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Welcome Back!

Welcome back! Happy Monday.  Today's news includes some items I tweeted out over the weekend (like Zorn's reality check) and some new items (like the state's UNO investigation).

CLOSINGS

School-closings controversy needs some reality checks Tribune (Zorn): Let's also pretend lobbing accusations of racism is an effective negotiating gambit and a good lever to pull if you want to move public opinion toward your side.

Numbers game? Cops, union wrong on school-closing protest crowd Sun Times: Chicago Police said between 700 and 900 marchers turned up in the Loop Wednesday to protest looming school closings. But a Chicago Sun-Times analysis of a photo taken of Daley Plaza — where protesters first gathered — pegged the number at 2,750 people. The teachers union vastly overestimated the crowd, saying 6,500 protesters showed up.

CTU Prez Said She Won't Be Fooled by CPS Closures NBC Chicago (blog): Rahm Expresses "Absolute Confidence" in CPS CEO. Mayor says Barbara Byrd-Bennett has the toughness, sensitivity and good ideas to turn CPS around and to lead through the school closings process.

Sound and fury: Will they still be angry in two years? Medill Reports: Chicago: An emailed statement from the district, credited to CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett, addressed the right to free speech: “I fully support the rights of individuals to express their opinion and, as a former teacher and principal who has lived through school ...

Chicago school closings ignite furor and fears USA TODAY: Demonstrators protest March 27 against a plan to close 54 public schools in Chicago. Mayor Rahm Emanuel and schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett say closing underutilized buildings will allow the district to move students to higher quality schools and help ...

School-Closing List Still in Flux, But Now in Board's Hands, CPS Chief Says
DNAinfo: "I fully support the rights of all the individuals to express their opinions," CPS Chief Executive Officer Barbara Byrd-Bennett said in an interview with DNAinfo.com Chicago Wednesday afternoon. "It's much like I did in my youth. I supported the civil ...

CITY HALL

Mayor sits pretty for re-election bid Chicago Sun-Times: Wednesday's protest of Emanuel's Chicago Public Schools consolidation plan is the latest play by his disloyal opposition. They are plotting the groundwork for a challenge to Emanuel in the February 2015 mayoral election. In her typically fiery fashion, ...

State investigating $98 million grant for UNO charter schools Sun Times: Gov. Pat Quinn’s executive inspector general has opened an investigation into the politically influential United Neighborhood Organization’s use of a $98 million state grant for new charter schools, after a report in the Chicago Sun-Times that UNO gave millions of dollars in contracts for the schools to companies with ties to the organization’s top officials.

MISC

How I teach to the test in the Chicago Public Schools White Rhinoceros: Contributing to low scores by ignoring the skills on standardized tests perpetuates the classist, racist, sexist views many activists claim to be fighting against.

Voice of the People Tribune: I am tired of hearing people criticize teachers. I have been teaching for 28 years, and I have been in a couple of different schools in my district. The majority of teachers are hardworking and have the children's best interests at heart.

CORE puts in petitions Substance News: It's almost completely official. At 9:30 a.m. on March 25, 2013, CORE candidates Tammie Vinson, Brian Halberg and I turned in our nominating petitions to the Chicago Teachers Union's finance office, with enough signatures to put CORE candidates on the ballot for all 195 slots being elected in the May 17, 2013 Chicago Teachers Union election. Although the list of eligible candidates will not be official until the April 10 House of Delegates meeting (the union always reviews both the eligibility of candidates and the accuracy of signatures), CORE set a goal of at least double the number of nominating signatures for each office.

Back-door school subsidies Tribune: Little-known state program siphons off millions from education budget for select districts, some of them quite wealthy. Oak Park's pricey homes, Frank Lloyd Wright architecture and array of shops and restaurants generate billions in property wealth, funneling a bounty of tax dollars to its elementary school district.

This Isn't Goodbye-Goodbye... Tim Furman: ...but it's goodbye for now. And so we have come to the end of School TechConnect. It's been a hell of a ride. I'm taking a few months off.

Filed under: Daily News Roundup

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  • In relation to Diane Rado's Tribune article titled "Back-door school subsidies," while the article appears superficially to expose extra funding going to relatively wealthy suburban schools districts, it is actually an attack on CPS funding. Moreover, this article was effectively planted by State Superintendent Christopher Koch in my opinion as part of ISBE's survival plan. Let me explain in some detail.

    While the article discusses Oak Park Elementary School District 97 receiving millions in "adjustments" to that district's state aid, CPS has actually received according to the article the largest adjustment of $283.5 million last fiscal year. So if we use basic math we can see that of the $502 million in total ISBE adjustments given out last year to school districts with property tax caps, 56.5% went to CPS. So if this adjustment ends which district takes the biggest fiscal hit?

    State Superintendent Christopher Koch has interesting theories of equality, he believes a massive district like Chicago is eating up to much of state wide funding for education, and apparently he is willing to throw in some Cook County suburbs into this excessive funding pot too. Hence his quote on the adjustments "It is ridiculous, we can't afford it; it doesn't make sense, and it's not fair to everyone else."

    Interestingly several years ago Superintendent Koch made the exact same argument about special education funding for CPS in an attempt to cut over $200 million in funding. Guess who at that time completely supported Koch? CPS's current Board Vice President Jesse H. Ruiz who was then ISBE's chairman that's who. Ruiz when asked by CPS to oppose the special education cuts he reportedly told CPS and Ron Huberman then CEO he couldn't.

    Let's get to the ISBE survival strategy issue. Superintendent Koch is faced with some very bad fiscal data for districts around the state and declining appropriations from the General Assembly. In order to prop up collapsing down state and south suburban school districts he wants school districts up north to force greater property tax increases on its citizens, because after all they can afford it. I am sure paying even more in school related property taxes by citizens of Oak Park Elementary School District 97 or Chicago will be just great for them because they do really want to help out the folks down in Matoon or in south suburban Ford Heights, NOT really.

    This plan will not fly, because between Chicago and suburban Cook we have the votes in the General Assembly to keep the adjustment funding coming. ISBE is reaching here because it is desperate and sees the sky falling on many school districts.

    Rod Estvan

  • A Simple Way to Send Poor Kids to Top Colleges - NYTimes.com http://ow.ly/jD9uK

  • National Magazine Awards Finalists include David Bernstein's "Gangs and Politicians in Chicago: An Unholy Alliance" http://ow.ly/jDJLi

  • Thanks for including my post, Alexander.

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