Video: Lewis Comes Out Swinging

Karen Lewis didn't cuss during her speech earlier today, but she certainly had a lot of feeling in her words.  Here's the video, or click here for the transcript from CTU.  Then tell us what you think about the speech.


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  • CTU members must strike or they might as well stop paying union dues and disband the union!

  • My daughter called into Schools on the Line and actually got thru today because Mr. Brizard was only taking calls from kids today. While she was on hold waiting for her name to be called, the host encouraged more people to call in because they had additional lines open. After a few calls were answered, someone came on the line and told my daughter that her call would not be answered and that she could participate in the online chat with Linda Lutton to get her question answered. Her question was "Why Does CPS Want To Merge Alcott(her school) with Lincoln? Were you aware that they were screening the calls from children and deciding which calls to answer from children?

  • In reply to ChiKev:

    The NPR credibility gap grows larger and larger.

  • Hmmm. Rahm's quote at the end of this new Rossi article about a possible strike proves he still just doesn't get it. We couldn't be more about the kids.

  • Fox: Chicago Teachers Union: Teachers Support Strike

  • Karen Lewis was preaching to the choir. Sometimes I think leaders need to do that -- it is important for her to get her members fired up.

    On the substance, one way I evaluate the strength of someone's argument is to check to see how far they feel they need to stretch the facts to fit their narrative. The more stretch, the more weakness the argument belies.

    Here is one example:

    In December 2011, CPS COO Cawley was quoted in the Tribune talking about capital investments in failing schools. Here is what he said: "If we think there's a chance that a building is going to be closed in the next five to 10 years, if we think it's unlikely it's going to continue to be a school, we're not going to invest in that building," Chief Operating Officer Tim Cawley said. In other words, if CPS has $5M to spend on a new roof at a school, the money is not going to go to a school with an uncertain future. Sounds like sounds fiscal management to me. Raise your hand if you want your tax dollars spent on capital improvements to a building CPS will likely decommission as a school.

    Here is how it comes out in the speech: "A CPS official bragging about how the District will starve a neighborhood school for up to a decade before shutting it down, turning it over, or consolidating it with another school."

    That's plenty of stretch.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    "Sounds like sounds fiscal management to me". You sir or madame epitomize everything wrong with cororate education deformers. What people of your kind fail to realize is that in a school system, the children we serve are not products or goods. Sadly, people like you see the children as nothing more than a bar code number and a stanine score. How sad of you to call this "sounds" financial management. This has nothing to do with management, but more the clear deconstruction and privatization of public education. You may see this as "sounds" management, I see it as capitalist/corporate elitism. Emmanuel, Cawley, Vitale, Pritzker, et al. They have not an ounce of vested interest in CPS. You "managers" always have all the answers. What a stretch!

  • In reply to Maestro:

    Deciding not to make capital improvements in a school that is likely to be closed doens't have anything to do with treating children as a bar code number. Let's face it, we are in an era of flat to declining revenues for public education -- the administration has to make every dollar count. Throwing capital budget money down the drain on a building likely to be closed doesn't help anyone.

    And I don't see any rebuttal to the demonstration of the extent to which Ms. Lewis will mischaracterize statements to make her point.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    "Throwing capital budget money down the drain on a building likely to be closed doesn't help anyone."

    It does help. It helps AUSL, it helps UNO and the others who profit from school closures and turnarounds.
    I am all for better handling of resources in running our schools, but this is borderline criminal. For up to 10 years, they are willing to starve a school. Think, a student who is pre-k today will spend their entire elementary school experience in place deemed "unworthy" of investment and denied resources needed to ensure academic success. However, that student will still be measured on the same playing field (ISAT, PARCC, SAT, ACT, NWEA, etc.) as their peers that attend fully funded schools (with operational roofs). Where is the equality in that?

  • In reply to district299reader:

    "If we think there's a chance that a building is going to be closed in the next five to 10 years, if we think it's unlikely it's going to continue to be a school, we're not going to invest in that building," Chief Operating Officer Tim Cawley said.
    -- Chicago Tribune (CPS: Poorer-performing schools less likely to get funds, December 15, 2011)

    There are 150 schools on the CPS list of schools they would like to close. That represents over 25% of all neighborhood schools. So, no, I do not think Ms. Lewis's statements were a mischaracterization. And I wholeheartedly applaud Mr. Cawley for his brutal honesty.

    The majority of schools that are closed are not left empty. They are a) remodeled and turned over to privately operated selective enrollment charter schools, sometimes leased to the tune of $1/year, b) renovated after closure and given to AUSL, formerly run by the current Board President, or much more rarely, c) not rehabbed at all but still consolidated with another school.

    Declining revenues are in part a result of taking hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars from schools each year via TIFs to support struggling, blighted communities like the Gold Coast, the French Market, and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    “Sounds like fiscal management to me”
    Really great point that you make!

    Claude, a third grader, suffered a severe head injury. His doctor, Dr. Crawley, denied medical care (capital improvements to Claude’s head) because, as Dr. Crawley noted, Claude merely scored at the 49th percentile in reading comprehension.

    Dr. Crawley told Claude that if the bleeding did not stop within a decade, he should call and schedule another appointment.

    “Sounds like fiscal management to me”

  • In reply to district299reader:

    The Roof
    You are completely missing the point. The roof would be fixed so that the Charter or Turnaround, or whatever flavor of the month deform could staydry after the current school is evicted.
    Your choice of the word Capital improvements is not what we are talking about.
    It is the lack of support on the educational level that needs addressing.
    Rather than trying to fix a slipping school in the beginning by sending
    Educational support the Board ignores the school until it fails.

  • In reply to rbusch:

    You are really drinking the Kool-Aid. What Cawley said *was* about the capital improvements budget. Ms. Lewis made up the rest.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Cool aid
    I have been drinking the kool aid for over 40 years
    And it hasn’t killed me yet. The toxic dump called Simeon
    didn’t kill me .The Gangster D”s didn’t either neither
    will your comment. However you should realize that
    actions trump words. The capital expenditures usually come
    right after the collapse of a school. For example Calumet was
    remolded for the Charter school kids. The Board surely does
    destroy schools in order to save them.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    It wouldn't be a stretch if your child was in that school!!!

  • All this excitement is rather amazing consider how little most CTU employees jobs changed this year. From the vitriol aimed at Rahm and the CPS admins one would think you all had been dragged out of your schools and forced to work in a North Korean coal mine.

  • In reply to Donn:

    Donn what planet do you live on? Poor Donn the Troll. You said No Research Rahm and Brizard are not getting the love you want teachers to give them. Pass Donn a hankie!

  • In reply to district299reader:

    i have to say i sort of agree with donn on this one -- i['m amazed we've spent nearly the entire year talking about things that, from the outside, seem pretty measly. big implications, sure, but has this year really been all that different, day to day, in CPS schools? if so i don't know exactly how. trollling my own blog, i guess.

  • In reply to Alexander Russo:

    It's not about this year. It's about next year.

    Non-agreement on teacher evaluations.
    25% increase in mandatory work hours without pay.
    2% pay raise coupled with higher health insurance costs.
    Elimination of pay for experience, training, and education. (In what other profession are these things devalued?)
    Narrowing of curricula with heavy test emphasis.
    Privatization of public education, mass terminations, school closings.
    Failure to invest in and support neighborhood schools - crumbling facilities, not enough desks or books, poor technology hardware, etc.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Well said.

  • In reply to Alexander Russo:

    Is Donn a teacher? Are you, Alexander? The changes *have* already been significant if you are a classroom teacher and they loom even larger for next year. You two have no idea what you're talking about.

  • Donn and Alexander, I think it has been more like a year-long steady drum beat of top down policy decision with little listening to, or input from, students, parents, and teachers -- from another round of lay offs last summer, to passage of SB7, to going around the union with "pioneer" longer-day schools, to 17 school closings and turnaround announcements (including bogus, paid-protester hearings), to announcing the longer day/year is a done deal, to losing recall rights for laid off, tenured teachers, to new evaluations based on test scores, to reading about the details of what CPS wants at the contract negotiations. So no, not like we are being forced into a North Korean coal mine, rather, more like being spanked for not crying enough at Kim Jong Il's funeral.

  • that's reasonable enough -- and sort of funny -- but i'm still wondering what if anything has made this year different for teachers not at the extended day schools or subject to being closed or turned around. that's less than a hundred schools. it feels like there's either a lot more going on in the rest of CPS, or perhaps it's been just another year for most schools.

  • In reply to Alexander Russo:

    In the classroom teachers are teaching to the test trying to keep their school off probation so that they won't be fired in the next round of turn around. In the classroom teachers have less time to develop critical thinkers because they are administering the next test, (DIBELS/IDEL, Mclass Math, ACCESS, Scantron, ISAT, Common Core). In the classroom teachers are giving 100% only to have the media accuse them of cheating the children.

  • I see your point, Alexander. In the classroom, it has been "just another year" and a great one at that. I guess in the noise of the battle going on beyond our control, people forget that we are actually professionals taking care of business first, i.e. yes, we are busy teaching.

  • This year has been chaos in CPS. We get top down mandate after top down mandate. The people at the top have no clue HOW to implement anything. They just keep saying DO IT NOW. Principals and ILT's are told they need to complete such and such form by tomorrow. Then they are told to forget it. Then they are told to turn in a slight tweak of the form. Then they are told to send the same info on another form. Then another form. Our Long Day plan has been re-done over and over. Then over again. Then they wanted DETAILED schedules that would work for every teacher and student in the building.

    They make us fill out these forms to get our "input" then they just tell us what to do anyway.

    It's half thought out policy after half thought out policy that we are just supposed to implement with no plan, no money and no support.

    Don't get me started on the Common Core Standards for Math. We are a million miles away from being able to teach at that level. Even the text book companies have no clue how to address them. The samples we're getting are laughable, but we're supposed to be teaching Common Core because the Board adopted it. Meanwhile our API comes from ISAT. NWEA is a huge deal. Then there's the Common Core Test. We spend so much time with Assessment (honestly it's 10% of the year on assessments that are used against us and that do not help students learn) that we can't teach.

  • BillyTurtle - Those are good points. It's really Brizard who is ultimately responsible for coordinating all the requests and demands. I'm not sure if that is what the CTU is referring to when it speaks of "bullying" and disrespect".

    The major policy changes have been a long time coming. The first bullet point of complain by the CTU is school closing. After a new charter high school is approved the school isn't fully staffed until six years later. Brizard and company would be irresponsible to not close CTU schools. The CTU didn't want to directly object to specific charter expansion as those charters are popular with parents. Objecting the consequence of decisions made long ago by definition isn't leadership.

    The impact of SB7 is similar. That was negotiated over several years. Again, another long term trend to which the CTU seems just shocked is happening. But let's blame it on Brizard and company as they unpack their boxes at their new jobs.

    I'm sure the job loss of friends and long time colleagues is very distressful to CTU leadership. But I find the new found outrage at long term policy decisions disingenuous.

  • In reply to Donn:

    Donn where did you get the idea that SB7 was "negotiated over several years?" It was barely even negotiated over for a period of 5 months. In fact most of the serious discussions took place in one evening in a conference room in the state capitol.

    I am a registered lobbyist with the Illinois General Assembly and I followed that bill from before it was formally filed to the point it was signed by Governor Qunin, for the record I spoke in opposition to the first version of the bill on December 16, 2010 at a hearing of what was called the House Special Committee on Education Reform in Aurora Illinois.

    The legislative history of SB7 is the following: Senator Lightford filed the bill on January 27, 2011 and the bill passed both chambers by May 12, 2011. It was signed into law on June 13, 2011. []

    There was a trailer bill that followed SB7 that was rapidly approved, but it did not change much. A draft of the bill existed possibly a week before the Aurora hearing or the first week of December 2010 because a number of lobbyists were given Stand for Children's draft bill by a member of the General Assembly and it was slipped to the media. Jessica Handy was the lead lobbyist supporting this bill for Stand for Children.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Donn, makes thinks up as he goes along. No data just empty pro-Rahm rhetoric. You know, what we have been hearing from Clark St forever. Thanks Rod for catching it!

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    I loved Jessica Handy in Driving Miss Daisy. Landing her was a real coup for Stand for Children.

  • Please read my lastest blog post in response to yesterday's CTU press conference and the new teacher evaluation system "Good Chicago Public Schools Teachers Need Public Support."

    Thanks, Ray

  • Until there is a real authentic change at the top, the STATUS QUO will stay the same. The cheapening of the profession (devolution) is ultimately where the mayor(s) and and their CEO's have been going since they took over (no there was never a golden era) with the Ren 2010 folly. The Culture of Fear and Mistrust begins at the top. If we are honest, the policies and priorities that persist are both unsound based on current research on what works and unhealthy for a people centered endeavor called schooling. Without building a "culture of trust", which starts at the top, I don't see hope for public education in Chicago. Great teachers and good teachers are leaving CPS. Student teachers see first hand the untenable top down mandates that take away from instructional time and the joy of teaching, are looking outside of CPS. Why be put through the ringer by a dysfunctional system that cannot be defended in terms of theory and practice in comparison to real world class public school systems. Until there is a real dialogue, starting with Rahm and his CEO with the teachers regarding priorities and educational policies, I don't blame teachers for going on strike.

  • @sethlavin "You hear a lot of parlor talk these days about how a strike may be likely because it would benefit both sides politically. For what it’s worth, I don’t buy that."

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