Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Chuy speaks truth to power at the City Club. Picks up more key endorsements.

Mayoral candidate Jesus "Chuy" Garcia greets Mary Russell Gardneron at his West Loop campaign office on March 30, 2015, after receiving the endorsement of a coaliition of African-American women. (Michael Tercha, Chicago Tribune)
Chuy laid it all out there yesterday while speaking to the City Club.
“Chicago is becoming a city of the very rich and the very poor with fewer and fewer people in between,” Garcia said to a packed audience before the City Club of Chicago. “We’re becoming a city with glittering buildings surrounded by crumbling neighborhoods. A city with the finest restaurants, surrounded by communities full of people who can’t afford a decent meal. A city with some job growth in a small area downtown, surrounded by a vast area where unemployment rates are 25 to 30 percent. A city with fancy shopping areas surrounded by other areas with boarded-up business districts.” -- Natasha Korecki in the Sun-Times
Indian American community leaders stand up for Chuy
Along the way he picked up some important endorsements from a coalition of African-American women,  a prominent group of Indian American leaders (Indo-American Democratic Organization [IADO]) and the American Muslim Task Force On Civil Rights.

I was happy to see Chuy elaborating on his education views, many of which were shaped by his experience working with schools, educators and parents in the Little Village community.

His education platform is laid out here, including this statement, which as you might expect, put a smile on my face.
I would like to establish more small schools, such as the one I helped create in Little Village, which includes students from North Lawndale, where several specialized schools operate creatively in a single high-school building. We can add more excellent schools within the public system rather than adding more charters.
And speaking of schools, check out SEIU's latest sponsored TV ad for Chuy.

Monday, March 30, 2015


Last night's Chuy rally at the Alhambra
Events around town have us Chuy Garcia supporters feeling hopeful. Last night we packed the Alhambra, scene of our Feb. 24th victory party, for a festive fund-raiser with Rapper Rhymefest, Indian/reggae-influenced group Funkadesi, folk ensemble Sones de Mexico, Shirley King, Billy Branch, El DJ Rebel X, the Janes, comedian Jaime de Leon and others.

A chorus of boos seems to follow Rahm everywhere he travels, on the south and west sides.

Chuy with Timuel and Zenobia Black
OGDEN/FRY POLLS are a joke once again. They show massive swings in just 24 hours (Rahm drops 10 points from March 27th to 28th. Chuy drops 7. Is that even possible without a major scandal or big news event? Once again, O/F under-counts Latinos.
According to the data from March 27, Emanuel led with 57.9 percent, and Garcia followed with 41.2. On March 28, Emanuel's 47.6 percent outpaced Garcia (34.2) by about 13 points. Voters who responded "undecided" accounted for 18.3 percent the March 28 poll. --  DNAInfo
Why does S-T and DNA take them seriously?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS is coming to town this week to endorse Chuy.
Sanders, 73, pointed out the fact that Emanuel’s campaign is financed by the very “oligarchy” of millionaires and billionaires the senator sees as the scourge of American democracy.

Ladies and gentleman, this is how you make an entrance ... #chuy2015
Posted by David De Santiago on Sunday, March 29, 2015

Friday, March 27, 2015

Chuy tells Rahm: 'You're not the king of the city'

In case you weren't watching...

Fran Spielman, Sun-Times
Mayoral challenger Jesus “Chuy” Garcia came out smoking Thursday, putting Mayor Rahm Emanuel on his heels in their second debate for presiding over a government by fiat and press release that is “out of touch” with the priorities of everyday Chicagoans.
 “He’s the mayor of Chicago — not the king of the city.
Rick Pearson and Bill Ruthhart, Tribune
"The mayor said that sometimes he rubs people the wrong way because of his passion, but that's not why people on Feb. 24 voted for change in the city of Chicago," said Garcia, alluding to Emanuel failing to win re-election outright last month. "They voted for change, because they're tired of the broken promises, they're tired of the bad choices and they're tired of the wrong priorities of this administration. … I will be a mayor that will be inclusive."
When the mayor talked about closing a coal-fired plant in Little Village, where Garcia lives, the challenger responded: "You singlehandedly closed that? People have been working on that for 10 years. You were still in Washington."
At another point, Garcia was asked about his opposition to the use of lakefront land between Soldier Field and McCormick Place for a museum to display the collections of movie mogul and "Star Wars" creator George Lucas. The challenger accused Emanuel of deciding to award the land for "a monument to Darth Vader" through mayoral "fiat."
Sara Burnett, AP
 He [Garcia] told reporters after the debate that he was more aggressive than he's been in their previous meetings in part because voters are excited about the runoff and "that's contagious."
Fred Klonsky's Blog
 You could see the two Rahm’s fighting with themselves. There was the modulated, passionless technocrat that repeated the same things over and over. Yet every once in a while the real Rahm – the one that rubs us all the wrong way – came out. Nasty and whining. “Let me finish. Let me finish,” Rahm cried when Chuy interrupted Rahm’s long-winded BS. -- The Chuy we've been waiting for
Media Tweets
The funniest moment for me was when Rahm mistakenly quoted Yogi Bear instead of Yogi Berra. He's not smarter than average bear.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Goodhart's Law of unintended consequences

Goodhart's law is named after the banker who originated it, Charles Goodhart. Its most popular formulation is: "When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure."

In other words: “When you put a lot of weight on one measure, people will try to do well on that measure,” says Jonah Rockoff of Columbia. “Some things they do will be good, in line with the objectives. Others will amount to cheating or gaming the system.”

What are the consequences of grading teachers by the test? Economics writer Eduardo Porter's NYT piece refers to Goodhart's Law in the context of using high-stakes, standardized tests to grade teachers.

Luis Garicano at the London School of Economics calls it the Heisenberg Principle of incentive design, after the defining uncertainty of quantum physics: A performance metric is only useful as a performance metric as long as it isn’t used as a performance metric.

Porter quotes Randi Weingarten:
“People who claim to be market-based reformers want to sell the theory that there is a direct correlation between test scores, the effort of teachers and the success of children,” said Randi Weingarten, who heads the American Federation of Teachers. “It just ignores everything else that goes into learning.”
I only wish that Randi would have remembered that when she signed on to Arne Duncan's call for more and earlier national high-stakes testing. AFT’s position is detailed in a joint statement issued with the Center for American Progress, a Democratic Party aligned think tank.
“We propose to keep annual tests so parents have valid information about their children’s progress but want to ensure that any school accountability a system has a broader array of indicators that fully captures how our children are learning,” said CAP President Neera Tanden.
Randi and CAP's assumption here is that tests like the PARCC can really provide "valid information" even with Goodhart's Law in play.

Porter says:
Teachers argue there is no way they could isolate the impact of teaching itself from other factors affecting children’s learning, particularly such things as the family background of the students, the impact of poverty, racial segregation, even class size.   
As usual, the teachers are right.

Porter wimps out at the end of his piece, quoting rabid testing proponent and former NYC Chancellor Joel Klein who calls for reliance on so-called "value-added scores" in order "to penalize or reward teachers". Porter, like Weingarten, calls for grading teachers on student test scores along with "other measures." That is the current approach in most districts these days.

But even with the mixed-measures approach, the high-stakes tests when used to determine teachers' and administrators' salaries have more power than any of the softer measures of student/teacher performance and therefore are really all that counts. The unintended consequences include gaming the system and teaching to the tests. It also ignores the role that poverty and other out-of-school factors play on measurable student/teacher performance.

High-stakes, standardized testing is part of the problem. Not part of the solution. It shouldn't be used, even in combination with other more valid measures, to grade teachers.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Rahm's takeaways from Ferguson

"The Chicago Police Department stops a shocking number of innocent people," said Harvey Grossman, the ACLU's legal director. "And just like New York, we see that African Americans are singled out for these searches." -- Chicago had higher stop-and-frisk rate than NYC
What did Mayor Rahm Emanuel learn from the events in Ferguson, Missouri. This is from the Justice Dept. report on its investigation of the Ferguson Police Dept.:
FPD Engages in a Pattern of Unconstitutional Stops and Arrests in Violation of the Fourth Amendment (P. 16)
Rahm's takeaway: Stop-and-frisk of young African-Americans is great but Ferguson is small-time compared to us. In fact, New York is small-time compared to Chicago. We're number one!

According to the Sun-Times:
More than 250,000 times last summer, Chicago cops stopped people for questioning without making an arrest — a practice that disproportionately targeted blacks, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois.
It would be wrong to simply blame this practice on individual cops. Rather ACLU officials believe officers are under pressure from supervisors to make stops and show they’re “generating activity.”  In other words, stop-and-frisk is policy coming down the line directly from Rahm and his hand-picked Supt. Garry McCarthy. 

Then there's this:

The Justice Dept. report found discriminatory use of tickets and municipal fines inflicted not with the primary goal of administering justice or protecting the rights of the accused, but of maximizing revenue. (P. 42)
 Most strikingly, the court issues municipal arrest warrants not on the basis of publicsafety needs, but rather as a routine response to missed court appearances and required fine payments. In 2013 alone, the court issued over 9,000 warrants on cases stemming in large part from minor violations such as parking infractions, traffic tickets, or housing code violations. 
Rahm's takeaway: Here, just think red-light cameras and speed cameras. Or how about ticketing for minor possession or use of marijuana. It adds up to hidden, regressive taxation without raising property taxes.

John Oliver has the best take on this:

Post Mortem: Ferguson cops busted a guy for "Making a False Declaration", for initially providing the short form of his first name, “Mike” instead of “Michael” (P. 3).

Don't even think about it, Rahm. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Momentum swinging Chuy's way

Good news for Chuy Garcia's campaign. Yesterday's first day of early voting had a record turnout. As of 5:15 p.m. Monday, there were a total of 7,914 voters across the city voting early -- the highest number ever recorded for the first day of early voting for a municipal election. I don't think the media smarties or pollsters were ready for this. Something's in the wind.

The campaign is now garnering national attention, especially within the national Democratic Party. Lots of previous Obama support and money is now flowing Chuy's way. More on this as we head towards 2016.

I don't doubt that  Chuy is still trailing Rahm in the polls. But the polls, at least the ones we mostly read about, like Ogden/Fry and the Tribune, seem to be trailing reality. And Chuy seems to have the big mo on his side with strong union and community support pouring in as real voting begins.

Yesterday he picked up national endorsements from the AFT and the Latino Victory Fund. The fund is part of Latino Victory Project, whose co-founders include businessman Henry Muñoz III and actress Eva Longria. Muñoz serves as finance chair for the Democratic Party and Longoria has been a major donor to President Barack Obama's campaigns. He was scheduled to meet with Newark Mayor Ras Baraka last night.

The latest Ogden/Fry poll has Chuy trailing by 16 points. Really? Remember, the Trib poll under-counted the Garcia vote by 18 points in the Feb. 24th election. O/F hasn't fared much better. They're both pretty accurate when it comes to polling white, older voters or those with land-line phones. But even there, their sampling is tiny, ie. they polled 12 people in Chuy's home ward in Little Village. In my brother Fred's ward, the pro-Chuy 35th, Fred represented about a third of the 11 voters polled (he was polled 3 times).

Those polls might look a lot different if O/F or the Trib bothered to poll Latino voters, the largest ethnic group in Chicago. More reliable polling of Latino voters shows overwhelming community support for Chuy. For example, a poll was conducted by Latino Decisions and co-sponsored by Latino Policy Forum, National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities and Univision Chicago.

Here's their survey:
In the election for Mayor of Chicago, will you vote for Rahm Emanuel or Jesus Chuy
Rahm Emanuel................................................................18
Jesus Chuy Garcia ...........................................................61
Don’t know......................................................................21
Sixty-five percent of potential Latino voters say no one from a campaign, party or community organization had asked them to vote or register to vote in the upcoming election. What a difference they would make.

Monday, March 23, 2015


Willie Barrow's Funeral 
Rev. Jesse Jackson
“Seventy-five years of protests. God gave her [Willie Barrow] a life full of stories,” Jackson told mourners. “Dr. King, 39; Malcolm [X], 39, Willie Barrow, 90 years,” he said to applause. -- Sun-Times
Principals Assoc. Pres. Clarice Berry
"It has been an utter catastrophe," Berry said at a press conference, where she also called for the contract with the two companies to be voided. -- Schools still dirty with privatized custodians: principals (Catalyst)
Greg Hinz
Garcia is facing a foe with almost as much money as Midas in Mayor Rahm Emanuel. In my view, his only path to victory April 7 is to get union members who don't like Emanuel to ring lots of doorbells—and to get their leaders to give Garcia enough of a war chest to counter Emanuel's TV ad blitz. Particularly key is the Chicago Teachers Union. -- Crain's
 Charles Wheeler
“I think Rauner has a pathological hatred for organized labor,” says Charles N. Wheeler III, director of the Public Affairs Reporting Program at the University of Illinois at Springfield. -- Garcia as mayor could be Rauner's worst nightmare (Sun-Times)
http://t.co/PP7pIHp16V pic.twitter.com/bJPTkHnkyq

Friday, March 20, 2015

This is too good. Rahm's 'audit' binders were a fake. Chuy was right.

Binders were a fake.
THIS IS TOO GOOD... Yesterday, a group of Rahm's lap-dog aldermen, Aldermen Brendan Reilly (42nd), Michele Smith (43rd) and Ameya Pawar (47th) along with City Clerk Susana Mendoza (legal?) tried to stage some political theater. They wheeled in a stack of binders, which they claimed were copies of the annual city audits to Garcia’s office, along with a calculator — "so he can get to work", they said.

But wait. Binders weren't the real deal.

Carol Marin writes:
Three aldermen and City Clerk Susana Mendoza put on a dog and pony show at City Hall Thursday, rolling out dollies loaded with big black binders full of “audits.” The goal of this show and tell? To defend Mayor Rahm Emanuel and to attack his challenger, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia. Except, if you look closely, you’ll find they were actually making Garcia’s point. 
Most of the audits, done by outside accounting firms, are little more than a balancing of government’s checkbooks. “These are financial audits that make sure the numbers add up, not whether the budgets are viable or the departments are performing well,” said 32nd Ward Alderman Scott Waguespack.
Marin also makes some good criticism of Garcia's weak response to Rahm's chicanery.

More endorsements expected today for Chuy Garcia

Will Guzzardi
Our machine-busting State Rep. Will Guzzardi will announce his support for Chuy Garcia today at a rally sponsored by Reclaim Chicago.

The event will take place near McCormick Place, site of a planned new hotel that progressives have been opposing. The project is financed in part by tens of millions of dollars in special tax district funds (TIF) they should be going to schools and other neighborhood projects.

I received this  from Will this morning:

Dear friends and neighbors,

This morning, I’ll be joining my allies at Reclaim Chicago to announce my endorsement of County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia for mayor of Chicago.

No matter what the mayor’s spin artists tell us, here’s what we know: these last four years, things have gotten harder for working families in Chicago. We’re getting fewer services, and we’re paying more in taxes and tickets and fines and fees. Many of our communities are facing profound crises of public safety. Affordable housing is a fading dream for too many families, even as the CHA sits on enormous unspent cash reserves. And our neighborhood schools have either been closed or had their budgets cut to the bone, while public dollars have been diverted by the tens of millions to privately operated charter schools.

Chuy Garcia offers our city a new direction. He has served Chicago families with passion and dedication for the last 30 years. Most recently, in his tenure at the Cook County Board, he has worked in lock step with President Toni Preckwinkle to solve the county’s profound budget problems while continuing to provide critical services to those families in need.

Chuy’s positions as a candidate and his record as a public servant show that he shares our values. When faced with the thorny problems that the next four years will bring, Chuy will know how to solve them with integrity and compassion.

There’s a difference between being tough and being heartless. It’s not a show of courage to balance budgets on the backs of the poor and voiceless. What takes true courage is standing up to the wealthy and powerful and insisting that they too must contribute their fair share. That’s the kind of toughness Chuy will bring, and it will do our city a world of good.

If you're as excited about Chuy as I am, please join me and our partners at Reclaim Chicago in volunteering for his campaign. Click here to sign up for a shift!

Some of you may disagree with this assessment. That’s okay! I encourage you to vote for whomever you see as the best candidate. But please, above all, make sure you vote on April 7th.

Thank you, and all my best,


SEIU comes through for Chuy. Rahm's seedy ad campaign exposed for what it is.

Thanks Tom Balanoff and SEIU for coming through with this well-done TV ad for Chuy. More please. S-T's Korecki and Mihalopoulos write:
SEIU’s formal entry in the race had promised to shift the dynamic of the Emanuel-Garcia battle, bringing Garcia’s team much-needed resources and organization.
MEANWHILE Rahm has $20M to spend on ads which he is using to try and dirty-up Chuy Garcia. But the Young Turks aren't buying. Check out their video which lays bare all the seediness and deception in the Rahm ad campaign.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

'Dark Money' replaces the envelope under the table in Chicago election politics

Rahm's lap-dog Aldermen Reilly (42nd); Pawar (47th) and Smith (43rd) try and pull a slick campaign stunt and  show Chuy up by delivering books for him to "audit". When Rahm says bark, they go "arf". But Chuy's auditors won't find the "dark money" in those books. 
Look out kid,
They keep it all hid.
--Bob Dylan

In the days before Citizens United and super-duperPACs like Rahm's Chicago Forward, you could bribe a Chicago politician by simply slipping him an envelope under the table in Booth #1 at  Counsellors Row, right across the street from City Hall. A week later, you had yourself a fat city contract or a lucrative piece of real estate. My, my, how things have changed. It's all legit now.

Take the great slick ball handler and even slicker businessman Earvin "Magic" Johnson, for example. Last year, Rahm's hand-picked school board awarded one of Johnson's companies — SodexoMAGIC — an $80 million contract to privatize custodial and facilities management for Chicago Public Schools facilities. Lots of janitors lost their jobs in the schools, the unions said nary a word, and every principal and teacher in the city now has a horror tale to tell about the state of their bathrooms and trash-laden facilities.

Rahm's elite donors
Then, just in time for the elections, Magic and his partner Mark Walter handed over a quarter of a million dollars to Rahm's already-bloated campaign war chest. No envelopes. No donuts and coffee. Just a clean legal deal.

The Trib reports:
Four years ago, Emanuel came into office promising to end the "insiders game" that benefits only the well-connected. But the "Magic" Johnson relationship is just the latest example of a hallmark of Emanuel's governing style — his deep reliance on political cash from business interests who can count on City Hall or the mayor himself to help them.
Now, don't get me wrong. Chicago is still revered as Number #1 when it comes to corruption and lots of envelope-passing still goes on as in the case of Redflex and the red-light camera scandal, from which Rahm has neatly distanced himself.

But now we're more likely to see a group like Greg Goldner's Illinoisans for Growth and Opportunity (who could possibly oppose "growth and opportunity"?) come into town with a duffle bag load of cash to be legally dumped into various campaign funds. Of course that money doesn't have to be immediately spent on campaigns, and when a politician walks away from it all, he gets to take it all with him with only minimal restrictions. Disgraced Rep. Aaron Schock is doing just that with $3.3M this week.

S-T's Mark Brown calls it "dark money".
Four years after helping wealthy donors secretly invest $1 million in Chicago aldermanic candidates who shared Rahm Emanuel’s policy views, political consultant Greg Goldner announced Wednesday he is managing a new group of “progressive Democrats” that expects to plow $20 million into influencing Democratic state legislators “to support budget compromise.”
And by "influencing" he means... And by "budget compromise," he means Democrats cutting a deal with Gov. Rauner to support his cuts to public education, transportation and health care.

As you might expect, none of these specifics were mentioned during Monday's mayoral debate between Rahm and Chuy. You remember, that was where Carol Marin pushed both candidates for "specifics." The press was all over Chuy for not giving more "specifics" and for saying he wanted to see the books first. Funny, Rahm never mentioned all this "dark money" in his list of specifics. After all, it's hidden, but legit. And Chuy won't find any of it in the books.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Trailing in polls but still standing

Latest Ogden/Fry polls
Conventional wisdom is that undecideds usually do not break for a well-known incumbent. Garcia seems to hold around a 6% (53%-47%) advantage with the undecided voters at this point. -- Capitol Fax

Chuy finally gets some money to do a new TV ad. Not bad...

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Politics as spectator sport

“There isn’t any gravy to be given out when I’m elected mayor,” García said. “I’m going to be collaborative and engaging.”
I'm not sure who won last night's debate. It was probably the guy you were rooting for. To me, Rahm came off as stiff, scripted ("My strengths are my weaknesses" again?) and on the defensive. He squirmed on elected school board. He lied on the record number of neighborhood shootings. He fudged on property taxes. He even tried to make it seem like he was leading the fight against his own red-light cameras.

I thought Chuy held his own and scored some points but nothing decisive. Next time he's really got to get after it on those points and others.

This AP headline cracked me up: Chicago mayor faults election opponent as lacking gravitas. Gravitas? Really? For those who don't speak Latin, that means seriousness. Funny, I thought Chuy came off as dead serious. Maybe a little too serious. A little pointed humor wouldn't hurt.

They say, politics isn't a spectator sport. Yet, I can't help but descend into the pit of basketball jargon on this one: I hope that in the next quarter Chuy will be more aggressive (physical). Don't let Rahm control the court and tempo of the game. He gets rattled and blows it when you get in his face (as our main scorer Karen Lewis showed us many times). And if we're trailing by a few points with the clock running down, I always tell my kids, you can't afford to trade baskets. Even risk fouling. Play with confidence, even when behind. Take it right to the opponent.

Sorry, I've run out of b-ball cliches. It's early.

What I do know is this. When you cut through all the debate tricks and horse crap, Rahm's economic plan boils down to one thing -- unconstitutional (that means illegal) so-called "pension reform" that will most surely be thrown out by the court. Then we're back to square one -- only worse -- with interest. His back up plan is casinos. I mean, haven't we been there before on education funding with the lottery?

While Carol Marin played the tough inquisitor, calling for "specifics" (much more from Chuy) on city finances, nobody telling the truth has the plan to get this city, state and school system out of debt or quickly or undo what's been done over the years by Springfield/Rahm/Daley. If you want to talk specifics, they're the ones who have failed to make pension fund payments or in Rahm/Daley's case, have taken pension holidays. Now when the bill comes due, they blame Chuy.

Chuy is right to say there's no easy answers or get-rich-quick schemes out there, even if saying so costs him a few points with the media. Rahm and his predecessor have looted the place or sold it off to the lowest bidder, from the schools to the skyway. From the the parking meters to the DePaul basketball arena (there I go again). They've badly damaged the economic viability and credibility of this city and state while eroding public space and public decision-making.

The question now is, who will bear the main burden for this unnatural disaster as we struggle our way out? Rahm says, the working poor (red-light cameras and other hidden taxes) and retirees living on fixed income. Please don't fall for his no-property-taxes b.s.. Chuy says, make the corporations and largely un-taxed super-wealthy who have benefited the most, pay their fair share in taxes. Send TIF dollars where they should go. The choice should be an easy one for the 99%. If we can turn them out on election day.
Memo to Don Rose... For those who weren't tweeting last night, you missed out on a twitter storm. As of 6:50pm, #DumpRahm was the third top-trending hashtag in Chicago. Here some good ones:

Monday, March 16, 2015


SEIU Local 1 President Tom Balanoff 
“Mayor Emanuel doesn’t understand that what made Chicago great was working people. We think he has totally turned his back on that.” -- Sun-Times
Heather O’Donnell, vice president of public policy for Thresholds
“It’s like cutting someone off from chemotherapy when they have cancer.” -- Rauner's mental health cuts hit firefighter's family hard 

N.J. Superintendent Elizabeth C. Jewett 
I did not authorize the release of this email nor am I aware of who did release it. I am also not aware of the motives they may have had behind the release. That said, I completely stand behind my comments as they represent not only my views and concerns; they also represent the views and concerns of our Board of Education. -- Answer Sheet, Pearson monitoring social media for security breaches during PARCC testing
Diane Ravitch
 The Network for Public Education enthusiastically endorses Jesus (Chuy) Garcia for Mayor of Chicago. The election has national significance. NPE believes it will send a message that closing public schools en masse and replacing them with private charters is unacceptable; that the public schools are a public responsibility and should be fully funded to meet the needs of students. -- Ravitch Blog
CPS spokesman Bill McCaffrey 
"Cease and desist" directive was given to any principal whose conduct could be construed as not following district policy in giving the state exams. -- PARCC testing launches with some pushback, confusion

Report offers striking new evidence about Chicago charters and students with disabilities

I got this today from Charlie Wysong, Staff Attorney for Equip for Equality. It's about EFE's new report on Chicago charter schools and their failure to provide adequate  services for students with disabilities. The evidence is attached to EFE's open letter to schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett.

The new evidence in the report is pretty damning and could affect an upcoming vote on re-authorization by CPS' Board of Education. It's also another strike against Rahm Emanuel with the mayoral election only weeks away. The mayor has full control over the public schools and he and his predecessor have pursued a policy of unchecked and virtually unregulated expansion of the city's charters.

The findings show, for example, that among charter school students with an IEP (Individual Education Program), just 4% of the students receive an intensive level of services, which is 75% less than in non-charter CPS schools, where 15% of students with disabilities receive this level of services.

More EFE findings:
  • Some charter schools still have enrollment rates for students with disabilities as much as 30-50% lower than comparable CPS schools. The gap is especially large for charter elementary schools, where students with disabilities on average constitute 9.5% of the student enrollment, compared to 12.5% in similar CPS schools. 
  • Access is an acute problem for students with significant needs. Among charter school students with an IEP, just 4% of students receive an intensive level of services, which is 75% less than in non-charter CPS schools, where 15% of students with disabilities receive this level of services. During the 2013-14 school year, students receiving an intensive level of services increased in CPS schools by 2%, but dropped by 21% in charter schools.
  • Charter school expulsions fall harshly on students with disabilities, even more so than in CPS. In 2013-14, 26.2% of students expelled from charter schools had an IEP, compared to an enrollment rate of about 12%; only 22.5% of students expelled from CPS have an IEP. 
  • Charter school high school students are nearly twice as likely to change schools within CPS over the summer as students at similar CPS schools (9.9% versus 5.3%). This may be related to charter school policies that retain students for low-level behaviors or missing too many days of school (even if students pass all their classes). 
  • In many charter schools, the enrollment of students with an IEP drops during the school year at higher rates than for non-disabled peers. This is especially true for option schools, which grow by 10% on average during the year, but report an average 10.6% drop in students with IEPs. Some charter schools facing reauthorization also have a problem with disproportionate losses of students with IEPs, including EPIC, Urban Prep and Prologue schools.
  • Charter school attrition is particularly high in Kindergarten, 8th grade, and 9th grade, which are key years for students who are trying to access school options in Chicago. Charter Kindergarten and 8th grade classes shrink at 5 times the rate of similar CPS schools. Attrition is also uniquely high at Urban Prep during the 12th grade year, which has high attrition rates overall, and even higher attrition rates for students with disabilities. 
  • Some charter schools have concerning admissions practices that may violate the Illinois charter school law, including YCCS campuses that require minimum scores on academic admissions tests for admission and other schools that have transfer policies (at Urban Prep and EPIC, for example) that screen applications through personal statements, grade, discipline, and test score information, and even recommendations from current administrators.
More to come on this. You can reach Charlie Wysong at (312) 895-7340 (office), (773) 633-0206 (cell) or Charlie@EquipforEquality.org

Saturday, March 14, 2015

This Is Modern Art

Thanks to Kevin Coval and Idris Goodwin, two of my favorite poets/writers/performers for writing a play that really means something. We went to Steppenwolf last night to see This is Modern Art and stayed in the theater for the lively after-performance discussion with Kevin.

If art is meant to provoke, to challenge, to make the strange familiar and the familiar strange, TIMA succeeds. It's a great Chicago story, with a fine crew of young actors. It tells the the tale of a group of young graffiti and street artists (yes, there are now some old ones) who "bomb" the Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago (based on a true story).

Kevin Coval dialogues with audience.
I went partially as an act of solidarity with our young street artists and muralists who have made our dingy city a more beautiful, colorful and more interesting place (except for the asshole who spray-painted my garage door) and who have been damned and often persecuted and prosecuted by the self-appointed and usually moneyed defenders of the dominant culture (Rahm Emanuel's ubiquitous digital billboards). Yes, unapproved graffiti is now a class 4 felony carrying big fines and long prison sentences.

How's that working?

I felt solidarity also after reading S-T film critic's Hedy Weiss' scathing, horrible, ignorant review. She calls the play "damaging" and charges Coval (founder of Louder Than a Bomb) and Goodwin with promoting "vandalism" and engaging in "sanctimonious talk about minority teens invariably being shut out of opportunities and earmarked for prison." She brings to my mind images of the vicious critic Tabitha as portrayed in the film Bird Man. 

But critics be damned. The play, which unfortunately closes tonight, packed Steppenwolf every night with a mostly young and enthusiastic crowd. I'm almost certain that none of them were the ones who messed up my garage.

If you can somehow find a ticket for tonight's show, grab it.

Friday, March 13, 2015

There's polls and then there's Tribune polls.

F. Klonsky
For those with short memories, who are taking today's Tribune poll seriously... The Trib's poll in February, a week before the election on the 24th, had Emanuel leading with 42% of the likely vote, and Chuy Garcia with only 20%. Their poll 4 weeks before the election (like now) had Chuy at 18%. Rahm did end up with a little under 45% of the vote. But Chuy received 34%.

Obviously, the Trib doesn't poll Latino voters. Ooops.

Change is in the air in Chicago

You won't see a word about this in today's Trib or Sun-Times. But the Logan Square auditorium was packed last night. The mood, electric. It was in this same room a few months ago that we celebrated the election of Rep. Will Guzzardi and dealt a major blow to the  Emanuel/Daley/Madigan/Burke/Barrios/Mell... machine (or what's left of it). It was in this same ward, at the Norwegian Church across the street in 1983 that I remember that same energy and sense of power and unity as the crowd overflowed out onto the boulevard to hear candidate Harold Washington drive another nail into the old machine's coffin.

In the room last night, you could feel the power of a new movement for change. But last night's crowd also told a different story, one about the changes taking place in the make-up of our community and our city. The cheering crowd looked and sounded a bit different than the one at Guzzardi's rally and certainly than the one at the Harold rally 4 decades ago. So did the group of progressive candidates on stage. The both were largely Latino, including a 26-year-old newly-elected alderman in the 35th Ward, Carlos Rosa. Some African-American representation would have even made it better.

Carlos had not only handily defeated his machine rival a few weeks ago, but helped carry the ward for Chuy Garcia over Rahm Emanuel. Chuy got with 57% of the vote in the war. It reflected the the city's changing demographics and the emerging Mexican plurality which is largely under-counted by the pollsters (in case you're moaning over this morning's Tribune poll). It also holds the potential for a new, progressive rainbow coalition, the likes of which we haven't seen in the city since the Harold days. It was another hopeful sign that whether Rahm wins or loses this race, Chicago politics will never be the same.

Good riddance.

Chuy hit another home run with his speech last night, staying on his Chicago as tale-of-two-cities message. He's on a roll, even while up against tremendous odds and the power of LaSalle St. big money. I can't wait for Monday's face-to-face debate with the Little Emperor.

And the Racist Drivel of the Week Award once again goes to former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani for these pearls of wisdom: I wish President Obama were more like Bill Cosby and Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson Should Be 'Commended' For Shooting Michael Brown. Definitely GOP presidential timber. Or at least, a convention keynoter.

But pointing out and hammering the racists like Giuliani or the OU frat boys, while necessary, is too easy writes Zak Cheney-Rice at Identities.Mic.
The backlash against SAE was predictably swift: The frat's national headquarters shut down their Oklahoma chapter, while University of Oklahoma president David Boren severed all school ties with the organization. "You are disgraceful," he told its members in a highly publicized statement. What he didn't do was talk about racism.
Racism is bigger than a video. Racism is the legacy of being "the only national fraternity founded in the antebellum South," with a Civil War-era membership class of 400, of whom 369 fought for the Confederacy. Racism is a school housing an organization with a documented history of racial abuse; SAE chapters in St. Louis, Memphis, Clemson, South Carolina and elsewhere have all been embroiled in racism controversies. Racism is the truth behind the frat brother's song, that there probably never was a "nig**r" at SAE, or at least none in significant numbers.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

ELECTION QUOTABLES -- Does Rahm look like a winner?

Does this man look like he's winning?
John Kass 
But for all his millions in campaign cash, he's even with Chuy, according to polls. Consistently, about 18 percent of the vote remains undecided. And historically, undecided voters don't break to the incumbent, especially one who isn't loved. -- Chicago Tribune
Willie Wilson
 “I’ve always said that I would vote for anybody except the mayor.” -- Willie Wilson
Andrew Sharp, Garcia's campaign manager
 “We’ve been very clear from the outset that we are building a new coalition in Chicago that is going to combine people from all communities.” -- Tribune
Ben Joravsky
 It was just a few months ago that—without discussion or debate—this group of aldermen gave the mayor the green light to throw upwards of $500 million out the window for his Marriot hotel/DePaul basketball arena deal. Not a one of them—including Alderman Reilly—bothered to ask for any supporting information from Mayor Rahm for that debacle. -- Bleader
SOHO House
Shannon Heffernan
But some of the projects WBEZ found in the full list might not be what an average Chicagoan expects when you hear Emanuel describe a program guided by the belief that Chicago’s success is measured by “whether our families can raise their children in our neighborhoods.”
For example, the full Neighborhoods Now list counts the $44 million in private money SOHO House brought to the West Loop. Soho House is a hip membership club. It requires a headshot, application, and approval from a board to join. -- WBEZ

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Who is Muneer Satter and why is he throwing more money at Rahm?

Muneer Satter - Financial Times via Flickr.com
Muneer Satter, the man from Goldman Sachs
I could easily cross-post this at Schooling in the Ownership Society. I'll tell you why down below.

Greg Hinz at Crains describes how Rahm's hedge-fund patrons and those who are after more city contracts are over-stuffing the mayor's campaign war chest with more money than can possibly be spent in the short time remaining until election day. More importantly, they are also contributing to the climate of fear by promoting the racist notion that a Chuy Garcia victory on April 7th, will lead to Chicago becoming "Detroit" the following day.
Another check came from prominent GOP donor and investor Muneer Satter. He's given before and reportedly is quite a big Emanuel fan, but he accompanied this donation with a personal email that went to quite a few execs around town. The note says that Chicago is at a "critical" point and risks "becoming Detroit." It then goes on to urge recipients to vote and donate.
Who is Muneer Satter? Among other things, he's one of the creeps who ran Goldman Sachs. He's now the Chairman of Satter Investment Management LLC. He also serves as Chairman of Restorsea Holdings, LLC., Co-chairman of Aerpio Therapeutics, Inc., Co-Chairman at Akebia Therapeutics, Inc. and has been its Director since 2012. He has been a Co-Chairman and Lead Director of Vital Therapies, Inc..

Muneer's mansion. 
He's also Vice Chairman of the Board of the Goldman Sachs Foundation, GS Gives and the Satter Foundation. Oh, did I mention that he's on the Board of Trustees for Northwestern University?

In other words, Muneer is a player. He's also a Winnetka guy, like Rahm. He looks at Chicago from his suburban lakefront mansion.

As for his politics? Well let's just say he sits on the advisory board of the far-right American Enterprise Institute (AEI). He's Republican to the bone and was the finance chair of Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. You can immediately see his attraction for Rahm Emanuel.


“I recall when Harold Washington was mayor when Chuy was standing side-by-side with him. [People said,] `If you elect Harold Washington, First National Bank is going to leave.’ The very next day, the bank was still there;”  -- Former State Senate President, Emile Jones on his endorsement of Chuy Garcia for mayor. (Sun-Times)

A loser? You might ask. Maybe so. But Romney didn't lose for lack of money. It was his 1%er message plus the fact that people just didn't like his rich-boy style. Let's hope Satter has picked another one from the same mold, that he's throwing good money after bad, and that his racist "Detroit" fear mongering is exposed for what it is.

As to why this could have been appropriately posted at Schooling and the Ownership Society? Because, as you might have guessed,  Muneer Satter is also a big player in Chicago school privatization. His personal foundation gives millions to privately-run charter schools and he, along with the likes of The Civic Committee, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation to name but a few, are primary supporters of New Schools For Chicago, the organization that directs the school privatization efforts for the corporate reformers.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Rahm's rich pals throw good money after bad

The Griffins, Ken and Ann.
How can a guy who just pissed away millions of his own campaign money say anything about anyone else's lack of a financial plan? 
In just three days, Rahm's billionaire pals have dumped another $1.3M into his sputtering campaign. That should just about guarantee a victory for Chuy. Why do I say that? Every time Ken Griffin takes makes a dump, Rahm's poll numbers seem to fall. I'm not saying there's a causal relationship, but it's interesting nevertheless. Ken, a smart businessman must know this is a poor investment. The only thing I can figure is that he's trying to empty the bank account to keep ex-wife, Ann from getting it in the divorce settlement.

Others who donated from March 3 to March 6 include: Groupon co-founder Eric Lefkofsky, $200,000; Richard Melman, $100,000; and Jay B. Pritzker and M.K. Pritzker, who tossed in $50,000 each.

It does raise the question, where has all Rahm's money gone? Rememer, he had $30M in the tank, plus $2M in SuperDuperPAC money. Has he spent it all on my strength is my weakness ads? You know, the ones where Rahm's wearing a sweater and trying to smile. Heh, heh...

The man with the plan.
Well, those became laughing stock, so Axelrod's new ads will attack Chuy for not having a financial plan for the city. Almost laughable when you think about the state of the city's affairs under the current and previous mayor.

The Sun-Times Mark Brown has drunk the kool-aid:
If you were going to draw up a list of what Mayor Rahm Emanuel has done right and wrong over the past four years, his overall handling of city finances would have to go in the plus column.
What? Of course Brown gives no evidence to back up his silly statement.

Does he mean?...
  • Millions of taxpayer dollars to build new arena for DePaul. 
  • Tax breaks for the wealthiest and the big corporations. 
  • Hidden taxes through red-light cameras in poor communities. 
  • Unlawful pension busting and shorting the pension fund year after year.
  • Replacing well-paying union jobs with minimum-wage jobs.
  • Shifting city resources from the neighborhoods to downtown.
  • Closing neighborhood schools. 
  • Closing neighborhood health clinics. 
  • TIF money going to corporate pals.
  • Sending the city into massive debt which has destroyed its credit rating.
  • The so-called "infrastructure trust" handouts to his banker pals. 
Whatever Mayor Garcia does on this, he can only go up. It's like taking over as manager of the Cubs. Rahm's revenue and regressive taxing approach has driven the city's economy into the dumper. If Rahm goes there, he will only be picking up a rock to drop on his own foot.

And besides -- how can a guy who just blew millions on failed campaign ads and is begging rich friends for millions more, say anything about anyone else's financial plan? 

Students finding their voice, acting powerfully

Four days after 19-year old Tony Robinson was shot dead by a police officer in Wisconsin, protests have continued. Hundreds of high school and university students, some visibly grieving the loss of their friend, left classrooms and occupied the state capitol building yesterday.
The struggle continues -- I was impressed by the response of the Madison, WI school district leaders as hundreds of high school students joined their big brothers and sisters from UW in protesting the killing of Tony Robinson.

This from the Wisconsin State Journal:
Madison School District officials embraced the students’ rally by asking community leaders to come to the Capitol to ensure the students remained safe. They also provided seven buses for transportation back to school after the rally.
Students were not disciplined for attending, and could be excused by their parents, said district spokeswoman Rachel Strauch-Nelson. Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham and other district officials were at the rally.
“In general, we thought it was important that if students chose to demonstrate, that we ensure they are safe and provide positive adult presence to support our students as they express their concerns, grief and questions,” said Strauch-Nelson.

O-O-O-Oklahoma... The immediate and massive student response to the racist OU frat-boy ravings caught on video, has forced action on the part of the university president. Good lesson to be drawn here about the power of direct action. Fancy speeches are fine, as far as they go.

But the question remains, did they just discover the racist, white-only fraternities and sororities that dominate university social life at OU? Where have you been Pres. Boren?

For old-timers, the OU events might have sparked memories of the The Tulsa white race riot of 1921 which is rarely mentioned in history books, classrooms or even in private. With the number of survivors declining, in 1996, the state legislature commissioned a report to establish the historical record of the events, and acknowledge the victims and damages to the black community. Released in 2001, the report included the commission's recommendations for some compensatory actions, most of which were not implemented by the state and city governments. The state passed legislation to establish some scholarships for descendants of survivors, economic development of Greenwood, which was known as Black Wall Street at the time, and a memorial park to the victims in Tulsa.

Monday, March 9, 2015


A sign, with bullet holes, along the historic route from Selma to Montgomery
Joe Hopkins, Selma veteran
“My mother told me I could get killed, and I told her we’re all going to die one day, but I was 17 years old and quick so they couldn’t catch me.”New York Times
Barack Obama
It’s the idea held by generations of citizens who believed that America is a constant work in progress; who believed that loving this country requires more than singing its praises or avoiding uncomfortable truths. It requires the occasional disruption, the willingness to speak out for what is right, to shake up the status quo. That’s America. -- Selma Speech
Jelani Cobb
Ferguson’s is not a singular situation. It is an object lesson in the national policing practices that have created the largest incarcerated population in the Western world, as well as a veil of permanent racial suspicion—practices that many people believe will deliver safety in exchange for injustice. What happened in Selma is happening in Ferguson, and elsewhere, too. The great danger is not that we will discount the progress that has been made but that we have claimed it prematurely.​ -- New Yorker
Jodi Cantor, author of "The Obamas"
 "Michelle and Rahm Emanuel had almost no bond; their relationship was distant and awkward from the beginning. She had been skeptical of him when he was selected, and now he returned the favor; he was uneasy about first ladies in general..." -- Ward Room
 Robert Putnam, author of "Our Kids"
“At the beginning you don’t know you’re doing a study of the collapse of American social life — you’re doing a study of PTA membership. 'Our Kids' was like that, too. The more we investigated, the bigger we realized the problem was.” -- Washington Post