Empty Accusation From PURE

I'm not among those who've always questioned PURE's credibility, but incidents like this make it harder to take the organization seriously.  Yesterday, PURE accused CPS and DFER of illegally sharing phone numbers (CPS “shares” parent phone numbers in anti-CTU propaganda campaign). But there's no evidence presented that this actually took place.  According to CPS, there was no sharing of phone numbers.  According to DFER IL, the organization bought the phone numbers from a Democratic party organization just like everyone else who wants to make robocalls (political candidates, unions).  Unless there's evidence to the contrary....


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  • woestehoff and klonsky are complaining about the robocalls over on facebook but still don't have any evidence of wrongdoing, far as i can see.

    it's not like robocalls are new, or nefarious in and of themselves. they've been around for years.

    it's not like CTU couldn't have run ads or robocalls if it had wanted to.

    there's no evidence that CPS gave them the numbers, just empty allegations.

    that is all.

  • In reply to Alexander Russo:

    Glad to see that Russo is finally upholding journalistic ethics... as applied to others. Next step: apply to self.

  • In reply to Alexander Russo:

    Media Scab of the Month award goes to Alexander Russo


  • In reply to district299reader:

    george schmidt angrily defending julie woestehoff and mike klonsky -- if that isn't hitting the trifecta, i don't know what is:

    "During the past two weeks, no other media person tried more pantingly to undermine the Chicago Teachers Union's strike authorization vote than Alexander Russo of the Tribune's blog, District299.com."

    as for the substance: there's still no actual evidence that's been presented that CPS gave DFER the phone numbers, so it's still an empty allegation.

  • In reply to Alexander Russo:

    Possibly, no hard evidence as of yet – but you could very easily open a majority of your featured articles with headings such as, “Empty Accusations from Brizard”, “Empty policy mandates from CPS”, “Empty School Libraries”, “Empty editorials ordered by Sam Zell”, but then, the part of the check that normally reads, “Pay to the order of” might have printed someone else’s name

  • In reply to Alexander Russo:

    George is a bit kooky, but c'mon Alex you have really been in the bag for the reformers as of late. Rather than make lazy attempts to defend the indefensible, you've instead attack CTU and it's supporters with blatant and suggestive posts. I used to support you more, but you're becoming too obvious.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    part of what's going on here is that the claims being made are increasingly turning out to be wrong -- the charter school closing because of unionization (didn't happen), the communications office hiring spree (wrong, or at least refuted), the supposedly hush hush wigler banishment (photographed and publicized by substance and for a time on the CTU website), the notion that CTU doesn't have money to compete with reformers (ridiculous).

    CPS critics are throwing out so much crap that's not panning out.

    people like me are sick of it -- just as we're sick of made-up crap from CPS -- and we're saying so. or at least i am.

    give it a few days, and i'm sure city hall or the board will do something ridiculous and it'll be their turn.

  • In reply to Alexander Russo:

    Alex, who in CPS Leadership is recognized by world class standards as being exemplary in authentic school reform. Alex please don't confuse deformer corporate reform with real reform. Alex, I hope you know the difference! As I read your comments, I think you are losing it!

  • In reply to Alexander Russo:

    You seemed to have missed this article by Ben Joravsky

    “Cut pay, hike hours, keep class size large, offer no music, drama, or art, and dole out millions and millions of dollars to the mayor’s nonunion charter school cronies—all in the name of the kids.”


  • Really?? You know good and well that CPS sold those email addresses. And yes Robocalls have been around for ever but who benefits most by this act of covert bullying?? CPS. I received my first email for Andy Shaw's group today and I'm furious!! I hope someone with real journalistic talent investigates this to the fullest. Antics like this will only increase CTU support. Didn't CPS learn anything yesterday with the 89.7% vote?? Brizzard sent out emails on a daily basis prior to the vote and that only fueled the fire. I just changed my email address and I'm going to encourage everyone else to do so.

  • In reply to SickandTired:

    I can not agree more with your comment regarding real journalistic talent to investigate. DFER who is responsible for a number of robocalls, reads like a whose who of charter school groups and private equity. I have not found an honest investigative appraisal of what is really occurring. I would challenge the likes of Catalyst and others who deem themselves as "independents" to do the research.

  • Not 89.7%, but 98%. In a democracy those who do not vote are not counted, otherwise Emanuel would have only gained 25% of Chicago votes in 2011.

  • Robo alls don't get me started, how much do they cost per full round of employees? I have been getting on average 1-2 per week from CPS for weeks. The day before the vote I got a call advising me to read the email sent to me by Brizzard on the subject of the vote. The day after the vote I got a message from HR to update all my contact information. This is beginning to feel like harrassment....

  • So, this list of contact info contained only teacher names and phone numbers? What Democratic party organizers have lists full of only teachers?

    Every teacher in my building received robo calls. I have yet to hear of anyone outside the Union receiving these calls.

    Those Democratic party organizers must have a very specific, very impressive list to reach huge numbers of teachers and only teachers. Either that, or it's all just a coincidence, right?

  • In reply to district299reader:

    I think you're confusing the numerous robo calls CPS used to tell teachers to check their e-mail for a message from the CEO with the robo calls parents received from DFER.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    I am a CPS teacher. I have not been a CPS parent since my child graduated from high school in 2004. I received BOTH calls - the one about the e-mail from Brizard and the one from DFER directed at parents. Still wondering how DFER had my phone number...

  • DFER's website is a laundry list of charter school advocates and private equity fund managers...really? they are concerned about an authorize strike vote or are they more concerned with helping to create the image that cps teachers are money grubbers and that real reform is happening in chi-town? Again, Jonah and his "boys" attempted to limit CPS strike ability by raising the bar to 75% and then BOASTED about this (while being filmed) and yet we still managed 98% who voted to say "thanks, but no thanks"... ugh, the oligarchs are pissed.Anyone know his address? I'll send him flowers and a condolence card.

  • Big Money Venture Capitalists = Crooks, buying off Democrats and Republicans to follow their privatization agenda by changing laws in their . This is a business plan to get our tax money into their pockets. Corporate Welfare! No Education plan! A Corporate Bum Rush for your Tax Dollars!

  • In reply to district299reader:

    As Gary Rubinstein, yesterday points out, “The corporate reformers are backed by billionaires and the opposition has free Twitter accounts, some of us with dial-up connections.”

    From Wendy at Dartmouth: Builders vs. Haters


  • i'm turning comment moderation on so that we don't have too many personal attacks (on me or on others) overnight.

    remember, personal attacks, racist or inflammatory language, will get you blocked and eventually banned.

    don't worry, you can still comment. your comment will appear in the morning.

  • CPS's list of parent phone numbers is not very accurate. Perhaps one in 3 numbers is correct. Many are disconnected.

  • While I haven't done a thorough investigation, I don't know anyone who is not a CPS parent who received the DFER robocalls. Phone lists are available, but I don't think they segment by who has children enrolled in public school.

    So no hard evidence, but coincidink? Methinks not.

  • In reply to jildo:

    I spoke with three teachers who are also CPS parents- all received the call. Every teacher like myself without kids or with children who are too young to have yet attended school did not receive the call.

    Hey Alex, you are a journalist, right? How about an investigation?

  • I am a former CPS teacher with a child who went to a CPS elementary. Our short experience with this district convinced me and my family that CPS is a very diseased organization that is incapable and unwilling to provide a proper education for our child who now attends a private school at great expense to us. We received robocalls, just as we still receive the district announcements even though we have left the district. The administration is apparently so incompetent that our name has still not been removed from the CPS phone list.

    I can see that Russo is clearly operating with an agenda now, this site no longer provides an "inside scoop" on anything except the rhetoric preferred by the mayor and his lockstep Board of self-interested friends and charter school purveyors. The posts and many of the comments are nothing but provocation and nonsense. Chicago parents deserve an independently elected board, and this blog has truly ceased being relevant or informative.

  • This used to be my favorite site for updates on school issues. Initially I thought it was unbiased. I have taken this site off my "top sites" list and replaced it with CPSObsessed.com. This site simply doesn't get it.

  • Mr. Russo,

    I don't think you understand that depth of the problem here in Chicago with Robo calls from outside organizations immediately before our strike vote, and with incessant paid media attacks on the Union and simultaneous praise of privatization efforts. Mr. Schmidt has said you live in Brooklyn, which, if true, does seem to leave you a bit out of the local loop, which may explain your rather myopic viewpoint that suggests a "See No Evil" (relative to outside groups) perspective. Both PURE and Mike Klonsky work locally, and by no means profit largely from their positions. In fact, I would argue, they are financially impaired by their courageous integrity. It's seems, on the surface, that your "SCAB of the month" award is well deserved.

  • I thought Alexander's phrasing was pointlessly over the top, PURE however may have over reached in its initial statement. If CPS directly provided these phone numbers to Ed Reform Now, a group tightly connected to Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) if not an actual front group for it, it would likely have been a direct violation of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99). The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.

    Schools may disclose, without consent, "directory" information such as a student's name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, honors and awards, and dates of attendance. However, schools must tell parents and eligible students about directory information and allow parents and eligible students a reasonable amount of time to request that the school not disclose directory information about them. Clearly this was not done in the case of Ed Reform Now. Mr. Rocks the current CPS General Counsel would have been required to be involved in any such information transfer and he is too good of a lawyer to agree in any way that these family phone numbers be passed on covertly to Ed Reform Now. If this type of action was taken by any CPS officials without Law Department authorization it would clearly be the basis for either a federal investigation or at least one by the CPS Inspector General.

    So I believe it is completely possible CPS had nothing directly to do with the release of these phone numbers. More than likely, the data base for the calls was created by using complex data base search software. There are many companies that will do this, they purchase existing data bases, and search for specific information like an address in Chicago and school aged children in the household. Some of this information may be old and it explains why some people without school aged children were called for example.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    My children never attended CPS and they are in their late 30s. I have moved and changed phone numbers since I became employed by CPS almost twenty years ago. Therefore, your argument that "the information may be old" and that is how this organization got my phone number is not valid in my opinion. It is clear to me that CPS released this information. The robocalls from this group began as things heated up between the union and CPS. I hope there will be an investigation into how this organization received the phone numbers of CPS employees and someone will be held accountable for breaking the law.

  • Actually--you made Rod's point. Read it through before you comment.

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