Brizard: Budget, Contract, Baby?

Here's the WTTW segment from last night for you to check out below.  Or, if there are any problems, click here. Anyone know if Brizard and his wife have had their new baby yet?  Agree with him or not, we should all wish best wishes to the new parents.

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  • Rebeca Nieves Huffman's op-ed that Alexander provided a link to appears to be absolutely uninformed about the role of strike threats in the collective bargaining process, especially as it relates to collective bargaining in the education process. Because rattling the strike weapon can be a useful tactic in order to move bargaining. But in this case appearances of not being informed are not reality of Ms. Huffman's motivation for writing this op-ed.

    Ms. Huffman is currently the Illinois director of Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), but she has only held that job since the middle of January of this year when DFER expanded into Illinois. She was vice president of the Vice President, Fund for Authorizing Excellence at National Association of Charter School Authorizers which is run by Greg Richmond who worked for Paul Vallas prior to this job. Before that she served as president and CEO of the Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options and before that she worked for KIPP the charter school operator. Ms. Huffman is married to the managing director of Ascendance Partners, a real estate investments firm that specializes in the acquisition of distressed real estate on the south side of Chicago who is also on the Board of the Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL).

    Ms. Huffman would on the face of things appears to be a deeply conservative Democrat, one that I would assume would support the deep injection of market based principles into public education. Given this background I found her commentary to be at least somewhat disingenuous given its claim to support "the principles of collective bargaining, where both sides work in good faith at the bargaining table." Rather given Ms. Huffman's background it would appear that she is decisively on the side of the Mayor and CPS in this confrontation because of their support for increasing market based practices within public schools. Why not say this upfront? Its not a crime afterall to hold such beliefs, but such beliefs are actually not popular in society as a whole, so maybe they are better not expressed directly.

    Now having said this I admit I have great reservations myself about the CTU's apparent vision of a strike or at least the public rhetoric in relation to a strike. My reservations relate to how much can be gained or lost by a strike in the current economic and political environment, also I have real reservations about the ability of the union to strike for working conditions given statutory language that now exists relating only to Chicago. But none of these reservations mean that rattling the strike weapon equates to not bargaining in good faith as Ms. Huffman claims in her essay.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    HI Rod,
    Would you know for sure if school day was lengthened, does that throw every IEP out of compliance? Wouldn't the service minutes have to be changed in the EIP? (imagine the hours needed to address than problem)

  • In reply to FrontRow:

    As some special education teachers have reported on this blog some IEPs are being amended for the longer school day. The reality is if some IEPs are technically out of compliance come September the worse that will happen is that ISBE will order CPS to come into full compliance within a few months.

    More than likely there would be very few situations where ISBE would order CPS to provide compensatory services to students. I agree that revising IEPs on the scale we are talking about is a big project and I don't like the fact that CPS has attempted to speed this up by asking parents to waive their presence at an actual IEP meeting based on a draft proposal. But given the scope of the problem I understand why CPS went this route, but I have recommended parents never waive their right to be present at the meeting or agree to a non-finalized draft they are sent.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Thank you Rod.

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Rod, have you seen the real fiscal books? Be honest Rod, have you done a forensic account of the books?

  • In reply to district299reader:

    What are you talking about "fiscal books", "forensic account"... do you mean "forensic audit"? What interest do you have in defending the indefensible actions of CPS. Be honest.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    The only legal entity that would have the authority to order an outside forensic audit of CPS would be ISBE or the Illinois General Assembly. It is has never been done in the history of CPS, on an annual basis CPS has a standard audit as do all school districts. But a forensic audit at the level conducted by the FBI for example would be very costly and ISBE does not have the resources to conduct an audit at that scale without additional funding from the General Assembly which is not likely. I was involved as a consultant in part of an FBI audit of tribal funds that was conducted for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, my part dealt with special education expenditures. My guess is the cost was massive, it included even examining actual copies of receipts for forgery, following money transfers, tribal officers were questioned by FBI agents and not telling the truth to an agent is a felony under law, and on and on. The process did result in people going to jail however.

    The real question is what would such an audit for CPS likely disclose and what would be the likely results of such an audit for children. I believe such a detailed audit covering let's say six years would possibly show that CPS paid far too much for services (including in the financial area) and goods from minority set aside contractors. The howling from the media for the complete elimination of these set aside contracts would probably result in more business going to larger non-minority owned entities. It might well reveal even greater problems related to former Board President Scott than we know of now.

    Such a detailed audit might also show patterns of misuse of extended day payments to core groups of teachers in certain schools for trainings and other such things. The audit would likely show a history of pay bumps in the last three years of employment for many central office administrators prior to retirement. Assuming the detailed audit got into payments related to alternative schools I suspect the audit would discover that CPS has paid for years for students who have rarely if ever shown up at school. I suspect there would also be findings in construction projects and in some special education expenditures. If the audit extended to charter schools I really have no idea what would or would not be found. I do doubt we would find any thing equal to what took place in Dixon Illinois where one city officer ripped off $52 million over 20 years.

    What would the result be assuming the findings were in the millions on average per year? Basically a cut in the funding to CPS from the state. I would suspect down state and suburban legislators would want to cut some percentage of the funds that any detailed multi year audit might disclose. I doubt that the findings would be so significant as to be able to fix major short falls CPS is experiencing. But in my opinion at this point in time, because of the fiscal crisis of our state, a forensic audit of CPS would not cause more money to go to educating children. That also does not mean corruption if it exists should be ignored.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Ha! Rod just laid out many routes to a Pulitzer for some investigative reporter. But, I wouldn't hold my breath.

  • Oh joy!! JC Jr.? Alex- Please keep us abreast of this situation- what could be more interesting than the status of the Brizard brood?

  • According to principals I have interviewed, the "freedom" of ways they can spend money is a lie! Principals can ask their LSC to move funds. Is there more money? Hell NO! Brizard cut the crap!

  • I talked to a few principals since my kids span in ages and schools and the principals seemed satisfied with the budgets. I even sensed relief and dare I say pleasantly surprised. Maybe depending on what your school has, depends on what you would consider freedom.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Let me guess, D299Reader, you live on the northside somewhere between river north and ravenswood or you work for Becky Carroll and you are trying to spin this crap. Budgets are bad everywhere except in the land of selective enrollment. Man, it is good to be an empowered parent. Feels like there are two budgets for schools; one in the Mayor's base (white northsiders) and one for the general population of the city. Everyone of the south and west sides need to stand up against this apartheid.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Did those few principals of 'special' schools report to you that they got an extra $150K OFF the backs of the high poverty and minority neighborhood schools? Enjoy your blood money. Yup!

  • Headache299
    How to kill a strike vote 101 – make a minimum of 25% of teachers feel secure.

  • I think the best way to refute Bizzard's PR chant is to allow the community to spend of few days in the neighborhood schools while they are in a regular school day. Let them see the crumbling buildings, the over crowded classes, the broken technology, the behaviors that are 'acceptable'. Let them see the caring, educated, committed teachers at work. Let them see the truth!

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