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.

Monday, October 20, 2014


"Black Turnout in '64 and Beyond." -- 1964 Freedom Summer voter registration project. (NY Times)

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka
Gov. Chris Christie likes to say that he is “the decider” of what happens in Newark’s public schools. What that means is that he and his appointees now own the failure of the state’s policies. -- New York Times
Kristen Crowell
"Actions have consequences, and United Working Families is committed to a fifty ward strategy to ensure voters have their say,” Kristen Crowell, executive director of United Working Families, told Ward Room. “The City Council may not want [the question of an elected representative school board] on the ballot—but we are determined to put this on the ballot so all of Chicago has a voice." -- The Ward Room
Rousemary Vega
“When they closed Lafayette, we asked Alderman Maldonado to fight for our schools. He didn't listen. We asked the school board why they closed our school while they continued to spend money building new privately operated schools in rich neighborhoods, and while the city continued to give our tax money to private developers downtown. They flat out ignored us parents. [26th Ward candidate Juanita Irazarry]  is listening.” -- Grassroots Illinois Action Press Release
Prof. Mitchell Robinson
"When traditionally prepared teachers leave the profession, it’s a bug–when TFA recruits leave, its a feature.” --  Washington Post

Friday, October 17, 2014

L.A. Board 'doesn't believe' Deasy is crooked

From L.A. school board's statement on the departure of Supt. John Deasy:
The Board "does not believe that the superintendent engaged in any ethical violations or unlawful acts."
Not exactly the carefully-chosen words you want to see in a reference letter from a former employer. I mean, it should go without saying. Shouldn't it?

But if Deasy isn't greasy, why isn't the board sharing its internal probe of the iPad contracting process?

Inquiring minds want to know.

And here we go with the third go-round of Ray Cortines, the 82-year-old, don't make waves, utility manager, who will keep the seat warm until Bill and Eli can find another hatchet man for LAUSD.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Rahm -- 'We don't need no stinkin' constitution'

“The Supreme Court…has thrown a wet blanket on further discussions.
RAHM BLAMES THE COURTS -- He asks his Civic Committee patrons: How do you expect me to grab public employee pensions if the courts keep ruling it unconstitutional?

Thanks again to Patti Vasquez and producer Craig Collins, for having me on the show last night on WGN. Patti got me talking about Karen Lewis and the upcoming race for mayor as well as the the latest study on Chicago charter schools. Here's the podcast (beginning at 17:23) for those of you who couldn't hang that late.

Comment on WGN website:
Patti:Glad you had Mike Klonsky on Wed nite. I strongly share his views in the major need to replace the current Chgo. Mayor. It is highly unfortunate about Karen Lewis, her own well being and the Mayor’s race. Mike is right, this guy can’t go soon enough, before he damages the city and residents (and pocketbooks) even further. Don’t give up hope!
Demographics...S-T's Lauren Fitzpatrick reports that for the first time in Illinois, white students no longer constitute the majority of public school students, the Illinois State Board of Education said Wednesday. And the percentage of students considered low-income has surpassed the halfway mark, according to the agency.
White public school students made up 49.9 percent of all of Illinois’ 2 million public school students in 2014 as the Hispanic population has grown to 24.6 percent, according to the state board. Of all Illinois public school students, 51.5 percent are considered low-income.
The strange thing about Fitzpatrick's piece -- it never once mentions African-Americans and makes no reference to their percentage of the state's school population. Since when did black students become invisible?

Just heard the news that John Deasy's contract in L.A. has been terminated. Let's see where Gates puts him now.
More broadly, critics have faulted Deasy for what they call an autocratic, punitive leadership style that they say has demoralized teachers and other employees. Still, Deasy has enjoyed strong support from key civic and business leaders, who have urged the Board of Education in recent weeks to retain him.
Ain't that the way it goes?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Rahm's 'savage cuts' to public services

I just received this press release from Stephanie Gadlin at the CTU.

Chicago Teachers Union Response to Mayor’s Budget Address:
Emanuel’s seeks balance through savage cuts to public services by using accounting trickery

CHICAGO – Today, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) released the following statement in response to the Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Budget Address:

“At the end of today’s city budget address, Mayor Rahm Emanuel closed with a comment touting downtown business growth. His perspective is particularly apropos: in a city where the top 5 percent of earners make 25 percent of the income and unemployment in some parts of the south and west sides nears 50 percent, three-quarters of those downtown jobs have gone to people outside of the city,” said CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey.

“A budget for everyone would address these realities, but this budget continues a top-down imposition of two distinct cities, one for the privileged and one for everyone else. Similar to other Emanuel budgets, “balance” comes through savage cuts to public service and accounting trickery, as there is only minimal revenue generation in this budget, and what is included, like taxes on car leases and increased cell phone taxes, are incredibly regressive. The mayor’s proposals on crime, education, and the minimum wage make this two-tiered system clear.”

Overall statistical declines mask the intensity in which Chicagoans’ experience with crime differs, Sharkey noted. The reality on the ground is that neighborhoods on the South and West sides of the city continue to struggle with daily violence. Budgetary allocations for police only cover positions lost to retirement and are nowhere near what the mayor promised during this first campaign.

Emanuel continues to support the failed policy of mandatory minimums as a solution to gun crime; such an approach only drives up the cost of incarceration, does not deter shootings, and absent sufficient support for re-entry, those with felony records have little opportunity for employment. Those incarceration costs are merely shifted to other tax payers, allowing the Mayor to take all the credit without paying any of the expense.

Furthermore, the mayor’s decision to shutter mental health clinics continues to shift costs to the county jail and county hospital while increasing risks to all Chicagoans. Last week’s blue line shooter had a history of untreated mental illness. A budget that worked for all Chicagoans would restore funding for mental health clinics, provide resources for real community policing, and would support comprehensive re-entry programs for parolees.

On education, Mayor Emanuel takes credit for policies that he did not start and hides the savage cuts he’s pushed. Graduation rates were already increasing prior to his election, and the real credit must go to the school staffs who daily work with students. These same school staffs have seen savage cuts to their budgets over the past three years, including hundreds of lost positions for the longer school day the mayor demanded. Students across the city are going without art, music, world language, and PE because of those cuts. Dozens of librarians have been shifted into teaching positions, so libraries go unused because of inadequate staffing.

These library cuts come on top of slashed Chicago Public Library hours. Furthermore, while the Emanuel touted After School Matters, elementary school after-school programs have been slashed across the city. For instance, Gale Elementary School suffered $1 million in budget cuts (the same as the expansion of ASM), eliminated all after school programs, and has to raise money for books. Also omitted from this budget address was the impact of the 50 school closures the Mayor rammed through that have not resulted in major financial savings but have negatively impacted the students and families forced to change schools (again, mainly on the South and West sides).

Finally, the so-called “universal” expansion of pre-K is much less than advertised. The mayor’s proposal only covers four-year olds (instead of three-year olds as well), is free only for the lowest-income families, varies widely in quality depending on whether in a CPS program with highly-trained and certified teachers or in a private day care with less qualified workers, and is funded with a complex scheme that rewards Goldman Sachs with additional profits on top of the millions from toxic swaps the economy-crashing bank has already received. The Mayor’s education policies have never deviated from a failed corporate reform model and have outraged parents across the city.


On the minimum wage, Sharkey noted, the Mayor’s proposal also shows the two-tiered nature of his overall approach to governance. There are no protections for tipped workers or domestic workers, two of the largest categories of minimum wage earners in the city, and these are often the Black and Latino workers who have been left out of the downtown boom. Worse, despite claims of eliminating the need for choosing food or medical care, the Mayor’s minimum wage proposal leaves low-wage families in poverty. The ordinance would only be above the poverty line by 2018, and by 2019, by the time the full $13 kicks in; low-wage workers would be 9 cents over that line. The economic impact of the Mayor’s proposal is half of the competing $15 ordinance. Chicago needs the $15/hour wage ordinance, and it needs that ordinance now.

“The CTU remains committed to policies that have real impact, including revenue-generating plans like the LaSalle Street Tax and TIF reforms that create real, fair investment streams rather than more of the same warmed-over conventional wisdom. We support the $15 minimum wage, the privatization, transparency and accountability ordinance, restoration of cuts to social services, and real funding for retirement security. These proposals are possible when we survey the entire city, not just those who can be seen from the fifth floor,” said Sharkey.

Want to improve student learning? Raise the minimum wage

An increase in the minimum wage was one of the key demands of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs & Freedom 
There's already an abundance of research showing the link between poverty and measurable student learning outcomes. One of the best ways to help students and improve learning outcomes would be to raise the minimum wage to one that's livable.

A new study coming out of the Leadership Conference Education Fund and Peter Edelman's Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality, makes the connection between the current struggle to increase the minimum wage to the historic movement for civil and human rights. A doubling of the current minimum wage would not only help lift millions of families out of poverty, it would also boost the entire economy while improving government balance sheets. According to the study:
...the choice by policymakers to keep the minimum wage low has been an important factor contributing to the dramatic and troubling rise in income inequality since the 1970s. For all these reasons and more, the civil rights community has a crucial role to play in the coming months and years in the fight to raise the minimum wage.
If you want to make the case for a $15/hour minimum wage you won't find a better resource than the bibliography at the back of  Improving Wages, Improving Lives: Why raising the minimum wage 
is a civil and human rights issue.

At Monday night's meeting (Progress Illinois)
While we're on the topic of Civil Rights...U.S. Department of Education officials heard first-hand stories about the impact public school closings and consolidations are having in Chicago at a South Side community meeting held Monday night with parents, students and their supporters.

The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights is currently looking into a complaint filed by education activists alleging "racially discriminatory" school actions and closings in Chicago. Organizers with the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO) and the Coalition to Revitalize Dyett High School spearheaded the town hall meeting, held at First Unitarian Church of Chicago in Hyde Park. The discussion was designed to allow education department reps to hear directly from the people affected by the school actions cited in the complaint.

DEASY STAYS, FOR NOW -- I'm not sure what happened at last night's school board meeting in L.A. but what I'm hearing is not good. L.A. Times ed reporter Howard Blume tweets:

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Time to unite and keep the struggle alive

By now, everyone's heard the news that Karen Lewis has come through surgery for a brain tumor and now faces the struggle of her life, a long, difficult road back towards recovery. Our thoughts are with her and her family.

We've also heard, loud and clear, that she's no longer in the race for mayor, a stunning blow with just a little over four months to go before the election. Despite this devastating set-back, the movement continues and hope remains that the young corps of leadership in and outside of the CTU will step up and fill the void.

As far as the election is concerned, Rahm is still not out of the woods. His poll numbers continue to plummet and Ald. Bob Fioretti is still in the race.
"I have the pleasure of calling her a friend, and I join many across this city in praying for her health today. I can understand the battle with illness, and how it can change the best thought out plans. But I also know that Karen is resilient and strong and will be back advocating for educators … students … and Chicagoans in no time," Fioretti said.
"With my friend in the race, it would have been a little bit different dynamics," Fioretti said. "I've always said ... the day after the February (election), if there was a runoff, it would have been Karen and I."
I think he's right. Time to unite and keep the struggle alive.
“Karen Lewis has decided to not pursue a mayoral bid,” Jay Travis, the head of her mayoral exploratory committee said in a statement Monday “Yet she charges us to continue fighting for strong neighborhood schools, safe communities and good jobs for everyone.
“The tens of thousands of signatures collected for Karen confirm what the polls have already said: Chicagoans from Beverly to Uptown want to feel safe in their neighborhoods; they want an elected representative school board; and they want political leadership at every level that is responsive and responsible.”
Rahm's Achilles' heel continues to be his disastrous school "reform" policies, including his engineering the largest mass school closings in history, a kick in the gut of black and Latino communities throughout the city, along with his infatuation with privately run charter schools (and all things privatization).

Those policies took another major blow yesterday with the publication of a major study coming out of the University of Minnesota's Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity, headed by Myron Orfield. The study provides more compelling evidence that charter schools have worsened school segregation in Chicago and overall have had a crippling effect on the city's public schools.

According to Orfield's study:
Charter schools have become the cornerstone of school reform in Chicago and nationally.  Arne Duncan, who led Chicago schools and was a strong proponent of charters, became secretary of Education.  As Secretary Duncan has championed policies to dramatically expand the use of charters throughout the United States. Chicago, however, remains one of the nation’s lowest performing school districts.  Sadly the charters schools, which on average score lower that the Chicago public schools, have not improved the Chicago school system, but perhaps made it even weaker.  Further charters, which are even more likely to be single race schools than the already hyper segregated Chicago school system, have not increased interracial contact, an often- stated goal of charter systems.  Finally, the fact that Chicago charters use expulsion far more often that public schools deserves further study.  In the end it is unlikely that the Chicago charter school experience provides a model for improving urban education in other big city school districts.
And speaking of Duncan...his pal, Purdue University President Mitch Danielssays he stands by his efforts to keep historian Howard Zinn's work from being taught in Indiana schools, saying the actions he took while governor were meant to keep the book out of the hands of K-12 students.
Daniels told reporters after a meeting of the board that a statement he made as governor that Indiana should "disqualify the propaganda" he saw being used in Indiana's teacher preparation courses was meant only to keep Zinn's "A People's History of the United States" from being taught in the state's K-12 classrooms.
Duncan & Daniels
Readers might remember how Ed Sec. Duncan traveled to Indiana in 2011 to embrace Tea Party Gov. Daniels' version of school reform.
"Now, few states have done a better job of coping with the recession than Indiana and I want to salute you -- Governor Daniels -- for your leadership and management skills. I also salute you for your leadership on education issues. You are among the 42 states that have voluntarily adopted college and career ready standards. You knew the bar here was too low and needed to be raised, even if that was hard to do. You are among the 46 states that developed bold reform plans to compete for Race to the Top."
Lie down with dogs, wake up with fleas.

Monday, October 13, 2014


Kate Manne
When, three days after the shooting, another white officer called the (primarily black) protesters “[expletive] animals,” it cemented many people’s fears that Brown had been slain in a similar spirit — the thought being that the officer responsible, Darren Wilson, saw Brown as an animal, or at least as less than human. -- In Ferguson and Beyond (NYT)
Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts
But a path can be traced from slavery to the killing of Michael Brown. -- The Worth of Black Men (NYT Magazine)
Bob Herbert to Bill Moyers 
“People need to start voting against the excessive power of the great moneyed interests. But more than that, we need a movement, a grass-roots movement that will fight for the interests of ordinary men and women…” Restoring an America That Has Lost Its Way
Karen Lewis
Bob Fioretti
 "She is a fighter and I know that she will bounce back, stronger than ever... But right now, we should all respect Karen’s privacy and give her the space she needs to get better." -- WBEZ

Mark Rosenbaum of the L.A. pro bono law firm, Public Counsel
"These are kids who desperately want to go to college and have nothing to do. It's like you're asking for the moon if you ask for an art class, an academic decathlon class, a literacy class." -- Deasy's inaction on Jefferson High fiasco is shocking (L.A. Times)