Tuesday, October 16, 2012

In the wake of Chicago teachers strike...

North Shore teachers are out on strike this morning. Here, fifth grade Lincoln Elementary teacher Larry Patrick, center, rallys with other 112 district teachers outside the North Shore School District 112 Office. (Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune)
Poll watching madness. Isn't this just another way of turning politics into a spectator sport? Like watching the playoffs. I'm glad Chicago's teachers and now those in the North Shore are taking a different route.

In the wake of the teachers strike, cracks are starting to appear from within Rahm's tightly-run organization. The victorious teachers strike and CTU prez, Karen Lewis' willingness to tell the abrasive mayor where to put his middle finger, seems to have given courage to a slavish city council. With Ald. Rick Munoz in the lead, more than 30 aldermen have signed onto an anti-school closing statement. And now, a Progressive Caucus has formed and attracted some 200 community member to a meeting Monday night, to air concerns, frustrations and ideas regarding the 2013 municipal budget. It was the first of three hearings organized by the Caucus, taking place this month. 

At Monday's meeting, moderated by Chicago Reader Senior Reporter Mick Dumke, more than 15 Chicagoans, including Chicago Public Schools teachers and parents, firefighters, police officers and other community residents, testified about their concerns on issues from public safety to job creation and economic concerns.
“When will the banks and corporations be asked to pay their fare share? Where is the accountability when it comes to the corporate elite?,” asked Amisha Patel, Executive Director of the Grassroots Collaborative. Patel called for the closure of the LaSalle Central TIF to “put $15 million back into public services every year.”
Empty chair at Progressive Caucus budget hearings noted.
Missing from the meeting? You guessed it. The RahmFather.

Dumke's partner in crime over at the Reader, Ben Joravskyhas another strong, biting piece on Rahm's autocratic rule over the schools and his firing of schools CEO J.C. Brizard, "B-3 in, J.C. out—Chicago gets a new school boss." Don't miss. 

Rahm has already been dumped as Obama's campaign chair. One of the reasons may be, his attacks on Obama's base for demanding fidelity to campaign promises, are campaign killer, writes David Sirota in Salon. I wish Sirota had mentioned Dems' corporate-style ed reform policies, also spearheaded by Rahm, which have also badly divided Obama's base of support. 

It's true that Obama has Chicago and Illinois locked up, but this goes way beyond local borders. 

FairTest's Monty Neill will be in Chicago on Friday, Nov 2, for a public forum on testing issues at 7 pm at St Xavier University (more here). According to Julie at PURE, Monty has also agreed to help lead a citywide strategy session on anti-testing resistance - how we can work across groups, unite behind some common messages, share resources and otherwise build a strong testing resistance in Chicago. The session will be from 2 to 4 pm on the 2nd at the CTU office, 4th floor in the Merchandise Mart.

Speaking of Monty, check out the FairTest Fact Sheet on "Why Teacher Evaluation Shouldn’t Rest on Student Test Scores." 
To win federal Race to the Top grants or waivers from No Child Left Behind, most states have adopted teacher and principal evaluation systems based largely on student test scores. Many educators have resisted these unproven policies. Researchers from 16 Chicago-area universities and more than 1,500 New York state principals signed statements against such practices. Chicago teachers even struck over this issue, among others. Here’s why these systems-- including “value added” (VAM) or “growth” measures -- are not effective or fair. 

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