Monday, June 30, 2014


Byrd-Bennett takes umbrage
Barbara Byrd-Bennett
She also took umbrage with the use of the term "layoffs," instead preferring to call those who were released "impacted teachers." “I really want to correct the language because I think it’s misleading when we say ‘layoffs’ and it’s not semantics actually," the Sun-Times quoted Byrd-Bennett as saying. -- Chicagoist
Karen Lewis
Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis called the layoffs "yet another brutal attack on public education in Chicago." Do we want “Star Wars” museums or public, neighborhood schools? Do we want presidential libraries or librarians for every child?” -- CTU Blog
Rev. Jesse Jackson
“Did you know that in the 11 Southern states that had slaves . . . those who were Jefferson Davis Democrats are now Reagan Republicans?”  -- Early & Often
Rush Limbaugh
“Black Uncle Tom voters.” --  Laura Washington's S-T column
Baton Rouge parent, Rebekah Nelams
“They say this is rigorous because it teaches them higher thinking, but it just looks tedious.” -- NYT, Math Under Common Core Has Even Parents Stumbling

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Crain's Hinz tips business' hand on Lewis run for mayor

A good sign for Karen Lewis. She's already got them nervous.

 No sooner had she hinted that she was "seriously considering" a run for mayor than Greg Hinz at Crain's jumped out with a patronizing, borderline racist column, warning Lewis to rethink the prospect. If Hinz's column is any indicator, just the thought of her running has got the one-percenters' shorts in a twist.

I say, borderline racist (trying to be kind) because Hinz  portrays Lewis as the stereotypical angry black woman who "needs to dial down her public persona" and who he finds "too quick to reduce every dispute to racial terms," which Hinz calls "dangerous grounds."

Every dispute -- really, Hinz? You mean like her defense of retiree pensions? You mean like adequate funding and against the privatization of public schools? You mean like opposition to Rahm's school closings or his give-away of precious lakefront city land to billionaires? You mean like her talk before the City Club, where she called for a "LaSalle Street tax" to help get us out from under the so-called pension crisis (which is really a revenue crisis)? Racial, Mr. Hinz? Perhaps you can give us even one example of a dispute that Lewis "reduced to racial terms."

Or maybe Hinz is the one who needs to dial it down a notch.

By now we should all know what Hinz really considers dangerous grounds. He finally comes clean a sentence later. 
I also find her proposed solutions to the city's fiscal woes to be far too focused on squeezing the well-off ...
Exactly. He should have just said that in the first place.

Last month's S-T tone-it-down editorial
That tone-it-down stuff has a familiar ring to it, doesn't it. No, I'm not just talking about way back in the day when the Eddies (Vrdolyak and Burke) were leading the "anybody but..." campaign against Harold Washington, who went on to become the city's first black mayor. I'm thinking more about the steady tone-it-down media drumbeat, warning Lewis and the rest of the city's progressives to quiet down. Remember last-month's Sun-Times "tone it down" editorial? I sure do.

Then Hinz tries to patronize Lewis, conceding that she is "a bright, sophisticated, erudite woman, with a side few voters have seen". Well, yeah, Hinz. I know this may shock you, but thousands have seen it. She is after all, a SCIENCE TEACHER. Hinz goes on to admit that Lewis, "has done a terrific job in uniting her union, getting a much better deal in the 2012 contract than business reformers wanted." I say admit, because it was just about a year ago when Hinz was dissing the CTU leader for being a poor negotiator and putting the onus on her, rather than on Rahm for the closing of 50 neighborhood schools and for the massive teacher lay-offs that have followed.

If Lewis happens to mention every once in a while that the mayor's mass school closings hit hardest on the city's black community, well, that's because they did. If she points out once in a while that the city's ruling elite is made up of mainly white, wealthy men, well, maybe that's because it is.

We should thank Greg Hinz and Crain's for tipping the hand of the 1%-ers. Now we know what their angry-black-woman line of attack will be, should Lewis dare to enter the lion's den of mayoral politics. Not bean bag to be sure. But knowing Karen Lewis, I don't think Hinz's dangerous grounds warning is going to intimidate her or dissuade her from taking on the Little Emperor who now sits unchallenged on the 5th floor of City Hall.

My advice to Karen, for what it's worth -- Don't dial it down. Crank it up. There's lots of support out here for you and for your vision of Chicago, should you decide to run.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Finally, a viable opponent for Mayor One-Percent?

“I’m a little sick of the mayor and I don’t see anyone stepping up,” Lewis told the Chicago Sun-Times by telephone Thursday evening. “I am seriously thinking about it.”
"Do we want 'Star Wars' museums or public, neighborhood schools? Do we want presidential libraries or librarians for every child?" 
With the polls showing that, like Karen Lewis, most Chicagoans are sick of the mayor, the CTU prez says she is "seriously thinking" about running for mayor in 2015. Why not? The only other potentially viable candidates are being coy or timid. Although she's an underdog given Rahm's massive war chest and backing from national Dem Clinton bigwigs, polls show she can give him a good race.

Karen has the vision, organizational skills, and guts necessary to lead the city forward. She also has the political savvy and political base necessary to win a battle royale, including a standing army of thousands of teachers, parents and community groups ready to go to war for her, register voters and turn them out. She will destroy Rahm in the city's black community. All she's lacking is more registered youth, minority, and women voters and campaign funds, making it put-up or shut-up time for the city's union leadership and progressives if she decides to run.

RAHM'S GIFT TO BILLIONAIRE  LUCAS...While Rahm lays off 1,150 more teachers and school staff, he's more than willing to spend millions on legal fees arising from his "gift" of prime city lakefront property to billionaire Lucas as the case likely goes all the way to the IL Supreme Court. More fodder for Karen's campaign -- as if she needs any more.

Will Guzzardi's successful run against the machine showed it can be done. De Blasio in N.Y. and Baraka in Newark showed up how it can be done. So enough with the sideline hand-wringing and bean counting.  It's time to turn out the troops.

Thursday, June 26, 2014


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                      CONTACT:  Stephanie Gadlin
June 26, 2014                                                                          312/329-6250               

CHICAGO—Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) President Karen Lewis released the following statement regarding today’s announcement of 1,150 teacher and school support staff layoffs by Chicago Public Schools (CPS):
“The decision by the mayor and his handpicked Board of Education to lay off 1,150 teachers and school support staff today in yet another brutal attack on public education in Chicago is bitterly disappointing and an example of the continued destruction and decimation of neighborhood schools. In a little over a year, CPS student-based budgeting has led to the removal of close to 5,000 teachers, teacher assistants, librarians, paraprofessionals and school-related personnel (PSRPs), technology coordinators and instructional aides from classrooms as severe cuts cause principals to make the difficult decisions that the district cannot. This loss of teachers and staff will directly impact the quality of instruction offered in our schools, and is unnecessary and shameful for a district that claims to provide a high-quality education for its students.
“With this latest round of layoffs— the fourth time in the past five years in which we have seen summer layoffs in excess of 1,000—and the hundreds of positions lost at the three schools slated for turnaround this year, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his Board continue their war on our educators by doing nothing to salvage school budgets other than forcing principals to terminate valued teachers and staff.
“Of the 1,150 layoffs announced today, 550 are teachers and 600 are Educational Support Personnel (ESP). Approximately 250 of these ESPs are Chicago Teachers Union PSRPs. The layoffs stem from the low level of per-pupil funding which CPS Central Office set for schools, meaning that all over the city, principals are being forced, for example, to choose between keeping a veteran teacher and keeping a program library. Current budgets are so low that schools can’t keep both.
“While the district claims that most of the cuts are due to drops in enrollment, there are an ever-increasing number of charter schools siphoning students out of public schools and contributing to a system of dysfunction and instability that leads parents to seek other options for their children. The situation serves to underscore the unacceptably low level of funding that Chicago’s neighborhood schools receive, as every time teachers and other staff are cut, it is harder for schools to serve communities, and the teachers who remain have to shoulder more and more of the burden.
“This decision further demonstrates the disdain for public education and the lack of leadership and vision for the city from our mayor and his handpicked Board. Do we want “Star Wars” museums or public, neighborhood schools? Do we want presidential libraries or librarians for every child?”


Rauner still lying about his clout call to Duncan

Outgoing Inspector General James Sullivan on Chicago Tonight, tells what his investigation reveals about Bruce Rauner's clout call to Arne Duncan which got Rauner's unqualified kid into Walter Payton H.S. [2.53 on the video].
 Our investigation revealed that there was a phone call made to the CEO’s office by Mr. Rauner, and after that somebody in the CEO’s office called Walter Payton and his daughter was admitted to the school.
Here's Bernard Schoenburg's story from January showing how Rauner lied about the phone call then.
Rauner is still lying about his calls to Duncan now. See to Rich Miller's Capitol Fax report.

Duncan a know-nothing when it comes to teaching kids with disabilities

Arne Duncan seems bent on pushing standardized-testing madness and privatization into the area of special ed and the teaching of kids with disabilities. That's the only way I can interpret his announced "major shift" in an area about which he appears immensely ignorant.

Duncan claims, without offering any evidence, that the vast majority of the 6.5 million students with disabilities in U.S. schools today are "not receiving a quality education", and that he "will hold states accountable for demonstrating that those students are making progress". The basis for this radical shift in special ed policy comes from his belief that it's not students' disabilities that are holding them back, but rather the low expectations of educators.

Duncan has announced new standards for judging states on special education which greatly reduce compliance enforcement for IDEA. Instead, they're using NAEP test results to judge educational outcomes for students in special ed.

 But "NAEP was never designed or tested for any such purpose", writes Beverley Johns, a national authority on special education (on Diane Ravitch's blog). NAEP is a test taken by a sample of school districts from each state, every 2 years.

Duncan dragged out his pet teacher-bashing school boss, Tennessee's appointed ed commissioner, Kevin Huffman (a lawyer and  former Teach for America executive) to back up his unsubstantiated claim. Huffman believes that most kids with disabilities lag behind because teachers don't expect them to achieve but they will succeed if they're given more demanding schoolwork and are tested more.

I should mention that Huffman, (Michelle Rhee's ex) who's part of Jeb Bush's corporate reform group Chiefs for Change, is hanging onto his own job by his finger tips after the governor received a letter from 63 superintendents criticizing Huffman's leadership.

Under the new guidelines, Duncan says "he'll require proof" that these kids aren't just being served but are actually making academic progress.  "We know that when students with disabilities are held to high expectations and have access to a robust curriculum, they excel," Duncan said.

Teacher/blogger Peter Greene at Huffington responds:
Do they imagine that disabled students are just all faking, or that the specialists who diagnose these various problems are just making stuff up for giggles? Either way, Duncan and Huffman have set an entirely new high bar for ignorance, insensitivity, and just plain flat out stupidity. 
Brother Fred, a retired art teacher, looks back on his own years of teaching and his run-in with his Duncanesque former principal who believed she could tell if students with autism were engaged or not during a one-time classroom visit.
“You cannot tell whether Jimmy is engaged or not engaged simply by a one-time observation,” I wrote. “You clearly have very little knowledge of autism, although you were a special education administrator for many years.” I also pointed out that whether a child has autism or is a typical student, engagement is not binary. A student is not in or out. There are degrees of engagement with a project. This is no less true for Special Needs students.
Fred concludes:
A major shift in Special Needs accountability. It must be demonstrated that the students are making progress.One can only shudder at what Arne has in mind.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Chicago school closings went well, except for...

BEST QUOTE OF THE DAY RE. RAHM... Comes from S-T's Dan Mihalopoulos -- You don’t need to speak español to understand what hipocresía means
Sorry to bust any remaining bubbles out there, but no, closing 50 Chicago Public Schools last year didn't save us any money. Quite the opposite. A report from the Illinois General Assembly’s Chicago Educational Facilities Task Force now finds that the closings cost taxpayers over $263 million; that CPS did not plan the closings appropriately, negatively impacting families and students; and that the district has not analyzed or further planned its actions.

Aside from that, everything went splendidly well. Except for...
The report also questions why CPS closed dozens of schools, claiming they were underutilized, while approving 33 new charter schools with more than 20,000 slots in recent years.
CPS' new Liar-in-Chief Joel Hood calls the report “highly inaccurate.” There, that settles that. Rahm's new City Hall gofer, Michael Rendina also chimes in, whining: "Nobody asked me." Shut up and get Rahm his coffee, Mike. Nobody cares what you think.

MISSISSIPPI CHURNING... Damn, if an openly racist T-bagger can't win a Republican primary election in Mississippi, what's this world coming to?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Duncan's disaster, Mississippi churns

The Race To The Top is stalling out over testing and evaluation. Common Core roll-out has been an abysmal failure. High stakes testing data is invalid, unreliable and running too late to be used in mandated evaluations. Several states, including RTTT winners, are threatening to pull back or put test-base evaluations on hold. Sec. Duncan either has to respond by pulling the plug on federal funding as he's threatened or get off the pot.

Time to go, Arne. Surely you can move over to Gates, Walton, or Broad foundations or spend more time with the family.

Lyndsey Layton's recent front-page article in the Washington Post tells us “How Bill Gates Pulled Off the Common Core Revolution” implying that Gates can and did  buy the policy result he wanted—with democracy potentially at risk. But now, even Gates who has more that $200 million invested in CCSS is urging a moratorium on using student test scores to evaluate teachers, students and schools.

Not surprisingly, Gates finds a cloying defender at ForbesHoward Husock gives us a bit of untended irony when he writes:
"The idea that money alone can buy impact is no more true  in public policy than  it is in elections." 
Hello Howard. Anybody home?

MISSISSIPPI CHURNING...The race to the bottom continues in Mississippi today where T-baggers backing Chris McDaniel have their best chance to knock off a sitting senator, Thad Cochran in the state's GOP primary runoff. Some Dems are actually hoping racist McDaniel wins, possibly opening a chance for them to win a rare seat in a Dixie election. Others are calling on black voters to cross over a pull a Republican ballot to vote for Cochran. He has been openly courting black and union (the few that exist) voters.  It's an amazing turn of events when the black vote is actually encouraged in Mississippi.

Outside groups have poured more than $8 million into the race -- an amazing sum for a small state election-- and a collection of conservative groups will be sending in poll-watchers. FreedomWorks, Tea Party Patriots, and the Senate Conservatives Fund will team up for the unprecedented, single-minded effort to beat the not-right-wing-enough Cochran.

McDaniel is married to a former teacher and has her make his pro-teacher, anti-Common Core and federal funding for education pitch here

The progressive Mississippi Parents Campaign is strictly non-partisan but is obviously worried about the loss of federal funding for education of McDaniel becomes the state's senator. 

The right-wing National Review reports: 
The executive director of the Mississippi Parents Campaign, a group that opposes vouchers and charter schools, sent an e-mail to members not-so-subtly urging them to vote for Cochran. Without mentioning either candidate by name, she said, “A number of our members have asked recently what impact the current Senate and Congressional elections could have on public schools. The truth is, a BIG one! Mississippi children benefit heavily from the federal investment in our public schools, and the folks we send to Washington determine, in large part, the resources that are available to educate our kids.” McDaniel has said that he thinks the Department of Education is unconstitutional.
Cochran's support for Common Core could be his undoing in a tight race, despite the fact that  has brought millions of federal education dollars into the state. But he also has a pro-voucher, pro-charter voting record.

Monday, June 23, 2014


Zephyr Teachout
“The failure of the Dream Act and the failure of Fair Elections are all traceable to the fact that we don't have a Democratic Senate, and we don't have a Democratic Senate because Governor Cuomo has not acted like he's wanted one.” -- Capital
Kate Frood
London Headteacher Kate Frood
"What's special about my generation of heads is that we were class teachers the 1980s, when it was about child-centred learning. I don't mean all play, play, play and painting; I mean we learned our trade when what mattered was the child. This was before the national curriculum came in 1989, then testing." -- The Guardian

The charter school bond market is back, and even a Securities and Exchange Commission action against Chicago-based UNO Charter School Network Inc. this month for defrauding bondholders is unlikely to slow that growth. Charter schools nationally raised $1.3 billion in bond offerings last year, the most since they were first issued in 1998. Investors eager for higher yields are fueling the market, which is dominated by junk bonds.  Bond market likes charter school scores
Rep. Raúl Grijalva 
 “With the release of this memo, the American people have a glimpse into decisions made in our name where lives hang in the balance. The fact that American lives are on the line too should give all of us pause. It’s time to end the secrecy surrounding our drone policies, and I applaud the administration’s move to release this memo. It’s a far cry from outright transparency, but it is a good first step.” -- Progressive Caucus Leaders Applaud Release of Drones Memo

Friday, June 20, 2014

Law-and-order man Rahm was behind Clinton's mass deportation policies.

Previously restricted memos from Emanuel to Clinton are among thousands of White House documents kept secret until 12 years after Pres. Clinton’s second term ended in 2001. A review of the memos makes it clearer than ever that it was our mayor, Rahm Emanuel, despite his current facade as an immigration reformer, who was advising Clinton to step up mass deportations of undocumented workers.
As mayor, Emanuel says he supports reducing deportations and accelerating citizenship for immigrants. When he was an adviser for Clinton, he called for “record deportations of criminal aliens” and told the president that “halfway through your term you want to claim a number of industries free of illegal immigrants.”
That's right. Emanuel's strategy in both the Clinton and Obama administrations was industrial cleansing. He also advised Clinton to emulate Nixon's law-and-order strategy of filling the prisons. It what author Michelle Alexander calls, The New Jim Crow.

Is the Gov. From the State of Koch too big to jail?

I wonder why there's no mention of the Koch Bros. in S-T's coverage of Gov. Walker's crooked campaign fundraising tactics. Walker is after all, the Gov. from Koch.

Remember when a prankster called Gov. Walker  posing as David Koch and mentioned "special interests" the governor didn't flinch. He didn't have to be told in whose interests he was working. Koch had bankrolled his campaign and contributed over $1 million to the Wisconsin Governor's Assoc. The Koch-funded Wisconsin T-Party were his campaign workers.

Prosecutors are now on his trail but teacher-bashing, union-busting Walker may be too big to jail. He's one of Limbaugh Party's main hopeful's for White House run in 2016. NYT reports:
...the Club for Growth become “a hub,” according to prosecutors, for coordinating political spending by the Walker campaign and an array of outside groups. These ranged from the Republican Governors Association to Americans for Prosperity, the conservative advocacy group co-founded by the billionaire industrialist David H. Koch and financed by the political network overseen by Mr. Koch and his brother Charles.
Back in 2011, I had to hand it to Walker for truth-telling in a to talk with supporters at the stodgy, tie-only Union League Club. A group of protesters had donned business attire and sneaked inside the meeting, greeting Walker with chants of, "Union busting -- it's disgusting!" before they were finally escorted out by security. But Walker was clever enough to retort:
“I found it amusing to be referenced in the same vein as Rahm Emanuel, the mayor, but, really, some of the reforms he’s trying to do here echo the things we try to do in the state of Wisconsin and I give him credit for that despite the fact I’m a Republican and he’s a Democrat." 
Couldn't have said it any better, myself.

Thursday, June 19, 2014


Thanks to S-T's Dan Mihalopoulos for stating the obvious.
When it comes to some of the most important issues in education today, Quinn’s running mate in the November election — the former Chicago Public Schools chief executive Paul Vallas — appears to have plenty in common with Rauner.
 Effective or not, what Vallas did during the many years between leaving CPS and returning home to run for Illinois lieutenant governor seems very much in line with what Rauner says he would love to see more of here.
While Rauner continues to be portrayed by state union leaders as the worst of two evils in the upcoming governor's race (and he may well be), it's hard for me to imagine him doing anything worse than what Vallas has already done, including the post-Katrina charterizing and privatizing the entire school district of New Orleans, busting the teachers union and firing each and every teacher in the district. Black teachers made up 73% of the workforce in New Orleans, and Vallas' mass firings further devastated the city's black community after the hurricane. Vallas went on to replace them with mostly-white, lower-paid, non-union, 5-week wonders from TFA.

Mihalopoulos writes:
But a spokeswoman for the Quinn-Vallas campaign declined repeated requests for an interview about his time in New Orleans, Philadelphia and elsewhere.
That’s too bad. Teachers at least should demand to know why Quinn, who claims to be so different from Rauner, would chose a running mate with a track record featuring so much that Rauner heartily embraces.

A SMALLTALK SALUTE goes out to Coalition to Revitalize Dyett High School members who camped out for three days and nights in front of Ald. Will Burns' 4th Ward office until finally forcing a commitment from Burns to host a meeting on the future of the school. Burns claims he wants to keep Dyett open as a neighborhood public school, but still refuses to sign on to the coalition's plan to keep the school open as an open-enrollment high school focused on urban agriculture and green technology.

Burns is also backing Byrd-Bennett's scheme to stick selective-enrollment schools and charters into some of the 50 neighborhood schools she closed last year, despite promises BBB made not to do so.

If Rahm and Byrd-Bennett carry out their plan to close Dyett and turn it over to private operators, they will leave Bronzeville, Oakland and Kenwood without a neighborhood public high school.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Chicago's 'School Deserts'

Brandon Johnson is deputy political director of the Chicago Teachers Union, and heads its Black Caucus. He posts this solid piece on Labor Notes, "‘School Deserts’ Hit Chicago’s Black Neighborhoods".
Black students and Black educators have shouldered the weight of nearly 20 years of school closings, as many of our neighborhoods turn into “school deserts,” with no traditional neighborhood schools left. 
There are schools in Chicago whose student body is overwhelmingly Black but which have few to no Black teachers. This is because Black teachers are more likely to work in high-poverty schools with high percentages of Black students: exactly the schools most likely to be closed or “turned around” and to fire their staffs. Black teachers made up almost half of Chicago’s teaching force in 1995. But by 2011, Black teachers were down to 26 percent. That year they made up 65 percent of teachers in the schools that were closed and 40 percent of the tenured teachers who were laid off.
AND THE ASSHOLE OF THE YEAR AWARD GOES TO... Jon Stewart's take on the Rahm/Trump dust up.
“I gotta say, Chicago, this is on you. Did you not realize he was gonna put his name on a building you let him build?”
SPENDING TIME WITH HIS FAMILY...Rahm's bag man, Matt Hynes is bailing. According to S-T's Fran Spielman, Hynes is  "part of a powerful triumvirate of City Hall decision makers that includes Chief of Staff Lisa Schrader and senior adviser David Spielfogel".

He's also guy who put the great pension heist idea in Rahm's ear and got SEIU's sell-out leaders and others, to buy into it. Matt says he wants to spend more time with the fam. But it's his machine-stalwart family who got him his job in the first place. He's the son of former longtime Cook County Assessor, ward boss (19th) and big-time lobbyist Tom Hynes and brother of former state Comptroller Dan Hynes. Why you would want to spend more time with these guys is beyond me. I imagine you'd always have to sit with your back to the wall.

In Spielman's puffiest of interviews, Matt leaves Rahm with some great advice he took from his dad.
"To do this job, you don’t always have to be a jerk. You don’t have to be a tyrant."
Hear that, Rahm? Not always.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Judge frees Chicago from Shakman decree. Lets the fox guard the hen house.

"Part of the problem..."
Best quote of the day comes on the heels of Chicago being released from the 42-year-old Shakman patronage-hiring decree, allowing Rahm's boys to police themselves. The quote comes from Jay Stone, the son of retired Ald. Bernard Stone (50th).
“Emanuel is part of the problem — not part of the solution,” Jay Stone said as the mayor sat stone-faced a few feet away in federal court. Arguing that Emanuel has “shown no responsibility or remorse” for having benefited from that illegal patronage army, Stone said allowing Emanuel’s City Hall to police itself was “something out of Kafka or a George Orwell novel.” 
IN CASE YOU FORGOT...Stone told the court that Emanuel was elected to Congress in 2002 with help from more than 500 foot soldiers commanded by now-convicted former First Deputy Water Commissioner Donald Tomczak. and Streets and San deputy Dan Katalinic, who was also convicted in the hiring scandal.

Yes, Rahm is definitely part of the problem and if Judge Schenkier was really interested he could have looked no further than the mayor's control over the Chicago Public Schools and how CPS has become a wing of City Hall. The meting out of no-bid contracts to clout-heavy companies and politically-loyal organizations has more or less replaced hiring over at Streets & San as the new patronage and charter school operators like UNO and Gülen have become the main beneficiaries.

Second-best quote comes from Rahm himself.
"Chicagoans are not naïve enough to believe that attempts to influence city hiring will magically disappear overnight.”  
He's got that right.

Rahm was asked whether he has any regrets about the help he received from Tomczak and Katalinic in his first race for Congress.
“It’s 12 years ago. It’s been spoken to. There’s nothing more to say, except for what we’ve done and what we’ve accomplished today and what we have to do going forward,” Emanuel said. 
Forward indeed. Shakman is needed now more than ever.

The D.C. Attorney General on Monday filed a lawsuit alleging that the founder of a D.C. public charter school diverted millions of dollars to a for-profit company he owns.
Speaking of charter hustlers (and why not while the S.E.C. is in town filing charges against the UNO hustlers and while the F.B.I. is raiding Concept charters run by shady Turkish billionaire Fethullah Gülen) check out today's Washington Post to see what's going on in the nation's capitol, right under Arne Duncan's nose.
The D.C. attorney general in October sued three former managers of Options Public Charter School for allegedly funneling more than $3 million from the school to two for-profit companies they owned. In May, the attorney general sued the founder of another charter school, Community Academy, alleging that he enriched himself by creating a shell management company that was paid more than $13 million in taxpayer dollars for work largely performed by school employees.

The charter board had given a clean bill of financial health to both schools in June 2013, finding “no patterns of fiscal mismanagement” at either, according to a charter board report.
'A FINANCIAL BLACK HOLE'...WaPo reports that D.C. taxpayers send more than $600 million to charter schools, and in return, charters — which are required by law to be nonprofit organizations — submit independent financial audits, annual budgets, large contracts and other financial data to the city charter board.
The charter schools that have contracts with outside management organizations send fees that range from 2 to 100 percent of their operating budgets. The management agreements are something of a financial black hole, according to charter school board officials, who say they have limited ability to monitor how the tax dollars are used. When the management organizations are private for-profit companies, they are not subject to the same financial disclosure rules as nonprofits.

Monday, June 16, 2014


Ken Griffin
Kent Redfield
“It’s certainly an indication of the increasingly large role that wealthy individuals are playing in American politics.” -- Sun-Times, Billionaire Ken Griffin gives Rauner record-breaking $2.5 million
Rev. Walter "Slim" Coleman
“We’re not suggesting that Rauner is a member of the Klan or that there were any Klansmen involved in his campaign or anything like that.  We were just saying that the forces that are unleashed by the - the current day Republican Party are very dangerous forces and very racist forces, and that we don’t want them to take over in Illinois.” -- WBEZ 91.5
Ray DeBerry
He sensed the injustice of having to climb to the gallery at the segregated Holly Theatre. He resented having to call the white kid behind the counter at Tyson's Drug Store "sir." "No one needed to teach you that," the 66-year-old DeBerry said. "It was just something that was in your DNA." So when a Freedom School opened in an unassuming white-frame building, DeBerry found his way there. -- 50 years ago, 'Freedom Summer' changed South, US
John McCain
Andy Borowitz
The Arizona senator stressed that the blame game must be “rigorous and far-reaching,” but said that it would exempt those in the Senate who voted to invade Iraq in 2003. “That’s ancient history,” he said. -- New Yorker
Mercedes Schneider
Teacher tenure is due process, not a lifetime job guarantee. -- deutsch29

Friday, June 13, 2014

Principals Revolt? Or not...

Bob Moses
I'm taking part in a great event, "Youth Organizing For Social Justice -- Then and Now", at DePaul Student Center this evening. Bob Moses, 60s Civil Rights leader and founder of the Algebra Project, will interact with participants and discuss the significance of the 50th anniversary of Freedom Summer, describing what actually happened, and its implications for America's future. Bob will also be the commencement speaker at DePaul's College of Education graduation ceremony tomorrow morning at the Rosement Theater in Rosemont.

PRINCIPALS REVOLT?...Some friends tell me I'm overstating the case by calling it a Chicago "principals revolt" when only a handful are daring to speak out (See Melissa Sanchez and Sarah Karp's excellent series in Catalyst). They may be right. Maybe listening to Blaine's forthright leader Troy LaRiviere, Gresham's Diedrus Brown and a courageous few others, ripping CPS' plantation culture has left me in a state of delirium. I should probably take a cold shower and tone it down a bit. But I have reason to believe there's a lot more of this, churning just below the surface.

I also happen to know that the growing principal ferment has got Rahm acting all conciliatory and Byrd-Bennett and her damage-control team at Clark St. scrambling to stomp out the sparks before they ignite a full-blown prairie fire. After last night's secret meeting with Principal Assoc. leaders, look for BBB to finally offer principals an overdue pay-increase, apart from the private foundation bonus money currently handed out to the worthy few, and throw some other goodies principals' way. Let's see if that quiets things down for a while.

BTW we haven't heard much from Rahm's attack-dog consultant John Kupper since the Little Emperor made him publicly apologize for his verbal assault on CPA. Pres. Clarice Berry. After all, Kupper was hired to collect negatives on County Board Pres. Toni Preckwinkle to dissuade her from running against Rahm next year, not stirring up the normally passive CPA.

The "fall of Saigon" April 29, 1975
AFTER THE FALL...One line in this morning's N.Y. Times report on Iraq evoked memories of the "fall of Saigon" nearly 40 years ago.
Since then the militants seem to have been emboldened by the capture of American-supplied military equipment left behind by government forces as they withdrew.
This was all too predictable when Bush and the neocons (with support from Clinton and the Democrats) invaded Iraq 11 years ago. Remember, WMDs? al-Qeada? They weren't there then, but they are now. Almost 5,000 American servicemen and women dead. Over 110,000 Iraqis (officially, maybe a million unofficially) killed. An estimated $2 trillion in war costs leading directly to the Great Recession and the global financial collapse, as well as the near destruction of our public school system...need I go on?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Duncan's foul support for Vergara. He must go.

Main backers of corporate-style school reform, Duncan, Rhee & Gates. 
Today’s court decision is a mandate to fix these problems. -- Arne Duncan
Arne Duncan's support for the anti-teacher Vergara decision in California, describing it as a "mandate" and an "opportunity" was even too much for teacher/historian John Thompson, who's not a line-in-the-sands guy. But in his latest post on Huffington, he joins the chorus of the those calling on Obama to dump Duncan.
He is supposed to be a cabinet secretary, not the head of a brass-knuckled, anti-teacher interest group. And, yet, Duncan now endorses Vergara. His gratuitous announcement in support of the case is comparable to applauding a dirty foul that hurts a player. In doing so he shows his true colors. Duncan, I believe, has always been an awful Secretary of Education. But, now, he is clearly unfit for that position.
The CTU issued a strong public statement denouncing Judge Treu's decision in the Vergara case.
 Omitted from his decision are the impacts of concentrated poverty, intense segregation, skeletal budgets, and so-called “disruptive innovation” that have been at the heart of urban school districts for decades. Scripted curricula, overuse and misuse of standardized testing, school closures and school turnarounds, and the calculated deprivation of resources are the real reasons low-income students of color face discrimination. So-called reformers like David Welch and Arne Duncan push those policies. In other words, the new “reform” status quo has made worse the problem it purports to fix.
Here's the usual from the "liberal" New York Times: "Teachers deserve reasonable due process rights and job protections. But..." 

David Welch
The most sickening feature of the case is the way it was portrayed as a group of kids suing the state to get rid of bad teachers. Little about the role of billionaire union hater David Welch bankrolling the entire case and propping up a handful of kids for the photo ops.

WING-NUTS AT BREITBART love it. They call it a "conservative’s dream-come-true victory" over the unions and salute Welch and supporters, "a long-time coalition of educational free-market supporters and privatization philanthropists, including the Gates Foundation, Los Angeles billionaire Eli Broad and Walmart’s Walton Family Foundation" for the victory.
Welch was unique when he founded Students Matter as a non-profit to fund the multi-million Vergara v. California suit in 2010, according to an investigation by Capital & Main. He “had virtually no background in education policy or any direct financial stake in the multibillion-dollar, for-profit education and standardized testing industries."
With Welch's money, Students Matter was able to hire Theodore B. Olson of Washington, D.C. office of the law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher as lead counsel in the Vergara case. Olson was Reagan's Assistant Attorney General and was selected by Time magazine in 2010 as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

Money talks. Teachers walk.

CTU -- Judge Treu misinterpreted the real causes of discrimination

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                       

CONTACT: Stephanie Gadlin 312/329-6250

June 11, 2014      
CTU Statement on California Tenure Decision

It must be nice to be a wealthy tech mogul like David Welch. When you want to “prove” a theory, you just go get someone else’s kids to be the guinea pigs. When you want to “prove” a theory, you conveniently omit the most relevant and direct causes of harm. Such was the case in this week’s California lawsuit decision against tenure for teachers. Fortunately, our Constitution and legal system have clear protections for speech and structured processes for appeal so that we non-billionaires have an opportunity to air the facts.

Teacher laws vary from state to state, and so the ruling in California is not automatically a blueprint for changes in states like Illinois. Despite a recent law that makes tenure much more difficult to acquire in Illinois, the myth that tenure equals a permanent job persists. In fact, teacher tenure is not a guarantee of lifetime employment. Tenure provides protection from capricious dismissal and a process for improving unsatisfactory practice, but as in any job, teachers can be dismissed for serious misconduct. Further, as we have seen in California and Illinois, persistent budget “crises” stemming from insufficient revenue generation have decimated the teaching profession.

Contrary to popular belief, the school boards routinely dismiss teachers. Deep budget cuts have savaged the teaching corps, either through probationary teacher non-renewals or tenured teacher lay-offs. Fully half of all teachers leave the profession within their first five years, either because of the difficulty of the work or job insecurity. And for those who do stay, lay-offs are a constant threat, even to the most highly decorated, talented, and dedicated teachers. One Chicago Public School teacher was laid-off three times in a little more than a year. A holder of National Board Certification, the highest certification a teacher can have, he left the profession because of the tumult, and his students at multiple South Side high schools lost out on the opportunity to work with a highly qualified and dedicated public servant. Far from “obtaining and retaining permanent employment”, in the words of Judge Rolf Treu, tenure provided my colleague with no long-term job protection.

Judge Treu also misinterpreted the real causes of discrimination against low-income students of color. Teacher tenure does not cause low student achievement. Rather, the root causes of differences in student performance have to do with structural differences in schools. Omitted from his decision are the impacts of concentrated poverty, intense segregation, skeletal budgets, and so-called “disruptive innovation” that have been at the heart of urban school districts for decades. Scripted curricula, overuse and misuse of standardized testing, school closures and school turnarounds, and the calculated deprivation of resources are the real reasons low-income students of color face discrimination. So-called reformers like David Welch and Arne Duncan push those policies. In other words, the new “reform” status quo has made worse the problem it purports to fix.

If we really want to improve public education, let’s provide all children the financial and social resources that children in David Welch’s home of Atherton, CA, the most expensive zip code in the US, have. Then we need to let teachers, the real experts in curriculum and instruction, do their work without fear that they could lose their jobs at any time for any reason.
The Chicago Teachers Union represents 30,000 teachers and educational support personnel working in the Chicago Public Schools and, by extension, the students and families they serve. CTU, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers, is the third largest teachers local in the country and the largest local union in Illinois. For more information visit CTU’s website at

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

What are the take-aways from Cantor loss?

Cantor was too far "left" for the Limbaugh Party and not anti-immigrant enough. 
I'm still trying to get a handle on Cantor's defeat in Va.'s bright red 7th Cong. Dist. The obvious is that Cantor, the most conservative member of the GOP House leadership, was just too far "left" and not anti-immigrant enough for the Limbaugh Party.

It's too bad, in a way. Cantor was one of my favorite foils here at Small Talk. It was back in January that Cantor launched a verbal attack on newly-elected N.Y. Mayor Bill de Blasio and went to bat for his hedge-fund school reformer friends in N.Y. I noted then that
“America is in the midst of an education revolution," [Cantor told] the Brookings Institute, referring to the unfettered growth of privately-run charter schools and school vouchers going to private and church-run schools.The real irony has this self-proclaimed anti-Washington, anti-gummint, local-control advocate trying to bully a city mayor and a local school district.
I love the way these guys always frame themselves as r-r-revolutionaries. Wasn't that the battle cry of the two nazi crazies who murdered the two cops in Las Vegas after coming off the Bundy ranch?
They pinned onto the other officer's body a note saying something to the effect of "this is the beginning of the revolution."
I guess Cantor's revolutionary days are just about over.

While it was only one low turn-out primary in one state (Lindsey Graham beat T-baggers easily in S.C.), it demonstrates the potential power and discipline of the gun-toting racists and anti-government, anti-abortion, anti-gay, and anti-immigrant groups, who have been encouraged by recent perceived victories, court decisions, and the Obama administration's retreat in its confrontation with Bundy's racist militia. 

The Cantor defeat was a sign that,  despite Citizens United and the best efforts of the Koch Bros., big money campaigns don't always win, especially in a low turn-out election. I would qualify that last comment by pointing out that Cantor's opponent David Brat, who teaches courses on Ayn Rand at Randolph-Macon College, was the beneficiary of millions of dollars worth of free right-wing radio time (in particular Mark Levin and Laura Ingraham gave loud support to Brat), underwritten by the Koch Bros.

Cantor's defeat could open  new possibilities for Democratic candidates to make inroads in red Tea Party states. But unlike the Tea Party, an independent, Democratic movement can't be a white one organizationally or ideologically, and must have labor out in front. Neither can it be just a progressive tail on a Democratic Party dog.

It's worth noting that education issues played an important role in Cantor's defeat. Like Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush, Cantor was an outspoken supporter of Common Core Standards, which have become a litmus-test issue for conservatives who view the national guidelines as usurping local control of schools. In the congressional campaign, Brat criticized Cantor for supporting centralized educational reforms, including Common Core. This Tea Party victory could be a nail in Bush's presidential hopes, giving more or less a free ride for Hillary Clinton or whoever.

As I pointed out in my Bridging Differences dialogue with my friend Deb Meier, I hope my fellow progressive critics of Common Core don't go looking for allies among the likes of Brat and the Koch Bros. crew. It should go without saying ... but it doesn't.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Outside closed Lafayette School this morning

Lafayette Save Our School Protest in 2013
School closings have done nothing to improve the education of CPS students, nor have they saved money, but the same policies that led to massive closures continue to be implemented. -- CTU Report
This morning I'm standing outside of the former Lafayette Elementary School talking to NBC Chicago's Phil Rogers on the anniversary of D-Day (Devastation Day). That was the day when Chicago's mayor, Rahm Emanuel, ignoring massive community opposition, closed 50 public schools, including Lafayette, leaving many black and Latino neighborhoods in shambles and disrupting the lives of thousands of children and their families.

Of the 49 closed elementary schools, 90% had mostly African-American students, while 71% had a majority African-American faculty. All in all, the closings amounted to shuttering 25% of all CPS schools that had majority African-American students. Here in East Humboldt Park, the closing of Lafayette left this largely-Latino community without a single neighborhood school. It's no different over in Bronzeville where they are closing Dyett, the last remaining open-enrollment school in the area.

I suppose some of the credit for all this goes to Paul Vallas, now running for IL Lt. Governor on the Dem. ticket with Gov. Quinn. It was Vallas whose final solution for the end of public schools finally came to fruition last month when the New Orleans Recovery School District permanently shuttered its last five traditional public schools. The is apparently Rahm Emanuel's game plan here in Chicago.

As a researcher, I'm telling Rogers that it's been difficult, if not impossible, to get any good numbers or any solid, believable information from CPS about fallout from the closings, without filing a FOIA request. Even those are unenforceable and generally ignored by Byrd-Bennett's crew.

I tell him, in a city where there's no elected school board and where the mayor has total dictatorial power over the schools, real numbers have political impact, and in an election year (isn't every year?) all we can expect out of Rahm's army of PR damage-controllers is the good news (Yes, CPS new Liar-In-Chief Joel Hood, we know that no children been killed yet during the hours of 7-8 a.m., while walking through the cordon of Safe Passage workers).

But while hundreds of parents breathe a sigh of relief each day, when their 9-year-olds make it home in one piece after school, that's not much for such a devastating and disruptive policy to hang its hat on. There's a certain absurdity embedded in the words, Safe Passage, and behind the proposition that in a city like Chicago, in 2014, thousands of elementary school children have to traverse a cordon of security guards and cops just to go to school each morning.

A year after the closings, we still don't know where hundreds of children, who never made it to their assigned "receiving schools," ended up. What we do know is that many of those children are now sitting in overcrowded and under-resourced classrooms in inner-ring suburbs, part of the quiet exodus of hundreds of thousands of African-Americans from Chicago.

We do know from anecdotal research that relationships between teachers and students have been shattered, further destabilizing the lives of children, many of whose lives already are lacking in stability. What effect, direct or indirect, this destabilization has had on the city's wave of shootings and gun violence has yet to be determined, but it can't be good.

We do know that Rahm's companion piece to the school closings has been the re-directing of funds and resources towards the unconstrained expansion of privately-run charter schools, "turnarounds," and selective-enrollment schools in upscale northside neighborhoods. Here at Lafayette, they're replacing a poorly-resourced (they call it "underutilized) school with ChiArts, a terrific, but highly-selective, arts school currently housed in Bronzeville.

I point out to Phil that Lafayette already had a wonderful arts and music program--including a string orchestra. The difference? Lafayette was open to all kids while ChiArts is open only to the chosen few. Talk about under-utilization!

Since Byrd-Bennett had promised (and BBB always keeps her promises, right?) the community that no charters would be inserted into the closed school, ChiArts is being call a contract school, run by a private board with no union or collective bargaining rights for teachers. Get the difference? Me neither.

Workmen renovating former Lafayette building.
The best information we have on post-D Day comes from a report from the CTU's research department, Twelve Months Later: The Impact of School Closings in Chicago. This report confirms earlier evidence coming out of Catalyst and the university-based research group CReATE, showing a trail of broken promises, mismanagement, and hidden agendas behind the closings. For example, millions of dollars in promised renovation funds for receiving schools were never delivered. Many children ended up in schools that were doing no better or even worse that the schools that were closed. CPS had promised a library to every student, as well as iPads for all students in grades 3 through 8. But only 38% of the receiving schools even have libraries and librarians, compared with 55% of elementary schools citywide (itself a shockingly low number). Many kids who were receiving high-quality special-education services now aren't.

Some 40 neighborhoods are now left with shuttered school buildings, further blighting already resource-starved communities. But Lafayette is being fully renovated and I walked with the NBC News crew around to the Augusta Street side of the building to show them the tuckpointing and landscaping job now being done on the massive Lafayette structure. Despite repeated pleas from Lafayette's LSC, this work that was long denied when Lafayette was "just" a community school. And so it goes.

SPEAKING OF TRANSPARENCY... The Illinois Humanities Council is holding an appropriately-named panel, "The (Untold) Stories Behind the Story: Chicago's Historic School Closings" on June 19th from 6-9 P.M. at Wells High School. Panelist include: Catalyst founder, Linda Lenz (moderator); Linda Lutton from WBEZ; Sarah Karp, Deputy Editor, Catalyst Chicago; Sarah Schulte, Reporter, ABC 7 News; Charles Whitaker, Helen Gurley Brown Professor, Northwestern University Medill; and Sidney Trotter is a high school student at North Lawndale College Prep.

RSVP for this free event here.
RSVP for this free event!

RSVP for this free event!
RSVP for this free event!

Monday, June 9, 2014


Is Rahm toast?
Maggie Haberman
In Chicago, [Rahm Emanuel]is the ham-fisted gentrifer who’s been tripped up by the city’s entrenched racial politics. -- Politico
Eric Levitz at Salon
But a political system designed for gridlock, the grossly disproportionate influence of the rich, and Americans’ ideological aversion to class politics conspire to make it politically inadvisable for a Democratic president to even speak the words “income inequality” before a national audience. Absent the political will to explore redistributive structural reforms, we’re left with “ladders of opportunity,” and a vision of economic salvation through higher test scores. -- Capitalism vs. education: Why our free-market obsession is wrecking the future 
15th Ward Ald. candidate Raphael Yañez
“What I see is that a lot of the [school] closings are being made in communities that have been in bondage,” said the aldermanic hopeful Yañez, who believes that “our focus should be driven by supporting our teachers and giving them the tools that they need.” -- Chicago Now
Maxine Greene. Credit: Peter Hoey
Bill Ayers
 “Because [Maxine Greene] harvested her teaching from her own lived experience, it always had an improvisational feel to it — fresh and vital and inventive, yes, but also firmly rooted in a coherent ground of core beliefs and large purposes.” --NYT, Maxine Greene, 96, Dies; Education Theorist Saw Arts as Essential
 Jay Greene, Univ. of Arkansas
“Really rich guys can come up with ideas that they think are great, but there is a danger that everyone will tell them they’re great, even if they’re not.” --WaPo: How Bill Gates pulled off the swift Common Core revolution