Archive | April, 2013

CPS Breaks Promise at IB Schools

18 Apr

ImageI wasn’t going to make a blog post tonight, but as I saw information coming to me through social media, I felt compelled.   After promising the teachers at 4 schools where wall to wall IB programs will be put in place next year that they could keep their jobs, today CPS went back on their word.

One CPS teacher who works at one of the schools explained it this way, “one of the teachers who is being fired for not being a “good fit” is a National Board Certified, Golden Apple, S.T.E.M. teacher. She happens to be a tenured teacher with wonderful adult children. At this school, FOUR S.T.E.M. teachers who are over the age of 40 or 50 are being fired because they are not a “good fit” for the National Board. Never-mind that one of these teachers is currently already listed as an IB instructor, and has been for the past SIX years. Age Discrimination is illegal. And, when you target highly qualified employees, you look really stupid.”

Another teacher said, “Working for CPS is like playing a game with a 5 year old….at any given point in time, they will shout “NEW RULE!!!!! NEW RULE!!!”

Read the full story at Substance.  I’ll try and have more up tomorrow.


CTU as a Political Force

17 Apr


Today is report card pickup day for us, which is why I have the odd timing with my blog posting.   I really dislike report card day not because of what it is, but because of what it could be.  I usually get along well with my students’ parents.  They know I have their child’s best interests at heart.  However, our report card day is a cattle call where, if every student’s parents want to speak with me, I can give them about  2 minutes and 12 seconds of time.  I can, of course, schedule a future meeting when I have more time, but now that CPS has eliminated that half hour in the morning we used to have, it has to be on my own time.  I still do it, but I resent it.  I don’t mind giving up hours of time for my students, but I will never enjoy my employer telling me I have to give up even minutes, if that makes any sense.  I wish we could do this with a schedule the way most suburbs do and I wish we didn’t have it on Wednesday night in the middle of the week.

Everybody seems to be getting hot and bothered over CTU’s announcement that it will be stepping up its political efforts.   They will be attempting to register 100,000 new voters, which is a new thing, but certainly not a major announcement in a Democracy.  They will be vetting candidates, but they already do that.  Finally, they said that they would  be increasing donations to their PAC.  They’ve been talking about that forever.  Teachers pay like $20 a year and with our pension under attack every other week in Springfield, it’s worth it for that alone.  If there is any threat to our democracy in Chicago, it’s not from teachers registering more Chicagoans to vote, it’s from Rahm accepting more and more money from interests outside our city.

Chicago Teachers Union Vows to Make School Closings Political

“The union says Guggenheim was neglected, with overcrowded classrooms and just two working computers in the library. Advocates say once the proposal to shut down the school was announced, the principal improperly tried to push homeless children to transfer. Once Guggenheim was closed, only 37 percent of students went to the designated CPS receiving school. Catalyst-Chicago has reported that CPS has lost track of 23 Guggenheim kids, and cannot say where they ended up.”

Rahm Emanuel and the Myth of Invincibility

“Like young, ignorant newcomers to a city that has a history of rough and tumble politics they can only see millions of dollars in Rahm’s bank account and think that makes him invincible.”

Full Audio: Chicagoans React to School Closings at 124 Public Meetings

“Chicago is holding more than 190 community meetings and public hearings this spring—all required by law—to gather feedback on its proposal to close an unprecedented 54 schools. The district also has proposed six school turnarounds (complete re-staffings that also turn the school over to the private nonprofit manager Academy for Urban School Leadership), and 11 “co-locations” where 23 schools would share space in 11 buildings.”

Arne Duncan Urges Business Leaders to Defend Common Core

“He told the audience at the chamber’s “Upgrade America” event (focusing on improving the quality of the labor force through education) that he did not want to see a repeat of when the business community went silent after the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act and states responded by “dummying down” their standards. “I don’t understand why the business community is so passive when these kinds of things happen,” he said.

A Sad Day for Us All

16 Apr

I was shocked to hear about the Boston Marathon today and while it didn’t affect me personally, I have several marathon running friends and friends in Boston who watched the race somewhere else.  I don’t want to compare this to the closings on the West Side of Chicago, but I do know how hard it was for me to concentrate on things like blogging after hearing of the carnage, I can only imagine what it’s like to live in a war zone where deaths are commonplace and you know the people involved.

As a country, I hope we pull together and don’t start searching for a target to blame whether it’s a middle eastern terrorist or a right wing home grown anti-tax terrorist.

Core Launches Election Campaign

“Now, in 2013, the CORE incumbents are facing a coalition composed of the two former adversaries, Deborah Lynch’s PACT people and the remnants of the UPC (Marilyn Stewart is retired and not active). The new group, calling itself the “Coalition To Save Our Union” is headed by two former UPC stalwarts (Tonya Saunders Wolffe and Mark Ochoa) and two people from PACT (Mary Ellen Sanchez and Kelly McFarlene). Sharkey reminded those at the Haymarket that they will have to work very hard between now and election day to ensure that the history doesn’t again repeat itself.”

Mom Uses ‘Raise Your Hand’ to Slap Back at CPS

“”I feel that I’m one of the only people who’s had access to a lot of these building,” she continued. “I love going on the walk-throughs. As disappointing as this process is, it’s important to continue to shed light. Now’s not the time to quit.”

Alternative Certified Teachers Profile…Bonnie Kohler

“However, imagine my surprise when we got back our test scores that first year and I learned that my students improved their test scores by 150 percent.  In fact, our whole school’s test scores went through the roof.  The assistant principal and my mentor assured me that they went through all my student’s tests after school one Friday and that they could tell the kids did great and that my increases were legitimate.  They also said, I shouldn’t ask any questions abut it for some reason.”

California Democrats Take Aim at Efforts to Overhaul Education

“State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson criticized the same groups by name, saying they do not “lift a finger to prevent the cuts to education.”

“In my book, you’re not a reformer, you’re not helping education and you’re sure not much of a Democrat,” he said.”

North Side Mom Fights to Save Trumbull Elementary School from Closing by CPS

“This is what a 54 percent utilized school looks like,” Ali Burke said Friday morning as she walked through the North Side’s Trumbull Elementary School, fated thus far for closing by summertime.”

CPS Can’t Do Math

15 Apr


My Gosh! There is no way that you can possibly believe CPS is going to save money on these school closings.  It’s going to cost this city and it’s going to cost us millions.  The numbers are mind boggling.  CPS is issuing a $329 million dollar bond to pay for improvements at welcoming schools.  This is pure insanity that will only serve to destabilize this city even further.   Even the Tribune sees this.  Wow!

Better Schools?

“Fuller Elementary was a rising school when students from Donoghue were sent there in 2003, Wilson said. Achievement gains were reversed, and after five years on probation, the school was subjected to a “turnaround” last year.  Results from the latest intervention are not in yet.”

What Could Go Wrong?

“They haven’t demonstrated to us that they can close 100 or even 50 schools,” an unnamed commission source told the Sun-Times.  “They don’t have the expertise to accomplish that in such a short timeframe.  When they closed down as many as 12 schools, it was a disaster.”

For the Record: Paying for School Actions

“Should it be approved by the Board of Education, CPS will issue a $329 million bond to pay for improvements at welcoming schools, turnarounds, schools with co-locations and a few other special district projects, according to a supplemental capital budget released last weekend. Though the bond details haven’t been worked out yet, CPS spokesman David Miranda says the district is projecting debt service payments, including principal and interest, of about $25 million a year for 30 years, starting in 2015.”

Study: School Reform in 3 Major Cities Brings few Benefits, Some Harm

“Many people paying attention to corporate-based school reform in recent years will not be surprised by this, but a new study on the effects of this movement in Washington, D.C., New York City and Chicago concludes that little has been accomplished and some harm has been done to students, especially the underprivileged.”

Michelle Rhee’s Reign of Error

“This story is bound to remind old Washington hands of Watergate and Senator Howard Baker’s famous question, “What did the President know and when did he know it?” It has a memo that answers an echo of Baker’s question, “What did Michelle know, and when did she know it?” And the entire sordid story recalls the lesson of Watergate, “It’s not the crime; it’s the coverup.”

Nine Schools in 12 Years: One Teacher’s Tale of Life in the Chicago Public Schools

“That’s not his real name, of course. I’ve changed his name because the first thing you need to know about teaching in Chicago is that everything and anything you say can and will be used against you. If for no other reason than it’s good for students to learn from their teachers what happens to Chicagoans who question authority.”

Who is Global Workplace Solutions?

12 Apr

On Wednesday, April 3rd, CPS signed a $14.2 million dollar contract with Global Workplace Solutions to provide logistical support for the massive school closings.   So who exactly is Global Workplace Solutions?

GWS is a part of Johnson Controls, which is a Fortune 100 company that is headquartered in Milwaukee Wisconsin.  In 2001, it was part of a deal with the city of New Orleans that the Times-Picayune called one of the most corrupt in New Orleans history, saying “The breadth of the graft and greed alleged in the indictment is breathtaking, even by the standards of a city inured to public corruption,”

The deal eventually triggered a federal investigation that eventually triggered at least a dozen guilty pleas including one to Johnson Control’s project manager Terry Songy.  They were accused of having subcontractors deliberately jack up prices and then the guilty parties would pocket the difference.

Johnson Controls played the dupe during the investigation claiming that they were as much a victim as anyone else, but New Orleans didn’t see it that way.  They refused to pay their bill for months in 2010.  They had good reason to doubt Johnson Controls’ innocence as he case summary also alleges that businessman Robert Tucker and financier Rafael “Ray” Valdes each received $273,000 in fees from Johnson Controls, awarded strictly on the basis of their “influence and perceived influence” with New Orleans’ Mayor, Marc Morial.  Valdes worked as a consultant for Johnson Controls at the same time he arranged financing for the city, netting himself a total $2.1 million in fees.

Johnson Controls also has an education division and longstanding ties with the Charter School business including UNO.   This is just something else to make it harder to believe that this move has anything to do with helping the school children of Chicago.   I would be curious to find out exactly where the extra school supplies wind up after the closings.

I’ll be back this weekend with our normal format.   There have been some great articles and editorials written recently, but I just had to share what I learned about the company profiting off of these closings.


Accidental Fascist

10 Apr


Last night, there was a ton of activity on the internet when Brad Paisley released his new duet with LL Cool J.  I think the song tried to be a song of earnest racial reconciliation, but it fell apart under its own tone deafness.   Saying you don’t mean it, doesn’t make a racist act less racist and you can’t equate African-Americans having wounds over slavery and years of second class citizenship with white people not liking a guy’s doo rag or gold chains.  It reminded me a lot of the Tribune and other Chicagoans (and Ohioans) swearing it’s not racism. This is the Chicago situation:

1. You force African-Americans into certain pockets of the city.  When they get overcrowded you give them Willis Wagons.  When Martin Luther King complains, you lie to him.2. You neglect the infrastructure of those neighborhoods and refuse to adequately fund their schools.3. The people who live there leave the city.4. You close down their schools and cram 40 students in a classroom again.  Maybe they still have some old Willis Wagons lying around for the receiving schools.

Please, just tell me how this is not racist.

Newark Student Walkout  

There is hope for our future.  When faced with $56 million in budget cuts, 15 of 17 Newark Public High Schools had students walk out to protest.  Over 1,000 students risked suspension (and at one school a beating) to let their voices be heard.  This really gives me some hope that people will start to fight back over the mixed up priorities towards education in this country.

Michelle Obama to Visit Chicago High School Tomorrow

:”Mrs. Obama will visit Harper High School in the West Englewood neighborhood, a school in which nearly 30 current or former students have been shot, 8 fatally.  She will meet with a small group of students and counselors to hear firsthand about their experiences, according to a statement from the White House.”

Michelle Gunderson Offers Pledge for Ethical Use of Student Data

“I realize it is just a start. If I could wave a wand and make the tests disappear I would. But I do know that if my school district insists on giving these tests, I can insist upon exercising some control over how they are used.”

TED Star Sir Ken Robinson Offers Solutions for Chicago’s Schools

“Robinson said there is no easy solution to Chicago’s problems of poor graduation rates and underperforming students. But he questioned the city’s recent proposal to close 54 public schools, saying it seems to him that the schools could “one of the engines of re-generation.”

Canter Middle School Supporters Come Out in Force at CPS Closing Meeting

““Today people came out from CPS to watch us for three days to make sure we don’t steal and to make sure we still teach,” said Patrick Papczun, a math teacher at Canter. “Did anyone come out before this? No, no one came out to the school before this.”

Accidental Racist: School Closing Edition

“I’m just your mayor, and I’m kind a new here.
I’ve spent the last few years in DC,
I’ve got an Ohioan advising me.
Putting this behind us is my only wish,
If you don’t like the Ipad,
I know where I can get you a dead fish.”

She’s Like a Byrd….She Doesn’t Know Where Her Home Is

9 Apr


We have a little more information on the flap about Barbara Byrd-Bennett living in Cleveland.   It’s pretty obvious that she was brought here for one reason and one reason only.  When that reason (closing schools) is over, her tenure as CEO will be also,  Today was a slow news day.  I having a feeling things will pick up tomorrow.

Black Students Overwhelmingly Affected by Chicago Public Schools’ Proposed Closings

“Chicago has the distinction of being “the most racially segregated city in the country”, according to Census data analyzed by the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. The highly segregated city has lost 17 percent of its Black population—or about 181,000 people—between the years 2000 and 2010.”

Rahm Running Chicago Schools from Cleveland

“But if her choice of residences and her voter registration are any guide to what she really feels, her heart is still in Ohio, not in Illinois or Chicago. As of April 2013, she is a registered voter in Ohio, where she has an opulent home in suburban Cleveland, the city where her controversial financial practices as school chief were questioned years ago.”

Chicago Schools Fight Closure as Push for Charter Schools

 “When you see the numbers its one thing. But when you actually see the child it’s quite different,” says Katie Osgood, a teacher at a psychiatric hospital in the city. “A lot of them already come quite chaotic home lives. The children I work with can’t be in a large noisy classroom. They need space to be by themselves.”

“If you have any questions call 3-1-1,” CPS Representatives Told the Audience

“Chicago Teachers Union organizer, Kathy Murray, reported that her own radar went up when she heard of this proposed CPS change; she had worked as a teacher at Songhai, then Scanlon, 19 years ago, and the neighborhood had such issues back then. She spoke of an incident in 2002 in which at dismissal Songhai students had to run back into the building, and the building was put on lockdown until 5PM due to Curtis kids who came over to beat them up. She commented that the city couldn’t do anything about vacant houses, couldn’t close down crack houses, but they could close schools.”