Monday, July 31, 2017


They really cast the deciding vote on healthcare bill. 
Tim Hogan, spokesman for Our Lives on the Line
“The resistance showed up – we called, we came to meetings, we rallied in the rain, and last night we won a critical victory in the fight to protect our care. But we know that President Trump and [Senate majority] Leader [Mitch] McConnell’s reckless determination to imperil the wellbeing of millions of Americans has not gone away... We’re not waiting for their next attack.”  --Guardian
The conclusion of this set of hearings may have been best summed up by Chris Ungar, Past President, of the California School Boards Association:
Can charter schools be part of the solution? Absolutely. But that solution must be intentional, well-planned growth that takes into account the health and sustainability of the entire public education system, including the so-called traditional public schools that educate 90% of our country’s students. -- Task Force Report
Troy LaRaviere give report to CPS Board
CPAA Pres. Troy LaRaviere to CPS Board of Ed
“When has this district ever attempted to shut down three majority white schools in one year?” he asked before turning to [CPS second-in-Command, Janice] Jackson. 
Our principals love you, they’re very disappointed because you were one of us. When are you going to leave this cesspool and come back home? Come back home, sister.” -- Sun-Times
Fred Klonsky
"The morality is...all working people ought to have a pension, live a life of comfort, without worrying about health care or where they're going to live. That's what a humane system looks like. To treat old folks with dignity and with honor." -- Live From the Heartland Radio
Phil Kadner
All Americans deserve the same health care as Sen. John McCain. -- Sun-Times
Tony Sanders, CEO of IL's second largest school district
 “If prior bills failed because they took away from the rich to give to the poor, why would I support a bill that takes money from the poor to give to the rich?” -- Mark Brown's column in Sun-Times
Andy Borowitz
 Harland Dorrinson, who voted for Trump “because he promised that he would take my health care away from me on Day 1,” said that he was “very upset” that he will still receive that benefit. “I woke up this morning, and my family and I could still see a doctor,” he said. “This is a betrayal.” -- New Yorker 

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Fighting another Rahm school closure at NTA

Niketa Brar (left) and Elisabeth Greer from National Teachers Academy 
Most of yesterday's show focused on the planned closing of another "high-performing" Chicago elementary school with an African-American student population. Our two in-studio guests, Niketa Brar and Elisabeth Greer, both elected members of the Local School Council (Elisabeth is the LSC chair) at National Teachers Academy (NTA), told the story of their community's struggle to save their school.

It's both an inspiring and heart-breaking tale of a school community that has managed to survive and thrive despite district misleadership and the rigors of 15 years of top-down, corporate-style reform, only to find itself on the chopping block. After finally achieving Level 1 status, NTA has been marked for closure. Its students could be moved into an expanded (1,800 students) South Loop Elementary -- an elementary school that size is criminal -- and NTA turned into a new high school for Chinatown.

As one parent put it, "they've got us fighting over scraps".

The school was launched in 2002 against the background of gentrification of the South Loop neighborhood, with a fancy misleading title (it was never a national teacher training academy) under the direction of a consortium of 15 school partners including universities who promised to deliver strong professional development for teachers at a neighborhood school.

Instead, what the school got was a takeover by a private turnaround company, AUSL, leading to teacher firings and principal churn. Since 2006, the school has stabilized, developed a strong teacher residency program in partnership with UIC and has now been declared a Level 1 school, based on its rising test scores. Most of the credit for the gains goes to the school's teachers and students as well as its two most recent principals, Amy Rome and Isaac Castelaz. 

Niketa and Elisabeth's story recalled the legacy of then-CEO Arne Duncan's so-called Renaissance 2010 reform initiative which was launched by Mayor Daley in 2004. It called for the closing of more than 80 schools to be replaced by 100 shiny new charters, contract schools, performance schools, turnaround schools, the year 2010.

I still remember Duncan speaking to Dodge Elementary parents who were angry over his handing their school over to AUSL, without any input from the community, and promising them that they would be thrilled with his new Renaissance alternatives. But by 2013, CPS was already closing many of the schools Duncan had created.

Ren 10 was a disaster on all levels. But it was the manufactured spin of this debacle as a "Chicago Miracle" which paved the way for Duncan's appointment as head of the Department of Education.

WBEZ's Becky Vevea wrote at the time:
In 2008, Dodge was where then president-elect Barack Obama 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 and Williams are closing  their doors.
This story must have a familiar ring to the parents and students at NTA.

But, as Elisabeth assured us yesterday, "We're gonna win... We are an army of parents and allies from all over the city. This is not over." 

I believe her.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Trump afraid to face NAACP. Sends underling. Group stands firm on charters.

NAACP 2017
The racist character of the current White House (aptly named for its lack of black faces) became even more apparent when Trump turned down the NAACP's invitation to address its 2017 convention. Instead DT sent his beleaguered underling, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, to represent the face of this administration. The results weren't pretty.

As you might expect, Rosenstein got a "chilly reception" when he repeated Trump's racist garbage about black crime and urban "carnage" and tried to downplay the current mayhem in the Justice Dept. with his boss, AG Jeff Sessions at the center of it.

POLITICO reports:
Rosenstein used his six-minute address to pay homage to Trump by citing one of his most polarizing speeches: the inaugural address where he railed against "carnage" in the streets of America.
"In President Trump’s inaugural address, he said that Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families and good jobs for themselves. These are just and reasonable demands," Rosenstein said.
Rosenstein got a tepid reaction from the group, with organizers exhorting the crowd to give him more applause both as he took the stage and as he wrapped up.
 "Our goal is not to fill prisons. Our goal is to save lives," Rosenstein said, as his comments were interrupted by a smattering of applause.
Nothing of course, could be further from the truth. Trump's goal has been precisely to fill the prisons with black, Latino and immigrant bodies. Especially the now burgeoning industry of private prisons whose owners are among his biggest campaign contributors.

   “Stop talking to us about the mythology of black crime," Rev. William Barber II said as many in the audience stood and cheered. "If you’re going to talk to us about black crime, talk to use about the Wall Street criminals that never get charged."
Many of those who addressed the convention Tuesday railed against the Trump administration and its efforts to repeal Obamacare.
"Stop texting lies. Stop telling lies. Stop turning people against each other with lies," said Barber, a leader of the Moral Monday movement in North Carolina. "Until you stop, we can’t move.”
"It gets dark sometime, but let nothing break our spirit," Rev. Jesse Jackson told the group. "Stand up. March up. We will outlast Trump and we will outlast this dark night."
Charter schools...

A NAACP task force that spent several months traveling the country learning about charter schools released a report Wednesday with the group’s conclusions. The report comes less than a year after the civil rights organization passed a resolution calling for a moratorium on the growth of charter schools last October. The new report calls on the NAACP to create a plan of action and a new coalition of groups to push back on charter schools’ lack of accountability and transparency.

The report notes that while charter schools were created to act as labs of innovation and share their best ideas with public schools, “this aspect of the promise never materialized.”

While making some concessions to some of its pro-charter affiliates, the organization, which has been under tremendous pressure from the administration and powerful corporate "reform" groups to retreat, appears to be standing firm on calling for more charter accountability and restraints on the expansion of privately-run charters.

According to the Baltimore Sun:
The NAACP is calling for tighter restrictions on charter schools and the elimination of for-profit charters as part of a broad array of actions leaders want to see taken on the local and national level to improve public education for children of color.
 In calling for more accountability, the NAACP wants local school districts to be the only body that can approve, or give a charter to, a new school. That restriction already exists in Maryland, which is one of the few states with charter laws that require all charter schools to be part of local school systems.Many states allow other entities, such as universities, to decide whether a school should be permitted to operate as a charter.
Huffington Post reports:
 During a time when the Trump administration is working to expand the number of charter schools in the name of civil rights, the symbolic importance of pushback from the nation’s oldest civil rights organization looms large. The report recommends the full elimination of for-profit charter schools. For-profit schools aren’t allowed in a number of states, but are prevalent in Michigan, the home state of U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. 
“The widespread findings of misconduct and poor student performance in for-profit charter schools, demands the elimination of these schools,” says the report.
More to come on this.

Monday, July 24, 2017


"Nothing about this White House communications department was ever about communicating. On the contrary, it has always been about deception, concealment and equivocation." -- Charles Blow, NYT 

Hap Bryant, National Teachers Academy parent
“We are fighting over scraps." -- WBEZ
Cory McCartan, president of the Union of Grinnell Student Dining Workers.
Unions aren’t just for factory workers or truck drivers; they are for anyone who wants to have a voice in his workplace. The sooner we accept this, the sooner we can transform the labor movement from an ossified relic of the last century into a powerful engine for the social and economic change that this country desperately needs. -- Letter to NYT
AFT Pres. Randi Weingarten 
 “Make no mistake: This use of privatization, coupled with disinvestment, are only slightly more polite cousins of segregation." -- AP Wire
LA Kauffman
Why have so many articles, blog posts, and tweets invoked the resistance without acknowledging who is doing most of the day-to-day work of resisting? -- Guardian
Natalie Moore 
Don’t let OJ Simpson blind us to black victims of injustice. -- Guardian 
Steven W. Thrasher
For the past decade, leading Democrats like Obama, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, and Senator Cory Booker have trumpeted charter schools (and their disdain for unions, regulation and government enforcement of civil rights protections). They paved the way for the Devos-Trump education nightmare. -- Guardian
Peter Cunningham @PCunningham57 Replying to @mikeklonsky
I have yet to hear any ideas from you about anything. -- Twitter
Mike Klonsky
Listen up --

Full Transparency
Above the Law

Saturday, July 22, 2017

DeVos in Twitter war with AFT

Does this mean, no more school visits together with Randi and Betsy?

Jack Roskopp at Detroit Metro Times reports that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos "is taking a note from her boss by firing back at her critics on Twitter".
The AFT teacher's union sent out a tweet today saying "@BetsyDeVos says public $ should invest in indiv students. NO we should invest in a system of great public schools for all kids." This prompted DeVos to tweet back at the union with a series of tweets that don't exactly add up. 

AFT responds.
I admit, it's not much of a war. For those who have a hard time making any sense of this tweetspat,  let me try and break it down. Under the direction of Betsy DeVos, the DOE has become little more than an engine for driving school privatization, religious fundamentalism, racism and gender discrimination. Trump's appointment of DeVos to oversee this country's public education system threatens a roll-back of every hard-won gain by the Civil Rights Movement in the past 70 years.

DeVos and her new OCR chief, Candice Jackson are waving the "civil rights" banner as a rationale for private school vouchers, to "liberate" individual students from public ("government") schools.

DeVos claims she wants to focus on civil rights claims "individually" rather than on institutional racism and discrimination, thereby ignoring this country's legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, and racial segregation and their impact on public education.

The AFT, as you might expect wants the OCR to maintain its focus on systemic violations of civil rights like it was under the Obama administration. Without getting into the issue of whether or not the previous administration actually took up the desegregation fight, in this battle, the union is right.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The IL Gov's Race: I don't like Kennedy.

To be honest, I just don't like this guy. 
Needless to say, dumping Rauner is our main goal in next year's race. But until then, I'm trying to sort out the gaggle of Democrats running in the primary. The way things look now, any of them --or Dave the cable guy -- could beat the billionaire incumbent, even in this, the most expensive gov's race in history.

Chris Kennedy is definitely not my favorite among the Dems running for governor. Yes, I know the Kennedy name still puts lots of liberals in nostalgia mode and the name alone may be enough to beat Rauner.

But to be honest, I just don't like the guy. It might have something to do with the way he tried to use his power as head of the U of I Board of Trustees and family wealth (president of the Merchandise Mart) to tarnish the career of my friend and former UIC colleague, Distinguished Prof. of Education, Bill Ayers over something "uncivil" Bill supposedly wrote 40 years earlier about Kennedy's father.

Then there was matter of Kennedy denying a UI teaching job to Prof. Steven Salaita over his tweeting critically about Israel. It was a move that ended up costing the scandal-ridden, cash-strapped university more than $2M in settlement and legal costs and the university president her job.

That kind of pettieness and propensity for taking revenge on critical writers, educators or journalists, belies the progressive line Kennedy is pushing now. Reminds me too much of Trump and Rauner. 

So I couldn't help chuckle while reading this. 

Capitol Fax's Rich Miller:
"Chris Kennedy spoke at the Mom+Baby governors candidate meet and greet yesterday. I didn't see anything on his Twitter page about it, but I'm told about 30 moms and 10 kids had to wait at least half an hour for him to arrive. And it went downhill from there."
And this...
 He was a hot mess. Shirt barely tucked in. He had on biking shoes. He spoke about Trump the entire time. Crazy! 
It was embarrassing. He misquoted stats that our members corrected him on. He got called out on lack of supporting single payer and marijuana legalization. He also starting talking education inequity and misspoke on the cps funding. It was nuts. Story here
Finally, Kennedy won't show his hand on hot-button school reform issues like charters and vouchers. Why not? Makes me suspicious.

Kennedy is welcome to come on Hitting Left and try and prove me wrong. We've already had candidate Ald. Ameya Pawar on and State Sen. Dan Biss will be our in-studio guest on August 4th. Others may soon follow.

It would be nice if there was at least one woman running.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

DeVos has turned her Office of Civil Rights into its opposite

Under the direction of Betsy DeVos, the DOE has become little more than an engine for driving school privatization, religious fundamentalism, racism and gender discrimination. Trump's appointment of DeVos to oversee this country's public education system threatens a roll-back of every hard-won gain by the Civil Rights Movement in the past 70 years.

DeVos in turn, has named Candice Jackson to head the Office of Civil Rights and turned that office into its opposite. It should be renamed, the Office of Maintaining White Male Supremacy. Jackson's recent comments normalizing campus rape are but the latest indicators of the direction the DOE has taken in regards to civil rights enforcement. DeVos has also slashed OCR budget, basically neutering the office when it comes to enforcement.

DeVos claims she wants to focus on civil rights claims "individually" rather than on institutional racism and discrimination, thereby ignoring this country's legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, and racial segregation and their impact on public education.

What this means in practice is often giving equal weight to or favoring the complaints of individual white men who feel discriminated against by race-based affirmative actions; to Christian fundamentalists who feel that civil rights laws impinge on their religious practices; and to men's rights groups who feel oppressed by feminists or by women who have accused them of rape.

All has brought DeVos into direct conflict with Sen. Patty Murray, ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee. who's among 34 Democratic senators who signed a letter which read:  "You claim to support civil rights and oppose discrimination, but your actions belie your assurances."

They gave DeVos a deadline of July 11 to provide a list of all open Office for Civil Rights cases involving a transgender student, open cases involving sexual assault or sexual harassment, and cases that have been closed or dismissed since Jan. 1. DeVos ignored the deadline.

DeVos is also being sued by IL Atty. General Lisa Madigan and 18 other state attorneys general who want the DOE to hold for-profit schools (like Trump Univ.)  accountable for unscrupulous practices/ These include lying about accreditation and job placement, and luring millions of Americans to enroll in programs that ultimately leave them trapped in a lifetime of paralyzing student loan debt.

The problem with the Dems' is that the Department under Obama's appointee, Arne Duncan, was also weak on civil rights enforcement, especially in the area of school desegregation. Duncan proclaimed that he was opposed to "forced integration" recalling memories of 1950s southern segregationists. Other appointees, like former Asst. Sec. Peter Cunningham, have been outspoken in opposition to school desegregation being a front-burner issue.

It's telling that Sen. Murray and her Democratic colleagues never mention race or racism, English language learners, or students with disabilities in any of their polemics with DeVos and confine their criticisms almost entirely to issues of gender and transgender discrimination.

A serious blind spot.

Monday, July 17, 2017


"We want the USGA to dump sexist Trump because women and men deserve to make sure that they are safe and that sexual predators are not considered ambassadors of sports." -- Protesting Trump at U.S. Open
Catherine Rampell
Everything is a distraction from something much, much worse. -- Washington Post 
Walt Gardner 
It's so easy to scapegoat teachers' unions for all the ills afflicting public schools ("State of the Teachers Union," The Wall Street Journal, Jul. 6). Critics point to the success of charter schools, which are overwhelmingly non-union, as evidence.
But what these critics don't admit is that states like Massachusetts and Minnesota, which have strong teachers unions, also post high test scores. Is that merely a coincidence or is it evidence that the critics are wrong?  (Correlation is not causation.)  Moreover, not all charter schools post positive results by any means. -- Reality Check
 Jessica Valenti
 Perhaps this shouldn’t come as a surprise from DeVos, who appointed Candice Jackson as a civil rights official in the education department – a woman who denounced feminism and claimed she was a victim of discrimination for being white. -- Betsy DeVos enabling rape deniers 
Fired Rauner staffer
“We fought for the governor [to hijack the state budget for two years] with our very last breath only to find out he was planning to fire us anyway. We gave him everything, blood and guts, and this is what we got. A kick out the door.” -- Sneed
Trevor Timm
 The Robert Mueller special counsel investigation into Trump and Russia could take years to complete. And it probably won’t directly lead to Trump himself being indicted. Mueller is likely to submit his findings on Trump himself to Congress for action rather than bringing an indictment. And if people really think Republicans are going to impeach Trump, they are kidding themselves. -- Guardian

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Grifters

With school out and Trump and his grifter family sucking up all the media energy, it's been hard for this blogger to stay focused on education politics. Talking (on Hitting Left) and writing about even the hot ed issues, like charter schools, vouchers and testing madness, while the country is facing its worst constitutional crisis in half-a-century, sounds to many of my readers (rightfully so) like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. It brings me little satisfaction or relief.

Like most of us, I've increasingly been turned into a spectator on RussiaGate, staring at times in disbelief, with eyes glazed over at CNN or MSNBC, spitting out invectives at the TV screen while the grifter family saga plays out with never-ending cast of talking heads. It's a parade of  Trump and anti-Trump lawyers, former and current CIA operatives, Republican pols abandoning ship, Democrats with little to offer except "we not Trump in 2018", and so forth -- dredged out to normalize political criminality and the greatest redistribution of wealth from the bottom to the top, in history.

Where is this going? How do we as a nation, extricate ourselves from the rule of the most corrupt, anti-democratic regime since the Nixon era. Trump won't resign like Nixon. If he did, no Pence presidential pardon could save him and his grifter family from prison and loss of their empire because Pence himself is culpable. They all go down together.

Maybe pack all the grifters into Air Force 1, land at Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow and request political asylum ala Edward Snowden? Not likely.

Impeachment? Possible, especially after Mueller's committee releases its findings. But that could take years.

25th Amendment? A "liberal fantasy" writes Politico's Jeff Greenfield. He's right.

Electoral strategy? Most likely, but problematic. Mid-term elections are coming up with a chance for Dems to take back the House and Senate. If this happens, Trump and his grifter family are toast. If not, 2020 seems like a sure bet. The problem is a Democratic Party split in half between neo-liberals and progressives, with nothing to offer the poor and working class on the most important issues. The DNC leadership continues to direct it's main blow at the Sanders left instead of the Republicans.

Check out Howard Dean, now, according to The Intercept, working for a health care lobbying firm to attack Bernie Sanders on single-payer.

"We're not Trump" may do it without the left. Or not.

Third party politics continues to be a bad spoiler joke with Greens (whites), liberal libertarians, and others invisible between elections. No base.

National Tenant March
A DISTRACTION? Some of my readers argue that all this Russomania is just a distraction, keeping us from talking about the important things like health care, education and racism. They have a point. But flipping the script for a minute, it's also meant death for the Republican agenda, ie. killing Obamacare, tax-"reform", etc... It has also left Ed Secretary Betsy DeVos, isolated and cowering over at the DOE.

Not to say there isn't great damage being done, especially a roll-back of civil rights gains won in the '60s. This includes restricting voting rights, which can only help Repugs in 2018 and '20.

Sound depressing? Snap out of it, I tell myself. As I'm writing this, thousands of tenants and housing rights activists are converging on Washington, D.C., for a National Tenant March. The march is protesting Trump’s "war on the poor", particularly his proposed $7.4 billion cuts to HUD, or the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which oversees public housing in the United States. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is among the scheduled speakers.

Monday, July 10, 2017


“I’m here because I oppose how education in Germany is structured, that they’re training us to be workers and not thinkers.” -- Hendro Myrow, 18, a student in Hamburg.

Sydney Chaffee, 2017 National Teacher of the Year
Let’s work to ensure that education represents liberation. Let’s keep our ears and hearts open to our students’ brilliance, even when it makes us uncomfortable. Let’s envision education as a time machine that helps our students travel to worlds we have only imagined — ones that are built on ideals of justice and equity and collaboration. -- National Education Association 
47th Ward Ald. Ameya Pawar, candidate for governor in IL
Ald. Ameya Pawar
"You have to have a progressive income tax. We owe what we owe [to state pensioners] and if I'm elected, we will make good on that promise...We can't allow the pension system to go belly-up and by extension, to allow the city to go belly-up. I have always voted to protect pensions. I don't know that everyone in the race can say that." -- Interview on Hitting Left with the Klonsky Bros. 
Rahm Emanuel's big lie
“What’s very, very important for the people in Chicago, all of the taxpayers and all of the employees and employers, all four of our pensions — police pensions, fire pensions, laborers pension and municipal employees pension — you have a secure retirement now.” -- Chicago Tribune 
French President Emmanuel Macron as G20 ends
“Our world has never been so divided.” -- Washington Post 
Pope Francis warns G20 about 'dangerous alliances'
 "The G20 worries me, it hits migrants in countries in half of the world and it hits them even more as time goes by." He said the greatest danger concerned immigration, with "the poor, the weak, the excluded and the marginalised" juxtaposed with "those who... fear the invasion of migrants". -- Reuters
Sen. Rob Portman's code word for Jews?
 “We aren’t going to allow a handful of Socialists, many of whom are from New York, to disrupt our ability to serve the needs of the Ohio constituents who contact us in need of vital services every day,” -- Washington Post  

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Will IL legislators have enough spine to override Gov. Junk's veto?

Today's funniest quote comes from Gov. Junk himself: "The people should come first in Illinois, not Wall Street."
Push comes to shove today in Springfield when a group of Republicans, facing right-wing death threats,  may stand with Dems and do the right thing by ending the state's budget nightmare. IL is now in its third year of operating without a budget, mainly because a sociopathic, ideology-driven governor has been able to use his veto power over the Democratic majority to try and bust the unions and dismantle the state's social services. 

Gov. Bruce "Junk" Rauner, in true Trumpian style, and with special enmity towards Chicago's working poor, has intentionally pushed the city as well as the state to the brink of bankruptcy. He's forced excessive borrowing to pay pension costs and operating expenses at exorbitant rates, thereby reducing credit ratings to "junk" status and lining the pockets of Wall Street banksters with billions in high interest payments for years to come. 

But with elections around the corner and Gov. Junk's approval ratings in the toilet, a group of 15 Republicans, not wanting to go down with the sinking GOP ship, may break ranks and vote today to override Rauner's veto and keep the state, at least for now, from going under. 

I predict they will.

Ald. Ameya Pawar
Tune in to Hitting Left tomorrow at 11 (Chicago time) on Lumpen Radio when our in-studio guest will be Ald. Ameya Pawar, one of the Democratic candidates in next year's governor's race. I'm sure he will have plenty to say about today's budget vote and its implications for the race. 

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Rahm's new grad requirements an 'empty gesture'

Jermiya Mitchell, 17, a rising senior at Morgan Park High School on the South Side, said she has had few interactions with her guidance counselor. “We never had that conversation about life after high school,” she said. “I would like to have a counselor that really wanted to know what I wanted to do after high school and would help me get there.” (Washington Post)
With black and Latino youth unemployment in the city running at over 50% and the cost of college putting it of reach for most students, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has decided unilaterally, that kids without a job offer or college acceptance can no longer graduate from high school.

Oh yes, there's one exception to the new rule. Enlisting in the military can fulfill the graduation requirement. Chicago is now in position to become the nation's number-one military recruiter.

The ill-conceived and unenforceable plan now being imposed from above, without input from parents or educators, comes in the wake of Rahm's cutting hundreds of counselor positions throughout the district. Counselors are now reporting caseloads of up over 400. Morgan Park High School now has three guidance counselors and a college and career coach for about 1,300 students in grades seven through 12.

The Washington Post reports:
Critics say Emanuel’s idea is an empty gesture that does nothing to address the fact that many teenagers are graduating in ­impoverished, violence-racked neighborhoods with few jobs, or that the most readily accessible community colleges are ill-prepared to meet the needs of first-generation students from low-income families. They also point out that the 381,000-student district laid off more than 1,000 teachers and staff members in 2016, and it is in such difficult financial straits that it struggled to keep its doors open for the final weeks of the school year.
They quote CTU Pres. Karen Lewis:
 “It sounds good on paper, but the problem is that when you’ve cut the number of counselors in schools, when you’ve cut the kind of services that kids need, who is going to do this work? If you’ve done the work to earn a diploma, then you should get a diploma. Because if you don’t, you are forcing kids into more poverty.”
The Post reveals that Emanuel's plan was suggested to him by none other that Arne Duncan. No surprise there. It was Duncan, during his time as Chicago schools CEO and then as Obama's Sec. of Education, who practically invented top-down school reform. He forced massive school closings and their replacement with hundreds of privately-run charter schools. His failed Race to the Top plan set the stage for current Trump/DeVos assault on public education.

Hopefully, legislation for an elected school board will soon be passed, replacing mayor control of CPS before Emanuel's plan is ever implemented.

Monday, July 3, 2017


Ken Franklin
Ken Franklin, Pres. of Local 308, Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU)
[Transportation workers] are like the vessels in the heart. We feed the economic engine of the cities. That allows hundreds of thousands of businesses to operate and gives the people in the cities a way of life. -- Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers 
Rich Miller (Capitol Fax)

What is most Rauner's passion for what he calls "economic freedom," which roughly translates to: "Kill the unions." -- Crain's

Pope Francis tells Italian union leaders...
"There is no good society without a good union, and there is no good union that isn't reborn every day in the peripheries, that doesn't transform the rejected stones of the economy into corner stones." -- America, the Jesuit Revies 
Paul Krugman on GOP health-care bill
So it’s vast suffering — including, according to the best estimates, around 200,000 preventable deaths — imposed on many of our fellow citizens in order to give a handful of wealthy people what amounts to some extra pocket change. -- New York Times
Lori Lightfoot
Lori Lightfoot, president of the Chicago Police Board
..."All you have to do is Google him [Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions] and ask yourself is the is the guy who's going to do the right thing about police reform in Chicago? The answer is a resounding no." -- Chicago Tribune
Kalyn Belsha
Changing the equation for English learners may well require a shift from the current approach that provides students with native language support solely to help them learn English. Many experts and parents of English learners favor dual language programs, which teach students to read, write and speak two languages with equal proficiency. -- Chicago Reporter 
Letter to Ed Sec. Betsy DeVos signed by 34 senators
"You claim to support civil rights and oppose discrimination, but your actions belie your assurances." -- TIME

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Chicago in violation of state law on ELL. Charters worst violators.

Most of the worst violators of state law were charter schools. Fifteen were run by the UNO Network of Charter Schools; nine were run by the Noble Network of Charter Schools. Source: Chicago Public Schools
Congrats to Chicago Reporter's Kalyn Belsha whose story on CPS's failure to meet the needs of English learners was named among this week's top education stories by Atlantic Magazine.

Belsha reports on a recent review of CPS records which found that, of the 342 schools audited, nearly 71%, or 242, had bilingual programs that were in serious violation of state law. As a result, English learners go without legally required services, such as books in their native language and teachers who speak that language or have English as a Second Language training.

Most of the worst violators of state law were charter schools. Fifteen were run by the UNO Network of Charter Schools; nine were run by the Noble Network of Charter Schools.

In 2009, U.S. District Judge Charles Kocoras lifted the consent decree ending three decades of efforts to integrate Chicago schools. The decree’s bilingual education provisions, according to Kocoras, duplicated protections in state law. The ruling came despite evidence presented by DOJ lawyers in court that the district repeatedly failed to enroll English learners in bilingual education fast enough or provide them with required services.

I would be remiss if I failed to point out once again, that it was former schools CEO Arne Duncan who successfully pushed Judge Kocoras to abandon the consent decree. Thousands of the district's English language learners and their families are still paying the price.