Parent Smearing

Rebeca Nieves, of DFER, took to the pages of Catalyst to assert that parents have much in common whether they advocate for better neighborhood schools or better options including charters and other types of schools (Real parents have been standing up).  This being the Internet, however, commenters don't want to talk about that. Instead they want to try and discredit DFER and raise the issue of phone calls made in favor of resolving the strike.  This is basically an attempt to shout down the opposition -- a strategy used too much online these days which may be effective in the short term but is alienating and self-defeating in the long run.

According to some of the commenters, DFER got home and phone numbers they weren't supposed to have, and worked with a group (Power of Parents) that is closely affiliated with CPS.  They also have questions about Nieves' description of her kids' schooling options.

Here's what I know:

People get calls at home and increasingly via cell phone all the time, not always ones they welcome or that come from down the street.  My mom is making calls for Obama to battleground states.

Yes, Power of Parents does appear to connected to CPS and City Hall, but then again pretty much every person and group in town -- PURE, Mike Klonsky, etc. -- has taken money or worked with city agencies at some point in the past.

It's a slippery slope.  There are lots of easy and mostly inconsequential connections that can be made.  If someone wanted to find connections between Illinois Raise Your Hand and its leaders and city agencies, the teachers union, or other outfits I'm sure they could.  If someone wanted to find out about union phone banking and other forms of outreach to parents and community members, it wouldn't be hard.

That won't stop the conspiracy theories and angry comments, however.  Of the nearly 90 so far the only one I found that highlighted the destructiveness of the discourse was this one:

"I don't know anything about phone numbers, but my bigger thing is everytime anyone talks about education, or slightly disagrees with the status quo, or is ok with quality schools no matter what kind of school they are - people get aaaangry. Chill out everyone. Seriously. What kind of example are we setting for our kids when we can't listen, communicate or even disagree respectfully. Get it together. So many parents stay silent because they don't want to put themselves in the middle of all the yelling. I don't blame them."

Parents are parents, and parents who choose charters or want more of them aren't disqualified by that choice.  They're just making a different choice from you.  Nor are parents who want to improve neighborhood schools, etc.  Some will make informed decisions, others won't.  Some will be easily manipulated by what people tell them, etc.  Again, still parents.



Leave a comment
  • From the headline I thought you meant something different (such as an "educational consultant" who said that the problem was student didn't get breakfast because mommy was in prison, but didn't have a cure for that)...

    ...But to get to the point of your piece, it is hard to tell who is haranging whom, especially when some education PAC is running messages during the strike, and then when the strike is suspended, Emanuel shows up on their commercials.

    Then you have a link to a former Daley Press Secretary holding an "education" summit featuring Al Sharpton and Judge Hatchett? Is Ron Hubeman next going to organize a conference starring Jerry Springer on "how parents can keep your children off my show"?

  • "If someone..."?

    How about you? I'm sure Chicagoans would welcome some accurate, complete, in-depth and insightful reporting on this.

    Rather, you are being dismissive and dilettante.

  • Rebeca Nieves Huffman, opinion piece in Catalyst clearly set off a storm. The last count was 93 posts and I suspect more to come. Many of the posts are very factual and are nowhere near what Alexander calls "basically an attempt to shout down the opposition." My impression is that what set off the rage was Ms. Huffman's full court press against Wendy Katten’s October 1, 2012 commentary on Catalyst that included Ms. Huffman's attempt to establish herself as a legitimate CPS parent.

    Wendy didn't hold back too many punches in her commentary and there is nothing in Ms. Huffman's response piece that discredited Wendy's original claims made against DFER as being heavily funded by hedge-fund managers and charter school operators in New York City. Nor for that matter does Alexander dispute that claim.

    Some of the statements made by Ms. Huffman in relation to the unnamed Beverly elementary school her children would be required to attend based on attendance boundaries also set off a firestorm, especially the comment from a neighbor who taught at the school and did not recommend Ms. Huffman send her children there.

    I don't doubt that Ms. Huffman did get such a comment from a teacher, in fact I experienced exactly the same thing many years ago when my youngest disabled daughter was going to kindergarten. Unlike Ms. Huffman I will disclose the name of the school, because we are now talking about 20 years ago, it was Trumbull Elementary School. At that time I was still a CPS teacher and two members of my daughter's team that evaluated her strongly recommended privately to me that she not attend because the school because it was simply overwhelmed and overcrowded.

    Back then the school had more than 700 students today it has around 460 students or about 34% fewer students than back then. The ELL percentage has also dropped since then. Trumbull was so overcrowded that when my daughter was just 5 years old her initial CPS psychological evaluation was conducted in a third floor teachers bathroom, because there were no other quiet places in the building. My daughter ended up at Hanson Park many miles away. So I think some of the rage and unbelief expressed by commenter's in relation to a CPS teacher advising a parent not to send her child to a school they work at really seems disingenuous.

    But the real rage against Ms. Huffman comes in relationship to the funders and the interrelationships that DFER has with educational reform groups that are pushing a market driven strategy for transforming public education. The money and power behind this movement especially its dynamic relationship with Mayor Emanuel and links to some charter schools along with market driven reform groups (Ms. Huffman was at one point the Associate Director of Recruitment and Selection for the KIPP Foundation, and her husband Craig Huffman serves on the boards of the Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL) and the Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship) really set off this posting rage.

    As a current member of the Catalyst Editorial Board I totally support the idea that Catalyst provided space for Ms. Huffman to express her perspectives. I do not agree that her comments should have been editorially reviewed or fact checked by Catalyst as some the 90 plus posters over at the Catalyst site stated. Clearly the posters in opposition to Ms. Huffman's opinion piece sufficiently examined all of those issues.

    I do wish that Ms. Huffman and for that matter Alexander would be more forthcoming about the ideological underpinnings for market driven school reform. As I have stated several times I have found Mr. Rauner's openness in relation to stating his deep belief in market driven reform to be refreshing. I don't share those perspectives at all, but with Mr. Rauner you have no doubt where he is coming from, Ms Huffman is clearly more slippery in that regard. By the way you don't have to be an anti-capitalist Marxist to be opposed to market based educational reform, you just have to accept that the public sector does not operate in the same world as do competitive companies and making endless analogies to those companies is in many ways both silly and dangerous.

    Richard A. D'Aveni who is Professor of Strategy at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College is the author of "Strategic Capitalism: The New Economic Strategy for Winning the Capitalist Cold War" where he questions whether the current US ideological obsession with laissez-faire capitalism can survive our growing conflict with the Chinese state capitalist system.

    He calls for a dynamic reformulation of the capitalist system and that the public sector remain public. Public education will not be fixed, where it needs to be fixed which is not for middle class and higher income students who are doing just fine academically, by having every school fight within a market structure for students. It's a charade because the schools in poverty stricken communities simply will not be given the resources middle class public schools will have over the long run unless we begin the think the way Ms. Katten is currently. Ms. Katten asks that Ms. Huffman and DFER work to rid our state of our flat income tax which is so directly associated with our huge dependence on property taxes to fund our public schools.

    I would be shocked if Ms. Huffman will accept her offer, but stranger things have happened.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    I don't think the commentors there had a problem with a teacher warning a family away from a school. They seemed to be tired of the false pretenses of people like the ERN lady. Barnard is all black. Perhaps the lady sought a racially diverse school.

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    I see... so opposition to charter schools is non-ideological, but support for charter schools necessarily is ideological. And all of us who think that charters are a decent complement to the public school system should just be upfront that we worship Adam Smith and Bruce Rauner and fervently aspire to implement the shock doctrine. We're simply ideological, not pragmatic about some of the obvious limitations of state monopoly control, the fact that bureaucracies tend to be procedurally driven, not quality driven, or can be hamstrung by politics, etc etc etc.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    In relation to this comment: "I see... so opposition to charter schools is non-ideological, but support for charter schools necessarily is ideological. And all of us who think that charters are a decent complement to the public school system should just be upfront that we worship Adam Smith and Bruce Rauner and fervently aspire to implement the shock doctrine."

    I did not write that every supporter of charter schools supports neo-conservative ideology. In fact I would suggest that both the former leader of the American Federation of Teachers Al Shanker and Karl Marx supported the idea of forms of public education supported by state funding, but not under the direct control of the state. Marx actually supported schools for poor and working class children run by cooperatives that were paid for the rich via taxes until the rich were thrown out of power.

    But once one draws the threads together for DFER's agenda it is not difficult to find the direct links to neo-conservative ideologs like Mr. Rauner.

    I know for a fact that there are actual operators of charter schools who do not support Mr. Rauner's perspectives, nor are they totally opposed to having unionized teachers working in charters if their contracts are not what they would call highly restrictive. But they have remained completely silent in relation to the ideological war being waged by Mr. Rauner and Mr. Rangel against CTU organized teachers which is linked by them directly to the charter school movement. (Mr. Rauner comments are well know. Mr. Rangel perspectives on this issue were publicly stated at the City Club of Chicago on August 29, 2012.)

    None of these charter operators are willing to take public exception to these neo-conservatives because there could be direct consequences to their charter operations in relation to grants from more conservative funders like the Walton Family Foundation, etc.

    I would also say that I never said that opposition to charters isn't in many cases ideologically based. I am agnostic myself about charter schools in general, but I have great reservations about their long term fiscal viability because they lack taxing power in Illinois and elsewhere. So they will be used in the context of the current fiscal crisis of our state to save money. As some of you may know, apparently not district299reader, I have consistently argued that charters in Chicago should legally constitute their own seperate school district with proportional access to tax property tax reciepts (I wrote an opinion piece to that issue in Catalyst). I and Access Living the agency I work for also supported the provision of the Gates Compact that provided charters more funding per special education teacher because we recongized they were underfunded in that regard.

    At least even if you disagree with me give me credit for a little more nuanced position than you have attributed to me.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    It's also worth remembering that neo-conservativism began as an intellectual movement that used Marxist tactics to attack the perceived ideological descendants of Marxism. I wouldn't be surprised to find out that at some point Rauner was a Marxist. He certainly has some of the peculiar habits of speech and mind that uniquely characterize Marxists.

    For instance, and perhaps most notably, this comes out when he talks about about the "good teachers" and the parents who support the union. He explains away this support using what amounts to an argument of "false consciousness". False consciousness was Marx's way of explaining why the working class did not see its interest tied to the Communist Revolution. They, were, in a word, deceived by crafty capitalists. Ultimately, the condescension of this way of thinking FOR workers and assuming they were too blind or too stupid (or both) to see their own interest never gave way to genuine political power for workers. Communist regimes have all been characterized by massive propaganda efforts by intellectuals and politicians to make up convenient lies about the thinking and the true interests of the vaunted working class.

    With eerie similarity, Rauner sees the crafty demons in the union as responsible for the fact that so many "good" teachers and "real" parents don't agree with him. Once a Marxist, always a Marxist.

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    hmm... I still don't think you deserve as much credit as you ask for. You pretty clearly called on Alexander to highlight the ideological underpinnings of charter advocacy, as if charter support comes from one ideologically monolithic effort. And you demand this ideological outing of the charter movement at the same time you asked for a more nuanced perspective of charter opponents... i.e. that charter opposition is not ideologically motivated by knee-jerk marxism. I'd say your attack on people like Ruaner, DFER, and Rangel is fairly ideologically motivated.

    Whether you agree with Mr Rangel's position on the CTU, you can't argue with the fact that thousands of Chicago families prefer UNO and other charter schools to their neighborhood schools. You can't argue that these families are being forced into these schools or that they're being bamboozled (unless you want to insult the intelligence of minority families which make up nearly 100% of charter enrollments in Chicago). These aren't the ground troops of some neoliberal or neoconservative (or whatever the epithet du jour is) army. They're discontented families who want something different for their kids. I don't think that either Rauner, RNH, or Rangel would necessarily suggest that charters entirely replace traditional public schools (though I am less sure of Rauner - but it would be to his own discredit if he has). And noting only their outspoken opposition to the CTU when CTU has made abolishing charters one of its main talking points begs questions as to your own impartiality. How about the dozens of interviews Karen Lewis and her ilk have given where they indiscriminately attacked charters as some kind of neo-liberal deform effort? Would DFER or UNO or other charter advocates be so outspoken if CTU hadn't made clear their indiscriminate opposition to charters from the beginning?

    But I'm glad you're supporting better special ed funding for charters and more reliable funding in general. They get too little credit for their work in this area. But these disclaimers seem only to paper over your less than charitable assessments of their backers and the people who run them. So apologies, but I stand by my response to your initial comment.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Regarding this comment: "Would DFER or UNO or other charter advocates be so outspoken if CTU hadn't made clear their indiscriminate opposition to charters from the beginning?" The CTU has been dealing with the charter school issue under now I think four different leadership groups.

    The current CTU position on charter schools in the abstract is unclear to me, but their historic opposition was to the Charter School Act as written not the concept itself. If you go to you can read the offical position of the parent organization(AFT) that the CTU belongs to. Interestingly it starts with this: "The American Federation of Teachers strongly supports charter schools that embody the core values of public education and a democratic society: equal access for all students, especially students with special needs and English language learners; high academic standards; accountability to parents and the public; a commitment to helping all public schools improve; and a commitment to the employees' right to freely choose union representation."

    The Illinois Charter School Act formally violated the ability of charter school employees to belong to the CTU by law. Charter school employees may unionize but they legally are barred from being part of the CTU. This is where the problem began here in Illinois and Chicago.

    The United Federation of Teachers in New York City, operates two charter schools. And in fall 2008, the UFT partnered with charter school operator Green Dot to open a high school in the Bronx. Formally the CTU was once (August 2009) a partner in a charter high school in Chicago. Chicago Talent Development High School (CTDHS). CTU was a integral member of the design team for CTDHS. You can see the proposal by going to

    So to say the CTU has from the begining been opposed to charters is I think over reaching. Clearly the opposition as to how CTU members precieve that charter schools are being used by the Board has grown with time, but to argue that the union was opposed from the begining is not correct.

    What I find interesting is that you apparently are a charter school supporter who does not agree with the neo-conservative supporters of charters that see them as a larger part of a broad agenda relating to inserting various market mechanisms into the public sector. Possibly because of this you are relucant to use your own name in your posts. Is the pressure from the neo-conservatives that great that it causes individuals like you to remain anonymous?

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Tell it like it is Rod! Thank you.

  • fb_avatar

    To dissent--especially to address obvious factual inaccuracies--is not in any way "shouting down"; to attempt to discredit any dissent by implying it is somehow "silencing others" is you, Alexander, attempting to silence those bringing facts to the table.

    If there are parents somewhere that agree with corporate school control and mayoral top-down management, that's awesome. Let them organize from the ground up as Raise Your Hand and any number of community groups have. Let them earn their own media. We should not only welcome that, but recognize that it will enrichen the discussion and lead to better solutions for our schools and communities.

    We should just stop enabling people who set their agenda from the outside and then purchase a platform and voice that agrees with them.

    And you should stop shilling for them.

  • In reply to Xian Barrett:

    I have a hard time believing you would accept any opposition to your point of view as legitimate or anything other than astroturfed. And indeed, if someone--say a blogger--voices an opinion contrary to yours, it is not legitimate or a contribution that "enriches discussion." It is rather "evidence" that this person is shilling for corporate interests and free market ideologues. Or maybe, (as you might condescendingly concede of "real" cps parents) saddled by consciousness.

    Alexander called out your "obvious factual inaccuracies" and all you have is name calling and innuendo to challenge him. I'm calling you out! Consider this my dissent! (but productive dissent. enriching the conversation. not shouting you down.)

  • In reply to district299reader:

    this might be one of the best/funniest comments i've read in a long while -- though funnier i'm sure since it sides with me (i think)

  • leave it to anonymous commenters to respond to a blog post about ill-considered attempts to discredit a group or person with further attempts to discredit.

    [and xian -- no personal attacks against me or anyone else. people don't have to organize the way you want them -- and my pointing that out doesn't deserve your description of shilling. ]

    the claim that ERN is hiding or won't say what it's agenda is seems overblown -- just you just don't agree with it.

    if there weren't parents who weren't satisfied with neighborhood schools, there wound't need to be any charters.

    the notion that CPS was better off before it was under mayoral control, before charters, etc. is the fundamental notion here, but i don't think it's supported by the facts.

  • Alex- You are a BLOGSTER. You can't complain about anonymous comments. They are your bread and butter. Without them your blog is a personal diary.

    Look, you need to do a better job of being a less obvious agitator. It is a fine line, but I think that in your pursuit of website hits you've gone overboard. Dial it back down, trim the beard, and you'll regain some respectability.

    Xian is merely making a distinction between grassroots and astroturf. I know you understand the difference, you little rabblerousin' blogbaby.

    By the way, here is a short list of high schools that were better in 1995 or so before mayoral control: Kennedy, Hubbard, Curie, Bogan, Kelly, Washington, Morgan Park, Taft, Foreman, Steinmetz, Prosser... need I go on? Hell, Fenger was better in 1995 than it is now.

  • Alex: You don't see the Trojan horse, imho. The folks objecting to RNH's column do. And you denigrate them. Wow. Have you become out of touch.

  • Long time reader, first time poster.

    I read the piece in Catalyst (and the 100+ comments), I'm reading this...and I still am amazed at how those who don't agree with Ms. Huffman or her organization call the idea 'shilling' or 'astroturf' or my personal favorite 'plutocrats' (all of which also seem to be applied to any and all organizations or individuals who have the audacity to question the system and be in favor of reform.)

    To me this just feeds into the continued toxic atmosphere that faces most urban education systems across the country. Here's the thing, those who scream 'PLUTOCRAT!!' have a tendency to win the online battle by shutting down those who may be interested in expressing their opinion (because let's face it - who in their right mind would put themselves in the middle of that) but are ultimately losing the education reform 'war'.

    Look around, whether it's elected officials from both parties (including our President), major respected foundations & thought leaders, including forward thinking progressive members of the union and education leaders - they all know we need to do something. We need to talk to each other like adults, treat education like the profession it is, and keep kids at the center of the debate. What we did 50 years ago does not work today. Simple as that.

    I welcome all opinions, and I'm sure this little anonymous post will generate some 'PLUTOCRAT" language, but I would more welcome a debate that recognizes there are opinions out there that are different than some online posters. (P.S. you may ask why I stayed anonymous? Well, let's face it, why would I put my real name out there when many of the screamers will try to track down where my children go to school and question my family's decisions like many threatened Ms. Huffman in the Catalyst post).

    And with that, I bid you a good night.

  • I don't think the comments are shouting down her opinion as much as calling her out as a liar for saying she is a "real CPS parent." It has been pointed out that her children are not even old enough to attend her neighborhood school. Preschool options are limited everywhere, but she will certainly not find one at a charter school. If her children were really enrolled in CPS or even school-aged, she might get taken seriously. But not with a headline promoting herself as a "real" parent.

  • The point of my op-ed was not that Ms. Huffman or anyone else isn't a real parent. My piece was about the role of DFER in education policy. Many parents in RYH who received texts and invites from them had no idea that they are a PAC from NY and not a grass-roots group. They don't share this info.. Power of Parents is CPS, btw, It was a yearly conference started by CPS.. Not sure how you come to the conclusion that this is okay because we live in a world where lots of information is out there and shared. CPS is not giving my group phone lists. At least when the union invites you to something, you know where the invite is coming from..

    Regarding funding, my group doesn't take any money from any city agency, the ctu or any other group that would hold us back from being completely independent in what we say. I kind of take umbrage at your comment that you are sure you could find connections between our group and funding from these sources. We have only received individual donations and are far away from our fundraising goal of $20k for this year. We barely have any money but need some so please send your readers to our website if they'd like to donate -

    I am meeting with Rebeca this week. I plan to ask her more about her group in person because I don't feel the info is out there and people "just don't agree with it."

  • In reply to WendyKatten:

    thanks for the update, wendy, and please let everyone know what you and rebeca figure out.

    yes, please, folks should feel free to fund ILRYH -- and RYH should publish a list of funders and model the transparency that it and others are calling for from DFER and others.

  • In reply to Alexander Russo:

    Thanks, Alex. We don't have any funders. You mean we should publish the list of $10-$50 donations from individuals? Our largest donation this year was $300 from a parent. Maybe I can send you a copy of our bank statement so you can verify.

  • In reply to WendyKatten:

    Alex? Alex??? Wendy called you out. You previously stated you "reported" (blogged) on stories that other media outlets neglected. Publish the findings of her offer and compare this to astroturf organizations. C'mon Beardo, either accept her offer or tap out.

  • In reply to WendyKatten:

    sure -- or just publish it yourself

  • In reply to WendyKatten:

    Your largest donation was not $300 it is actually $500.

  • In reply to gdel:


  • In reply to gdel:

    Sorry, gdel, that donation never came in. A lot of people say they are going to make donations and they don't. For the record, we did get silent auction donations last year for lunches with both Karen Lewis and JC Brizard. And now that I think of that, I better check to see if the person who bid on the JCB lunch ever had it. We are not funded by the ctu. We have less than $10k in our bank account.

  • What group is really being disingenuous? Perhaps it is RYH. This group touts that it has thousands of members in hundreds of schools, but what it really has is a bunch of parent emails. Parent emails from way back when there was a push against budget cuts. So many parents do not agree with what this group is pushing. I do not know one parent who advocates for ryh among their school parents. Time to be honest and stop lying RYH. It is a group that has an agenda based on a very few individuals opinions and a bias facebook page. The rants on the website show the only thing the decision makers of the group have in common are being pro union and anti charter. Fits with their agenda.

    Started out well intended, but not worth the amount of press attention they get.

    Who really cares if someone contacted parents from CPS who were fed up with the strike come the 6th full school day? The reality is that most CPS parents work full time and have a lot of issues to deal with. Not stay at home mom with too much time on her hands and a bee in her bonnet about Rahm.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    I have to say that I find the phone calls very disturbing and am quite confused as to why I received them. I work in education, but do not, nor have I ever had a child attending a CPS school. I received calls from this group on my home phone (which I do not use for work purposes). I think a little transparency around where they got the list of phone numbers is definitely in order. Whether you are pro or con-charters, I find it completely disingenuous that these organizations hide behind names like DFER that mask their real agenda. Come on, just be transparent and make your case in a straight-forward manner.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    it's mystifying to me that folks are so outraged about phone calls and texts -- i get them all the time, from people who want to sell me things, associations, etc. -- it's nothing new. so that makes me suspicious about the indignation. take the call, don't take the call. respond to the text, delete it. but don't pretend that political and commercial and charitable calls aren't commonplace.

  • In reply to Alexander Russo:

    Let me explain my outrage. Tactics used to deliver emails about Cialis and Viagra should not be used by any reputable for-profit or not-for-profit venture. I take privacy issues personally for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that there is an implicit and enforced code of ethics in not "harvesting" email lists, and abiding by registration on the federal do not call list. I toil at my work nonprofit (and volunteer nonprofit) to build community through touchpoints with advocates, one of which is an email list. If my bounce rate, unsubscribe rate, complaint rate, etc. is even marginally out of line with industry standards (generally under 1%), we will get blacklisted or blocklisted. DFER's director of national strategy, Myles Mendoza, built his own delivery system ( which seems to avoid this oversight, and it was used by ERN to reach out to CPS parents citywide under the aegis of "Power of Parents." As well, the email message lacked transparency; the only way you'd know it was ERN was from scrutinizing the Opt Out.

    As a longtime LSC member, several years ago I asked the Office of LSC Relations if I could have access to the LSC email list to build community and conversation across schools. Each school succeeds or struggles in their own silo, and there's no mechanism for site-based leadership teams to collectively problem solve, share strategies or organize. I was told CPS does not permit me access to this information. I tried again during the budget cuts in the Huberman era. No dice.

    So when I read blog comments from ERN's Policy Director and ink in the Tribune that ERN is "working with a parent group" called Power of Parents, this incenses me because it's simply not true. First of all, there's no real people that have been working on Power of Parents for three years. This is a bread and circus puppet show! The Power of Parents was a CPS board initiative started by the late Michael Scott which ran an annual conference from 2003 to 2009. Beyond the conference Power of Parents had no other activities. CPS let DFER/ERN dust this brand identity off the shelf, co-opt it and pretend it is a genuine parent group. How on earth would a CPS conference initiative that has had no activity for three years have an up-to-date email and phone list of CPS parents? CPS only implemented capacity to send districtwide emails and texts in 2012, a move I thought was a communications improvement (until I started receiving so many of them). I was receiving these Tele-town hall and strike update texts from CPS until I opted out on Sept. 11. While I received an email from Power of Parents on Sept. 14, I was not among those that received a text for the Sept 18 rally. From this I am left to infer that ERN had access to a curiously up-to-date CPS phone list.

    Overall I am dismayed that it would appear so much time, money and effort is being spent trying to spin public opinion than to problem solve and convene thoughtful conversations about really hard, tricky, systemic issues in society and education policy. In the first week of school, we had a barrage of "Mission Accomplished" p.r. re: longer school day. During the strike, CPS invited in mommy bloggers who are not CPS parents (and one who even goes as far to turn up her nose at Ogden, her neighborhood school) to amplify anti-strike talking points. Anything more nuanced, like this example of an RYH post tends to fall by the wayside:

    I generally don't cotton to conspiracy theories and I'm not against sharing good news. I think it's great that the Board now has visiting hours. I can't wait to hear what's to come of that, and that there's a survey about the guidelines for school actions. I try to be glass half full, especially when there's so much at stake. But please, for goodness gracious, stop peeing down my back and telling me it's raining.

  • In reply to jillw:

    I'm not going to comment on you sharing your proclivity for golden showers, but will call you out on what has to a strong naiveté on how robo calls happen. Alexander is right you all are angry about calls but fail to acknowledge this sort of thing happens all the time because of political lists which by the way Catalyst reported is where the first calls came from (

    As for POP, yeah I attended the rally because got a text message and talked to parents there who like me were contacted by other groups who have worked with Dez Tate (head of POP) in the past. It's so arrogant and paternalistic that because people don't agree with your position they must be paid, misinformed, out to make money or any other negative stuff you all make up. Are any of you all stuck in any of these crappy schools? Do any of you have to see your kid fall behind every year while folks just argue "stick it out, work on the school, hang in there one more year"? HELL NO! So don't tell me and others like me we're bad people because we put our kids futures first!

  • In reply to SouthernGirl:

    Don't understand what you think I'm saying, so I'll attempt to clarify (sans sexual innuendo). Be clear, I'm not shooting the messenger as much as I am criticizing the message for utter lack of transparency and authenticity.

    Some have pointed out that political emails are exempt from CAN SPAM laws. If that's the case, why was the email I received along with thousands of other parents purporting to be from a "parent group" called Power of Parents and not framed as a political email (or from Education Reform Now)? The knife cuts both ways. It can’t be a political email when we want to evade CAN SPAM laws, and a parent group when we host a media event.

    The email also had erroneous header information and no valid physical postal address. Phone lists can be bought, but it is not kosher to harvest emails.

    I also don’t understand what you’re saying about Dezi. Many people know her firm had a long history of providing many services for parent programs to Chicago Public Schools, including POP ("producing one of the largest and most successful annual parent conferences in the public school system"). I’m not casting aspersions on the initiative. I am saying it was a (emphasis here) Board-led initiative, and CPS has the national accolades to prove it. POP is not a current parent-led initiative, or a "parent group" as reported by the Tribune. The last POP was in 2009. How can a dormant initiative have current parent emails and cell phone numbers unless that information is shared from a more up-to-date source?

    The POP phone number results in a busy signal, and hasn't been in use for three years, according to the phone company. As a CPS parent for a decade, I am tired of being spun. I want meaningful dialogue and investment in all schools, and a space for authentic parent and community engagement. This current public relations campaign does not promote parent engagement. It serves only to amplify a narrow narrative, sow seeds of distrust, and pit people with different ideas and approaches against each other, instead of engaging in anything resembling civil discourse.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    We actually had over 20,000 emails from the Noto37 campaign but we gave people the choice to opt-in to our membership list. We don't claim to speak for every parent but we have surveyed parents on all kinds of issues, including parents at over 200 schools on the longer day issue. We also have held 12 townhall forums in the last two years all over the city. I happen to meet with 10 different parent/community groups a few times a month. We also have a very active FB page and we meet with parents at different schools weekly. I probably get 100-200 emails from different parents every week.

    Sorry, you have no clue what you're talking about.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    ps - what school are you at? I can tell you if I'm in touch with any of the parents at your school. Maybe you can find a way to email me anonymously. And what is it that we have been advocating for that those parents don't want- smaller class sizes, more funding for all schools, increased PE/arts/language? Perhaps an elected school board? I have had some conversations with parents lately from middle class neighborhoods who like the idea of a massive expansion of charters for other kids. When it comes to their own neighborhood schools, not so much. Some parents would flip out if their schools were closed down and the nearest neighborhood choice was 22 blocks away as has happened in other parts of the city, even if they aren't utilizing those schools presently. I think some parents are uncomfortable with us taking on issues that they can't relate to or might not impact them personally - and that is okay.

  • In reply to WendyKatten:

    19th ward currently has no charter and if memory serves, the alderman stated that he will work to see that this does not change. Madame DFER chose this area for great public schools. Dismayed to find out attendance areas change. Where is the dismay when board policies create environments that as you have stated give public choice 22 blocks from home? Thank you and the work of Raise Your Hand for bringing information and for your fight for fair funding and equitable distribution of resources.

  • In reply to WendyKatten:

    I do not need the likes of you 2 inform me of what is happening with parents in my school. There is no parent support for ryh at my school and many others. RYH has become like "the cheese touch" from wimpy kid. Little trust of your predictible anti charter pro union agenda.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    When you publish your name or your school I'll believe you. I am in touch with parents from more schools than ever. We don't claim to speak for all parents -in any way - but our membership is more active than ever. Do you think 5 of us got the elected school board referendum on the ballot in 327 precincts on our own? Why would you claim to have any idea how we operate or that we are lying? We had parents working in 15 wards this summer just from RYH. Sorry you don't like what we are working on. No issue with that, but don't claim to know how active we are - to me you are some anonymous person who doesn't even have the courage to print your name.

  • In reply to WendyKatten:

    Another question I have - what would you be advocating for if you had a parent advocacy group? RYH spent the year advocating for more resources for the longer day b/c we felt the current day was not staffed properly as did the parents we surveyed and corresponded with at over 200 schools. We went to almost every Board meeting to ask for more positions in art, music, PE, etc from as early as October 2011. Do the parents you know not want the extra position each school received?

  • In reply to district299reader:

    On the website, do you mean "rants" like this:

    They don't have an anti charter or pro union stance, but that is a convenient way to try to marginalize public sentiment and pigeonhole people who are working with parents across the city and sharing ideas about equity that you don't have the time or the inclination to unpack.

  • Madame DFER--since you do not want to go to your east beverly neighborhood school, why don't you apply, when you children are old enough, to the charter school on 95th, Longwood Academy? It is not far from home at all. Bet you don't.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Thank you district299reader, I should have specified that there is no charter resulting from a turn-around or closing of a CPS neighborhood school. International Charter at the Longwood Campus building was not a CPS school but rather was previously owned and operated by the Archdiocese.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    She could send them up to Lab.

  • "If someone wanted to find connections between Illinois Raise Your Hand and its leaders and city agencies, the teachers union, or other outfits I'm sure they could." Please do and then let us know if you find any.
    It is really disconcerting when people like you make such cynical comments about groups like RYH without any proof. There are a lot of advocacy groups out there with limited financial resources but what keeps them going is the support from people. And this support is loud and can be abrasive sometimes but believe me, they are real. We are the ones who have to live with the consequences of all this reform, we are the ones who feel violated when our privacy and trust is broken by CPS. They gave our contact info to a group simply because DFER supports the Mayor’s agenda.

    So let’s get it right, it’s not the calls or the texts that are annoying people. It’s the violation of privacy and trust by the people who are suppose to look out for our kids.

  • Here's the problem with the "phone call" I received during the strike. Though I'm a CPS teacher, I'm also a parent so I was lucky enough to make the list. The problem was (and I'm going to be totally blunt) that the call was completely and totally full of shit.

    It was posed as a "tele town hall" call. A bunch of parents spoke and were expressing their concern over the strike. If you wanted to "ask a question" you had to punch a certain number--they mentioned that once. But if you wanted to tell CTU to end the strike you had to push 1--they mentioned that more than a half dozen times. Of course the entire "tele town hall" was a Romneyesque sham. It was all prerecorded, there was no tele town hall, there was only this prerecorded bullshit that was being shoveled into my face.

    See, that's the problem with these groups. They don't know the truth. In fact I remember seeing Huffman on NBC as a "parent" protesting the strike--seriously. I mean, it might as well have been Rahm himself. He's technically a parent, right. Sure--not CPS, but a parent.

    So, it wasn't the phone call, it was the lie. The stupid, idiotic propaganda disguised as something else. They didn't want to present it as what it was, it was better to do it Romneystyle and just present it as something else...I'm done venting....

  • Thanks, loserboy. The lie is insulting and dangerous.

  • Looks like I am not the only one who is appalled by spam emails and texts from mysterious front organizations, while others claim they are a minor nuisance or even free speech:

    In the article it mentions that the FCC issued an advisory that enforcement will be more strict:

    Read the PDF and you'll see "Prerecorded voice messages and autodialed calls (including autodialed live calls, prerecorded or artificial voice messages, and text messages) to cell phones and other mobile services such as paging systems are prohibited." (unless it's an emergency call or prior consent given).

Leave a comment