Xian Barrett Laid Off (Again)

Xian Barrett Laid Off (Again)

Teacher responds to getting laid off by CPS Chi-Town Review: Xian Barrett called the layoffs cruel, and sadistic. “I would ask each of you to pause to capture in your mind that one teacher or several that altered the course of your life. Now tear them from the fabric of your experience. What would it look like? How would you be changed?” he wrote.

City schools poised to feel impact of deep job cuts Chicago Tribune: The fallout from the Chicago Public Schools' decision to lay off almost 3,000 teachers and school-based staff will be felt citywide when classes resume next month. Schools will be forced to increase class sizes, eliminate field

Editorial: The Chicago schools budget crisis is here Chicago Tribune: In the next few days, Chicago Public Schools officials are expected to lift the curtain on how the district hopes to fill a projected $1 billion budget chasm for the fiscal year that just started.

Standing Up for Chicago's Public School Students In These Times: Focusing on “things that they can control” is exactly what Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has done, producing a school system where student achievement has continued to decline while the administration implements measures that have failed repeatedly: ...

Brown: State might have to fix city teacher pension problem Sun Times (opinion): The Chicago Teachers Union doesn’t want to talk about cutting retirement benefits unless Chicago Public Schools agrees to increase revenues (translation: raise taxes) to help fix an ailing teacher pension fund.
Chicago teacher layoffs: Fallout from staff layoffs at CPS will be felt next month Tribune: The latest layoffs stem from tightened budgets handed to principals last month based on a new per-pupil funding system that CPS promised gave school leaders more autonomy. Lowered enrollments meant many of those budgets shrank this year. Many principals believe the measure simply passed the duty of making cuts to them.
Dip into TIF surplus to help schools, Progressive Caucus tells mayor Chicago Sun-Times: The City Council's Progressive Caucus demanded Monday that Mayor Rahm Emanuel scour Chicago's 165 tax increment financing districts for surplus funds and use them to reverse some of the 3,000 layoffs atChicago Public Schools.

Emanuel blames pension crisis for CPS layoffs, drop in bond rating
Chicago Tribune: Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Sunday pointed a finger at the state's pension crisis in two recent doses of bad financial news: 2,000 Chicago Public Schools layoffs and a decline in the city's bond rating. "This is avoidable in a sense," Emanuel said

Chicago Offers Digital Badges for Students' Summer Experiences
Education Week News: Students in Chicago are not only beating "brain drain" this summer, but are also earning virtual badges for their experiences, according to an article in Catalyst Chicago.

CPS Budget Cuts: Progressives Formally Call for Diversion of TIF Funds DNAI: The Progressive Reform Caucus called for Mayor Emanuel to declare a TIF surplus and refund money to CPS.
What Detroit's crisis can teach others Tribune (opinion):  Avoiding bankruptcy requires confronting crises early, focusing on taxpayers and making realistic promises.


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  • knight lab fact checks closings - finds attendance the dominant predictive pattern http://ow.ly/neGnS

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  • Dear Xian,
    Thank you for your words. I, too, was unjustly let go. My students who were looking forward to next year, will not have me as a teacher. They will think I have abandoned them. I didn't get a chance to say good-bye or explain to them what has happened.
    I have woken up everyday to teach my students, in spite of what CPS has done to my family, my personal life, and my own health. I have been crushed over and over again, by how unjustly my students have been treated: not enough resources, overcrowded classrooms, and over-testing.
    It is time to let go and move on, as I can no longer watch my own family suffer the consequences of what our mayor and CPS has done to its students and teachers.

  • This is a long post, but the fiscal collapse of CPS has been a long process. At any rate here I go.

    Hooray for the CTU and for Fran Spielman from the Sun Times for calling for a serious property tax rate increase for the City. Trying to save CPS jobs with yet another pension holiday as the CTU, the City, and CPS tried earlier this year was simply a losing approach that eventually would lead to disaster for teacher retirees. Personally I am not thrilled by the prospect of paying more taxes on the home I have now lived in for 30 years, really who would be? But none the less both the CTU and Spielman seem to have entered the real world.

    The Mayor apparently has not joined the real world as this quote Ms. Spielman used from Mayor Emanuel reflects: "This is not a solution that’s resolved with revenue. It’s a solution that’s resolved with reform. There will be no discussion of revenue unless we have a comprehensive discussion based on reform.” The Mayor made that comment in relation to Moody's calling for a property tax rate increase after in downgraded the City debt rating.

    It seems if CPS applies either President Cullerton's or Speaker Madigan's approach to reducing the pension benefits of state employees and non-Chicago teachers that the pot still will come up way short. Cullerton believes that state worker pensions can be pared back if employees and retirees are given options. His position rests on the idea that the choice fulfills the need to have a contractual relationship between the state and its retirees to stay within the confines of the constitution.

    Cullerton's proposal offers employees and retirees choices, such as keeping annual 3 percent compounded cost-of-living increase on pensions in exchange for giving up access to health insurance. The Illinois Retired Teachers Association has said of the Cullerton plan: "A choice that is kind of like either jump off a cliff or I'll shoot you' is not really a very good choice." But many unions has given tepid support to this approach.

    The Madigan plan raises retirement ages, requires workers to kick in more from their paychecks and largely eliminates the automatic 3 percent annual compounded increases for retirement checks. This approach is totally opposed by public sector workers unions. It saves more money based on most reports.

    Both approaches may prove to be unconstitutional, as may a merger of the Cullerton and Madigan approaches. But even Madigan's bill will take 30 years to fully fund the pensions based on actuarial analysis. Illinois' five public employee retirement systems are currently about $97 billion short of what's needed to pay benefits as currently promised to workers and retirees. The annual pension payment for Illinois now is about $6 billion.

    The Illinois Constitution of 1970, Article XIII, section 5, provides a contractual protection for state employees from their pension benefits being diminished or impaired. The courts have interpreted this pension protection clause as a protection for employees to receive the benefits that they have been promised. However, the courts have not held that the Illinois Constitution provides a protection for state employees that secures actuarially sound funding of those pension funds. The courts have also held that the Illinois Constitution does not provide for a cause of action requiring the pension funds be maintained at the required statutory level of 90% as is Chicago's Teacher Pension Fund.

    Very interestingly Michigan has a similar provision in its Constitution on public sector pensions as does Illinois. So the Detroit bankruptcy filing which potentially could cut an average Detroit City retiree’s pension benefits by 83 percent will be the test case for how much weight courts will give to a state Constitution when the walls are caving in. Retirees are at risk because the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation provides a minimal level of benefits to retirees when a private business goes bankrupt, but it provides no such security at all to pensioners in the public sector.

    Mayor Emanuel is totally wrong, the CPS problem is a revenue problem, neither the Madigan or Cullerton approach will generate enough of a reduction in the pension payment obligations of CPS to reduce the need for a very serious property tax rate increase in order for CPS to stay afloat even if excess TIF funds are thrown in. The actual reduction of annual costs for CPS any pension reform proposal relating to the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund will only be clearly known once an actuarial report is done on any bill and only then will we have an estimate of how much could be saved each year.

    The current required CPS contributions to the pension fund in FY 2014 will be $612.7 million and in FY 2015 $631.5 million. CPS would be very lucky indeed to get a pension reform proposal passed that would reduce costs by even $150 million or $200 million a year. You all will notice the Mayor has never even put out an estimate of what type of relief for CPS he would be expecting from a benefit reduction to teachers' retirement packages that is called a reform, but in reality it is a cut or reduction.

    Mayor Emanuel is maybe looking for political cover for a potential property tax rate increase, which is why he says, "There will be no discussion of revenue unless we have a comprehensive discussion based on reform..." In other words before raising taxes above the Property Tax Extension Limitation Act limit, if the General Assembly agreed, the Mayor wants to tell property tax payers he tried everything.

    The generally tax hostile Civic Federation in a report issued in January stated: "Among the selected Cook County communities [32 in total], Chicago had the lowest effective tax rate for residential properties at 1.72%; the lowest effective tax rate for commercial properties at 4.23%; and the lowest effective tax rate for industrial properties at 2.51% [see http://www.civicfed.org/sites/default/files/EstimatedEffectivePropertyTaxRates2001_2010.pdf]

    Effective property tax rates are a measure of property tax burden for homeowners and businesses. They translate the tax rates on property tax bills into rates that reflect the percentage of full market value that a property owed in taxes for a given year.

    So the problem in Springfield with Chicago and CPS will be that Chicago is not carrying its own weight in terms of property taxes. East Hazel Crest, IL an overwhelmingly black suburb that the Illinois House Education appropriation chair represents has an actual residential property tax rate for schools of 8.6960% and the CPS rate for 2012 was 3.422% (see http://www.cookcountyclerk.com/newsroom/newsfromclerk/Pages/ClerkOrrreleases2012TaxRates.aspx).

    The property tax issue is not just a political problem for Mayor Emanuel inside the city it's also a problem for towns outside of Chicago that are paying far higher school property taxes than Chicago does.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    You may be right . . . but attempts to fund CPS through property tax revenues are likely to be the death of CPS, the City or possibly both. What no one has the balls to admit here is that property taxpayers won't tolerate too much of a hike. Remember, rates may be low, but because value is high taxpayers are paying a pretty good amount of their disposable income to support local taxing bodies.

    A more comprehensive revenue and reform package is essential to do this fairly. Look, everyone wants a great pension but we cannot afford the benefits we are giving. The fact is that Chicago Teachers pay 1/3 of what social security contributors pay and get a 25% greater benefit, something CTU and CTPF do not own up to. That's right Mr. Sharkey, teachers don't get social security because they don't contribute to it. And no self-respecting teacher would want it because they've got a much better deal with their private pension.

    We need different revenue solutions . . . probably including a progressive income tax.

  • Headache 299

    Xian Barrett on The Real News at

  • Xian Barrett has had lots of trouble keeping a job . . . Julian, CTU, Gage Park . . . wait, CTU? What's going on here? Karen Lewis wouldn't have let a teacher as high performing as Barrett go, would she?

    This is a bit of joke isn't it?

    I can't stand the dishonesty of these people.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Wait... who is dishonest? Barrett, Lewis, admins at Julian and Gage Park, or are you talking about the board and Emanuel? It must be the latter.

    Xian's predicament is common for young teachers, especially those who get hired on at schools with declining enrollment- you're always the one with lowest seniority. I have a colleague, excellent teacher by the way, who has worked at 4 different schools in 4 years. She gets cut every year.

    As far as CTU goes, you'd have to ask Xian. I imagine though that he wanted to be in a classroom.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Barrett is 35 years old and has been teaching for a significant period of time. The significant driver in a lot of layoffs is whether the administration retains a program, not seniority. I think it's fair to ask why do principals keep finding his program expendable. Why did Karen Lewis?

    Additionally, the district has been uncommonly generous to Barrett, giving him leave for his fellowship and then for his short stint to work for Lewis and putting him back in teaching positions each time. It's disgusting that Barrett thinks it's okay to accept these generous benefits and support and then publicly trash the institution that has given him so much. As far as I am concerned he represents the worst traits of public employee caricatures . . .he's self-righteous but first, he's entitled.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to district299reader:

    Thanks for your concern.
    This post is roundly false and given it's reference to my exact age, a little creepy.

    To set the record straight:
    I have never received a leave from CPS. When I did my fellowship, I continued to teach 5 classes of Japanese with 6 preps at Julian High School at a level that I was nominated for Illinois State Teacher of the Year.

    At the end of the year, in August, I was laid off despite 155 students being enrolled for the next year's program and strong student growth data. I accepted a position at the union and my request for leave was rejected by the district.

    I was not placed back into positions. Brave educators at Gage Park High School chose to hire me to teach high need students and the district refused to accept my hiring for a full month despite there being 180 students in my classes.

    We showed great growth and massive reductions in suspensions, arrests and disciplinary issues. More than that, the youth loved the learning.

    I AM immensely thankful for the people you neglect in your post--my colleagues, students' parents and most of all the students themselves. I am not thankful for the abuse I have suffered and my students suffer worse everyday at the hands of a district that views them as inferior.

    And yet they survive and do amazing work.

    I am also not thankful for a district that pushes its minions to thank veteran teachers who have given much to the youth of Chicago by slandering them on public websites.

    I would appreciate for you to state who you are, and apologize for your slander. But I won't expect it. The reason why our youth are hurt so bad is that those who mismanage this district continue to be allowed to thrive in the shadows unaccountable for and unrepentant for the damage they inflict.

  • Perhaps you have forgotten the SB7 fiasco that was discussed on here. Barrett was in Springfield.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to district299reader:

    I was not in Springfield during the final negotiation of SB7.

    I had been reassigned to be policy director working within Chicago.

    Those there did their best, and when their membership spoke, they listened. I believe the latter choice showed uncommonly strong leadership.

  • I would love to have Xian Barrett teach my CPS child.

  • Those of us who have been around for a while and have observed the tactics of the UPC caucus at the House of Delegates meetings will recognize the tactics in regards to Xian Barrett.
    The UPC has controlled and made lots of money from the CTU (our dues) for years. Their two hand-picked CTU presidents were god-awful puppets/figureheads at best.
    Karen Lewis is not one of their hand picked puppets and if they cannot attack her they attack individuals in her caucus. They want their power back and will stoop at nothing to get it-including slandering fellow teachers.
    Teachers need to know that the clerical staff including the field reps at the CTU often are involved with the caucuses and often will try to sabotage the current leadership in order to get their own caucus in-common knowledge if you are involved in CTU. Karen Lewis is no nonsense and expects the CTU employees to work, maybe harder than they ever worked and that does not sit well with some employees.
    There are also former CTU higher ups, who retired who for some strange reason, are playing the man behind the curtain.
    Mr Barrett seems like a phenomenal teacher who has learned like many of us in CPS that if you advocate for the students sometimes there are repercussions.

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