Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Black aldermen mutiny. Rahm rushes to McCarthy's defense.

Supt. McCarthy goes all Che Guevara on us.
"I know what needs to happen. It's clear to me as anything on earth. It's a systematic failure and the system has to change." -- ABC 7 

Yesterday's City Council budget hearings were like none I've seen since the 70s run-up to the election of Harold Washington, the city's first black mayor. The crisis is so deep that the mutiny has spread way beyond the few and the brave in the Progressive Caucus. Previously isolated rivulets of anger with Rahm/Rauner austerity, property taxes, education cuts, school closings, charter expansion and the gun violence epidemic appear to be flowing into one big river of anger around the budget hearings.

Roosevelt H.S. students hit the streets.
Students at three high schools attempted walkouts yesterday in protest of the budget cuts and in support of their teachers. Roosevelt students succeeded. Students at Schurz and Foreman were blocked by cops and CPS security. There's no prison-break manuals in Common Core.

A SmallTalk salute goes out to Roosevelt teacher Tim Meegan for supporting and inspiring his students. 40th Dist. Rep. candidate Harishi Patel (running in Deb Mell's former district) was also out there with the students.

Monday's Black Caucus presser calling on the mayor to dump Supt. Garry McCarthy, sent tremors up to the 5th floor of City Hall. It even included several formerly docile alders joining with the progressives in open revolt. The catalyst may have been the The Tribune's gross Oct. 1 editorial, Aldermen, own Chicago violence, which sounded to me like a McCarthy plant.

Rahm hit back at the Caucus in a show of white solidarity, with a statement of all-out support for his top-cop. He went so far as to second (first) McCarthy's pick of Dean Andrews as his chief of detectives. Andrews is currently under investigation for engineering the cover-up in the killing of David Koschman by Mayor Daley's nephew R.J.” Vanecko and has been named 114 times in Special Prosecutor Dan Webb's 162-page report on the case. None of that mattered when it came to circling the wagons around McCarthy in the face of the Black Caucus threat.

The Trib brazenly doubled-down on its racist diatribe in today's editorial, leaving no doubt that their accusations and venom were directed only at black aldermen and not all 50 as they previously claimed. Today, the Trib boasts that their "suggestions really got under the skin of aldermen, particularly those who live in the city's most violent wards" (more code language).

Black Caucus Chairman Ald. Rod Sawyer (6th), responds.
This charge that we blame the police is a fiction, nothing more.
It is true that many in our communities have experienced difficult or unjust treatment at the hands of some police officers. Our city is paying huge settlements to victims of such treatment. The relationship can be an uneasy one. This is not some fantasy we made up. From disgraced former Chicago police Cmdr. Jon Burge to "black sites" to stop-and-frisk tactics, it is understandable that there is a breach of trust between the police and people of color and the poor in some of Chicago's most distressed neighborhoods.
I respectfully suggest that your editorial board stop sowing division and casting blame, and instead offer constructive support for our efforts to build a better city for all Chicagoans.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Tribune's disgusting editorial on gun violence. Did McCarthy's people plant it?

City Council Black Caucus chairman Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th), at podium, and members on Monday call for the firing of Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

In August, you [aldermen] had more than 40 people shot on four consecutive weekends. In the deadliest September since 2002, you had 60 people killed. Aldermen, for too long you've avoided wearing a jacket for Chicago's mayhem. -- Tribune editorial
The Tribune's Oct. 1 editorial, Aldermen, own Chicago violence, strikes the same divisive tone as their previous ones calling for a "Mussolini-type dictator" to run the schools and for a "Katrina-like disaster" to hit Chicago.

This time though, they've actually outdone themselves, shifting blame for the dramatic rise in gun violence that has occurred during the Rahm/McCarthy years, onto black and Latino communities and their aldermen. It reads as a total ass-covering attempt for the mayor and police officials. And if you can read racist code language [substitute gang banger and terrorist for young black men] it becomes clear exactly which of the city's 50 alders the Tribune is aiming at.
The gangbangers sleep somewhere. Have you insisted that parents in your ward search their dwellings for guns?
The criminals understand that, if they don't act out too much, they can flourish in your neighborhoods because you — the supposed mayors of your 50 little cities — will not make life difficult for them, for their friends, for their parents. You could help identify the terrorists in your midst. You could organize your wards to help cops, instead of complaining about cops.
Is it just me, or does this one read like it came right out of Supt. Garry McCarthy's Office of Propaganda?

Remember, McCarthy is no stranger to juking politically-charged crime stats and trying to make it look like gun violence had suddenly and magically decreased under his watch.

From Chicago Magazine:
McCarthy called 2012’s homicide total a “tragic number” and vowed that things would be different in 2013. The mindset inside police headquarters, recalls one officer: “Whatever you gotta do, this can’t happen again.”
To help gauge each city’s overall crime level, the FBI tracks eight “index crimes.” From 1993 to 2010, Chicago’s annual total dropped by 47 percent. But from 2010 to 2013, it dropped a stunning 56 percent, or nearly 19 percent per year, according to data from the Chicago Police Department.
Garry McCarthy, who became police chief in May 2011, accomplished that huge reduction in part by changing how certain crimes are categorized. 
No one, of course, is "blaming the cops" for the gun violence epidemic, as the Trib editors charge. In fact, it's Rahm's critics like his election opponent, Chuy Garcia, who have pleaded with him to put more cops out in the neighborhoods. They've also hit Rahm for disbanding many of the city's community policing programs.

Rahm & McCarthy. They juked the crime stats. 
And as for the big dust up over the name of Spike Lee's film, Chiraq, it was basically the mayor and two of his city council yes-men, Will Burns and Anthony Beale, who were silly enough to tell Spike what to do. You can't blame the whole council for that.

And it's been Rahm who, after every high-profile shooting, comes out with media attacks directed at the black community and families for supposedly "not cooperating" with the cops. A quarter million stop-and-frisks of young African-Americans may have had something to do with that.  Trib of course, never mentions. 

But when all is said and done and election campaigns aside, more and better policing are only a small piece of the gun violence puzzle. With the collapse of community policing programs, cops role comes into play at the back end of things. There job has been directed at arresting the shooters and put them (or someone they think is them) in prison. 

So now you've got 2 million, most black and Latino males in prison -- the largest prison population in the world -- and Chicago gun violence shooting up again to record levels. 

The Tribune piece never mentions that the city is saturated with guns, crack and heroin. That there's large areas of concentrated poverty in racially segregate and isolated neighborhoods of the city where no jobs exist and where schools, clinics, and business stand boarded up.

That's a recipe for gun violence.

The Tribune's attempt to cover that up and blame the victims, rather than the real causes of gun violence deserves to be dissed. If indeed, this piece of crap journalism came from McCarthy's people, it's just another reason he needs to go.  There are plenty of others. 

WEEKEND QUOTABLES 'No confidence' in Duncan/King

"No Confidence" in Duncan/King.

Jeanette Deutermann, Public school parent and founder of Long Island Opt Out
“Throughout his term in New York, John King was notorious for his complete disconnect from parents, teachers, and school officials. His blatant disregard for concerned parents and educators fueled opt outs to historic numbers. Our only hope is that this bizarre move by the White House will have the same effect across the country, spreading the Opt Out movement to every corner of the nation.” -- NYSAPE
John King
"It's [Duncan's]an incredible agenda and I'm proud to carry it forward.” -- Politico
Pres. Obama on Duncan resignation
"He's done more to bring our education system -- sometimes kicking and screaming -- into the 21st century more than anybody else." -- CNN
Diane Ravitch
So this is what the 21st century will look like: boot camps for minorities; teachers with scripts; schools run for profit; school scams by corporations; education industry traded on Néw York stick exchange; high-yield online schools with high attrition rates; the monetization of public education. -- Blog
Randi Weingarten
...his tenure as New York state’s education commissioner created so much polarization in the state with parents and educators alike that even Gov. Andrew Cuomo is finally doing a mea culpa over the obsession with testing. We can only hope that King has learned a thing or two since his tenure in New York.” -- AFT Press Release

Saturday, October 3, 2015


NYSUT delegates applaud following the no confidence vote against Commissioner John King on April  5, 2014. ( Photo byAnnette Konoske-Graf )

Friday, October 2, 2015

Did Duncan just feather his nest in Chicago?

So just before announcing his resignation as Sec. of Education, Arne Duncan dropped $157M on privately-run charters. $42.2M of it is coming to IL with the lion's share going to Arne's pals at Noble St. and Lawndale Educational and Regional Network.

Anybody want to predict where he'll end up when he returns to Chicago?

Duncan's grand charter give-away. Feeding the beast.

Arne Duncan has turned the D.O.E. into little more than a feeding trough for even the most corrupt and unaccountable charter school operators. His latest gift of $157M to charter privateers comes virtually accountability-free. The most stunning part is that Duncan knows and admits it, making him complicit.
"We still see too many reports of unscrupulous behavior of charter schools and their authorizers," Duncan tells reporters.
Ohio, where unscrupulous/corrupt is the name of the game and where charter operators like K12 Inc. and White Hat Management stuff millions into their own pockets, has just received another Duncan grant of more than $32M with another $40 million on the way. It's the largest single award of any state, leaving Ohio's Democratic Congressman Tim Ryan shaking his head in disbelief.

From the Washington Post:
“The charter school system in Ohio is broken and dysfunctional,” said Ryan, who sent a letter Thursday to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, asking him to “place stringent restrictions” on the federal dollars he is sending to Ohio. 
“There are people making a lot of money off schools,” he said. “Why would we send more money to schools now, when we know it’s going into the pockets of people?”
Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) can't believe it. 
Ryan isn't alone. Even pro-charter Republicans are blushing.
Ohio State Auditor Dave Yost, a Republican, said he was “shocked” by Duncan’s decision to pump $32 million into Ohio charters. “Heck, my first thought when I saw the grant award was concern,” Yost said.
In a special audit this year, Yost found a pattern of charter schools inflating enrollment in order to pocket taxpayer subsidies for students who don’t actually attend their schools. Yost, a supporter of charter schools, has called the state’s charter system “broken” and repeatedly urged lawmakers to pass reforms.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports:
It turns out that Ohio's grand plan to stop the national ridicule of its charter school system is giving overseers of many of the lowest-performing schools a pass from taking heat for some of their worst problems. 
Gov. John Kasich and both houses of the state legislature are banking on a roundabout plan to improve a $1 billion charter school industry that, on average, fails to teach kids across the state as much as the traditional schools right in their own neighborhoods.
Illinois is running second to Ohio in Duncan's grand charter give-away. Gov. Rauner's Dept. of Ed is receiving $21.1M of a recommended $42.2M with much of of it going to politically-connected Chicago operators Noble Network of Charter Schools and Lawndale Educational and Regional Network (LEARN).

This even while IL is entering its 4th month without budget. CPS schools are facing massive layoffs, exploding class size and draconian cuts to special education and after-school programs.

Last week 42 out of 50 Chicago alderman called for a moratorium on charter school expansion.

Duncan continues to the beast.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The 'Cone of Uncertainty' and other random notes...

The Cone of Uncertainty

We were heading out for D.C. this morning and then on to the Bethany Beach. We turned around. Lucky we checked the weather. I always thought the "Cone of Uncertainty" was a research/risk-management term 'til I heard Al Roker use it yesterday. I always called it, The Black Swan after Nassim Taleb's book of the same name.

This morning, I'm CERTAIN that Jauquin has the same travel plans as we do. Note to my old high school friend, Floyd at UM. I'll take a rain check on that beer.

Jake in Wauwatosa
Poll: There's 2 guys, Reggie and Bob, in Green Bay, Agnes in Oskosh, and Crazy Jake the exterminator in Wauwatosa, who still support Walker. -- Politico

Chiraq...After 14 people were shot here yesterday in just 15 hours, including an 11-month-old boy and a 2-year-old boy, the mayor jumps out and says gun laws must "reflect the values of the people". All this had me harking back to '09 when Rahm, while serving as Obama’s chief of staff, told AG Eric Holder to “shut the f--k up” on his proposed assault weapons ban. 

Speaking of Rahm, his boy Forrest Claypool ran a board hearing on charter expansion yesterday, that was shady enough to do the mayor and his predecessors proud. Critics were barred from entry and even run out of the hallways, while the room was stacked with Noble charter supporters. Final score: 86 speakers for Noble St. 10 for anti-expansion. 

Note to Sen. Warren...If you're serious about exposing think-tankers who are on the take from Wall Street, call me. I've got names and addresses. 
“Big oil companies shouldn’t be able to peddle phony research on climate change, and the financial industry shouldn’t be able to support phony economics hiding behind a think tank. People expect think tanks to be independent in the research they produce, and the fact that more and more of their work is funded by wealthy corporate interests — often in secret — further tilts the playing field for those with money and power.” -- Lacey Rose, a Warren spokeswoman.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

SpEd cuts delayed? If you don't hit it, it won't fall

At yesterday's board meeting... Parent Wendy Katten of Raise you hand says, "My son's school lost four positions, they have no change in their enrollment there. You are going to face lawsuits."

At least one Board member (Jesse Ruiz?) apparently agrees with Wendy. He mutters into a hot mic -- "Yes we will." Look for him to be called on the carpet today by Rahm's people who will remind him to "speak when we tell you to speak."

Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) appeared on the parents’ behalf to offer a mild threat in language he thought the board could appreciate.
“These children need more assistance, not less,” he said, adding that “the lawsuits that will rain down” on the board by special ed parents will cost more than the cuts are projected to save.
Slick CEO Claypool is feeling the heat and moves to cover his ass. Now he's saying that CPS says it will delay the cuts until it "reevaluates every school's needs". A small victory. Shows that if you hit it hard enough, it will fall.

Cielo Muñoz, a special education teacher at Penn Elementary, described how the school security guard is now pitching in to change diapers. “Students are not getting the services they need,” she said after the board meeting. “I have three students with wheelchairs,” Munoz tells the Sun-Times. “They need diaper changes. Some of them are not verbal.”

"These teachers are going to be taken, but these students will still be there without the service," says Troy LaRaviere, principal of Blaine Elementary. LaRaviere says if the cuts go through, he will lose four Special Ed positions.
Others took their concerns to the school board today, including Special Ed teacher Sarah Chambers"My school lost a position over the summer now we are not able to cover our students' legally-required minutes," Chambers says.
Winston jukes stats. Ignores CPS's own report on SpEd needs.
CPS is juking the stats again...In justifying new cuts to special education, the head of the CPS Office of Diverse Learner Supports and Services, Markay Winston, tells the Board that there are 3,000 fewer special needs kids than there were a year ago.

But Melissa Sanchez at Catalyst writes:
Winston ignored one critical fact. According to CPS's own reports, district staff typically identify, during the course of a year, about 3,000 new students who need special services. That means the number of so-called “diverse learners” typically rises by about 3,000 by the end of the school year.
“They trot out numbers like this to give the sense that the district is losing students, and having a decline in the need for services … when their own reports shows that special education enrollment jumps up about 6 percent on average during the school year,” says Pavlyn Jankov, a researcher at the Chicago Teachers Union. “It’s completely part of their framing to justify cuts, but this is just a blatant lie.”
This is part of a pattern. Rahm's crew continues to use the whitenizing of Chicago and the forced outward migration of black families as a rational for cutting services to schools and communities.

If you are parent of a special needs student, Claypool says to contact CPS if you don't think your child is getting his or her services.

Don't worry, Forrest. We will.

Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown who is hot on the case, adds: "Another option would be to contact me."

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Is Rahm looking for a war on special ed?

As the grandparent of a CPS student with special needs, my message to the mayor is -- if it's a battle you want, it's a battle you'll get.

Our autocrat at City Hall appears bent on dismembering special education in Chicago by a thousand cuts. SpEd took its first major deep cut over the summer eliminating 500 positions at CPS. More cuts announced late Friday mean approximately 160 schools would lose special education teachers, while 184 would lose aides.

Rahm has put his bureaucrats and principals on radio silence regarding the latest cuts, says DNAInfo's Heather Cherone. 
CPS officials declined to answer repeated inquires from DNAinfo Chicago reporters Monday about the formula — apparently based on enrollment figures also released Friday evening — used to make those cuts, and ordered principals not to speak with reporters trying to figure out what the cuts would mean for special education students in neighborhoods throughout Chicago.
Originally, principals were given to the end of the day Monday to appeal the cuts, which sent parents scrambling on social media to figure out if their children's schools would have enough staff to meet the requirements of each student's specialized education plan.
The latest round of cuts, coming weeks after the start of the school year, further destabilize the schools (could it get any worse?), expand class size, and disrupt the lives of the system's neediest students and families -- the ones who need stability the most. Principals are outraged. But will more than a courageous few speak out? Doubtful.

News of the cuts "exploded across social media", says Cherone, with Wendy Katten, the co-founder of parent-advocacy group Raise Your Hand, leading the charge on Facebook. Katten is worried that only those schools where parents are able/willing to sue will get some of these positions back.

Nathan Pietrini, principal of Hawthorne Scholastic Academy in Lakeview tells WBEZ:
“No one told principals this was happening. All the sudden, I had five special ed teachers. Now, I’ve got three.”
Blaine Principal Troy LaRaviere (my choice for next mayor of Chicago), who was chastised last month for criticizing the mayor and CPS, writes:
“Adjustments” is CPS’ latest euphemism for cuts to student services. If they keep it up, they’re going to “adjust” students out of their education entirely. CEO Forrest Claypool often repeats a talking point that the cuts CPS will “have to make” are “unconscionable.” If one thinks the cuts are “unconscionable” then one does not give those cuts a false euphamistic name like “right-sizing.” 
It also could put CPS in violation of federal law. Look for a wave of lawsuits and expensive legal battles (a re-run of Corey H?) to follow, wiping out any potential savings gained from the layoffs.

Billions in federal special-ed dollars flow to school districts and federal law requires public schools to meet the needs of all students with learning difficulties and to do so without isolating them from other children.

Rod Estvan, education policy analyst at the disability-rights group Access Living, predicts there will be fewer special education teachers to support the regular classroom teachers, which could lead to more students in isolated classrooms. If that’s the case, the district could end up out of compliance with federal law.
“They’ll be penalized by the federal government on next year’s allocation for federal dollars for  (special education). They’ll have even less money to function.”
 Without substantial funding coming from the State, as many as 5,000 more teachers could lose their jobs later this year.

CTU's Jesse Sharkey, on Chicago Tonight, says:
"Virtually every student will experience chaos as every school in the city will need to be reprogrammed in the middle of the school year. The educational experience of our students would be gravely damaged in ways that go beyond those immediate frontline layoffs."
SPEAKING OF EXPENSIVE LEGAL BATTLES...The Sun-Times reports that The Board will likely hire Ronald Marmer as its new lead attorney for the district who apparently has no public sector experience and has donated nearly $30,000 to CEO Forrest Claypool's past campaigns.