Posted in Anti-Intellectualism, CTU, Ravitch, Sagan, Science

The Charlatans Are Here

[Part 2 of 2: A followup post on the recent increase of anti-science and anti-intellectualism in America. Click HERE here to read Part 1, Standing in Denial, Rising to Power.]


What can we, as actual educators (not the Betsy DeVos kind), do to change the country’s direction when it comes to science, and to learning in general?

1. When students don’t learn the first time, good teachers reteach. As teachers, we can take it upon ourselves to reteach history, including scientific innovations and developments, to the American people. Even the know-nothings like Pruitt and Perry use science every day with their cell phones, their cable and satellite TVs, and their kitchens. It’s important to remember how those advancements came about. This, of course, won’t deter those who deny science or are “reforming” schools in order to enrich themselves. However, it might help support regular citizens who are interested in planning for the nation’s future.

As teachers, we must become active lobbyists. We should lobby parents, local, state and federal legislators and policy-makers to do what needs to be done to Make America Smart Again.

Teachers need to speak out, write to legislators, support public education advocacy groups like the Indiana Coalition for Public Education or the Network for Public Education, and educate their friends, neighbors, and relatives.


Specifically teachers should lobby for the following.

2. End the waste of our time and money on standardized tests and use the savings to pay for professional development for teachers teaching science, and for equipment and supplies to help them. Use the savings to pay for professional development and supplies for all teachers.

3. Make sure children come to school ready to learn. To that end, we need to spend dollars on countering the effects of poverty beginning with good prenatal care for every pregnant woman in the country. The U.S.A. is 57th in infant mortality rates behind countries like Slovakia, Cuba, Singapore, Canada, and the U.K. Science has taught us what to do…we need to see to it that there is carry-over of scientific knowledge into the real world.

4. The next step in countering the effects of poverty is to invest in early childhood education in which children can explore themselves and the world. Our enrollment rates and expenditures on Early Childhood programs lag well below the OECD average.

5. Provide every child with a full and balanced curriculum,

…including the arts, science, history, literature, civics, foreign languages, mathematics, and physical education.

6. Support students by lowering class sizes.

7. End the diversion of tax dollars to unaccountable and unregulated charter schools, and vouchers for private and parochial schools.

8. The relationship between poverty and achievement is well established, but instructional innovations, improvements, and support can’t overcome the effects of poverty alone. Students need support services to help ameliorate the effects of poverty. Services such as nurses, social workers, counselors, after-school programs, and transportation, should be available. See .

9. End the scourge of high-stakes testing. See #2.

10. Ensure that every school is staffed with fully-trained, professional educators and support staff.

Research-based strategies and proven models for improving the teaching profession should guide the maintenance and growth of a dedicated, experienced, and multi-racial teaching staff…In Finland, a country known for high-performing students, teaching is a respected, top career choice; teachers have autonomy in their classrooms, work collectively to develop the school curriculum, and participate in shared governance of the school…They receive strong professional support throughout their careers and ample time for collaboration with colleagues built into their workday. They are not rated; they are trusted.

11. Public schools should be controlled by elected school boards. Lack of transparency should not be an option. See #7.

12. The privatization of public education has increased school segregation. We know from research that desegregated schools narrowed racial and economic achievement gaps. It’s time to fulfill the requirement of Brown vs. Board of Education.

More than 60 years after Brown v. Board of Education, federal education policies still implicitly accept the myth of “separate but equal,” by attempting to improve student outcomes without integrating schools. Policymakers have tried creating national standards, encouraging charter schools, implementing high-stakes teacher evaluations and tying testing to school sanctions and funding. These efforts sought to make separate schools better but not less segregated. Ending achievement and opportunity gaps requires implementing a variety of desegregation methods – busing, magnet schools, or merging school districts, for instance – to create a more just public education system that successfully educates all children.

[Editorial aside: I disagree with one part of the above quote. It’s clear to me that federal education policies explicitly accept, and in fact, encourage, “separate but equal” schools in America.]

13. Acknowledge “that public education is a public responsibility, not a consumer good.“✩

The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people, and must be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the expense of the people themselves.John Adams

These suggestions will cost money, and you might ask, “How can we afford that?” Ending the overuse and misuse of standardized testing will provide one source of income for schools to use. Ending the diversion of tax dollars for privatization will provide more, but that won’t cover everything.

A better question might be: how can we afford not to have these schools? Where else is public money being spent? We must invest in our children.


  • Do your part to help students (and their parents) understand the scientific method, to see science in everyday life, and to dispel myths and misconceptions about science (e.g. “evolution is just a ‘theory'”).
  • Work with your colleagues to develop multi-disciplinary projects. Science can be found in history, geography, philosophy, physical education, the arts and other subject areas.
  • Invite scientists from local industry and academia into your classroom to explore ideas with your students.
  • Be an advocate for science. Teach so that your students become as excited about science as your are. At a minimum, ensure that they are scientifically literate when they leave your class.
  • Join scientific organizations to advocate for science education and to keep up with the latest news in your field…groups like

○ The National Science Teachers Association
○ The American Association for the Advancement of Science
○ The National Science Foundation
○ The Association for Science Teacher Education
○ The Association for Science Education

  • Read about ways to improve science education in the U.S.

○ The Improving science education in America
○ The Ideas for Improving Science Education in the U.S.
○ The How can we reform science education?


Reversing the anti-science direction of the country will take time and won’t be easy. We can do it if we focus on the today’s students…tomorrow’s leaders.

In his last interview (go to 3:55 for this quote), Carl Sagan warned (1996),

Science is more than a body of knowledge. It is a way of thinking; a way of skeptically interrogating the universe with a fine understanding of human fallibility.

If we are not able to ask skeptical questions, to interrogate those who tell us that something is true, to be skeptical of those in authority, then, we are up for grabs for the next charlatan (political or religious) who comes ambling along.

The charlatans are here…it’s time to step up.

[The numbered list, above, is taken from ✩Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools, by Diane Ravitch and ✪The Schools Chicago’s Students Deserve: Research-based Proposals to Strengthen Elementary and Secondary Education in the Chicago Public Schools from the Chicago Teachers Union. Quotes from those sources are noted either ✩ or ✪. Other quotes are linked.]

Posted in CTU, Public Ed, reform, Walsh

The Schools All Children Deserve


There’s a battle going on in Chicago for the future of the Chicago Public Schools. It mirrors the national education story in at least one way…it’s a battle between vocal parents and teachers against a “reform” movement led by the rich and powerful at the expense of public education.

The Chicago Tribune, owned by the same company that owns other “reformist”-leaning media outlets such as the Los Angeles Times, has been a strident voice against the teachers and for the mayor and his hand picked “school board” (which includes a member with ties to Teach for America, a charter school co-founder, a CEO of one of Chicago’s largest banks, a supporter of parochial schools, as well as a couple of former CPS principals).

Wednesday, for example, the Tribune came out against the CTU because they didn’t approve of the way in which the union was conducting their open strike vote – a second strike vote this year because the anti-union forces are working to negate the secret-ballot strike vote taken earlier this year. Of course, the Tribune, which compares what they claim is an undemocratic CTU to Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong Un, operates in a city which refuses to hold elections for school board members – Irony alert!


Earlier in the week the Tribune published their “Schoolchildren’s Bill of Rights,” a list that Chicago teacher and blogger Mike Klonsky said,

…has little to do with schoolchildren or their rights–except, that is, for their right to have their schools closed or privatized and their teachers debased.

Klonsky’s article described the editorial…

The Tribune’s so-called ‘Schoolchildren’s Bill of Rights’

The Trib’s Bill of Rights includes not a single right for students, but instead includes things like:

  • Merit Pay for teachers, a oft-tried initiative which, according to researchers, produced no gains in measurable learning outcomes.
  • Using student test scores to evaluate teachers. Already the law in IL.
  • Widespread school “choice,” the Trib’s code word for school vouchers and privately-run charters. Trib editors write: “The public education industry should view ethnic, parochial or other private schools not as threats but as alternatives that enrich and diversify a community’s educational offerings.”
  • An end to collective bargaining, including the right to strike.
  • Parent Trigger Laws which enable a small and temporary group of parents to take over a school and hand it over to a private, for-profit company to operate. As you might expect, there’s nothing about parents’ right to opt-out of the plague of standardized testing.
  • Mass closing of black and Latino neighborhood schools and leaving boarded-up buildings to further blight communities or sell them off to condo developers. Again, too late. They’re already doing it.

With high sounding vocabulary in the genre of “think of the children!” the Tribune succinctly gathers every “reform” practice and rolls it into one “reformy” editorial. We’re supposed to have “high quality teachers” which really means teachers who teach to “the test” because “the test” is everything. We’re supposed to support “choice” for parents, which really means “choice” for private schools to reject your non-standardized child. And, if that’s not good enough, they want “Even more choice than that” which really means, privatize, privatize, privatize.



Here’s a “Student Bill of Rights” which would actually help students and improve education in Chicago…and the rest of the country.

It was published during the last CTU strike (2013) and is called The Schools Chicago’s Students Deserve. It includes actual “proven educational reforms,” not just “reformist” talking points.

  • smaller class sizes
  • education aimed at the whole child which includes recess, libraries, PE, the arts, and world languages in every school
  • wraparound services such as nurses, counselors, and social workers where needed
  • equitable funding and services
  • age-appropriate education including pre-K services and full day kindergartens
  • teachers treated as professionals with comparable salaries, adequate planning time, and professional autonomy
  • fully supported programs for students with special needs
  • well maintained and safe school buildings
  • partnerships with parents
  • full funding

Note that it assumes that others have a responsibility for public education in addition to teachers – parents, policy makers, legislators, administration.

Every student in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) deserves to have the same quality education as the children of the wealthy. This can happen, but only if decision-makers commit to providing research-based education that is fully-funded and staffed in an equitable fashion throughout the city. [emphasis added]


A Parent’s Guide to Public Education in the 21st Century, by Russ Walsh

Finally, here’s a Bill of Rights for children from Russ Walsh’s book, A Parent’s Guide to Public Education in the 21st Century (also available on his blog, here).

1. Every child has a right to a free, high quality, public education
2. Every child has a right to attend a well-staffed, well-resourced, clean and safe neighborhood school.
3. Every child has the right to be taught by well-informed, fully certified, fully engaged teachers who care about the child as a learner and as a person.
4. Every child has the right to a school that provides a rich and varied curriculum that includes the visual and performing arts, integrated technology, and physical education.
5. Every child has a right to a school that provides a rich and varied extra-curricular program including athletics, clubs, and service learning opportunities.
6. Every child has a right to instruction that is well planned, engaging, and collaborative.
7. Every child has a right to instruction that is developmentally appropriate.
8. Every elementary school child has a right to daily recess.
9. Every child has the right to go to a school with adequate support personnel including librarians, nurses, guidance counselors, and learning support specialists.
10. Every child has a right to an element of choice in the educational program, including the right to choose to take advanced level courses.

Note that Walsh’s Bill of Rights, as well as the CTU’s, focus on the rights of children – on what children need. There’s nothing about busting unions, closing schools, or transferring tax money from public schools, which operate under public oversight, to private corporations or parochial schools. Why? It’s simple.

Members of the CTU and Russ Walsh are educators. The editors of the Chicago Tribune are not. Educators know about education.

Posted in Chicago, Choice, CTU, poverty, Quotes, reading, Teaching Career, Testing

Random Quotes – February 2015


A New Majority Research Bulletin: Low Income Students Now a Majority in the Nation’s Public Schools

The U.S. has closed its eyes to our high level of child poverty for too long, choosing to blame the victims — the poor — and schools for economic and academic stagnation. High poverty is an embarrassment to us as a nation. Why aren’t we ashamed of it

[Southern Education Foundation] Vice President Steve Suitts wrote: “No longer can we consider the problems and needs of low income students simply a matter of fairness… Their success or failure in the public schools will determine the entire body of human capital and educational potential that the nation will possess in the future. Without improving the educational support that the nation provides its low income students – students with the largest needs and usually with the least support — the trends of the last decade will be prologue for a nation not at risk, but a nation in decline…”

Wait! I’m a Radical Educator?

James Boutin is a national board certified teacher of language arts and social studies…and has been a strong voice for children. Here he reminds us that there’s more to life than Math and Reading.

In low-income communities, schools should serve as centers for civic dialogue, healing, and humanity. While learning the basics like math and language should certainly constitute some of what goes on in schools, our primary effort should not be to stress everyone out trying to bring underprivileged students’ math and language skills up to par with their counterparts in affluent communities. Because, the truth is, those skills are not the only skills in life that matter. And so they shouldn’t be the only skills that determine whether you receive a high school diploma. [emphasis added]


A Just Chicago: New Report from CTU

In 2012 the Chicago Teachers Union published The Schools Chicago’s Students Deserve, a study which argued in favor of proven educational reforms to improve the education of Chicago’s children. Needless to say, it was ignored by the Mayor and school board.

This year, the Union has issued a report…more like a wish list…connecting health, housing, jobs, segregation and funding to education.

It’s the quote below which caught my attention. It could easily have read, “”Do your job, legislators, executives and policy makers, so we [teachers]  can do ours.”


Teachers Need to Step Up and Speak Out

Teachers are so worried about their livelihoods that they have trouble speaking out. Retribution from administrators or state bureaucrats is a real possibility, but things won’t change until we get loud.

“I will refuse to administer a test that reduces my students to a single metric. … Teachers, students and parents find themselves in a position of whether or not to push back or leave.” — Jia Lee, NY Special Education Teacher

Indiana education dean: Teacher measures aren’t fair

The attack on public education, public school teachers, and public school teachers unions continues unabated. As the U.S. Congress debates changes to NCLB, the Governor, Legislature and State Board of Education in Indiana are working hard to marginalize the Indiana State Teachers Union, and by doing so they are marginalizing the profession of teaching. [That’s not all the damage they’re doing to public schools and public school children, but that’s what relates to the quote below. Read some of the Statehouse Notes from the Indiana Coalition for Public Education.]

“I think that in this country, we have taken too much for granted about teachers,” he said. “I think there are people who believe that if you just know your subject … that you can stand up in front of a classroom and teach it. We know that simply isn’t true.”


School “choice” is a scam

School “choice” is a scam. Parents shouldn’t have to “choose” a good school for their children to attend any more than they should need to “choose” clean water, clean air or safe food for their families. — Mitchell Robinson


23 Inspirational Maurice Sendak Quotes To Get You Through The Day

Maurice Sendak understands that reading is more than the words…


Against the Common Core Standards and Tests (Occupy US Dept of Education, April, 2013)

Once more Stephen Krashen debunks the basis for education “reform.”

The movement for national standards and tests is based on these claims:
(1) Our educational system is broken, as revealed by US students’ scores on international tests;
(2) We must improve education to improve the economy;
(3) The way to improve education is to have national standards and national tests that enforce the standards.

Each of these claims is false.

More than a test…

The title of this article is a wonderful quote.

What If Education Was Measured By More Than A Test? by Janaye Ingram is the Acting National Executive Director of National Action Network (NAN)


The narrow pursuit of test results has sidelined education issues of enduring importance such as poverty, equity in school funding, school segregation, health and physical education, science, the arts, access to early childhood education, class size, and curriculum development. We have witnessed the erosion of teachers’ professional autonomy, a narrowing of curriculum, and classrooms saturated with “test score-raising” instructional practices that betray our understandings of child development and our commitment to educating for artistry and critical thinking. And so now we are faced with “a crisis of pedagogy”–teaching in a system that no longer resembles the democratic ideals or tolerates the critical thinking and critical decision-making that we hope to impart on the students we teach.

Stop the Testing Insanity!
Posted in Chicago, CTU, Emanuel, JebBush, Privatization

Hypocrisy in Action


Florida Republican Jeb Bush defended the Common Core standards to ALEC with the usual lies such as,

[The US] has become a global leader in education spending while also becoming a global lagger in math and science.

[See Fighting Myths with Facts]

Bush’s ignorance about the field of education provides us a lesson in why he, and others like him, should not be allowed to participate in forming public education policy.

Bush called for state policies holding back third-graders who cannot read well and ending tenure systems that employ and pay teachers based on experience rather than student performance.

[See Articles Labeled: Retention –Nearly a hundred years of research has provided us with enough information so that we know retention-in-grade (aka flunking) is not an effective remediation technique. The research consistently shows that, with few exceptions, long-term success of students is not improved using grade retention.]

At the same time, protesters outside the Palmer House in Chicago where ALEC was holding its meeting, were demonstrating against the wholesale privatization of public education sponsored by ALEC and selected billionaires.


The backdrop for this battle among Common Core advocates, privatizers and pro-public education forces is the city of Chicago where Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel has overseen the closing of dozens of public schools, resulting in the loss of thousands of jobs for public education employees, and the disruption of the education of thousands of Chicago school children, all in the name of saving money (while still finding enough taxpayer cash to pay for a new arena for a private university).

Now, quietly, and entirely without a trace of irony, Emanuel’s (appointed) board of education puppets have decided to open new schools.

“Wait,” you ask, “they just closed 50 schools and now they’re going to open new ones?”

I understand your confusion, but I think I can explain it in a way that will make everything clear.

CPS has issued a “Request for Proposals for New Schools” — new charter schools!

Yes. You read that right…after closing 50 public schools because of “underutilization” the mayor and his rich friends want to open charter schools to relieve — you guessed it — overcrowding.

Despite closings and budget cuts, CPS calls for new charter schools

As Chicago Public Schools officials finish shuttering a record number of schools and leave many neighborhood schools to open their doors in two weeks with diminished budgets, the district has quietly issued a call for new charter schools.

In a 52-page PDF posted without fanfare on the district’s website, CPS is asking for new charter operators and campuses for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years mainly — but not only — in 11 so-called “priority communities” on the Northwest and Southwest Sides where district-run schools have been complaining of overcrowding. [emphasis added]

Apparently, closing 50 schools, laying off thousands of education professionals and support personnel, and disrupting the education and lives of students (as well as placing them in danger as they walk to school across gang boundaries) isn’t enough punishment for the mayor to heap upon the Chicago Teachers Union for having the audacity to strike last year. The Mayor needs to punish the CTU further by moving more and more children into privately run charter schools with apparent disregard for the safety and education of the children living in his city.

Make no mistake: this is a blatant move designed to further the privatization of public education in Chicago.

…and there’s little doubt that he feels a zing of pleasure by turning the knife on the CTU.

Just months after closing 50 schools, Chicago issues RFP for more charter schools

The Chicago Teachers Union and others have argued for years that school closures are about making way for charters and weakening the union.

“We are not surprised at all by this,” said union president Karen Lewis . “We were called conspiracy theorists, and then here is the absolute proof of what the intentions are…. The district has clearly made a decision that they want to push privatization of our public schools.”

The district has been slowly shifting students to charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately run. Around 13 percent of district students—and more than 20 percent of the district’s high school students— are educated in charter schools. Teachers at charters cannot be represented by the Chicago Teachers Union.

Only half of the teachers in the charter schools need to be certified…and the charter teachers are not covered by the Collective Bargaining Agreement between CPS and CTU.

There’s no longer any pretense of “improving public education” on the part of the privatizers. There’s no difference between Republicans and Democrats. The goal is the destruction of America’s public education system.

Fact: Charters are not better than public schools. Charters not outperforming nation’s traditional public schools, report says
Fact: Mass closings of schools causes damage to communities.


So-called “reformers” like Bush and Emanuel know what good education is. They are the products of elite private schools and have purchased an elite private school education for their children.

  • They know that small class size is important.
  • They know that trained, certified and experienced educators are important.
  • They don’t send their children to schools filled with uncertified teachers with 5 weeks of “education training.”
  • They don’t send their children to schools where test prep takes up the first 2 hours of the day and the content of “the test” is the only curriculum guide.

They know what good education is and they make sure they have it for themselves and their children…everyone else be damned.

While Bush tries to bring the tea-party back to the Common Core, Rahm Emanuel is quietly going about the business of killing public education in Chicago.

[UPDATE: from Mike Klonsky “For those of you who miss the distinction between handing closed schools over to charter operators and opening new charters around the corner — so do I.”]


All who envision a more just, progressive and fair society cannot ignore the battle for our nation’s educational future. Principals fighting for better schools, teachers fighting for better classrooms, students fighting for greater opportunities, parents fighting for a future worthy of their child’s promise: their fight is our fight. We must all join in.

Stop the Testing Insanity!
Posted in 1000 Words, Corp Interest, CTU, Finland, IN Gen.Assembly, poverty, Ritz, Teach For America

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words – August 2013

Here are some pictures, graphic images and cartoons from around the net — plus my own 2 cents worth of comments. Click on any image to see the full sized version.

They’re All In It Together.

Bill Gates, Arne Duncan, the Broad Foundation, Jeb Bush, Michelle Rhee, and more…It’s interesting how they all work together.

Pundits and Politicians Need to Get in the Trenches

This picture is a paragraph from Tony Danza’s book, I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Have Ever Had: My Year as a Rookie Teacher at Northeast High.

The important sentence in the quote is

It’s so much easier for pundits and politicians to point out figures and blame the people who are in the trenches every day than it is to get in there with them, or even to find out what actually goes on in those trenches.

Experts for America

Here’s a response to Danza’s comment. Let those experts who are destroying public education…the so-called “reformers”…staff our schools for a nice long time.

Experts for America: Like Teach for America, only Better!

“With the aid of the Selective Service and approval from President Obama,” Mann said, “a new kind of draft will be instituted. All education experts between the ages of 23-60, all writers of books about education, all executives of companies profiting from the public schools, will be subject to call to active duty.” (Gasps from audience.)

“Some of you should expect notices this week.

“We know this may come as a shock. Each of you will be committing to work for ten years—minimum—in the toughest public schools. None of that sissy two-year stuff like ‘Teach for America.’” Mann added with a smile….I mean…you are committed to saving kids? Am I right?

Doctors for America

Is five weeks of training enough to prepare a teacher to work with the nation’s most difficult to educate students?

We Need Smarter Reformers

I apologize for the poor contrast on this graphic. Click to see the larger, more readable original. Blogger John Viall, in his post titled, Finland Has Smarter Teachers! made the point that it’s not the teachers in Finland who are smarter…it’s Finnish society.

How would we compare if we had the same low poverty rate as Finland, a rate of between 3% and 4% as opposed to our 23%? Our schools with less than 10% of their students in poverty seem to stack up pretty well internationally. The problem is not with our teachers…or their unions…or our schools…it’s with the level of child poverty in America, the so-called richest nation in the world. Testing and privatization isn’t going to cure it.

Lessons Learned From the World’s Highest-Performing School Systems

Where Are Your Votes Going?

I still don’t understand how Glenda Ritz received more votes than the governor yet the people who pushed Tony Bennett’s agenda through the legislature held on to their seats.

Ritz campaigned against the flow of public funds into private and privately run schools, yet those legislators who were elected or reelected the same night she defeated Tony Bennett have passed legislation giving more money than ever to private schools through vouchers, to private corporations running charter schools, and to virtual schools.

The people who passed Indiana’s education laws are working against Superintendent Ritz. The Governor has increased the power the State Board of Education (filled will political appointees) to prevent Ritz from undoing the damage that Tony Bennett brought to Indiana.

Hoosier voters overwhelmingly elected a Superintendent of Public Instruction who promised to undo the damage caused by the Bennett DOE, and simultaneously elected people who would prevent her from fulfilling that mandate.

It makes no sense.

Where is Your Money Going?

Money for tests, tests and more tests…

What a Coincidence

“Reformers” have about as much understanding of what goes on inside schools as the student in this cartoon, yet politicians, billionaires, basketball players, and florists are making decisions which have a negative impact on public school classrooms with little or no input from the professionals who spend their days with students.

Don’t Waste More Money on Tests

The Chicago Teachers Union in their publication, The Schools Chicago’s Students Deserve, have it right…

Create More Robust Wrap-around Services: The Chicago Public Schools system (CPS) is far behind recommended staffing levels suggested by national professional associations. The number of school counselors, nurses, social workers, and psychologists must increase dramatically to serve Chicago’s population of low-income students. Additionally, students who cannot afford transportation costs need free fares.

This isn’t just good for Chicago’s students…it’s good for students all over the country. Give the neediest students the most support. It will cost money, of course, but which American child isn’t worth it? Those who argue against “throwing money at the schools” are usually the ones who send their children to expensive private schools where they…throw money at them.


All who envision a more just, progressive and fair society cannot ignore the battle for our nation’s educational future. Principals fighting for better schools, teachers fighting for better classrooms, students fighting for greater opportunities, parents fighting for a future worthy of their child’s promise: their fight is our fight. We must all join in.

Stop the Testing Insanity!
Posted in Chicago, CTU, Emanuel

Rahm’s Chicago

I went to Rogers School in Chicago from kindergarten through eighth grade — a public school. In the fall of 1962 I started attending Sullivan High School in Chicago — a public school. I graduated in June, 1966.

What’s happening in my home town today saddens me. Neither of the schools I attended in the 50s and 60s is going to be closed, but the rest of the story throughout the city is not so positive. The Mayor and his wealthy friends seem set on doing away with the city’s public school system.

Emanuel has orchestrated the closing of 50 schools and the removal of 3500 public school employees. I’d say that the closings and layoffs are part of a small person’s retribution for embarrassing him with a strike late last year, but the sad truth is the closings and layoffs were probably planned a long time ago. The money saved by the cuts to staff and buildings is being redirected to privatizers. In addition, while the city’s school system is being starved by the mayor, plans for a multi-million arena for DePaul University continue, paid for in part by the city.

Emanuel hasn’t talked openly about the plan, but an alderman on the city’s board told CBS that the plan, which includes hotels attached to the city’s convention center at McCormick Place, was about fostering economic growth. “Sometimes you have to make an investment in city resources to be able to generate tax dollars,” Ald. Pat Dowell said.

How about investing in the city’s students and future citizens…instead of a college basketball team that wants to “recapture its glory days”? The basketball team is from a large private, Catholic, university. I wonder why “The Church” can’t afford to support the basketball programs of its large universities. Could it be that the city’s support of private and corporate charters is now spilling over to post-secondary education?

Here’s a sampling of what’s coming out of Chicago…

See the list of schools closing, a map showing where they are located, and information about the population of students at each school.

Take a look at the map…look at how many schools are being affected from the areas with “Below 10% of households living in poverty.” You’ll see that there are just 2, Chappell Elementary and McPherson Elementary. How are they being affected? They aren’t closing…they are “receiving schools” which means that they are schools which will receive children being shuffled from closing schools.

The cutbacks are being foisted on the schools, neighborhoods and families most in need of stability.

CPS continues its attack on teachers, students and public schools by laying off 2,085 more educators

After you read this, go right to the next article below. Read about the opening of charter* schools to replace the closed public schools. Read about increasing Teach For Awhile America contractors to the tune of $1.5 million to replace experienced career educators.

The mayor is being dishonest. He should have just said,

  1. “We want to close our current public schools, and then reopen them as charters. The education won’t be any better, since charters and regular public schools are pretty much equal, but this way the money goes to our friends.”
  2. “We want to fire experienced teachers who get paid more so we can hire new, inexperienced, poorly trained teachers for a pittance.”

His children, by the way, will still get to go to their school at the University of Chicago…small class sizes, the arts, physical education, science labs, libraries, highly qualified degreed teachers…

“As the CTU continues to lobby the Board of Education to restore these jobs, remarkably CPS refuses to agree to a hiring freeze. It makes no sense to hire new people as the district lays off veteran teachers, paraprofessionals and clinicians, many of whom have excellent and superior ratings.

Chicago School Closings And The Joyce Foundation: The Obama Connection

The President is backing his friend, Mayor Emanuel. The big money is here…

Most recently, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel oversaw the closing of 50 public schools, many of which will be replaced by charter schools. A bulk of the 550 laid-off teachers will be replaced by Teach for America contractors, many of whom teach in charter schools.

What You Need to Know About CPS Budget Cuts

CPS finished the most recent school year with a surplus of $344 million. And then closed 50 schools and laid off thousands of teachers because they couldn’t afford them.”

Rahm’s Plan: Another 2,000 Teacher Layoffs

“The Raise Your Hand Coalition (RYH) is disgusted to learn that Chicago Public schools has laid off another 2000 teachers and staff, bringing the total number of layoffs for the year to 3500. This news lies in stark contrast to the ongoing CPS rhetoric to minimize any impact of budget cuts on the classroom. Now CPS is claiming that there will be “winners and losers.” Even if a few schools have been spared from these widespread and severe cuts, we believe that there are only losers in this scenario.

Gang expert Hagedorn warns federal judge to stop Chicago school closings

Children will die because Rahm Emanuel doesn’t know how to run a city or a school system.

John told Judge John Lee that it’s not a question of whether there will be shooting in neighborhoods kids must walk through. He says shootings are happening now. He adds school closings already are prompting gang Facebook postings warning students to stay away.

CPS fired my friend Xian Barrett and 2112 others.

Here’s just one example of how a school system fires 3500 teachers, bus drivers, paraprofessionals and other support staff.

Why the principal called his emergency contact instead of his primary number, he isn’t sure. But when Barrett returned the message his mother relayed from his principal, he was read the script thanking him for his service — but pink-slipping him.

“The fact that there’s a script and it has in it, ‘Thank you for the service to the kids’ but no details — the fact that it’s always done this impersonally. It’s not just about firing. It’s how CPS treats their students. They’re interchangeable, and the relationships in their lives are interchangeable,” Barrett, 35, told the Sun-Times Friday. It went better, though, than the first time the district laid him off in 2010, when the principal — who also called his mother — went right into the script.

“The principal laid off my mom,” said Barrett, recipient of a prestigious and national U.S. Department of Education Teaching Fellowship, and a tenured teacher of law and of Chicago history at Gage Park on the Southwest Side. His law class typically spent Monday mornings with a triage of cases kids brought to him that friends or relatives were involved in.

Why your tax money keeps going down the TIF portal hole

As you’ve probably heard me mention before, if it weren’t for the TIF program, more than half that money would go to the public schools—which, the mayor claims, are so broke he had to close 50 of them a few weeks ago.

The mayor sent out a press release Friday morning congratulating himself for creating the portal and claiming it “will help the city focus programs on job creation and economic development.”

Right on, Mr. Mayor—jobs are good!

Alas, within hours of the good news, word broke that the mayor was firing about 2,100 CPS employees—including more than 1,000 teachers—in the latest, largest round of budget cuts. That’s on top of the 600 teachers he fired last month as part of the school closings.

So much for job creation. You know, Mr. Mayor, you make it hard for anyone to be a cheerleader.

In the meantime, the mayor’s moving full steam ahead on his plans to spend $55 million in property tax funds for a basketball arena for DePaul and a new hotel.

Sweet Home Chicago? Not if you have children in the public schools.


*References to charters generally imply corporate, for-profit charter schools. Quotes from other writers reflect their opinions only. See It’s Important to Look in a Mirror Now and Then.


All who envision a more just, progressive and fair society cannot ignore the battle for our nation’s educational future. Principals fighting for better schools, teachers fighting for better classrooms, students fighting for greater opportunities, parents fighting for a future worthy of their child’s promise: their fight is our fight. We must all join in.

Stop the Testing Insanity!