Friday, July 31, 2015

Rahm's plan: Devastating budget cuts for special ed

If Rahm thinks slashing special ed budgets is the road to solvency, he is sadly mistaken. As the grand-parent of a child at North Grand H.S. with special needs, I can promise you that CPS' plan to cut more than $42 million in special ed funding and lay off 500 special ed teachers and staff will not stand.

Teacher Phil Cantor
North Grand teacher Phil Cantor tells it straight to WBEZ:
“We had some cuts at our school, but seemed to be doing better than other schools in our area,” Cantor, who's chair of the Science Department, said. “And then we realized when we got further into the budget, we were losing $318,000 specifically for special ed services.”
 It would mean the school would have to cut about three special education teachers or six full-time aides. Cantor said there’s no way it would work. “We’re barely meeting the kids’ requirements now,” he said.
They can't say Cantor didn't warn them.
“It’s going to become more expensive when they do this because parents are going to sue,” Cantor said. “There’s going to be massive lawsuits. There’s going to be massive settlements. We’ve seen this over and over in the city. It’s this short-term managerial thinking that’s going lead to long term costs for the city.”
Take it from me. He's right on the money.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Duncan: 'This is not about me.'

Edweek's Alyson Klein interviews Arne Duncan. She asks some good questions about the current contending ESEA bills in the House and Senate, but get's back mostly his usual string of empty cliches.

But then she cuts to the chase.
Under both bills the Secretary of Education would be prohibited from interfering with standards, evaluations, and more. How might that hamstring you or your successor? What do you expect would happen to the federal role?
This really isn't about me. What you want is you want whoever the next person ... the next 20 secretaries, you want them to be able to administer and implement the law. So I think there's some common sense middle ground that we can get to.
But since Duncan will become the first ever Ed Sec to be officially banned from interfering in school business, I'd say, it is, at least in large part, about him. And he's earned it.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Duncan big on accountability. But not his own.

Arne Duncan is the great educational know-nothing. As a result, he loads his speeches up with empty clich├ęs and meaningless phrases in place of solid dialog about teaching and learning.

In a speech Monday at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, Duncan tells his faithful,
"When students enroll in college, he said, the chances of a successful outcome — getting a degree — amount to “a coin toss.”
“The challenge we face is easy to articulate, if not to solve.” There is, he said, “a lot of heavy lifting and culture change ahead.”
 "This is not a free lunch for higher education by any stretch."
He goes on to decry the "lack of accountability" (not his own) in public ed. He blames it all on "politics" and "bureaucracy". This coming from Pres. Obama's chief political appointee to the top of the one of the world's biggest bureaucracies.

It all reminds me of when Duncan was Mayor Daley's patronage pick to run Chicago's schools back in 2001. He had been the protege of investment banker and Daley pal Jonathan Rogers, who Duncan claims, taught him "the business of education."

When I proposed putting a new small public school inside of shuttered Austin High School, Duncan said he would get the board to okay it, but warned that it had to be charter school. When I asked why, he explained that otherwise, "the bureaucracy will f_ck with you". I rejected the idea and responded: "But Arne. You are the bureaucracy. Why don't you just not f_ck with us?"

He seemed puzzled, but relented.


Students protest re-closing of Duncan's turnaround school. 
In 2008, Dodge Elementary was where then president-elect Barack Obama, after drinking the "Chicago Miracle" kool-aid, announced Duncan as his pick for Secretary of Education.
“He’s shut down failing schools and replaced their entire staffs, even when it was unpopular,” Obama said at the time. “This school right here, Dodge Renaissance Academy, is a perfect example. Since this school was revamped and reopened in 2003, the number of students meeting state standards has more than tripled.”
But fast forward another five years, Dodge was closed again.

CPS spokesperson at the time said there was no one available to speak with the media on the record about the closing. She said CPS is “focusing on the challenges of today.”

Translation -- We don't need no stinkin' accountability.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Bearing witness: A project on memory, community and the 2013 Chicago School Closings.

Overton Elementary
"This is a building that could be put to good use, putting our students back in the building, Putting them back in there and giving them the things that they need to learn -- to get an education."
My friend, photographer Riza Falk and her collaborators Lara Leigh Kelland, and Oriana Erskine working with student interns at Erie Neighborhood House developed this project. The So Close to Ghost Project is sponsored by the Visionaries program in the Youth Options Unlimited (YOU) department at Erie Neighborhood House, the History Department at the University of Illinois Chicago.

Students looked at their closed neighborhood schools through the camera lens and created portraits and a video of student, parent and community voices to tell their story.

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Trust was a bust. Now where's Bill and Randi?

Back in 2012, Rahm's proposed Infrastructure Trust got him him great press, especially with flack David Axelrod pumping it like it was the second coming of the Marshall Plan. The New York Times hailed it as the  $7 billion plan  that would "transform the city’s infrastructure from the skies above to the pipes underground". 

Rahm flew Randi in to tout the Trust.
Rahm even flew in AFT Pres. Randi Weingarten to laud the Trust at Bill Clinton's Global Initiative Conference

I quoted this from the Sun-Times report
Emanuel was seated onstage next to Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, whose largest member union, the Chicago Teachers Union, [was] taking a strike-authorization vote this week, frustrated with Emanuel’s administration, which killed a negotiated 4 percent raise for the teachers last year. 
Well, the last time I looked, the city's infrastructure was still crumbling and the underground pipes still rusting and leaking. The teachers never did get the 4% raise that was promised them. Rahm claimed the city couldn't afford it but could afford $2.7 million in city funds to help set up the Trust. What followed was the historic teachers strike that shook the city and Rahm's administration to its heels.

But the Trust goes down as only the latest in a series of mayoral financial flops that has led the city to the brink of collapse.

Three years after creating a city infrastructure bank with a huge splash, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has decided to remake management of the finance unit, which by many accounts never has lived up to its potential… Out as executive director is Steven Beitler, who, according to a city statement, "has resigned to pursue other interests." 
This time around Axelrod is nowhere to be seen. Maybe he's too embarrassed. Neither is Clinton. I'm sure Hillary doesn't want the Clinton name attached to a busted trust on the road to 2016. And where's Randi?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Pond Jumping

Knowledge can be acquired only by a corresponding experience. How can we know what we are told merely? Each man can interpret another’s experience only by his own.  — H.D. Thoreau, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers
WELLFLEET -- From here on the Cape,  Chicago's school crisis and the issues of urban education seem a millennium away. The problems on folks' minds here have more to do with the heat wave hitting the east coast, the slumping Red Sox and the area's worst ever moth infestation. Check out this interview with moth Glerg in the Cape Cod Pulse.

Don't get me wrong. like everywhere else, people are concerned about education issues like shrinking school budgets, Common Core and testing mania.

Sturgis Charter School in Hyannis
Mostly they seem to be about finding the best school for their kid(s). The Cape is even starting to load up with privately-run charter schools. For the life of me, I don't know why.

I guess even  in the whitest and wealthiest communities, there will be those who want even more exclusivity by running off  the other. In this case, English-language learners and students with disabilities and other special needs. So they're willing to pull money out of neighborhood public schools to serve their own needs.

But as far as this blogger is concerned, I'm taking a short break, restoring body, mind and spirit and will resume next week trying to shake things up a bit and raging against the Machine (in Chicago that's with a capital M).

In the mean time, I'm pond jumping. I started with a dip in the pond out behind Deb Meier's house in Hillsdale, N.Y. Then I paid tribute to one of my all-time favorite education radicals, Henry David Thoreau by jumping into Walden Pond in Concord, MA. After drying off, it was in the car and out to Wellfleet on the Cape, with guidance from an old friend and great educator in his own right, Bob Pearlman, for a swim in Long Pond and some beachcombing.

I love pond jumping.

Friday, July 17, 2015

On the mess at CPS and Rahm's shake up on Clark St.

"We did everything we were supposed to do, but we did not spend enormous amounts of time on every single contract that came through. We had a lot going on. We were closing 50 schools and we were making sure 12,000 kids ended up in the right place."
Then Vitale finally found the black SUV he was looking for, climbed in and rode off. -- Tribune

There's a few pieces worth reading and lots that aren't, about the mess at CPS and Rahm's shake up at Clark Street. Here's some of the better:

Ruthhart and Byrne at the Tribune have a pretty good assessment:
Efficiency is political speak for budget cuts and layoffs, and CPS has faced plenty of those in recent days. And more await if Democratic lawmakers and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner don't break their summerlong stalemate and grant the district some form of financial relief.
Here's what efficiency means at the school level.

Blaine Principal Troy LaRaviere
In his latest blog post, Blaine Principal Troy LaRaviere takes us inside the July 13th principals budget meeting on the heels of the massive announced cuts in staffing and programs. The assembled school leaders were told that the problem arose because the district was forced to choose between "making pension payments and making needed investments in the classroom.”

LaRaviere responds:
CPS claiming their choice is between paying teachers salaries & benefits or improving classrooms is like the Chicago Bulls saying their choice is between paying player salaries or improving the team.  Is there a more important expense toward improving a team than investing in its players?  Is there a more important expense for improving a school system than investing in its teachers?  The funds used on a salary and benefits package aimed at attracting and retaining skilled and competent teachers for our students is the most important classroom investment a school district can make.  CPS’s “teacher compensation vs. classroom investments” conundrum is a false choice based on a misleading political talking point that had no place in a principals budget meeting.
He tries to question the CPS officials. Here's how that went:
I raised my hand. The CPS official looked my way but kept talking.I kept my hand up for five minutes.The official kept talking, reached the end of the presentation and began walking off stage.I projected my voice from the back of the auditorium toward the stage, “I have a question.”
“We will not take questions here.  We will break out in small groups in separate classrooms and you will be able to ask your question in your small group.”
The White Rhino, Ray Salazar, a Chicago Latino English teacher, has something to say about Rahm's appointment of Claypool. Salazar sees none of what he calls the necessary qualities of transformational leadership in Claypool, or in any of his six mayor-appointed predecessors.
For the fourth time in twenty years, we have a CEO with no teaching experience.  Because, let's face it, teacher experience and leadership is just not valued… No CEO in the last twenty years engaged our district or our communities in new ways of thinking that lead to productive long-term conversations for the benefit of students.  While some may have presented a good idea, he or she let the dirty politics of our city influence what could have been a good option for students.
Salazar thinks a teacher or a leader with teaching experience would have been a better choice.
While a teacher would likely find it challenging to go from the classroom to a CEO position, there's a great deal a Chicago Public Schools CEO can learn from the good teachers in our schools.
My take -- Rahm has covered himself here. He was smart enough to take the attention off of Claypool's lack of education expertise and his being another white, male insider, by announcing the appointment of former CPS teacher and Westinghouse principal, Janice Jackson as his new chief education officer. And Denise Little, a longtime CPS educator,  as Claypool's senior adviser.

I hope that Jackson will keep in mind the fate of former education chief Barbara Eason-Watkins who tried her best to put education first ahead of CPS political shenanigans. I wish her and Little the best of luck.

But, we've had educators, bureaucrats and even bagmen for the mayor holding down top CPS posts for the past two decades. So long as they serve completely at the pleasure of an autocratic mayor who has turned the school system into a wing of City Hall, his choice of CEO will make little difference. Real transformational leadership emerges  from a transformational movement.

We need an elected school board and an end to mayoral control.

Final thought…Please send some support and your best thoughts to the Chupp/Valdivia family. They sure could use it.


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Claypool will run Rahm's Clark St. Operation. Otherwise known as CPS.

At a news conference with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, CTA President Forrest Claypool talks about making the Red Line trains run on time.. (Sun-Times photo)

Okay, so it looks like the hated David Vitale is out and ComEd/Excelon nukes guy Frank Clark is in as Rahm's hand-picked school board chief. And Rahm's faithful sidekick Forrest Claypool replaces Byrd-Bennett and interim Jesse Ruiz as the 6th schools CEO in 6 years.

For those who don't know Clark, he was the head of the commission that managed the secret list of supposedly "underutilized" schools and made the recommendations leading to the closing of 49 neighborhood public schools, mainly in the city's black community. He also did the suspect deal  with the Civic Consulting Alliance—a politically connected group of private business consultants linked to the pro-charter group New Schools For Chicago  -- to run the work of the same school-closing commission.

He's so into privately-run charter schools, he even had a Noble charter named after him (a la Gov. Rauner). It stands as a monument to his and Excelon's stewardship over the privatization of public space.

I thought Fran Spielman's reference to Claypool, back in April, as Rahm's "wartime consigliere" was appropriate.

He's the Clark in Rowe/Clark Charter
Having had it up to here with Broad Academy careerist education types --  J.C. Brizard and Byrd-Bennett -- and apparently steering clear of the Tribune's recommended "Mussolini" type, the Mayor has moved his fixer Claypool over from City Hall to run his Clark Street operation, otherwise known as CPS. Forget about national searches, public input, City Council review and all that small-d democratic crap. This is war.

Claypool can hit the ground running since he's already marshaling the CTU contract negotiations while doing damage control around the various federal investigations and grand jury hearings over UNO charter corruption and no-bid contract kick-backs. Claypool btw, is the master of privatization and no-bid contracting from his days as Daley's chief of staff as well as his running the park district and the CTA for Rahm. Remember the 2012 fiasco with Bombardier?  I do.

He's also got to be the guy who can cut the grand bargain agreement between Rahm, Madigan, Cullerton and Rauner to bail out district and find some short and long-term revenue (that means taxes, folks) to make pension payments and hopefully save the system from collapse.

I'm trusting that teachers, parents, the CTU, SEIU and the rest of us won't be just spectators while this grand bargain is made at our expense.

At the risk of repeating myself, Rahm's choosing another white, male Paul Vallas/Ron Huberman (Arne Duncan?) prototype manager as opposed to another traditional ed bureaucrat as schools CEO will matter little as far as teachers, parents and students are concerned.  So long as the schools CEO works solely at the pleasure of a mayor who has autocratic power over the schools, the change means little more than putting a ribbon on a donkey.

We need an elected school board and a taxing system that's fair.

Monday, July 13, 2015

AFT's early Clinton endorsement is creating a rank-and-file backlash

The AFT's early endorsement of Hillary Clinton comes as no surprise, at least to me. Randi Weingarten and the current AFT leadership has long been tied to the Clinton's political organization by a thousand threads.

After all, the 1.6 million-member union backed Clinton over Obama in the 2008 primary, even as Barack was running to become the country's first African-American president.

Weingarten sits alongside the biggest Democratic Party fundraisers on the board of Clinton's SuperPAC, Priorities USA Action, a PAC which in the past has been riddled by fights between Obama and Clinton factions.

This is the way things are done in the AFT.

When incumbent Obama ran unopposed in the 2012 primary, the AFT rushed to endorse him without making any demands or getting anything in the way of pro-union, pro-teacher concessions from an administration and a political party that had clearly turned a deaf ear towards the interests of public school educators and parents. The early endorsement didn't sit well then with many rank-and-file teachers (including even many Obama supporters) who saw the move as crass opportunism and a give-away of any leverage the union might have had in shaping policy on issues like testing, teacher evaluation or Common Core.

Leave it to Weingarten to proclaim last month -- without any self-reflection -- that...
"Despite the best intentions, what essentially happened here is President Obama and [Education] Secretary [Arne] Duncan essentially followed the No Child Left Behind-Bush template in terms of testing and charters and sanctions.There's a growing consensus that we need a reset to educational policy in the country."
So there was never any doubt in my mind that another Hillary early endorsement was forthcoming. What did surprise me was the clumsy and self-defeating way it was done, once again without bringing the membership along or getting or asking for anything from Clinton in exchange.

The AFT executive board did meet with Clinton and Democratic Party rivals  Sanders, and O'Malley, (Chafee had not yet announced) to discuss issues. But issues were never really the issue here since all are pretty much indistinguishable on public education matters and none of the Clinton contenders appear to have the money or juice within the party to win the nomination -- not counting a major Clinton campaign stumble.

Clinton has come out in favor of of tying teacher pay to student performance on standardized tests. She has been outspoken in support of privately-run charter schools.

In fact, the only thing the union got from Hillary was this vague statement of support, reminiscent of many made by Obama and Duncan over the past 7 years.
"It is just dead wrong to make teachers the scapegoats for all of society's problems," Clinton told the AFT. "Where I come from, teachers are the solution. And I strongly believe that unions are part of the solution, too."
Sanders and O'Malley made similar statements.

In a social-media announcement I received yesterday, RW claims the leadership surveyed "a million" AFT members before making the endorsement with an overwhelming 3-1 majority voicing support for Hillary over the Sanders and the other contenders. The announcement calls Clinton, "the champion of working families" and asks those of us in social media to sport these I'm With Hillary social media badges. I won't be sporting any.

I'm dubious about the million-member survey mainly because I can't find even one rank-and-file teacher here in Chicago who says they were polled. If there's indeed 3-1 membership support for the early (nothing-in-return) endorsement, it sure isn't showing up on Twitter or other social media. You would think that RW would have a host of rank-and-file teachers all over social media proclaiming their support for the endorsement. Instead there appears to be an swell of anger and resentment, at least from ed activists over the endorsement and the leadership's undemocratic (small d) leadership style. No surprise there either.

A petition circulated yesterday, calling on the union to revoke its endorsement, got thousands of signatures in just a few hours.

I did see one official poll done by Hart Research Associates of 1,150 union members. But that's a far cry from 1 million.

BTW, guess who runs Hart Research Associates? None other than Geoff Garin, who briefly served as co-chief strategist for Clinton's 2008 Presidential campaign. Geoff's company also works for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation which has poured millions into the AFT coffers in an attempt to influence union policy.

So yes, the Clinton juggernaut is rolling. Clinton PAC money is flowing. Look for its influence to be felt not just on unions (the NEA will have no choice but to follow suit) but on local community organizations and social movements as we head toward 2016.

It would be ironic however, if the bullish and undemocratic way the Clinton endorsement was done leads to a rank-and-file backlash that ends up actually hurting, rather than helping the campaign and letting Hillary and the Democrats once again, off the hook on education policy.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Duncan's legacy

"It will take years to recover from the damage that Arne Duncan’s policies have inflicted on public education." -- Diane Ravitch
Arne Duncan says he will remain at the D.O.E. "until the final bell". At this point, no one really cares.

The damage is already done and with billions of Race To The Top money no longer in his back pocket, he has no more juice with states, school districts, or with Congress. According to most surveys, his version of school reform has been badly discredited (I hope I helped a little) and many feel he will be remembered as the worst ed secretary ever. 

Diane Ravitch documents the destruction left in his wake:
*He used his control of billions of dollars to promote a dual school system of privately managed charter schools operating alongside public schools; 
*He has done nothing to call attention to the fraud and corruption in the charter sector or to curb charters run by non-educators for profit or to insist on charter school accountability or to require charters to enroll the neediest children;
*He pushed to require states to evaluate teachers by the test scores of their students, which has caused massive demoralization among teachers, raised the stakes attached to testing, and produced no positive results;
*He used federal funds and waivers from NCLB to push the adoption of Common Core standards and to create two testing consortia, which many states have abandoned;
*The Common Core tests are so absurdly “rigorous” that most students have failed them, even in schools that send high percentages of students to four-year colleges, the failure rates have been highest among students who are English language learners, students with disabilities, and students of color;
*He has bemoaned rising resegregation of the schools but done nothing to reduce it; [Here, I would add that Duncan openly opposed, what he referred to as "forced integration" and abandoned fellow cabinet member, AG Eric Holder on his deseg suit in Louisiana--mk].
*He has been silent as state after state has attacked collective bargaining and due process for teachers;
*He has done nothing in response to the explosion of voucher programs that transfer public funds to religious schools;
*Because of his policies, enrollments in teacher education programs, even in Teach for America, have plummeted, and many experienced teachers are taking early retirement;
*He has unleashed a mad frenzy of testing in classrooms across the country, treating standardized test scores as the goal of all education, rather than as a measure;
*His tenure has been marked by the rise of an aggressive privatization movement, which seeks to eliminate public education in urban districts, where residents have the least political power;
*He loosened the regulations on the federal student privacy act, permitting massive data mining of the data banks that federal funds created;
*He looked the other way as predatory for-profit colleges preyed on veterans and  minorities, plunging students deep into debt;
*Duncan has regularly accused parents and teachers of “lying” to students. For reasons that are unclear, he wants everyone to believe that our public schools are terrible, our students are lazy, not too bright, and lacking ambition.
Diane could have also included Duncan's unflagging support for autocratic mayoral control of urban school districts. He made mayoral control an essential piece of his top-down school reform model and went so far as to say he would consider his time as education secretary a “failure” if more mayors didn’t take over city school systems by the end of his tenure.

They didn't. It was and he is.

Final Note: According to a report in the S-T, while Duncan remains in D.C., is wife and two daughters returned to Chicago with the children to attend the expensive and private University of Chicago Lab School.

I leave it to Valery Strauss at WaPo to point out the obvious:
…now his children will attend a progressive private school in Chicago, a school that does not follow key school reform policies that his Education Department has set for public schools.
It does not, for example, use the Common Core State Standards (though many teachers there support them). It does not bombard its students with standardized tests or spend weeks each semester in test-prep mode. It does not evaluate teachers by student standardized test scores. In 2013, 20 Lab teachers signed a letter to Duncan protesting his policies that promote standardized test-based school reform. Also among the signatories were teachers from the Ariel Community Academy, a public school founded by a team of people that included Duncan.
Another irony is that Duncan will be sending his children to a private school in a city where he ran the public schools for seven years; he then went on to control federal oversight of the nation’s public schools for another seven years. One wonders if there is not a single public school — or public charter school — that Duncan could have chosen after being personally responsible in some way for the improvement of the public education system in Chicago.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Chicago Principal LaRaviere: Whose 'Sacrifice'?

Blaine Principal Troy LaRaviere is my early choice for a mayoral run in the next election go-round. He's got the right stuff.

Troy has another hard-hitting commentary ("Why does Rahm Emanuel put business ahead of our children?") in yesterday's Tribune.

He writes:
Politicians frame this as pension payment vs. classroom investment — as if those were the only two expenses our tax dollars are used for and one of them has to be sacrificed. This is patently false. City Hall has had many opportunities for sacrifice in other areas, but it has refused to make those sacrifices. 
Mayor Rahm Emanuel had a chance to sacrifice the diversion of $55 million in taxes to a hotel near McCormick Place. He could have invested some of that tax increment financing money in the pension system instead. 
Emanuel had a chance to sacrifice his relationship with the banking community by suing the banks that are siphoning $100 million from CPS as a result of toxic financial deals brokered by his hand-picked CPS board president, David Vitale. Emanuel has refused to try to recoup these dollars, which he could invest in the pension system. 
Aramark Corp. and SodexoMAGIC Corp. failed to keep CPS schools clean, but Emanuel and CPS would not sacrifice their relationship with those companies by voiding their $340 million in contracts. Some of that money could have been invested in the pension system. 
Emanuel's appointed school board gave SUPES Academy $20 million to provide "training" that I believe was poor in quality and completely unresponsive to the district's professional development needs. That money could have been invested in the pension system. 
City Hall, with such a blatant history of being unwilling to make well-connected and powerful bankers and businessmen sacrifice, has the audacity to announce that it has no choice but to make children sacrifice their education.
Read the entire commentary here.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Chiraq Blues

Antonio Brown collapses after hearing his 7-year-old son, Amari was killed.
It was Rahm Emanuel at his worst yesterday, artlessly ducking any and all responsibility for the city's pandemic gun violence, calling for more and longer prison sentences, and once again blaming black parents for the shooting deaths of their own children.

Last weekend's body count included at least 10 dead and 55 wounded from 3 p.m. Thursday until just before dawn Monday. Mostly all of the victims were young, in their late teens or 20s including 7-year-old Amari Brown, struck by a bullet on the way home from watching fireworks.

Rahm had a couple of valid points:
There are too many guns in the hands of way too many children on the streets of Chiraq. But even there he managed to duck any responsibility for his role as White House Chief of Staff in icing any attempts at national anti-gun legislation, even telling A.G. Eric Holder to "shut the fuck up" on gun control. Yes, the easy availability of guns is a major factor, especially with bordering Tea-Party led, gun-crazy states like Indiana and Wisconsin nearby, making any local Chicago gun-control laws useless.

Rahm has another point:
It's not about police. They're doing hard work, doing the job they need." 
Yes, it's not mainly a policing problem. The cops generally come into play after the shooting is done.

But the Mayor used that point to slam community residents, including Amari's father, Antonio Brown, for "not cooperating" with the cops.

No doubt, there's a lack of trust, especially in the black community, where police doing "hard work" can translate into a quarter million stop-and-frisks a year ago and likely the same this summer.

But Rahm saved the worst for last yesterday, doing his best Bill Cosby moralizing and parent blaming.
"The idea that you're taking a 7-year-old out at midnight, or near midnight, at some point the rest of us say that's a 7-year-old out at midnight, or near, 11:55. Near midnight." 
It was that comment that drew the strongest community reaction.
"Stunning that he is asking for cooperation from the father but nevertheless in the same voice is indicting him and basically saying he is the cause of his son's death," said Rev. Ira Acree, pastor of Greater St. John Bible Church.
And what about the other 65 shooting victims. All due to parents letting their children stay up late to watch July 4the fireworks?

How about at least some accountability, not only for black and Latino youth unemployment, but for the free flow of guns, for isolated and blighted neighborhoods, shuttered schools, clinics and after-school programs?

Final point... Mr. Mayor,  before pointing a finger at other parents, please tell us what your son doing out unsupervised at 10:30 p.m. on the 4200 block of North Hermitage Ave. talking on his iphone the night he was supposedly mugged?

Monday, July 6, 2015


In Chicago, 62 Shootings Over Fourth of July. Mostly all of the victims were young, in their late teens or 20s including 7-year old Amari Brown. #Chiraq

NEA Resolution
The NEA RA directs the NEA to support in ways it finds appropriate and effective, efforts to remove the Confederate battle flag from public schools and public spaces. -- Fred Klonsky blog
Ta-Nehisi Coates
Americans deify democracy in a way that allows for a dim awareness that they have, from time to time, stood in defiance of their God. -- Letter to my Son
Fran Spielman
Instead of building, what he hopes will someday be a “firewall” between the city and CPS, Emanuel alone is wearing the jacket for $200 million in school budget cuts that are only the beginning. -- Sun-Times
Emanuel spokesman, Adam Collins tells big lie
"There is no connection between the awarding of CPS bond work and contributions to the mayor’s political fund." -- AP Wire
Meg Anderson at Catalyst
The link between lower socioeconomic status and a weaker school climate was particularly evident within CPS, where 86 percent of students are economically disadvantaged. The Consortium reported that the more economically disadvantaged a school, the more likely it is to be weak in three or more of the survey’s school climate factors. -- Consortium Report on School Climate

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Buyer's remorse on Rahm's financial recovery plan

Fran Spielman on Rahm/Rauner in Thursday's Sun-Times:
Emanuel and Rauner are friends, education reform allies and former business associates who made millions together. Their families have vacationed together and shared expensive bottles of wine. Given that history and Emanuel’s difficult relationship with former Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, the mayor had good reason to believe that better days were ahead for needy Chicago when Rauner used his personal fortune to defeat Quinn. Instead, the mayor’s petty fights with Quinn while Chicago came out pretty much ahead are beginning to look like the good ol’ days.
Remember how voters were sold Rahm's 'smart' financial recovery plan for Chicago? Well, it hasn't taken long for buyer's remorse to set in.

More Spielman:
Instead of building, what he hopes will someday be a “firewall” between the city and CPS, Emanuel alone is wearing the jacket for $200 million in school budget cuts that are only the beginning.
She seems to buy the line that despite the loss of 1,400 teachers and staff, "schools will open on time and class size will not increase." The first part is questionable. Can teachers really be expected to work with no contract? The second -- ridiculous! Class size is already exploding and special ed is next on the cutting block.
And if the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund doesn’t agree to make a five-month, $500 million loan from next year’s pension payment, even more devastating cuts will be needed that could raise classes to 35 students, force more than 3,000 teacher layoffs and trigger system-wide furlough days.
She's right there. That's why the CTU has no other choice than to support the mayor's dubious don't-try-this-at home borrowing scheme.

I believe that most Chicagoans, including Rahm's big-money backers, would return the mayor, along with his financial plan, for a full refund if they could.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Rahm Hustle. Don't try this at home. Not with feds in town.

SHARKEY NAILS IT -- CTU's Jesse Sharkey responds to Rahm Emanuel's school cuts. He explains clearly how Chicago got into its financial mess, with the current mayor leading the way, and offers a way out through revenue reform. Here's a copy of CTU's Budget Brief.

I wonder if Greece or Puerto Rico could try this? Just borrow the money from your debtor to pay off your debt. Or maybe that is what they've been doing.

Rahm Emanuel, who learned his creative financing tricks, like  "scoop and toss" bond financing while working for Bruce Rauner at GTCR, plans to borrow $500M from the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund, one day after paying the Fund $634M in overdue required city contributions.

The real cost of this trickery is felt right in the classroom with 1,400 teachers and staff being hit with lay-off notices yesterday.

The Sun-Times reports:
Although pension fund trustees expressed their “general overall support,” it wasn’t without a heavy degree of hand-wringing.
One trustee questioned the idea of “hoping Springfield can come through for us” in the toxic atmosphere of a state budget stalemate between Democratic legislative leaders and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner over Rauner’s demand for pro-business, anti-union reforms.
Another trustee warned that the teachers pension fund is “not a bank” and even if it were, “You’re [going to] a bank that, in the past, you haven’t been making your payments to for your mortgage to ask for a loan. I don’t think that would pass any underwriter’s approval.”
Rahm's plan is so crazy, it just might work. Like paying off your credit card bills using those checks the other credit card company sent you in the mail. I actually tried this back in my college days. It worked for about two months.

But please, don't try this at home. Especially with all those federal investigators, grand jury hearings, and the SEC in town.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Bringing the City and State to Its Knees

Harvard Square
Posting from Cambridge, MA this morning and feeling a little guilty for ducking out on my city in its time of crisis. Between them, Gov. Rauner and Mayor Emanuel have actually succeeded in bringing the state and city to its knees today.

Mayor 1% finally made his long overdue payment to the teachers pension fund,  but not without extracting his pound of flesh -- 1,400 teachers being laid off and another $1B in borrowing, another windfall for his bankster patrons and another attack on the teachers union and teachers' collective bargaining rights.

Aside from the hardship the layoffs will bring to the teachers and their children and families, think about what the loss of so many union jobs means to the community and the continuing destruction of the city's middle class. Think also about spiraling class sizes and program cuts in city schools and what that will mean, especially for the neediest of students who need personalization more than ever. It also makes another teachers strike that much more likely.

By my figuring, 1,400 teacher jobs lost means minimally, about $84 million in yearly taxable income that won't be spent in neighborhood groceries, auto dealers, hair salons and shoe stores. That translates to hundreds more lay-offs from local businesses, millions more in lost revenue for the city and state and the further pauperization of the community's working class and small businesses owners.

This is the heart of the brilliant austerity plan that Rahm touted during the last election and that the mostly acquiescent press accepted as superior to Chuy Garcia's call for transparencywith hardly a peep.

Likewise for our sociopathic billionaire governor who will shut down the state government, with an even greater civic toll, rather than taxing his corporate and LaSalle St. cronies even one penny more on their speculative windfall profits.

Fr. Pfleger
I'll leave the rest to Father Michael Pfleger -- one of the few remaining public voices of sanity in this city of ours.
Today at Midnight The State Government will shut down, because a Multimillionaire Governor can't have his way and shut down Unions and programs that are literally life support to thousands of Illinois residents.....the problem is when you have 9 homes and you have millions of dollars in your bank account you will not be affected by a shut down.....but the millions of residents who are dependent on government to work for them and are living day to day. Will be.....Call the Governor 217-782-0244 or 312-814-2121 remind him he works for us and it's our money.....STOP THE CUTS