protest vote." (Sun-Times)
I'm hoping my old friend (going back to the Harold Washington days) Chuy Garcia is able to gather enough signatures over the next 3 weeks to officially get on the ballot. His potential vote total, along with challenger Bob Fioretti's, together would likely be strong enough to deny Rahm Emanuel a first-round victory like the one he enjoyed in 2011, when he got 55% of the vote.

I'm no expert on polling, but neither am I blind. The latest polling I get from Fioretti's camp shows the Alderman trailing Rahm by just 4 points in a head-to-head contest. The Garcia camp has yet to do any polling.

Rahm - 38, Fioretti - 34,  Unsure - 28  (Margin of error = 1.4%)

This modeling survey of 4,797 voters shows a two-way race with the mayor’s support essentially unchanged from what we saw in a three-way race a month ago. Of course, this latest poll was done after Karen Lewis dropped out and before Chuy dropped in (he still hasn't officially). 

But it seems to indicate (at least to me) that Rahm has a hard ceiling of 40-45% no matter how much he spends, and a strong showing by Chuy (or even a moderate one) will throw this thing into a run-off with the combined support of the progressives likely beating the incumbent in the final election. What's unclear is who has the best chance to finish second in the first round -- Bob or Chuy?

Rahm's negatives are solid. 42% of those surveyed give the mayor a positive job rating. Over half (55%) give him a negative one. 

Now the election is only 3 months away and a lot can happen in 3 months, as we've seen in the last few weeks. We don't know if the progressive candidates can tactically focus on defeating Rahm instead of trying to cut each other's throats (wouldn't be the first time). I've been assured by activists in both camps that they're each focusing their fire strictly on the mayor. 

Even given all the potential black swans lurking in the reeds, prospects for a Rahm defeat in the final round still seem strong. But so much depends on how the two progressive candidates--and their supporters--play it. 

Waukegan teachers hanging tough. Cuomo vows to break public schools 'monopolies'.

At last night's board meeting, Waukegan board member Victoria Torres blows it. Tells angry striking teachers and parent supporters, "Sit down and shut up!" Probably not the best way for elected official to open dialogue. Meeting up for grabs. Quickly adjourned. At 10 p.m. teachers union releases a statement calling Torres’ behavior “abhorrent” and calling for her immediate resignation. Statewide support is building for teachers who are in 4th week of strike for a decent contract.

While N.Y. Gov. Cuomo is busy playing political games with quarantined Ebola health workers, he still finds time to attack public education with a broad brush. According to this story in the Daily News, Cuomo has vowed to break the public schools “public monopolies” and replace them with more privately-run charter schools.

That's really hard to understand since Cuomo has always been a big fan of monopolies. Take for example his love affair with Pearson Publishing, the British conglomerate that monopolizes Common Core and the standardized testing industry.

According to Alan Singer, writing at Huffington,
 Pearson is already creating teacher certification exams for eighteen states including New York, organizing staff development workshops to promote Pearson products, and providing school district Pearson assessment tools. In New York, Pearson Education currently has a five-year, $32 million contract to administer state test and provides other "testing services" to the State Education Department. It also recently received a share of a federal Race to the Top grant to create what the company calls the "next-generation" of online assessments. 
“Gov. Cuomo has laid clear plans to expand his frontal assault on our public schools through high stakes testing, starving our public schools and privatization,” says Billy Easton, executive director of the Alliance for Quality Education.
“It’s not that shocking when you look at the enormous pile of cash he has raked in from the Wall Street billionaires who are investing in charter schools. He is rewarding his financial backers at a devastating cost to our children.”
Please tell me again why the Working Families Party (WFP) thought it a good idea to endorse this guy? The Nation's explanation only makes me dizzy.

AFT Prez Randi Weingarten Tweets this follow-up to this week's teacher-bashing TIME cover:



Tuesday, October 28, 2014

'Chuy' is running for mayor

Between now and February, we are in for a ride. Cook County Commissioner, former Alderman, State Senator  and old Harold Washington hand, Jesus "Chuy" Garcia announced last night that he is running for Mayor.

Emanuel’s nearly $9 million campaign fund dwarfs the $15,000 Garcia has in storage. He’ll need, he says, $3 million to be competitive.
“I think by the time that I register as a candidate we will be at least half way there,” he said. He is working he said with long time political strategist Don Rose, who helped Jane Byrne defeat Michael Bilandic in 1979. -- Ward Room
Chicago progressives have spent the past couple of weeks walking around in darkness with heads hanging over Karen Lewis' departure from the race. Now that Rahm is going to be hit from two sides by Garcia and Bob Fioretti, the likelihood of a runoff looms large. Both will be looking for community and union support -- and money. Buckle up.


All eyes are on Waukegan. The teachers strike in its 4th week. Against tremendous pressure, teachers are still united and hanging tough. Now is the time for the rest of the state's union movement to rally behind them and win this thing.

Thanks to Edushyster, I mean Jennifer Berkshire, for her guest appearance in my class last night. Jennifer is in town talking to all the right people, to get her Chicago story right.



Monday, October 27, 2014

WEEKEND QUOTABLES

Dave Zirin
Dave Zirin
"This is about the rot of for-profit amateurism... [It's] educational money-laundering of young black men...the organized theft of black wealth... Having the NCAA investigating the North Carolina scandal is like having Tony Soprano come in to deal with the neighborhood drug dealer." -- Melissa Harris-Perry on MSNBC

Nicholas Kristof
A new Pew survey finds that Americans consider the greatest threat to our country to be the growing gap between the rich and poor. Yet we have constructed an education system, dependent on local property taxes, that provides great schools for the rich kids in the suburbs who need the least help, and broken, dangerous schools for inner-city children who desperately need a helping hand. Too often, America’s education system amplifies not opportunity but inequality. -- N.Y. Times
Jitu Brown
Jitu Brown
“It is a testimony to the commitment from people that live in this neighborhood who not only developed a full academic plan for the school in absence of a vision by the district, but also demonstrated, turned out to town hall meetings and showed their overwhelming support of Dyett. It is not the result of elected officials". -- Early & Often
 UTLA president Alex Caputo-Pearl 
“You had him [former L.A. Supt. John Deasy] supporting this community movement that had been brewing for about 10 years around positive behavior support and restorative justice. But he didn’t invest resources into the staffing, training or school reform that would be needed to really bring those things into practice.” -- Capital & Main

Friday, October 24, 2014

More on the Sun-Times 'Breach in the Wall'

In this morning's post, I asked what Dave McKinney's brother and sister S-T reporters were going to do in response to, what Mark Anderson called, "the breach in that wall between owners and the newsroom." By this afternoon I got my answer.

McKinney's fellow reporters have asked S-T owners for reassurance that they won't seek to influence editorial content. The request comes in a petition that supporters can sign, posted on the reporters' union website. It reads:
Mr. Michael Ferro and Mr. Timothy Knight: 
We are deeply troubled by the situation leading up to Dave McKinney’s resignation. It raises incredible questions about whether Sun-Times reporters risk retaliation from management after writing stories unfavorable to a politician or our company's investors.
We have basic concerns about whether we will be able to do our jobs moving forward without interference. 
We want to know: did a politician or someone tied to that politician lodge a complaint with Mr. Ferro over a story? If there was indeed a breach in the firewall that is supposed to exist between owners and the newsroom, how do we know that will not reoccur? Would you or Mr. Knight address the newsroom to answers these questions and others?
Respectfully, Chicago Sun-Times Newsroom and supporters
I just signed it.

Now the question is, what will Rauner/Rahm pals who own the S-T, do to salvage its integrity and prevent an all-out rebellion on the part of its staff? The ball is in the court of Ferro and Knight.

A 'breach in the wall' at the Sun-Times. How will it play out for Rahm?

The Ward Room's Mark Anderson has the best take on the Sun-Times/Rauner/McKinney debacle. He's smart enough to look beyond its immediate impact on the (I know I am, but what are you) gov's race and see how things might play out for S-T editorial board pal, Rahm Emanuel in February's race for mayor.

SmallTalk salute for Dave McKinney
Anderson points out how the S-T editorial board sold its soul and the paper's credibility by doing Rauner's bidding, throwing ace reporter David McKinney under the bus and then endorsing Rauner over Quinn.

McKinney deserves a SmallTalk Salute for his resignation letter to Rauner-puppy-dog bosses, Ferro, Knight and Kirk. He's right on time when he writes:
Readers of the Sun-Times need to be able to trust the paper. They need to know a wall exists between owners and the newsroom to preserve the integrity of what is published. A breach in that wall exists at the Sun-Times. It’s had a chilling effect in the newsroom. While I don’t speak for my colleagues, I’m aware that many share my concern. I’m convinced this newspaper no longer has the backs of reporters like me.
I'm waiting to see what McKinney's brother and sister S-T reporters are going to say in an attempt to salvage their own professional and political integrity. Here Carol Marin's Tweet:

As for the upcoming mayor's race, Anderson writes:
The mayor has deep ties to a number of Sun-Times board members, just like Rauner. Members of the board, including Michael Ferro Jr. and Michael Sacks donated heavily to Emanuel’s 2011 campaign. The mayor parties with members of the board. Michael Sacks has been described as the mayor’s “go-to guy” on everything from the city’s parking meter deal to economic development.
That’s not to say a mayoral endorsement from the Sun-Times will be done in anything but the most transparent, above board way possible. But what if it’s not? This one certainly wasn't. There’s little doubt both the city and the state are facing an abundance of critical and difficult problems right now. Voters and concerned citizens need institutions like the Sun-Times to fulfill their role as unbiased, unimpeachable reporters of truth—even in the messy world of politics.
Did he really paint a scenario where Rahm is trailing in the race by double digits? I doubt it, but I like it.

The very thing that makes them strong, makes them weak.


And speaking of no credibility... I'll let Brother Fred's take on the new Time cover say all that needs to be said.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Rahm can still be had

I'm happy and a bit overwhelmed to see Karen Lewis tweeting again. Way to go Karen.


I haven't seen any new polls since Karen fell ill, but my sense is that Rahm Emanuel can still be had in February and is beatable, either in a run-off, or head-to-head, by Ald. Bob Fioretti.

Nothing I read or hear tells me that Rahm, even with his bulging cash reservoir, has moved past the 50% mark with likely voters. He is still the most despised man in Chicago, especially in the black community where his legacy of school closings and failed education policies and sabotaged city services and programs are devastating entire neighborhoods.

Before Karen's illness, Fioretti seemed at least viable in the polls, even before actually campaigning. Some polls were actually showing him running second, behind Karen. Back in August, Tribune polls showed that,
"...even a mostly unknown potential challenger — 2nd Ward Ald. Bob Fioretti — has gained surprising traction... a sign that there's a sizable contingent of anyone-but-Emanuel voters. The mayor had 43 percent in the hypothetical matchup with Fioretti, while 23 percent were undecided."
Now, everything has changed except that Rahm most likely, hasn't gained any ground.

Can be beat. 
I know it won't be easy. Fioretti's campaign still hasn't really gotten off the ground and lots of us are still walking with our heads hung down and thinking more about Karen's recovery than about elections, The media naturally is focused on the governor's race, which hasn't exactly electrified voters.

And worse, the city's labor coalition still can't seem to pull itself together and get in sync with the parent and community groups who would like to see the Little Emperor fall. That includes the shame-faced leadership of SEIU Local 73 who contributed thousands of union members' dollars to Rahm's campaign chest.  The unions are the only force right now, with the money and organization to turn out enough voters for a Rahm upset, either by Fioretti or some combination of viable emerging candidates (Are there any? Rumors abound).

I'm also getting tired of "charisma" experts and those who tell me, "it's not about elections, it about building the movement." From what I can see, that kind of thinking leads to no election victory and not much of a movement. How can you fight Rahm's autocratic, two-Chicago policies in the neighborhoods while surrendering political power to him in City Hall?

Then there's the question of the viability of the many progressive local city council campaigns who are really up against it, without the money and dynamics of a strong run against Rahm. My hope is that after November's races, we will recover, get unified and get our act together behind Fioretti.

###

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

92,000 arrested in U.S. schools. Chicago leads in filling school-to-jail pipeline.

Rashe France was a 12-year-old seventh-grader in 2012 when he was arrested in Southaven, Miss., charged with disturbing the peace on school property after a minor hallway altercation. His family is concerned the arrest will have repercussions in the future. (STEVE JONES FOR WSJ)
The school-to-jail pipeline is overflowing. Thousands of students, mostly black and Latino, are being arrested in school, many for what are considered minor violations of school discipline codes in white, wealthier schools. The result -- U.S. has the largest prison population in the world and nearly one out of every three American adults now are on the FBI's master criminal database.

Today's WSJ reports:
A generation ago, schoolchildren caught fighting in the corridors, sassing a teacher or skipping class might have ended up in detention. Today, there’s a good chance they will end up in police custody...Over the past 20 years, prompted by changing police tactics and a zero-tolerance attitude toward small crimes, authorities have made more than a quarter of a billion arrests, the Federal Bureau of Investigation estimates. Nearly one out of every three American adults are on file in the FBI’s master criminal database.
 According to the U.S. Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights, 260,000 students were reported, or “referred” in the official language, to law enforcement by schools in 2012, the most-recent available data. The survey also said 92,000 students were subject to school-related arrests. There are no earlier comparable numbers—the Education Department requested the data because it couldn’t find good national research on the topic.

CHICAGO AMONG THE WORST...More so than in other large school districts, Chicago schools are quick to call in police to handle student misbehavior and conflict, according to a Catalyst Chicago analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights for the 2011-2012 school year (the most recent available).  In Chicago, police were called at a rate of nearly 18 cases for every 1,000 students, while New York City’s rate was 8 per 1,000 students and numbers in Los Angeles were 6 per 1,000.

Overall, CPS referred 7,157 students to law enforcement in 2012, of whom 2,418 students were arrested, according to the federal data. As is the case with school discipline in general, black males are disproportionately targeted

Increasingly, issues of classroom management and discipline are being taken out of the hands of educators and turned over to law enforcement. This certainly doesn't bode well for the future of the teaching profession or for our society.