Tag Archives: Common Core

Carmel Martin Foolish to Fight Unions

20 May

Since the Great Depression Adolph Hitler, Margaret Thatcher, and assorted right wing South American despots have been the loudest voices fueling a backlash against the labor unions. Last week, the right-wing gained an unlikely new ally: Carmel Martin. Ms. Martin wrote an opinion piece for the Chicago Sun-Times calling the teachers unions foolish for opposing Common Core.

Ms. Martin’s attack on labor unions is shortsighted. The unions represent an opportunity to set a higher bar, and replace America’s flawed economic system that lavishes huge rewards on capital, while often exploiting workers. Only by supporting unions can we hope to better equip our students for future jobs in the global economy.

While Ms. Martin’s decision is troubling, we’re lucky to have seen some recent push back against the supposed education reform that has infected the nation. Both the mayoral election in New York City and Newark are clear repudiations of top down mandates and test don’t teach education policies. Parents are clearly asking for a new era of leadership in education.

But Ms. Martin has gone against the wishes of these parents and called for abandoning best practices in order to adopt these hackneyed education standards devised by David Coleman, a man who has never taught a day in his life. It is irresponsible to ignore the voices of the Chicago teachers who everyday teach on the city’s front lines.

In shutting up student voice, too often we get dictatorial mind-numbing professional development. Our students deserve far better and so do our teachers.

At the end of the day, Joe McCarthy’s communist witch hunt, Pinochet’s coup in Chile, and Carmel Martin’s opposition to the Chicago Teachers Union are not going to be what ensure our teachers can prepare their students for success. Hyperbolic alarm bells, anti-teacher slogans, and scare tactics will get us nowhere. High expectations are great, but without adequate funding, stable school environments free from threat of closing and turn around, and safe neighborhoods all the professional development in the world will not make much of a difference with most children. Higher expectations to compete for American jobs in a 21st century economy are great, but we can’t get there with a 19th century top down model that ignores teacher voice. We know that in the end standards don’t prepare kids for success, teachers do, so maybe it’s time to listen to the teachers instead of attempting to silence them. Isn’t that just what Hitler did?


We’re Going to Have to Fight Rahm Again

14 May

ImageRahm Emanuel announced today that he would be running for reelection.   There’s no surprise here.   Chicago may not want him back for another term as Chicago’s Mayor, but Hollywood does.  He’s got deep pockets and there’s going to be a few more fights along the way if we’re ever going to dump the creep:

1.  The next teacher contract, which will be negotiated right before the election

2. The election itself where CTU mobilizing may change the election for the whole city

3. The next 4 years in the event Rahm does actually win


With the union election this Friday, teachers need to decide who they feel most comfortable with to do the organizing and fighting that will be necessary to counter Mayor Emanuel and hopefully help remove him from office.   For me, it’s definitely CORE.   For you, it may be somebody else, but I really hope not.

Rahm Emanuel to Seek 2nd Term as Chicago’s Mayor

“He acknowledged the political risk of his plan to close 54 city schools. He says there’s also a risk of reputation for Chicago’s schools if things don’t improve.”

UNO Charter-School Scandal has Wall Street Worried

“Now under investigation by two state agencies, the United Neighborhood Organization is also facing tough questions on Wall Street from investors who lent tens of millions of dollars to help pay for the rapid expansion of UNO’s charter-school network.”

Firefighters Ordered to Provide Safe Passage for Schoolkids

“Now, NBC5 Investigates has learned that Chicago firefighters have been quietly ordered to join in staffing those routes beginning on the first day of school August 26 and continuing for the first three weeks of the school year.”

Kim Bowsky and Drew Heiserman Challenge Tribune’s Support for Coalition to Save Our Schools

“Saunders-Wolffe has the right to opine as a citizen about any issue she wishes. The Tribune publishes what it wants. I call into question why the interests that run the paper have published her appeal but refuse to research the claims of representatives of the Coalition to Save Our Union to give a “fair and balanced” report to its patrons.”

Indiana Halts Common Core Implementation

“There is a range of criticism about the core. Some argue that many of the standards were not well written, while others are concerned that it removes local input from what teachers should teach.”

The Evolution of CPS Chatter

10 May


When the blog started, I hoped to give a balanced opinion on education issues from a local level.  I just didn’t think that there were enough sources out there.   For instance, I love Substance, but I wouldn’t call it impartial.  It has a viewpoint and it’s a viewpoint I live very much, but it’s definitely pro-union.  By the same token, some sources like the Sun-Times have some great reporters, but will always fall back on the company line in the editorial section and other areas of the paper.  I won’t even get into the Tribune.

I think the detached observer thing where I printed sources I disagreed with was gone by the end of the first week.   This is my attempt to give you education news that I find important from a mostly local perspective and definitely it’s advocacy journalism.   I’ve been really happy with the stories that we broke, particularly the Michelle Obama Let’s Move Debacle and the banning of Persepolis

The one place I haven’t been happy is in creating and active discussion forum.  I do wonder if my obvious viewpoint leads to readership who shares that viewpoint and that creates a lack of discussion.  In any event, I would like to encourage people to post and also, if there is anything you’d like to see from this space, let me know.  I sometimes wonder if I should have more national stories like the one I’m sharing tonight from New York.

Today’s AFT Kool Aid Flavor is Blueberry

“Local unions can fight the Common Core if our national and state unions will not take up our cause.    The testing issue outrage started locally and is finally getting traction at higher levels.  We can do the same with the Common Core.”

McKinley Park Charter School Proposal Faces Opposition

“Unlike the charter management company’s bid to open a school in Bowmanville, where the plan was met with vocal opposition from community groups and Ald. Pat O’Connor (40th), Concept’s plans have flown under the radar — until they made headlines after the group’s zoning proposal was killed, then put back on, the agenda of a recent zoning committee meeting.”

I Admit It, It’s Not Just a Public School vs. Charter School Problem in CPS

“These two strategies have not ever worked and will not work in the future. And to tie all, one hundred per cent, of our efforts to both of these dead ends–willy-nilly charter promotion and baseless status-quo “education reform,” will only result in continual failurefor decades to come.”

The School Model That’s Good Enough for President Obama and Rahm Emanuel

“In any event, the teachers at Lab are protected from such intrusions thanks to the “Academic Freedom” clause of their contract, which reads: “Academic freedom shall mean that teachers are free to present instructional materials which are pertinent to the subject and level taught.”

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.

How Was Your First Day Back?

3 Jan


I’ll be curious to see how many teachers and students continued their break through the weekend and how many went back on time.  Big plans for winter vacations or trips to Mexico to see family will take precedence I am sure.  I’ve already seen students and teachers asking for a freak storm, but that’s not the only news.   CPS continues to have a problem giving the appearance of community engagement. You can’t have the illusion of inclusion without lyin’ about buy in.

Letter Sent to CEO Byrd-Bennett by Raise Your Hand Coalition

“As Chicago parents we are concerned that CPS is still using a flawed formula that exaggerates under utilization, under-reports overcrowding and ignores other factors reducing classroom size such as percent of special education students served and on site community partnerships. We are also deeply troubled by the lack of transparency in the process that CPS is using to make decisions around school actions this year.”

Indiana Need to Drop Common Core, Develop Its Own Standards

The defeat of Tony Bennett as Indiana’s state superintendent of education was attributed to many factors. Yet, as one post-election analysis indicated, the size of the vote for his rival, Glenda Ritz, suggests that the most likely reason was Bennett’s support for, and attempt to implement, Common Core’s badly flawed standards.”

Kristine Mayle’s Accuses Board of Misrepresentation

Kristine and other parents and others accuse CPS of misrepresenting facts in this video from before the December School Board meeting.

2012 – A Banner Year for Education Reform (Satire)

“In Chicago, I wonder how long Juan Rangel and his $260,000+ salary will continue to be able to have school openings like this one, if charters do not receive more tax dollars. “