Friday, December 28, 2018

Klonsky Bros. will return to the air next week

Don Rose
The past two Fridays, the K Bros. were like Trump at a French military cemetery -- No Shows. This time off has been great for our own R&R and especially for badly needed recovery time after my knee replacement surgery last Friday. 

But I guess withdrawal pains can't be handled with opioids so I'm planning on hobbling back to Bridgeport next Friday when Fred and I will be back on air. Our in-studio guest will be the legendary, progressive Chicago political consultant, Don Rose. Among Rose's many attributes was his role as both Dr. Martin Luther King's and Chicago Mayor Harold Washington's press secretary.

We will also take some time to commemorate the life of  another progressive Chicago political strategist, Brian Sleet, who’s death was reported Wednesday. Brian's career, though cut-short at age 41, has been on a path similar to that of Rose's. He was also a friend of Hitting Left, having appeared on the show back in March, 2017 along with my favorite Chicago political strategist and media mover and shaker, Joanna Klonsky. 

The two have worked together on several hot political campaigns over the years, including that of State's Atty. Kim Foxx. Joanna is quoted in today's Trib, paying tribute to Sleet, whose life is being celebrated is many disparate Chicago political circles and all over local social media.
Brian Sleet on Hitting Left, March, 1917.
Close Sleet friend Joanna Klonsky echoed that in an interview, saying he was the sort of man who “would show up for people.”

“If you needed him he would be there, and that really matters in a business that is so often transactional,” Klonsky said.
According to Foxx, without Sleet's sage advice, her own campaign might not have succeeded.
In 2015, Sleet threw his energy into Foxx’s reform campaign. Before she decided to run, Sleet talked with her about how to approach black voters and how to dissect complicated issues. And then he guided her through messaging at a time of high tension and anxiety related to the the police slaying of Laquan McDonald and how it was handled.
“Brian understood and embodied nuance in politics, whereas everybody is about simple messages and simple answers,” Foxx said. “He knew people in the community. With him, I was asking, ‘What do I do? What do I say? How do I navigate this time?’ He was really blunt: ‘You don’t pander. … Walk through this period in your voice, doing the things that make sense for you.’”
Tune in Friday, January 4th, 11-noon at WLPN 105.5 FM in Chicago, streaming live across the globe at

Some shocking news on this gray Chicago morn. Our friend Ben Joravsky has been fired from WCPT, Chicago so-called "Progressive Talk Radio".
According to Mark Pinski, general manager of WCPT,  “Ben did a great job of moving our brand forward, and we want our next host to take us to the next level.” 
I hate to break it to Mr. Pinsky, but Ben was the "next level". You blew it.

Until he lands another paid gig, Benny J is always welcome to sit in with us at Hitting Left.

Monday, December 24, 2018


From Boston Review
Trump on the telephone with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan
“You know what? It’s yours,” Trump said of Syria. “I’m leaving.” -- WaPo
Texas elementary school speech pathologist, Bahia Amawi
When asked if she considered signing the pledge to preserve her ability to work, Amawi told The Intercept: “Absolutely not. I couldn’t in good conscience do that. If I did, I would not only be betraying Palestinians suffering under an occupation that I believe is unjust and thus, become complicit in their repression, but I’d also be betraying my fellow Americans by enabling violations of our constitutional rights to free speech and to protest peacefully.” -- The Intercept
 N.C. Gov. Roy Carter
“Municipal charter schools set a dangerous precedent that could lead to taxpayer funded re-segregation,” his statement says. -- Charlotte Observer
The Intercept
 To call the First Step Act limited would be an understatement. The legislation would hardly make a dent in America’s mass incarceration problem. --  Commentary

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

The new loyalty oath for teachers

From my perspective, academic freedom means that we have the right to engage in public discourse, the right to engage certainly in academic discourse, about issues that are of great importance, both long-term and short-term, both historical issues and current issues, both domestic issues and foreign issues, both popular issues and unpopular issues, and popular ideas and unpopular ideas. -- Marc Lamont Hill
I'm looking back, remembering the McCarthy period and the red scare, when thousands of teachers and other government workers, lost their jobs after being accused of being reds. My own parents were victims of that period.

Back then, teachers were forced to sign loyalty oaths to the United States and the flag. The oaths included swearing that you weren't a communist, socialist or member of any organization or movement opposed to the U.S. government or to the capitalist system.

In many states today, teachers and professors must still take a loyalty oath, but it's usually not as broad, after many 1st Amendment court suits. 

Fast forward and we find teachers and college faculty now being forced to sign a new type of loyalty oath. But this time it's not to the U.S., but to the state of Israel. The new oath includes a promise not to support the boycott movement (BDS) at risk of being fired or worse.

Many have refused to sign, including Bahia Amawi, a children's speech pathologist who has worked for the last nine years with developmentally disabled, autistic, and speech-impaired elementary school students in Austin, Texas. Amawi, an American citizen of Palestinian descent, has been told that she can no longer work with the public school district. A lawsuit on her behalf was filed Monday alleging a violation of her First Amendment right of free speech.

Bahia Amawi,
According to the Intercept,
On August 13, the school district once again offered to extend her contract for another year by sending her essentially the same contract and set of certifications she has received and signed at the end of each year since 2009.
She was prepared to sign her contract renewal until she noticed one new, and extremely significant, addition: a certification she was required to sign pledging that she “does not currently boycott Israel,” that she “will not boycott Israel during the term of the contract,” and that she shall refrain from any action “that is intended to penalize, inflict economic harm on, or limit commercial relations with Israel, or with a person or entity doing business in Israeli or in an Israel-controlled territory.”
...That’s one extraordinary aspect of this story: The sole political affirmation Texans like Amawi are required to sign in order to work with the school district’s children is one designed to protect not the United States or the children of Texas, but the economic interests of Israel. As Amawi put it to The Intercept: “It’s baffling that they can throw this down our throats and decide to protect another country’s economy versus protecting our constitutional rights.”
The latest assault on our First Amendment rights is not exclusive to Texas, nor to teachers. A few weeks ago, CNN severed its ties to African American Temple University professor Marc Lamont Hill after Hill gave a speech at the United Nations supporting Palestinian rights. While the president of Temple University defended has right to free speech, the school’s Board of Trustees has condemned Hill's remarks.

Here in Chicago in 2015, in a shameful display of aldermanic toadyism, the city council unanimously passed -- 50-0 -- Resolution 2015-569 , pushing the Municipal Employees' Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago to divest from foreign companies seeking to economically boycott Israel.

That same year the Illinois legislature voted unanimously in favor of a similar bill impacting the state’s pension funds.

The unanimous vote came without a peep of resistance from progressive council members or even from socialist Ald. Carlos Rosa. Rosa, at one time a candidate for Lt. Gov., would later split with his running mate for governor, Daniel Biss over Biss' support for Israel.

Go figure.

I just read a Tribune article from 1996 pointing out that the state's loyalty oath can be traced to Clyde Choate, a former state representative from Anna.

Elected to the state House in 1946, he sponsored legislation creating the oath in 1951 after serving on an anti-communist legislative committee.
It was an anxious time, Choate said. What with the Second Red Scare when China fell, the dividing of Berlin and McCarthy making claims of communists in high government, the threat of the Soviet Union seemed quite real.
"You've got to remember, this is immediately after the cessation of hostilities in World War II. The whole world was extremely conscious of any `ism' other than `Americanism,' " he said.
Choate said he's surprised to hear that the oath still is being given out. In fact, he came to see it as unnecessary and ineffective and tried unsuccessfully to repeal it.
The state loyalty oath in Illinois is now "voluntary". But I'll bet even the late Rep. Choate couldn't have imagined a mandatory loyalty oath to Israel.

Monday, December 17, 2018


Robert Kraig, Wisc. Citizens Action
“We have a political party in the United States that has decided it’s completely OK to hold on to power by reducing the number of people who are voting. It’s fundamentally undemocratic.” -- Guardian
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) 
...summed it up another way: “It’s been a bad week for Individual Number One.” -- WaPo
Gery Chico, Chicago mayoral candidate
Ald. Eddie Burke “has been a friend for years,” Chico wrote, praising the alderman for “cooperating with the current federal investigation.” -- Sun-Times
Carol Burris, veteran educator and public ed advocate
It is time to acknowledge that what may have begun as a sincere attempt to promote innovation has given rise to fraud, discrimination and the depletion of public school funding. Thirty years of charters have resulted in an increase in profiteering far more than it has resulted in innovation. Democratic governance is disappearing. -- Answer Sheet
Nora Murphy, librarian and parent of L.A. school children
I will tell you this, my family will be picketing with my child's teachers because what they are asking for is the bare minimum any school district should provide for its schools, its families, its students. -- Answer Sheet

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Rahm's parting shots at public ed -- Goolsbee & pension theft

Austan Goolsbee
Before he leaves us, our lame duck Mayor Rahm Emanuel is taking a few parting shots at the unions and progressives who helped make a third run for him a lost cause.

THE FIRST SHOT…was aimed at city workers pensions. Rahm wants to amend the State Constitution to cap cost-of-living increases for retirees and make pension theft legal. Right now the Constitution prohibits any diminishment or impairment of pension fund benefits (Article Xlll, Section 5). Previous attempts by the legislature to balance the budget on the backs of retirees have been ruled unconstitutional. Former gov, Pat Quinn lost his reelection bid to Bruce Rauner in large part because he supported failed pension theft initiatives.

THE NEXT SHOT...Rahm's appointment of former Obama economic advisor and political insider Austan Goolsbee to the school board appears to be nothing but a big "F**k you" to Chicago school activists and the CTU.

Economist Goolsbee, unlike his new boss Rahm, had a pretty good line when he was working for Obama. But he caved in after advising against extending tax breaks for the rich and for stimulating the economy as a way out of the recession rather than focusing on shrinking the budget deficit.

But no matter what you thought of Goolsbee's economic theories, we're not making macro economic decisions on the CPS board. This is all about educating our children, an area where Goolsbee has no background and has demonstrated little in the way of knowledge. I think it was Alexander Pope who wrote, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

His lackings haven't prevented him from carrying on when it comes to school issues like testing, teacher evaluation or school vouchers.

This from Chalkbeat Chicago:
In a 2015 survey of economists’ positions on public issues,  [Goolsbee] favored value-added” measures that try to isolate the impact of individual teachers on student test scores — though he qualified the approach as having “lots of noise and unobservables.”
In the same survey, Goolsbee claimed "uncertainty" about school vouchers. But Rahm and Rauner have already brought a form of vouchers into Chicago. Does anyone think that an "uncertain" Goolsbee will oppose them now as a Rahm appointee?

Rahm made Goolsbee appointment only three months before his term as mayor is up. He did it without consulting some of the most important stakeholders, including the CTU.

This from CTU Pres. Jesse Sharkey:
The Chicago Teachers Union, which backs an elected school board, described Goolsbee’s new role as a “unilateral appointment by a lame duck mayor. 
"Mr. Goolsbee comes into a board responsible for students and their schools being starved of resources for the last eight years by the man who appointed him,” CTU President Jesse Sharkey said in a statement. “Those same neighborhoods continue to struggle from the consequences of a foreclosure crisis that the administration he served in Washington failed to address. We can — and we must — do better.” 
Why then, not leave the seat open for three months, knowing that most of the current mayoral candidates oppose Rahm's his school policies will likely replace all or most of his current board picks?

The answer seems obvious. Rahm is using his remaining power to smack his political opponents and reward his friends. That's if you can call a three-month appointment to the discredited CPS board a reward.

Finally, if you needed any more reasons to take control of the public schools out of the mayor's hands and into the hands of an elected, representative school board, Goolsbee and pension theft are pretty good ones.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

All you need to know about our system of justice

Cyntoia Brown
51 YEARS... Cyntoia Brown was only 16 when she was sentenced to life in prison, and the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled this past week that she will have to serve 51 years before she could be eligible for release. Kut Throat had raped Brown and forced her into prostitution, making her a sex trafficking victim, as she was not an adult at the time. Brown claimed that on the day of the murder, Throat had hit her and insisted she go out and bring home money. -- Rolling Stone

TEN YEARS...When a homeless drug addict steals some underwear, what’s the right punishment?  Ten years behind bars, according to a Cook County judge who handed down the sentence to David Lundy for stealing four packs of underwear, worth $33.25, from a Family Dollar Store in 2015. -- Sun-Times

12 DAYS...Ex-Donald Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos was released from federal prison Friday morning after serving 12 days for lying to investigators about his contact with individuals tied to Russia during the 2016 campaign. In his first tweet after being released, Papadopoulos thanked "patriots" for their support of his cause and announced the pending release and available pre-order of his new book, "Deep State Target." -- CNN

Monday, December 10, 2018


A meeting held Sunday at a packed auditorium at CTU headquarters had
the vibe of a victory rally. Several dozen union members sang and
performed a dance onstage swapping the words to the popular “Baby
Shark” song with verses such as “fair contract,” “smaller class” and
“we just won.”
CTU Prez Jesse Sharkey
“Across the country, we were told that education is the key to the future, but then we saw political leaders starve our schools, keep resources out of the classroom. We’ve seen taxes cut so wealthy people can have tax breaks, teacher pay stagnate while class sizes skyrocket, classes become bare-bones and not get the resources they need. We’ve seen people take to the street across the country to protest against that, and now it’s coming to the charter industry too. It’s about time.” -- USA Today
Katie Cannady, Acero kindergarten teacher 
“Why do we think it’s okay to expect teachers in one part of the city to work for this amount and teachers in another part of the city to work for different amount and then expect us to have the same results under very different working conditions?” -- USA Today
Martha Baumgarten, a fifth-grade teacher at Acero’s Carlos Fuentes Elementary School and a member of the bargaining team. 
“They’ve been crying broke, when in fact they’re flush with cash." -- Salon
Prof. Timuel Black
Lonnie Bunch on Tim Black's 100th birthday
“What is really important to me, is that Tim is also the keeper of the flame. He keeps the history of black Chicago alive, reminding us that civil rights is an ongoing struggle." -- Timuel Black — historian, civil rights activist, griot
Head of IL legislative Progressive Caucus, Rep. Will Guzzardi
Recently threw down an online gauntlet about how Illinois “must not” follow the lead of Colorado Democrats, who after taking over their state’s legislature have now signaled that they’ll be more open to negotiations with the business community. 
“People elected us because we said we'd make their lives better. Raise their wages, provide decent benefits, make college and healthcare more affordable, etc. We ran on this. We won. And now... we run away? If so, why vote for us at all?” -- Rich Miller in The Southern
State Dept. Spokesman on US opposing UN global warming report
 “The United States was willing to note the report and express appreciation to the scientists who developed it, but not to welcome it, as that would denote endorsement of the report. As we have made clear in the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] and other bodies, the United States has not endorsed the findings of the report.” -- Washington Post

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Rahm and his schools CEO try and sell their discredited reforms in D.C.

Image result for rahm on education america

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is so discredited on his education and policing policies that he's been forced out of a re-election bid. But that didn't stop him and his ever-faithful schools CEO Janice Jackson from putting in an appearance in D.C. on WaPo's Education in America forum recently to spread the good news about all things terrific going on in Chicago's public schools.

Jackson offered a few comments when she could get a word in, but it was obvious that Rahm had her there as window dressing.

Was there any discussion of the regime's continuing disastrous mass school-closings policy mostly in underserved black communities, or the dramatic plunge in CPS enrollment during Rahm's tenure? Glad you asked. No.

District officials report a loss of 10,000 students since the last school year, one of the largest single-year declines in more than a decade. In the last three years, 31,000 students have ghosted CPS classrooms. But the Post's Jonathan Capehart never asked about that.

But he did ask Rahm about his closed-door meeting with Ed Secretary Betsy DeVos. At first, Rahm and Jackson giggled as if trying to distance themselves from the right-wing buffoon who currently occupies the D.O.E. That was followed by a seemingly unending speed rap about all the great ed initiatives flowing out of the 5th floor at City Hall; i.e. longer school days, not allowing "failure," onus on the principal, full-day Pre-K and free community college (if you get B's on your report card)...and the list goes on.
"We explained to her [DeVos\ that this was not about choice, but about quality...", Rahm assured Capehart, as if he actually believed it.
As we later learned, the secret Rahm/DeVos meeting was ALL about "choice," meaning Rahm's willingness to push a school voucher program into Chicago in exchange for federal dollars and a release by Republican Gov. Rauner of the state's school budget.

But Rahm's cover was blown when the Sun-Times got hold of his emails through an FOIA request. It turned out that Cardinal Blase Cupich had emailed the mayor after learning that U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was scheduling meetings with big-city mayors on Trump administration education priorities.
“I am personally interested in the proposal to fund a $20 billion federal education tax credit as part of the federal tax reform. I am convinced that this could be an enormous boost to the Chicago schools and the thousands of parents who use our [Catholic] schools,” Cupich wrote. “I am grateful that you understand the importance of school choice for poor families who see this as a viable way for the family to move out of poverty.”
The "tax credit" for the state's wealthiest turned out to be a voucher program to benefit Catholic and other private schools at the expense of public school students.

In his letter to Rahm, Cupich laid out the rationale that moved Rahm and the Democrats to support the bill. He claimed that by enticing students and families out of CPS, Rahm would save taxpayers $1 billion a year through lower public school enrollment. By extension, one can only imagine how much money taxpayers would save by getting rid of public education entirely. Zero students, zero cost per/student to taxpayers.

Who would have thought that blue state Illinois would become the showpiece for DeVos' "school choice" agenda?

I shouldn't have implied that Capehart never mentioned school closings. He did ask Rahm if the community's negative response to the closings accounted for him not running for a third term. Rahm did his usual. "Do I look like someone who runs from a challenge?... No, I just wanted to spend more time with Amy and the kids." OK.

More to come on this. Stay tuned

Monday, December 3, 2018


Susan Klonsky introduces Timuel Black at Sunday's event. 

First Unitarian Church of Chicago honors Timuel Black
But we are not in church this morning to memorialize a man still with us, nor to place him on a pedestal out of reach. Timuel is a teacher, always, and the teacher’s work with students is perpetually to say: "You can do this, too." -- At Sunday's event
Chance the Rapper
 It’s not too late for CPS to make the right decision and change course. This moment could set a precedent for future school closings and end the displacement in education that has plagued CPS history. In the fight for equal education, it is imperative that we all stand with NTA. -- Chicago Tribune
Chicago police officer Dora Fontaine
“They asked me if it would be better [for me] to come in” and work a desk, she testified. “Other officers were calling me a rat, a snitch and a traitor and saying that they wouldn’t back me up.” -- Sun-Times
Michelle Obama
 "And it’s not always enough to lean in, because that shit doesn’t work all the time.” -- New York Magazine
Chicago mayoral candidate Lori Lightfoot
 “It seems all these other folks are running for cover and don’t want to talk about [Ald. Eddie Burke] but frankly, that underscores the fact that we’ve got different factions of the political machine manifested in Mendoza, Preckwinkle, Daley and Chico and others who don’t want to rock the boat because they are very much wedded to the status quo... It’s telling that they aren’t willing to step up and say, ‘Look, this guy  has been in office way too long, and he's been allowed to amass way too much power.’ ” -- Chicago Tribune
David Leonhardt, NYT opinion piece
But I do know this: American capitalism isn’t working right now. If [corporate CEO] Benton and his fellow postwar executives returned with the same ideas today, they would be branded as socialists. -- When C.E.O.s Cared About America