Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Chicago schools facing triple trauma from Trump, Rauner, Rahm

The real question now is whether or not CPS can withstand the latest three-pronged assault it faces from Operation TRAUMPMA That's the acronym I put together for Trump, Rauner and Rahm who are each playing their role in the trauma and erosion of public education and ultimately all public space and decision-making in this city.

Pres. Trump and the Republicans, representing the center prong of the trident, have made the cities their target. Trumponomics, the shift of billions of federal dollars into military spending and away from education, social services and infrastructure repair projects will have a devastating effect on city schools and neighborhoods.

His appointment of Betsy DeVos as education secretary represents nothing less than a declaration of war against urban education. Like her Democratic predecessor at the DOE, DeVos seems bent on using the very federal authority and resources she decries to push school re-segregation, privatization and aggressive implementation of so-called "choice" policies of vouchers and privately-run charters.

Gov. Rauner continues to hold the state budget hostage as a way of forcing austerity, unconstitutional pension "reform" (theft) and an end to collective bargaining for teachers and all public workers.

Earlier this month, five families sued the state on behalf of CPS, claiming that the state has violated the civil rights of their children by giving Chicago schools less funding than other districts. But suits like this usually end up languishing in the courts, sometimes for years, offering little int he way of relief for struggling families.

Mayor Emanuel and his appointed schools CEO Forrest Claypool have put up only token resistance to the Republican assault, protecting their wealthy patrons from tax increases, spending lavishly on downtown and gentrifying neighborhood projects that benefit the 1%, while implementing draconian and racially discriminatory cuts on the city's resource-starved schools and neighborhoods.

The mayor is up to his old tricks again, taking away a lot and then giving a little back when faced with community resistance. After a revolt from 16 members of his Latino advisory committee, Rahm agreed to restore $15M of $46M budget freeze he ordered earlier this month. But the move was purely a piece of cosmetic surgery, an effort to blunt criticism that cuts disproportionately affected schools with mostly poor, minority students and English language learners.

CPS's $5.41 billion budget still has a $111 million hole to fill before the fiscal year ends on June 30.
Karen Lewis
Now Rahm is threatening to close schools three weeks early, a move that would only further decrease school revenue, while putting nearly a half-million young people at risk, out on dangerous city streets all day with jobs and no place to go. What could possibly go wrong?

How ironic coming from a mayor who ran for office on the promise of a longer school day and year, once elected, forcing the plan on resistant schools and teachers, without any accompanying additional funding.

While Rahm and the CTU agreed to a new contract, narrowly avoiding a teachers strike in November, Rahm and Claypool continue to impose cuts and furloughs on city teachers. How will the CTU and other city unions respond? This is one of the questions we will be posing to CTU Pres. Karen Lewis who will be our in-studio guest Friday at 11 a.m. (CST) on Klonsky Bros. Hitting Left on WLPN 105.5 F.M..  

The best way to listen live is to download the Lumpen Radio app here.

Monday, February 27, 2017


Muhammad Ali vs. Ernie Terrell in 1967. "What's my name...?"
Dave Zirin
  Government agents had the temerity to ask Muhammad Ali, Jr., where he “got his name from.” In my dreams, he answers that question with a left hook. -- The Nation
William Owens, father of commando killed in Yemen raid
 “I’m sorry; I don’t want to see him... I told them I don’t want to meet the president. I told them I didn’t want to make a scene about it, but my conscience wouldn’t let me talk to him... Why at this time did there have to be this stupid mission when it wasn’t even barely a week into his administration? Why?” -- N.Y. Times
Keith Ellison
 “We don’t have the luxury to walk out of this room divided." -- Washington Post
Bernie Sanders
 Sanders, who had supported Ellison, said in a statement that it was “imperative that Tom understands that the same-old, same-old is not working and that we must open the doors of the party to working people and young people in a way that has never been done before.” -- Washington Post
Jimmy Kimmel
...skewered Donald Trump and the Academy’s record on diversity in his opening monologue for the Oscars, thanking the president and saying: “Remember last year when it seemed like the Oscars was racist?” -- Guardian

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

More on Betsy DeVos' love affair with Florida's charter school system

Here's a follow-up on yesterday's post about Betsy DeVos' love affair with Florida's "choice" system, a system of charters and vouchers that she's practically paid for. DeVos recently named Florida's "choice" system as her "model" or "blueprint" for the rest of the country. Republicans are currently drafting legislation that would take the state's tax-credit (voucher) system nation wide.

But a closer look at that system exposes it as part of the problem rather than a solution for failed schools.

Let's start with DeVos' faulty premise that school vouchers (tax credits to pay for private and religious school tuition) and the state's vast network of privately-owned charters are needed as escape routes from the state's "failing" public schools.

Failing schools in Florida's racially-segregated school system, means those schools graded F, based on student FCAT scores. Since those standardized test scores correlate more with concentrated poverty that anything going on in the classrooms, "failing" has become a code word for poor, black or Latino. The A-F grading system in turn, drives the state's real estate market, pushing up home prices around high-scoring schools and reinforcing segregation in both schools and housing.

Sociologists call it social-reproduction, a system that replicates and widens racial and class inequality and transmits it from one generation to the next.

Sunday's Miami Sun-Sentinel ran a story on South Florida's reported "record number of schools labeled as failing".
It used to be rare to have more than a handful of F-rated schools in any of the three counties. But this year, there were a whopping 66 in South Florida. Broward County had 29, Miami-Dade County, 20, and Palm Beach County, 17. The figures include district-run and charter schools.
As if to reinforce my point, the article continues:
 Most of this year's F-rated schools have been D-or F-rated in the past, and all serve students in high-poverty areas.
Sunshine charter alternative school in Orlando
NOT ALL SCHOOLS ARE 'FAILING'... USA Today reports that Florida's network of charters and alternative schools provide a "release valve" for wealthier, high-scoring schools like Olympia High in Orlando.
Tucked among posh gated communities and meticulously landscaped shopping centers, Olympia High School in Orlando offers more than two dozen Advanced Placement courses, even more afterschool clubs, and an array of sports from bowling to water polo. U.S. News and World Report ranked it among the nation’s top 1,000 high schools last year. 
Olympia’s success in recent years, however, has been linked to another, quite different school 5 miles away. Last school year, 137 students assigned to Olympia instead attended Sunshine High, a charter alternative school run by a for-profit company. Sunshine stands a few doors down from a tobacco shop and a liquor store in a strip mall. It offers no sports teams and few extra-curricular activities.
Sunshine’s 455 students – more than 85 percent of whom are black or Hispanic – sit for four hours a day in front of computers with little or no live teaching. One former student said he was left to himself to goof off or cheat on tests by looking up answers on the internet. A current student said he was robbed near the strip mall’s parking lot, twice.
 Sunshine takes in cast-offs from Olympia and other Orlando high schools in a mutually beneficial arrangement. Olympia keeps its graduation rate above 90 percent — and its rating an “A” under Florida’s all-important grading system for schools — partly by shipping its worst achievers to Sunshine. Sunshine collects enough school district money to cover costs and pay its management firm, Accelerated Learning Solutions (ALS), a more than $1.5 million-a-year “management fee,” 2015 financial records show – more than what the school spends on instruction.
Get the picture?

Schools can only be labeled as losers when there are winners to compare them with. As charters and private alternatives re-segregate the system, they are often used to siphon off money and resources from public schools. But they can also be used to siphon off low-scoring kids and potential dropouts from the high-rated, wealthier and often whiter schools.

They can also mask the system's dropout rates. When students are re-assigned to charter alternatives, they are often on a path to dropping out. But they aren't counted as such by the A-rated schools they came from. This masking of dropouts goes on, not just in FL, but in school districts nation-wide.

According to the Sun-Sentinel:
Orlando is one of 83 school districts, from Newark to Los Angeles, where regular schools increased their graduation rates by at least one percentage point from 2010 to 2014 while sending more students into alternative education...Such a pattern could indicate that traditional schools are weeding out students at greater risk of dropping out, although there are many reasons why graduation rates rise.
A good reason to be skeptical about "miracle schools" and reported record-high graduation rates.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Why DeVos is making Florida's charter system her 'model'. She practically owns it.

Betsy DeVos husband Dick, who own the Orlando Magic, spent millions buying pro-"choice" politicians.
Florida's charter schools are among the worst in the nation. The state's so-called "choice" system of charters and vouchers is highly segregated, riddled with corruption and mismanagement (like FL state government in general) and has been rocked by scandal after scandal. 

Gov. Rick Scott has diverted hundreds of millions of dollars away from public schools to bankroll politically connected charter operators. Scott, who's been advised on school policy by Michelle Rhee, is privatization crazed and even tried to privatize FL's health-care system as well as the state's prisons.

Therefore, I was not surprised to hear Trump's ed secretary, Betsy DeVos point to Florida's "choice" system as her model and "blueprint" for K-12 education. 

"I would point to Florida as being one that has had a variety of options for the longest period of time," DeVos told Frank Beckmann, a conservative radio talk show host on WJR, based in Michigan. She said the state, which has charters, also offers both a tax credit scholarship, something DeVos and company may push in Washington, potentially through legislation previously introduced by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican, and vouchers for students in special education.
Billionaire DeVos, who owns a home in FL and who's part owner of the Orlando Magic, has more good reasons to favor the state's charter/voucher system. She helped pay for it. She's used her wealth to underwrite the election campaigns of pro-choice, anti-union school board candidates (both Republican and Democrat) across the state. The Sunshine State is second only to Michigan in the number of individual candidates DeVos or her husband wrote checks to during the past five years. Overall, members of the DeVos family, including Richard DeVos Sr., have donated more than $2 million to Florida candidates for state office and committees since 1996, according to the state database.

The money DeVos sent to the Volusia school board candidate back in 2014 was part of an effort to boot an incumbent she viewed as hostile to Florida's biggest school voucher program, which now pays to send to more than 97,000 children from low-income families to private schools. The strategy worked. The candidate DeVos backed won. So did another school board candidate she contributed to that year in Indian River County, for the same reason.

An NPR report found that Florida charters openly and illegally violate the rights of disabled students.  In fact, a recent Miami Herald investigation found that few charter schools in Florida  even try to serve students with severe disabilities. Statewide, 86% of charter schools do not have any students classified as severely disabled. That's despite state and federal laws that require charter schools to give equal access to these students.

Florida saw more charter schools shut down than any other state last year, according to a new report from the pro-charter National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. Charters in the state are closing at nearly the same rate they are opening.
Florida might be expected to have a large number of closures since it has 656 charters, the third-most in the country, but the report shows the Sunshine State’s closure rate is disproportionately high. Florida is home to slightly less than 10 percent of the charters operating in the country, but accounted for nearly 14 percent of closures last school year.
Some charter advocates, like the National Alliance, argue that school closings are a good thing, a measure of accountability. But they ignore the great harm done to children and parents when schools close, especially in mid-year and lives are disrupted, student/teacher relationships broken and student mobility increased. All these negatives hit hardest of course, on the state's black and Latino families.

The Orlando Sentinel ran a series on Florida school re-segregation via charter schools. 

According to Sentinel writer Dave Weber:
Segregation is making a comeback in Florida's public schools with the new wave of charter schools springing up across the state. One out of eight charter schools has a student body with 90 percent or more of a single race or ethnicity, an Orlando Sentinel analysis of the state's 456 taxpayer-financed charters shows. That compares with one out of 12 traditional public schools.
Florida parent activist Rita Solnet did this interesting little research project.
Out of curiosity, I googled "successful charter schools" and "failing charter schools." About 20,200 results (0.22 seconds) related to "successful charter schools". About 76,600 results (0.23 seconds) related to "failing charter schools."
My favorite Florida charter scandal story had to do with the great Academica Charter hustle. It's my favorite because it carried way beyond FL and even involved celebrities like Pit Bull and Rep. Erik Fresen, a Tea Party Republican who chairs House Education Appropriations hearings on charter expansion. Fresen's sister Maggie, and brother-in-law, Fernando Zulueta run Academica Charter Schools, one of the country’s largest and wealthiest for-profit charter school management firms, with more than 90 schools in Florida alone.

Read all about it here and here. 

Can't you see why Sec. DeVos would find FL's charter system so attractive?

Monday, February 20, 2017


Toni Morrison
Toni Morrison
This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal. -- The Nation
Rick Ayers
Threats and bluster might work when you are building a casino but they don’t really work on the world stage. -- Huffington Post

Betsy DeVos
"Critics want to make my life a living hell." -- Washington Post
DeVos flees D.C. school protest
“I said I’d like to visit a public school with her, and then I’d like her to visit a choice school with me,” DeVos told Axios Thursday, recounting a recent phone call with Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). -- The Hill
Former WaPo Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein
 “Trump's attacks on the American press as 'enemies of the American people' are more treacherous than Richard Nixon's attacks on the press...We are into terrible authoritarian tendencies." -- CNN

Teacher/Author Tim Mullen
The rhetoric about “fixing” failing schools is only political posturing until the real discussion about what is happening in the communities and homes of those students is addressed. -- AJC, Get Schooled

Friday, February 17, 2017


Our in-studio guest, Bill Ayers. 
The Klonsky brothers are back on the air this morning at 11 (CST), live and streaming on Lumpen Radio, WLPN 105.5 FM from Bridgeport (the Daley's old hood) on the south side of Chicago.

We’re trying to stay profanity-free, according to FCC regs this morning, so I’ll try and refrain from using the word “PUZDER” while we talk education, politics, education, and social justice, and whatever else is whirling around the Trumpisphere.

You can tweet your comments or questions using hashtag #HittingLeft17 and we'll try and read them on the air.

Our in-studio guest this morning is distinguished scholar, prolific author, and long time radical political activist, Dr. William Ayers. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Why are Democrats smearing peaceful anti-Trump protests?

DeVos protest in D.C.
“Nothing about a firm commitment to free expression obliges us open our doors to (much less to provide platforms for) those who incite hatred and violence against refugees, immigrants, and minorities—that is, against our students, teachers, co-workers and neighbors.” -- Letter from coalition to IOP Director David Axelrod.
This morning's Sun-Times has columnist Mark Brown imploring Univ. of Chicago students to "Let Loathsome Lewandowski Speak", as if they had any official say in the matter.

A coalition of organizations, which includes groups such as UofC Resists and Graduate Students United, protesting former Trump campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski’s scheduled visit tomorrow, asked the school’s Institute of Politics, run by Democratic Party operative David Axelrod, to withdraw its invitation to Lewandowski and to “stop providing a platform to surrogates of the Trump administration” -- a reference in part to last month’s visit by Trump press secretary Sean Spicer. 

Axelrod claims he welcomes "peaceful protest" but refuses to "shut down" Lewandowski, implying that Trump's guy is just another campus walk-on and that violence-prone students are trying to deprive him of his free speech.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Lewandowski is a highly-paid provocateur who, along with the likes of racist creep Milo Yiannopoulos, are speaking everywhere, raking in big bucks in campus speaking fees and attracting massive militant protests whenever they appear. 

Anti-DeVos protests in Alaska
Citing recent incidents that included Neo-Nazi posters appearing on campus, the UC coalition criticized the university for not doing more in response. If the Lewandowski event proceeds as planned, the groups say they will protest to “express outrage at the normalization of racism, bigotry and violence.”

That's exactly what students everywhere ought to be doing. It's their most fundamental constitutional right and duty as citizens to speak out against racism and injustice. There's never been a more important time in history to exercise that right.

Along with Brown, it's powerhouse liberal Democrats like Axelrod,  AFT Pres. Randi Weingarten and former Obama schools chief Arne Duncan, who are directing their main blows leftward, as they did throughout the presidential campaign, and doing their best to discredit the so-far peaceful anti-Trump protests.

It's what they do. It's what they did in response to the youth movement around the Bernie Sanders campaign and the Black Lives Matter. It keeps them respectable in the eyes of their patrons.  It's also among the things that cost them the election -- by alienating lots of young activist voters -- and could do the same in 2018 and 2020.

Weingarten ran with a fake news story and condemned protesters opposed to Betsy DeVos' visit to a D.C. middle school. She falsely claimed that the demonstrators had "almost knocked down" DeVos as she tried to enter the school. But a CNN video debunked her claim.

Duncan joined in the condemnation and praised DeVos for her photo-op visits to the very schools she claims she wants to privatize and Christianize.

No, it's not a matter of agreement or disagreement on "any issue". Trump and appointees from DeVos to Sessions, to Pudzer, along with Alt-right and white supremacist allies are perpetrating a racist, neo-fascist coup and total takeover of government. They should be resisted at every turn.

It's right to rebel against injustice.

Monday, February 13, 2017


A demonstrator wears handcuffs Saturday, as thousands rally in Washington Square Park to protest the immigration raids and New York City's policing policy. Photo Credit: Steven Sunshine
Chicago activist Ja'Mal Green tells Chris Hayes 
"Nobody has really said it, but his name is Rahm Emanuel. This mayor that we have in the city of Chicago does not care about black people. I want to put that on the record. ...We're walking past boarded up schools, boarded up houses, they're knocking down with red Xs with no plan to redevelop, mental health facilities shut down, the unemployment rate is the highest in Chicago than it is around the country. If you want to talk about violence, you've got to talk about the economics, not police." -- Washington Free Beacon
Cristina Jimenez, executive director of United We Dream
“This is clearly the first wave of attacks under the Trump administration, and we know this isn’t going to be the only one." -- Washington Post
 Gillian Christensen, spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security
"ICE dislikes the term 'raids,' and prefers to say authorities are conducting 'targeted enforcement actions.'” -- Washington Post
Obamacare opponent, Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA)
Says he doesn’t want to hold town halls because “since Obamacare and these issues have come up, the women are in my grill no matter where I go.” -- Think Progress
Donald Trump 
"Trust me, I’m like a smart person.” -- Answer Sheet

Friday, February 10, 2017

Brother Fred & I will be HITTING LEFT & streaming live this morning.

Ald. Munoz
Tune in this morning at 11 (CST) for week 2 of Klonsky Brothers, HITTING LEFT on Lumpen Radio at 105.5 FM and streaming live here. Fred and I will be joined by Chicago's 22nd Ward Ald. Rick Munoz, who definitely hits lefty.

He's a member of both the Progressive Caucus and the Latino Caucus in the City Council. His Little Village ward is the main debarkation point for Chicago's one million Mexican immigrants.

It's a perfect time to talk to Rick as #PEEOTUS blames "immigrant gang members" for Chicago's rising murder rate. Says he wants to invade our Sanctuary City, round up immigrants and have posse of sheriffs running the city.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel says he's willing to deal with Trump. But what possible deal could he make? If Trump agrees to "give us more resources", will Rahm agree to... do what? Abandon Sanctuary City? What?

And what's up in the upcoming race for mayor? In the last election, Rick backed his mentor, Chuy Garcia. What about this time around?

Can't wait to hear Rick's response.

Tune in and Tweet us at #HITTINGLEFT17.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Remember the battle over the Marine Academy? Look what's happened since.

Community activists like Delia Borillas, worked hard to rally neighbors against plans to turn Ames into a military academy.
Back in 2014, after the Mayor and then school CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett promised not to close any more schools, they instead pushed for their militarization. Chicago had already led the nation in publicly financed military academies but soon-to-be-indicted BBB decided to ignore parent protests and turn our neighborhood middle school, Ames, into a Marine Academy.

It was later discovered that the Marine Academy was part of the scheme that would profit her personally and later lead to the fraud convictions of BBB and her Synesi/SUPES partner in crime, Gary Solomon.

Ames Middle School, was originally built to house Small Learning Communities focused on personalization and experiential learning. After first threatening to move a Marine Academy into the "underutilized" Ames building, Rahm and BBB, with help from then Ald. Roberto Maldonado, shifted gears and came up with a plan to militarize the entire school elevating military programs at the expense of music, sports, and art and sparking protests from the the mostly-Latino community and parents. In a neighborhood referendum, community members voted overwhelming (97%-3%) against the militarization of Ames.

Lauren Fitzpatrick wrote in the Sun-Times:
In April 2013, grant applications were submitted for Carver Military Academy, Corliss, Farragut and what then was called Marine Math and Science Academy, now the Marine Leadership Academy at Ames. Each planned to pay Synesi $270,000 per year for its help, according to the schools’ proposals.
Fast forward...Byrd-Bennett and Solomon are on their way to prison. But the Marine Academy at Ames is still a thing -- barely.

This week, CPS announced another round of devastating mid-year budget cuts amounting to $46M. The school in our neighborhood, hit hardest by the cuts was -- you guessed it -- the Marine Academy, which, according to DNAInfo,  stands to lose $227,402.

If you appreciate irony, that's nearly the exact amount that would have been funneled to Synesi.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Setting the table for fascism, American-style

After Dr. King was assassinated in Memphis, nearly a half-century ago, there was an attempt by the dominant culture to turn him into a harmless icon. That often happens to revolutionaries when they die. But if you ever doubted the power of King's ideas, yesterday's Senate hearings on the appointment of racist Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions as AG should put those doubts to rest.

When Sen. Elizabeth Warren attempted to enter an appropriate, brief, and relatively mild letter from King's widow Coretta Scott King, criticizing Sessions' record on civil rights, Warren was immediately silenced by her trembling Republican colleagues,who charged that she was "impugning his integrity."

The silencing of critics, media, judges and legislators, combined with a propaganda blitz based on big lies and "alt-facts" have become central features of the Trump regime. Every day we're fed more and more until the cynicism runs so deep that the lies all becomes normalized and the war drums become ambient noise.

But make no mistake. There's a method to this madness. The lies aren't just pathological, they're political as well. The latest example was Trump's big lie yesterday, at a confab of county sheriffs. He claimed, without any evidence, that the U.S. murder rate is now the "highest in 47 years." In fact, the murder rate, while horrific, is at its lowest point in decades. It remains as high as it is, not for want of more cops and federal agents, but for the flood of cheap guns, which Trump encourages.

Why make such a provocative and easily debunked fib? The answer lies in Trump's follow-up statement, “If you ran Chicago, you would solve that nightmare.”

If that isn't an open call for a police state, I don't know what is.

Remember, Trump's selling this BS to whip up the same group of sheriffs who were mobilized to put down the water protectors protests at Standing Rock. I should point out here that several sheriffs and deputies refused to take part in the violent suppression of those protests. Look for more of the same by police professionals in the months ahead.

Despite its populist window dressing, this is a regime that can't rule based on popular will. Its base is too narrow and there are too many internal divisions. Trump unexpectedly won the election while losing the popular vote by 3 million, because of a perfect storm. But the global threat of Trumpism is existential and would be there even if Trump had lost and didn't have the extra burden of running the government.

Running the country and trampling the bureaucracy, the other branches of government (including the courts and even the military leadership and intelligence organizations), will require not only a policization/militarization of society, but an ideological assault on the truth (alt-facts) as well.

To put it more bluntly, The Trumpians are setting the table for the global, direct neo-fascist takeover they've only just begun. I say "neo-fascist" only because its features may not look the same as the Hitler/German brand from the 1930s.

Best Tweets...

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Death by 1,000 cuts at CPS

"Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them." -- Frederick Douglass
Donald Trump thinks Frederick Douglass is still alive. In one sense (certainly not the one intended) he may be right. Douglass' words, his warning, that if we don't resist oppression, we will get it's full measure, are alive and as relevant today as they were more than a century-and-a-half ago. They were ringing in my head this week as I watched our Trumpian Gov. Rauner veto a bill that would have put $215M back in the schools.

We're now in our third year without a state budget and Rahm Emanuel's schools CEO Forrest Claypool has just announced another $46M in cuts at CPS and I'm asking myself just how much more of this death by 1,000 cuts of public space are we willing or able to endure?

The cuts have created more chaos throughout the system, forcing principals to re-engineer their budgets in the middle of the school year and give up as much as half of discretionary money for textbooks, field trips, technology and hourly workers who staff recess and after school programs. CPS is also cutting $5 million in teacher professional development funds.

As expected, Claypool put all the blame for the cuts on the more-than-deserving, "Trumpian" Rauner. But Claypool, Rahm and the Democratic Party leadership in Springfield have blood on their hands as well. They've acceded to Republican demands for more and more cuts with little more than a whimper, and Sen. Pres. John Cullerton is currently colluding with Rauner in the Grand Plan to loot the pension fund and weaken the unions.

They are also unwilling to tax the state's wealthiest for badly-needed revenues and instead are considering other ways to save money, including shortening the school year. How ironic, considering that Rahm made the unfunded, compulsory longer school day the centerpiece of his first campaign for mayor.

Taking the biggest hits...As I scroll down the list of CPS schools to see which ones are affected the most, something jumps out at me. It's how Claypool wielded his sword in favor of the mayor's pet selective-enrollment high schools, which were hardly touched. Compare for example, Walter Payton (.049% of its budget was cut) or Northside Prep (0.13%)  with Clemente (4.20%) or Juarez (4.14%). Newly opened Dyett, the product of a community hunger strike, took a 5% hit.

I haven't seen the list yet of charter schools. I've read that charters could see their funding cut by a total of $18 million in April to match the spending freeze and furlough days imposed on district-run schools. But charters are also benefiting from outside funding streams that remain inaccessible to most public schools. The also pay their non-union teachers less and push out veteran teachers in favor of less-experienced, lower-paid TFAers.

I know in some cases, I'm comparing apples and oranges here, due to size of the schools and their overall budgets. For example, Lane Tech, the city's largest high school, stands to lose about $890,000, by far the largest of any school. But Lane also had the largest pool of discretionary funds to begin with. Forty other elementary and high schools are targeted for an average of $300,000 for cuts.

But percentages and sizes of cuts are still indicators of the two-tier system of schooling Rahm is building, by attrition and subtraction, here in Chicago, where privately-run charters and selective-enrollment continue to supplant community-based schools according to policy.

Back to Frederick Douglass -- The heart of the resistance is still the public employee unions, AFSCME, CTU and SEIU, along with parent and community groups.

The CTU used one of Claypool's 4 forced, unpaid furlough days to protest the cuts and call for his resignation. AFSCME #31 is taking a strike vote as I write this.

CTU Pres. Karen Lewis summed it all up nicely,
"Rahm and Rauner are both to blame, There's no separation between their intention to destroy publicly funded, public education in Chicago."

Monday, February 6, 2017


Kellyanne Conway 
"I misspoke one word." -- Chicago Tribune
Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly
Respectfully but firmly, the retired general told Bannon that despite his high position in the White House and close relationship with President Trump, the former Breitbart chief was not in Kelly’s chain of command. -- Washington Post
Donald Trump tells O'Reilly...
 “There are a lot of killers. We have a lot of killers. Well, you think our country is so innocent?” -- Washington Post. 
Susana Mendoza
IL Comptroller Susana Mendoza
“We are now going into a third year without that balanced budget proposal. He hasn’t done it once. He hasn’t done it twice. As a result of that, my office is responsible for having to pay $11.2 billion in bill backlogs. That’s how bad of a situation we’re in. We’ve had six downgrades to our credit since Gov. Rauner has taken office." -- Chicago Tribune
Jim Durkin, Rauner's House leader threatens AFSCME families
"But the fact is, if you cross him... if you do that, you're crossing a governor who's, I think he's going to do what he thinks is best at the end of the day, which is not going to be in the best interests of AFSCME members and their families and loved ones." -- Chicago Tribune
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska)
“I have heard from thousands—truly thousands—of Alaskans who shared their concerns about Mrs. DeVos. They’ve contacted me by phone, by e-mail, in person.” -- Wall Street Journal
Michael Petrilli, conservative think-tanker on DeVos' blunder
"It's impossible to argue that most online charter schools are high-performing because most are performing abysmally." Petrilli should know. He once worked for K12 Inc.,. -- NPR

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Hitting Left Week 1

Week 1 crew. 
Well, we pulled it off on Week 1. We were, as they say, a little rough around the edges. Messed up a few transitions, forgot to reintroduce our in-studio guest, Troy LaRaviere after each break, things like that,.. But I think we did pretty well on the Klonsky Brothers' first live Hitting Left show on Lumpen Radio.

Our producer, Logan was impressed. He says our first show drew an audience, second only to the Beer Show, earning us the permanent (is anything really...?) 11-noon slot on Fridays.

If you missed it, you can listen to it here.

Special thanks to Logan Bay and Leah Menzer at Lumpen Radio and to Jeff Spitz and his assistant Scott Hoelzer for doing the video. Clips should be forthcoming.

Tune in next week for more Klonsky Brothers and guests hitting from the left side of the plate.

Tweet us, using hashtag #HittingLeft17 or go to our Hitting Left FB page to send us comments, questions or suggestions for future shows.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Klonsky Bros. Radio

This morning at 11, my brother Fred and I kick off our new radio show, Hitting Left on WLPN, 105.5 FM. In Chicago or not, we'll be streaming galaxy-wide at LumpenRadio.Com. Or, you can download the app and hear the show with a click on your phone.

We're not taking phone calls today, but you can Tweet us at #HittingLeft and we'll try to get to your questions and comments.

This morning, Fred and I will be talking Trump, ed/politics and much more, with our in-studio guest, Troy LaRaviere. If you follow this blog, you know Troy well. He's the president of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Assoc. and was the principal at Blaine Elementary before the mayor took revenge on him and had him fired for "insubordination", meaning, Troy's open criticisms of Rahm's policies were having an impact. His hard-hitting Tribune commentary ("Why does Rahm Emanuel put business ahead of our children?") really pissed off the mayor. Plus, Troy being a Bernie Sanders campaigner may also have had something to do with it, according to the IG. 

But, as they say, the tables are turning. Troy landed on his feet and won the PAAA election. Now there's even talk about him running for mayor. Of course, we're going to ask him about that and a lot more.

Tune in.