HITTING LEFT #91

Friday, July 29, 2016

Moral 'defibrillators' battle for the soul of the party.

"In this season, when some want to harden and stop the heart of our democracy, we are being called like our foremothers and fathers to be the moral defibrillators of our time." --Rev. William Barber
The two most important speeches at the DNC last night were barely covered in this morning's reportage. They came from Rev. William Barber and Gen. John Allen and represented for me, at least, the poles in the struggle for the soul of the Democratic Party and the nation.

Rev. Barber is the head of the N.A.A.C.P and leader of the Moral Monday movement in North Carolina. MMM is a multi-racial movement which has mobilized tens of thousands in this important swing state, to fight form civil rights, public education and social justice. It could hold the key to a Clinton victory in November.

Barber took to the moral high ground, bringing down the house with his call for shocking the system.
“When we fight to reinstate the power of the Voting Rights Act, and we break the interposition and nullification of the current Congress, we in the South especially know, that when we do that we are reviving the heart of our democracy. The heart of our democracy is on the line this November and beyond.” 
Gen. Allen
Gen. Allen, who battled Pres. Obama over the draw-down of American troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, was obviously brought out and scripted to help cut into Trump's base. His speech was also intended to shore up Clinton's hawkish image as someone who could be trusted (by the Pentagon) to lead the next 8 years of the global war on terror and keep tax dollars flowing into the war machine.

Marching out onto the stage with lots of military brass behind him, Allen worked the crowd into a patriotic frenzy. His speech stressed US military power around the world. It could have easily been cribbed from Trump's. The experts who exposed Melania's plagiarism should check this one out.
"To those acting against peace, acting against civilization and world order, we will oppose you. And to our enemies, to our enemies, we will pursue you as only America can. You will fear us. And to ISIS and others, we will defeat you!"
No details as to how.

Liberals loved it. At least, these did.


Wargasm...The image from last night that will stay with me always came from the thousands of delegates chanting, "USA, USA..." to drown out the handful of protesters who had the courage to shout "No more war." The scene had all the makings of a Trump rally and showed how quickly things can turn at the hand of a skillful, flag-waving, fist-shaking demagogue.

No there there on ed...I listened hard this week for any clues or indications of the rumored break by Dem leaders with the party's current corporate-style school reform policies; i.e. testing madness, privatization, mass school closings, and expansion of privately-run charters. I heard nothing. In fact, I barely heard any specifics at all about education and what we can expect from a Hillary-run D.O.E. Dems obviously don't see this as a big dividing issue with Trump/Pence.

The word education came up only twice in Clinton's speech last night. Both times in reference to her taking credit (deservedly or not) for children with disabilities having greater access to quality education. No speaker -- certainly no educator or union leader -- was given the podium in prime time to talk about the fight for public education or differences with Trump on this issue. (Yes, I know Randi and Lily and a few union guys were given barely-noticeable speaking slots.)

What a great alternative that would have offered us, in place of Gen. Allen's wargasm.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Are Dems abandoning corporate reform? Some are giddy over Kaine pick.

Kaine never mentioned education reform in his DNC speech. 
Lots of ed activists are sending me this piece by Jeff Bryant at Campaign for America's Future. Jeff is a good education writer and usually knows what he's talking about.

Here he says that by adding Tim Kaine (no, Donald, he's not the governor of NJ) to the Clinton ticket, Dems may be abandoning current corporate-style school reform policies, which have plagued public education for the past few decades.

I'm for keeping hope alive, but not convinced.

If true, this would really piss off the likes of DFER, Gates/Broad/Walton power philanthropists, Arne Duncan, John King, Peter Cunningham and Wall St. hedge-fund reformers.

It could also pull opt-out parents and anti-Common Core folks closer to Clinton and  away from Trump.

AFT and NEA leaders are likely gleeful over this supposed shift and see it as redemption (payback) for their premature Clinton endorsement. We'll see.

Bryant writes:
The policy outline for K-12 education coming from the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign remains vague, but supporters of Vermont U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders have substantially altered how public education is framed in the Democratic Party platform, and Clinton has become more strident in her attacks on “for-profit” charter schools and vouchers that allow parents to transfer their children to private schools at taxpayer expense.
Vague indeed.

He refers to a recent piece by Lauren Camera for U.S. News and World Report on Kaine's "hefty education resume." Camera points to the significance of the Kaine choice over New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, who is "someone who would have been more favorable to big supporters of the high-stakes testing and charter school expansions that come with reform orthodoxy."

True about Booker.

Then there's Kaine's wife Anne Holton, who is VA's secretary of education and who has tried to reform the standardized testing regime in her state. She's also opposed the expansion of charter schools. And  -- stop the presses -- the Kaines even send their kids to public school.

Good for Anne. We need more like her.

Diane Ravitch is passionate about the Kaine's.

On top of that come the victories won by union activists and Sanders supporters in reshaping the party's ed plank in the platform committee. Victories, by the way (without being giddy with success), that offer activists a reason to stay and fight instead of walking out on the inner-party struggle after the convention.

Having said that, I don't read much into the V.P. choice and I generally see Kaine as a pro-Wall St. guy, someone who is malleable and will toe the party line on education (or TPP), whatever that is.

BTW, what is the party line? Obama said the word education only twice in passing references during his speech. Of course that's two more than he mentioned Iraq or Afghanistan. But who's counting?

In Bill Clinton's ("In the spring of 1971, I met a girl") speech, there were 4, but none substantive.

The word was mentioned only twice in Kaine's own speech with not a word about reform, testing, or charter schools.

Maybe Hillary will mention education in passing, tonight.

I'm thinking back to 2008 when Pres. Obama teased us by making progressive Linda Darling-Hammond the head of his ed transition team and then sent her back to Stanford in favor of corporate reformer Arne Duncan who became his pick for ed secretary.

From what I can see, the fight to save and transform public education will still have to be fought under and throughout a Clinton administration. But the fight may be on more favorable grounds. Certainly better than under a Trump presidency.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Somebody help me here. What's up with the 'Let-Trump-Win' strategy?


As readers of this blog know, I am a Sanders supporter and have been among the loudest critics of Hillary Clinton and the regular Democratic Party for many years, especially around education reform issues.

I supported Fanny Lou Hamer's Mississippi Freedom Democrats when they tried to get seated at the '64 and '68 conventions. I was one of the thousands in the streets at the 1968 Convention when we faced a "police riot" and turned Chicago and Mayor Daley's Democratic machine upside down protesting the war and racism. The Democrats were definitely the war party back then and the party of racial segregation in the South. Hubert Humphrey was their candidate -- not ours.

Some say our protests handed the election to Nixon. I doubt it. But I'll own part of it.

So why am I having such a hard time understanding some of my die-hard lefty/progressive friends in Philly? (Long sentence coming. Hold your breath). 

1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago
Why would you go into the Democratic Party behind Bernie Sanders' highly successful and dynamic campaign in the first place, mobilizing hundreds of thousands of young activists around key issues (Fight For 15), win significant battles (not all) with DNC regulars in the Platform Committee (including on the education plank), super-delegates, force the removal of the DNC chair, cheer ecstatically the speeches of the party stalwarts (Michelle Obama, Elizabeth Warren, Corey Booker), and then announce to the press that, despite Bernie's endorsement, you are not going to support the party's candidates vs. Trump/Pence?

Clearest articulation of the let-Trump-win strategy is perpetual Green Party candidate Jill Stein
I hope Dr. Stein can explain the connection between a victory for a neo-fascist Trump regime and the establishment of people power behind the White Green Party. I can't see it.

One friend on Twitter argued that they couldn't trust Hillary to follow through on what has been called "the most progressive platform in party history."

They're right. As the polls clearly show, HRC is not trustworthy. But politics is not a spectator sport. No matter who wins the election, the struggle continues after November. You've gone in and shaped a platform worth defending, despite its lackings (no courage within the party to even mention the plight of the Palestinians).

So tell me why not carry the struggle through?


Monday, July 25, 2016

WEEKEND QUOTABLES

Donald Trump
 When asked by Meet The Press’ Chuck Todd whether he would support a Democrat if it meant defeating Duke, Trump waffled, saying, “I guess, depending on who's the Democrat, but the answer would be yes.” -- Think Progress
IL delegate to the DNC Jesus "Chuy" Garcia 
Garcia told "Chicago Tonight" he believes the party will unify behind Clinton, despite the latest email leak showing how DNC bosses purportedly tried to undermined the Sanders campaign. He's called for national party chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz to step down. -- Chicago Tonight
Former top Obama adviser
 “It came down to the fact that the president didn’t want the hassle of getting rid of Debbie. It’s been a huge problem for the Clintons, but the president just didn’t want the headache of Debbie bad-mouthing him… It was a huge pain in the ass.” -- Politico
 DNC Chief Financial Officer Brad Marshall
  “It might may no difference, but for KY and WVA can we get someone to ask his belief. Does he believe in a God. He had skated on saying he has a Jewish heritage. I think I read he is an atheist. This could make several points difference with my peeps. My Southern Baptist peeps would draw a big difference between a Jew and an atheist." -- Internal DNC email
R.T. Rybak, a former Minneapolis mayor and a DNC vice chairman
 “There is some deeply disturbing information in the emails, but they don’t need to distract from the convention if the DNC takes clear and immediate action. We should clearly state that any person from the DNC who worked to discredit another presidential candidate, especially on DNC time and equipment, should be fired immediately. No question.” -- Washington Post


Friday, July 22, 2016

Sense of urgency at last night's community hearing on police accountability [Updated]


AMAZING!...No sooner did the Progressive Caucus of the City Council hold the first of its hearings on police accountability THEN THIS HAPPENED.
Instead of watching Trump's "Make America Germany Again" speech last night, I and hundreds of others went over to Malcolm X College on the west side, where the City Council's Progressive Caucus was holding its Community Forum on Police Accountability.

The purpose of this forum was to gather testimony and recommendations from members of the public. The Caucus deserves kudos for listening and for doing what the city and the mayor have so far stalled on doing.

Supporters of CPAC, which calls for an elected Civilian Police Accountability Council from the city's 22 police districts, came out in force.

The meeting was moderated by WVON's Dometi PongoAld. Rick Munoz (22) and Ald. John Arena (45) and Rod Sawyer (6) were the only aldermen to speak, and only at the opening and close of the meeting.  Ald. Scott Waguespack (32), David Moore (17), Toni Foulkes (16), Ariel Reboyras (30), Jason Ervin (28), Sue Sadlowski Garza (10), and Willie Cochran (20) also attended.

Most disappointing to me was Police Board President and Police Accountability Task Force (PATF) chair Lori Lightfoot who went on much too long until the crowd demanded that she stop since she was cutting into allotted testimony time. Worse, she left to attend a Police Board meeting while audience members urged her to stay and listen. It wasn't her night. That's for sure.

Munoz says the Progressive Caucus plans to draft its own reforms in the coming months and members were there to listen.
"We listened, we heard people's voices, and that will be part of the legislative process... we will have a series of ordinances in September, October, and November, on how to reform the police department."
People want less talk. More action.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

What Junior forgot to mention about Chicago gun violence

D.T. Junior had so much oil on his head last night, Dad was worried the stage lights might ignite him. And wouldn't that be tragic on top of everything else, Melania-gate and all?

Looking for some easy claps from the convention's dwindling gaggle of racist Trump sycophants, Junior called out Chicago, cynically using the rising death toll that gun violence has taken in the city's black and Latino neighborhoods to make his case against any and all gun control legislation.
"Just look at how effective those laws have been in inner-city Chicago, a city with the toughest gun laws in our nation, where 70 people were murdered last month alone and where over 3,400 American lives have been lost since this administration took office in 2009." 
No Junior. Chicago doesn't have the toughest gun laws in the country.

But I'll give him a point for trying. He's right that local gun laws alone don't do much to stop the shootings. They may save a life now and then. Not a bad thing.

But the reasons for the city's pandemic gun violence are complex. They are rooted in institutionalized racism, poverty, joblessness, school closings leading to more blight, worsening post-industrial socio-economic conditions, feelings of despair and anger, and neighborhood segregation and isolation. Add easy access to guns and a competitive, largely unfettered drug market and you get Chiraqs.

But Democrats can't blame all this on the Republicans.

Junior could have mentioned that IL's concealed-carry law was struck down by the court back in 2012. And it's all but impossible to get any laws with teeth passed in the legislature for fear of being taken out with NRA money.

While buying a gun inside the city limits may be slightly more difficult for some, all they have to do is drive across the Indiana line into Gov. Pence territory, for one of the largest gun buffets in the country. Everything from Saturday Night Specials to heavy artillery is there for the taking.

Almost 60% of the guns used to commit a crime in Chicago are first bought in states like Indiana, Wisconsin and Mississippi, Those states do not require background checks for gun sales at shows or over the Internet.

Oil-Can Trump could have scored big points against Mayor Rahm Emanuel by pointing out how he, as Pres. Obama's chief of staff, put the kibosh on every attempt to pass national gun control legislation. Remember in 2009, when Rahm told Atty. Gen. Holder to STFU on gun control?

But national gun laws would have cramped gun sales in V.P candidate Pence's home state and so many others controlled by Republicans and the NRA. So Junior was left with nothing but a few claps.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Still time to enroll in Trump U speech writing class

My moment of Zen...Hmm. Melania's speech at the RNC has a familiar ring to it. Could it be...?
 Bizarre response from the Trump campaign...
"In writing her beautiful speech, Melania's team of writers took notes on her life’s inspirations, and in some instances included fragments that reflected her own thinking," Trump spokesman Jason Miller said in a statement issued early Tuesday morning. "Melania’s immigrant experience and love for America shone through in her speech, which made it such a success."
Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander gets top honor from the NEA leadership. 
Speaking of bizarre, Melania's speech pales in comparison to the NEA giving their Friend of Education Award to Sen. Lamar Alexander, the man from Whittle.  Soon after receiving the award, Alexander showed up at the Republican Convention, hung out with Donald Trump and had lots of praise for the presumptive candidate's line on ed reform. Here's Brother Fred's take.

All this is starting to make sense to me. A moment of Zen.



Monday, July 18, 2016

WEEKEND QUOTABLES

Parents and students sit-in at Ald. Burnett's office to protest $60M selective-enrollment school.
Parent organizer Sherise McDaniel 
“Year after year, we face budget cuts to local neighborhood Chicago Public Schools, [and] we need those funds. We don’t need another magnet, selective enrollment for the privileged. We have to care about everyone.” -- Protesters to Ald. Burnett : stop new selective school
CTU Pres. Karen Lewis
Educators did not agree to the SUPES contract that led former CPS CEO to plead guilty to a felony last year. CTU members did not agree to the Aramark outsourcing deal that cost more but left schools filthy. We did not target the South and West sides of the city with the largest mass school closing in U.S. history. Those decisions were made by the mayor and his hand-picked board of education. -- Letter to Chicago Tribune
Author Samuel Abrams
Privatization takes the form of nonprofit as well as for-profit school management, as privatization technically means outsourcing the provision of government services to independent operators, whether nonprofit or for-profit. -- Answer Sheet
Author Tony Schwartz
If he were writing “The Art of the Deal” today, Schwartz said, it would be a very different book with a very different title. Asked what he would call it, he answered, “The Sociopath.” -- New Yorker
Slain Baton Rouge officer, Montrell Jackson
“I’ve experienced so much in my short life and the past 3 days have tested me to the core. I swear to God I love this city but I wonder if this city loves me. In uniform I get nasty hateful looks and out of uniform some consider me a threat.” - Facebook post 

Friday, July 15, 2016

Wishing I could disrupt a conversation about lead in the water


Listening this morning to the stream of WBEZ's report on, "Understanding The Risks Of Lead In Chicago’s Water". UIC Prof, Dr. David Jacobs from the National Center for Healthy Housing, ticks off half-a-dozen reasons why leaded drinking water is toxic, especially when it comes to young children's brain development. Then he floors me when he mentions this in passing...
"It's been well-established, with a path-breaking study here in Chicago, that lead inversely affects reading and math scores in schools."
I suppose he means this one or maybe this one.

The conversation moves on. I squirm in my chair, wishing I could jump in and disrupt the discussion right there. I would say something like...
Wait! You mean that all those tens of thousands of Chicago children who have been drinking leaded water from school drinking fountains and home sinks -- mostly poor and children of color -- have been disadvantaged by high-stakes PARCC and ISAT testing? Held back from promotion and graduation? College entrance? Their schools facing loss of funding or even closure because of lower test scores in comparison to wealthier, newer schools? Their teachers having their evaluations lowered and merit-pay-based salaries diminished, in large part because their students are exposed to leaded water?
And to top it off, told "no excuses" when they object?
But alas, I can't jump in. The informative conversation has already ended.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Ed activists enter the lion's den, win some important concessions

In an unexpected move, Democrats have revised the K-12 education section of their party’s 2016 platform in important ways, backing the right of parents to opt their children out of high-stakes standardized tests, qualifying support for charter schools, and opposing using test scores for high-stakes purposes to evaluate teachers and students. -- Washington Post
Party platforms mean little and are usually forgotten the day after the election. This year's platform fight within the Democratic Party is more significant than usual because it reflects the struggles of real movements on the ground -- the Fight For 15 Movement, for example -- and because of the realignment of forces within both major political parties.

Dem platform now supports Opt-Out
Throughout the primary campaign, Sanders continually tried to drag Clinton leftward on policy. Leading up to the national convention, Sanders insisted that the party adopt “the most progressive platform ever passed.” That may be a low bar, but it did.

For the first time, after intense internal debate between the Clinton and Sanders factions, the DNC's platform committee backed the unqualified inclusion of the $15 minimum wage as the official policy of the party. They also dropped their statement of support for TPP.

With education activists like Chicago's Troy LaRaviere leading the way, the Sanders forces wrung concessions from Clinton loyalists and came away with an education plank that broke from the current administration's outright support for privately-run charters and high-stakes testing. The party is now on record in its support for the opt-out movement of parents and students.

Also among the unity amendments was a Sanders-Clinton compromise on education that included free public higher education for families with income of up to $125,000 a year.

If you don't think that matters, check out the whiny responses from Arne Duncan's former deputy, Peter Cunningham, and from the hedge-fund school "reformers" from DFER.

Here's my brother Fred's response.
Democrats are now against “high-stakes standardized tests that falsely and unfairly label students of color, students with disabilities, and English Language learners as failing.” Peter hates that.
Cunningham even has reservations about the rather tame criticism of charter schools: He calls it “extreme” that the Democratic Party supports “high-quality public charter schools,” as long as they don’t, “replace or destabilize traditional public schools.”
DFER's Shavar Jeffries claims that the original draft on education was “progressive and balanced.” but that the new language “threatens to roll back” President Obama’s education legacy. I hope so, considering that what Jeffries calls "Obama's education legacy" is actually George Bush's.

The platform shift marks a setback for these corporate reformers and their patrons--Gates, Walton, Broad, etc... I have suggested that Eli Broad should even demand his $12M back from Cunningham and Edu_post. They obviously have no juice.

Here's an example of the disrespect these guys have for the millions of Sanders supporters.


I'm still waiting to see what Cunningham's former boss, Duncan, has to say on this.

There's  much in the platform that progressives will dislike. Some things I personally find offensive. As the Nation notes:
After the amendment to secure the rights of Palestinians was voted down, the room unanimously supported a move to eradicate wildlife trafficking that would have helped save creatures like Cecil the lion.
But at least on education and a few other issues, Sanders' people were able to leverage some concessions. In exchange, if he can deliver the party at least 70% of his voters (and I believe he can) he will all but ensure a Trump defeat. More important, Sanders has promised to keep the movement behind his campaign going after the election.

Looking back, this is the kind of negotiation that should have taken place on the part of AFT and NEA leaders before their now discredited early and divisive Clinton endorsement.

I have no doubt that after the election, Clinton and the party leadership will try to backtrack on the education plank. But now at least, there's a document that activists, parents and teachers can use to hold her feet to the fire. Something that wasn't done during the Obama years.

Activists learned they could enter the lion's den and win some victories. Now the struggle moves back out in the streets, the communities and the schools.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

After all the threats and bullying of parents, IL dumps the PARCC

"I think the promise of PARCC is greater than the promise of most of the other assessments we’ve ever had. Kids can test to the edge of their knowledge." -- IL State Supt. Tony Smith in 2015.
Stunning reversal...After all the threats to students and parents who opted-out of the PARCC exam last year, ISBE now says, it's ditching the test for IL high schoolers altogether.

However, the move won't mean less time spent on high-stakes testing and test-prep for teachers as resisters have been demanding. Nor will it mean a shift towards authentic assessment and teacher evaluation. Just more pressure on students and more confusion for parents who still have no way to measure student growth from year to year as the SAT replaces PARCC as the test de jour. SAT unfortunately, gives no more information to teachers than PARCC did.

Miserable results from last year's PARCC tests.
The move comes after two years of PARCC testing in Illinois were highlighted by low scores and thousands of students skipping the tests and amid calls for more equitable access to college entrance exams. Students in third through eighth grade in Illinois will continue to take the PARCC tests.

The IL pull-out also badly weakens the consortium of states using the common math and English tests, called the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. The exams are built around the so-called Common Core Standards which in fact are little more than a test-driven curriculum with companies like Pearson marketing the text books and designing faulty exams.

In 2015-16, only seven states out of the 20 original consortium members and the District of Columbia administered the exams. The Bureau of Indian Education and Department of Defense schools also still participates.

Remember BBB was critical of PARCC implementation and tried to delay last year's testing until she and the district were threatened by Gov. Rauner and Arne Duncan, with sanctions, including loss of $1.4 billion in federal funding. Rahm's hand-picked schools chief had asked CPS be allowed to give the PARCC  only to 11th-graders and a sampling of grade school students.

Now she's are her way to prison and PARCC won't be given to 11th-graders.

Ah, the sweet irony.


Monday, July 11, 2016

WEEKEND QUOTABLES

"Freedom is not something that anybody can be given; freedom is something people take and people are as free as they want to be." -- James Baldwin (No name in the street, 1972)
Pres. Barack Obama
"When people say black lives matter, it does not mean blue lives don't matter. All lives matter," Obama said in Warsaw. "But the big concern is that the data shows that black folks are more vulnerable to these kinds of incidents. This isn’t a matter of us comparing the value of lives, this is recognizing that there is a particular burden is being placed on a group of our fellow citizens and we should care about that. We can’t dismiss it.” -- Washington Post
Michelle Alexander, author of "The New Jim Crow"
This nation was founded on the idea that some lives don’t matter. Freedom and justice for some, not all. That’s the foundation. Yes, progress has been made in some respects, but it hasn’t come easy. There’s an unfinished revolution waiting to be won. -- Something more is required of us now.
Lester Spence, professor of political science at John Hopkins University
"Over the past few decades cities have turned to policing to fulfill two functions: to surveil and discipline black populations hardest hit by economic shifts and to collect revenue in the form of fines… The black men most likely to be left out of the formal economy — who have to engage in various illegal hustles to make ends meet — are far more likely to suffer from police violence than other black men.” -- Salon
Troy LaRaviere reporting from the Dem Platform Committee
The Clinton people just voted down an amendment to ban fracking. The reaction of the amendment supporters is strong--perhaps the strongest negative reaction of the day, along with the earlier reaction against the Clinton vote not to acknowledge the occupation of Palestine. -- Facebook post
Serena Williams
Reporter: "You are one of the greatest women athletes of all time."Serena: "I am one of the greatest athletes of all time." -- Bustle

Friday, July 8, 2016

Rahm's education chief: 'Not our job to desegregate...'

Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced in 2013 he was building this $19 million annex onto Lincoln Elementary School, even though the school shares a border with a school that has plenty of space for additional students.
In the report, CPS official Janice Jackson said that segregation is "part of history of Chicago" and "not a CPS issue." -- DNAInfo
Chicago's broke-on-purponse schools system is in a financial death spiral. But that hasn't stopped Mayor Emanuel's hand-picked school board from spending millions on brand new schools and expensive additions, in places where neighboring schools have plenty of space for extra students.

Their goal, it seems, is for nothing less than a whitenized Chicago, reconstructed ("reformed") on the foundation of a two-tier school system.

New construction is disproportionately going to schools that serve the white, middle class, while leaving predominantly poor black and Latino neighborhood schools underutilized, poorly resourced and maintained and threatened with closure. A system more segregated than at any time since 1954 when the Supreme Court ruled that separate-but-equal was anything but equal.

What’s more, Emanuel plans to keep doing this, using revenue from a record property tax hike passed last year, according to documents uncovered by WBEZ.

When questioned about the WBEZ report, Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson, fronting for Rahm, denied any and all responsibility for the resegregation policies.
Chicago's Willis Wagons

Gary Orfield, director of the Civil Rights Project at UCLA, says the pattern WBEZ found sounds a lot like the 1960s.
“It goes way back in Chicago to ignore boundaries to preserve segregation,”  
“Back in the initial civil rights era battles over school desegregation in Chicago, they built temporary classrooms – they called them Willis Wagons – on the black schools in order to avoid integration with the white schools that were half empty next door. And now, historically, it just gets flipped in the opposite direction, but it’s the same objective, or the same consequence, which is to preserve segregation.”
Remember, it was then-CEO Arne Duncan who had the court's deseg consent decree vacated, claiming the district had done all it could do to desegregate. The new school construction plan shows just the opposite. Rahm and the board are consciously and actively promoting an investment strategy of patterned school segregation.

Chicago has officially and illegally reverted to separate-but-equal, without the equal part.

Rahm's schools chief: 'Not our job to desegregate...'

Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced in 2013 he was building this $19 million annex onto Lincoln Elementary School, even though the school shares a border with a school that has plenty of space for additional students.
In the report, CPS official Janice Jackson said that segregation is "part of history of Chicago" and "not a CPS issue." -- DNAInfo
Chicago's broke-on-purponse schools system is in a financial death spiral. But that hasn't stopped Mayor Emanuel's hand-picked school board from spending millions on brand new schools and expensive additions, in places where neighboring schools have plenty of space for extra students.

Their goal, it seems, is for nothing less than a whitenized Chicago, reconstructed ("reformed") on the foundation of a two-tier school system.

New construction is disproportionately going to schools that serve the white, middle class, while leaving predominantly poor black and Latino neighborhood schools underutilized, poorly resourced and maintained and threatened with closure. A system more segregated than at any time since 1954 when the Supreme Court ruled that separate-but-equal was anything but equal.

What’s more, Emanuel plans to keep doing this, using revenue from a record property tax hike passed last year, according to documents uncovered by WBEZ.

When questioned about the WBEZ report, Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson, fronting for Rahm, denied any and all responsibility for the resegregation policies.
Chicago's Willis Wagons

Gary Orfield, director of the Civil Rights Project at UCLA, says the pattern WBEZ found sounds a lot like the 1960s.
“It goes way back in Chicago to ignore boundaries to preserve segregation,”  
“Back in the initial civil rights era battles over school desegregation in Chicago, they built temporary classrooms – they called them Willis Wagons – on the black schools in order to avoid integration with the white schools that were half empty next door. And now, historically, it just gets flipped in the opposite direction, but it’s the same objective, or the same consequence, which is to preserve segregation.”
Remember, it was then-CEO Arne Duncan who had the court's deseg consent decree vacated, claiming the district had done all it could do to desegregate. The new school construction plan shows just the opposite. Rahm and the board are consciously and actively promoting an investment strategy of patterned school segregation.

Chicago has officially and illegally reverted to separate-but-equal, without the equal part.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

What Supt. Johnson calls 'Progress'

Sorry. No Weekend Quotables. I spent most of the holiday weekend relaxing with family up in Williams Bay without reading a paper or touching a computer. Sweet.

But here's one for you. It comes from Rahm's newly-appointed top cop, Eddie Johnson. Remember, he's the one who claimed he'd never ever seen one case of police misconduct in 27 years on the force.

So halfway through the weekend, Johnson was already boasting about how his massive show of police presence including mass, targeted arrests of young blacks and Latinos in community sweeps resulted in "only" 39 shootings and 3 deaths.

From the Sun-Times:
Addressing reporters at Washington Park on Monday evening, Johnson called the four-day total of 39 shooting incidents and three fatalities a sign of progress as his department tries to tamp down a surge in killings through the first half of the year.
 “This is progress" Johnson declared. "This is not success. We will never, ever arrest our way out of this.” A pretty Frank admission coming from someone apparently trying to arrest his way out.

Turns out, Johnson might have waited 'til weekend's end before issuing his declaration of progress. About 28 more people were shot in the city in the hours after Johnson spoke, most of them in areas where patrols had been stepped up: Austin, Garfield Park, Englewood, Lawndale, Grand Crossing, South Chicago, Gresham.

By midnight Monday, 64 shootings had been reported, including a 5-year-old girl and her 8-year-old cousin.

Of course it's not just Interim Supt. Johnson who's seems bent of filling prisons with black and Latino youth before any crime has been committed. It's his boss, the mayor, who sets policy. Although, I must say that Johnson could use a better media person on staff.

Sen. Kirk calls for mass arrests of 18,000 black youth. 
I recall Republican Sen. Mark Kirk (now up for reelection) standing next to Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, calling for the mass arrests of 18,000 young black men. "And if they complain," Kirk said, "just say this is about the death of Hadiya Pendleton." As you might have guessed, none of the 18,000 were shown to have anything to do with the shooting of Hadiya. The alleged shooter, teenager Michael Wardwas arrested and confessed, AFTER the fact. Police sweeps don't prevent crime. The correlate with it.

I guess my point here is that Johnson's declaration of "progress" was not only premature, it represented the worse kind of thinking about our epidemic of gun violence. Not only is it turning the CPD into the biggest violator of civil rights, it's a totally ineffective strategy, no matter how well it plays politically. The worse the rights violations, the more violence. The 64 shootings this holiday weekend topped last year's horrendous record of 55.

The first four months of the federal civil rights probe of the CPD has already cost the city $1.4 million and counting.

Friday, July 1, 2016

John King's Law: 'Test & Punish'

Test-and-punish enforcer John King (right) with predecessor Arne Duncan. 
As he did while he was in New York, Ed. Sec. John King continues to play the enforcer on high-stakes, standardized test scores as the primary measure for rating schools under ESSA.

Now he's trying to force CA Gov. Jerry Brown to use a discredited, simplistic A-F grading system to rank schools or districts as  “very low performing,” “low performing,” “high performing,” or “very high-performing,” based mainly on students' standardized test scores. It's what he calls a “single summative rating”.

He acts as though Gov. Brown is committing treason by advocating the use of multiple measures.

King claims it has to be a "simple" rating system so that parents can understand it. He thinks parents are too stupid to understand that there's more than one way to tell how their schools and their children are doing. His approach is what led to the mass parent opt-out revolt in N.Y. under his administration.

This is the same line we heard under Bush's No Child Left Behind. It turned out that NCLB testing madness was just another form of social reproduction. Or more simply put, a way of replicating and enforcing existing inequalities by punishing schools and districts with the neediest kids. Testing mania only reinforced school segregation and hurt poor kids and children of color the most.

Not to mention the discredited role of the use of standardized tests as a valid measure when it comes to evaluating teachers or schools.

Some pinned their hopes on ESSA as a way of giving states and local districts more flexibility and easing the pressures of federally-enforced, top-down school "reform." I was even worried that the new law would just shift more power to southern segregationist states like Mississippi and Alabama. I still am.

But when Brown, the nation's most progressive Democratic governor, tried even the slightest departure from King's Law, he was called on the carpet. I say King's Law because there is nothing in ESSA to prevent a state from using multiple measures, just as California is already doing. King made it up.

When I tweeted about this yesterday, the first one to leap to King's defense was Arne Duncan's former flack, Peter Cunningham.
Yes, of course "not only." But mainly.
First of all, it's not "in the law." as even the law's co-sponsor, Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander points out. He asks King,
“I’d like you to think about where in the law you get the authority to provide for a single summative rating.” 
King has no answer.
Then Alexander tells King:
“You’ve invented out of whole cloth a so-called summative rating system that’s nowhere in the law that would essentially require all states to come up with an A through F system for all of their schools based primarily on test scores on federally mandated tests in math and reading."
The great irony here is that when Arne Duncan ran the DOE, with help from Peter Cunningham, NCLB was "the law."  That didn't stop Duncan from imposing Duncan's Law, otherwise known as the now-discredited Race To The Top.

There are no big surprises here, especially when you consider King's history in N.Y.  As AFT Prez Randi Weingarten succinctly put it:
 ...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.”
He hasn't.