Teachers Use Clout, Too

Teachers Use Clout, Too

Today's news roundup includes more about a Karen Lewis run for mayor (and just how hard it would be for her to win) and a cringe-inducing story about some IL teachers using clout for certification and licensing.  National news includes the wrap-up of the AFT convention in LA and an interview with the New Yorker writer who got inside one of the Atlanta cheating schools to learn more about the personal and professional motivations.


Rahm Emanuel's Top Nemesis Just Might Take Him OnThe New Republic: If you like your political campaigns bloody, then you have to be cheered by the new poll that found Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis beating Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in a hypothetical matchup 45 to 36.

Karen Lewis inching closer to mayoral run Sun Times: Lewis revealed Monday that she has an unofficial exploratory committee in the works, a chairperson has been named, and her camp is working to have a representative in each city neighborhood.

Emanuel has work to do with voters Crain's Chicago Business: That survey showed that Mr. Emanuel not only would be swamped by Ms. Preckwinkle by a margin approaching 2-1 but also would lose to Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, whose name was not included in the Anzalone Liszt survey.

Why Rahm Emanuel's Donors Are Getting Frisky Slate Magazine: When a politico's first on-the-record response to a poll number is "wow," you know it's good for them. "Wow" is what Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union, told the Chicago Sun-Times after being informed that she would easily lead Rahm ...

Opinion: Beating Rahm Will Take More Than Good Poll Numbers NBC Chicago: There's no doubt Mr. Emanuel needs to find some kind of silver lining concerning his re-election chances today.

Ex-deputy press secretary for mayor [Bill McCaffrey] moves to CPS Chicago Sun-Times: McCaffrey’s installation comes about three weeks after the approval of Ronald Iori as “Chief District Communications and Marketing Officer,” by the Board of Education, an executive office position that comes with a $165,000 salary [filling Becky Carroll's spot].


Clout for teachers: Lawmakers' role in licensing Tribune: On August 31, 2009, Chicago attorney Christopher Patrick Ford wrote to Madigan about Ford's daughter Kaitlin, who was scheduled to start substituting that September at Chicago's Walter Payton College Prep. She had applied for a sub certificate in early June but never received it. On Sept. 2, Madigan staffer Amy Ballinger-Cole appealed to ISBE governmental relations staffer Nicole Wills: "Please help! Let me know if there is anything I can do."

Benito Juarez Fires Teacher Who Alleged Student Attendance Records Altered
DNAinfo: "I'm sure it was in retaliation for me blowing the whistle and reporting corruption to the Inspector General, Barbara Byrd-Bennett, CPS CEO, and the media," he wrote in an email to Flavio Parra, an EEOC investigator.


Big budget cuts hit high schools, welcoming schools Catalyst: Other budget trends continue with charter schools projected to get more students and more money and neighborhood high schools getting fewer students

Summer school enrollment down under new promotion policy Catalyst: CPS students scored better than predicted this past year on the new and tougher statewide tests used to decide promotion, schools officials said. But that news, coupled with a revised district promotion policy, means that far fewer students are in now summer school than last year.


Comings and Goings: new principals Catalyst: These interim principals have become contract principals at their schools:  David Narain, King High School; Carlos Patino, New Field Elementary; Frederick Williams, Chopin Elementary.

Chicago's middle class vanishing Sun Times: It’s a phenomenon that isn’t unique to Chicago. In an article headlined “The Coring of the Big Apple,” the New Yorker’s James Surowiecki wrote in September about “New York’s incredible shrinking middle class.”


Teacher union's national conference concludes with support for tenure laws LA Daily News: The American Federation of Teachers panel featuring educators from out of state shared their personal observations to bolster why current tenure laws work.

Missouri Governor Vetoes Bill Allowing Teachers To Carry Concealed Weapons AP: The veto by the Democratic governor sets up a potential showdown with the Republican-led Legislature, which could override Nixon if it gets a two-thirds vote of both chambers during a September session.

Jeb Bush Draws Tea Party Ire Touting Education Record Businessweek: The former governor is touting gains under his “A-plus” plan, which imposed statewide testing standards, provided financial rewards to improving schools and offered students a way out of those that were failing them. The state’s high-school graduation rate has increased to 75.6 percent, compared with 52.5 percent when Bush, 61, took office in 1999.

Schools a haven for many unaccompanied minors AP: After 14 years of separation from her parents and a harrowing journey across the U.S. border, Milsa Martinez finds solace in the ..

School officials try healthier cafeteria options AP: Bean burgers, peanut butter substitutes and pre-sliced vegetable packets were on the menu Monday as school lunchroom managers from around the country sampled offerings in a hunt for fare that will meet stricter health mandates - without turning off sometimes-finicky students....

Despite Challenges, La. Private School Voucher Program Is Growing EdWeek: Louisiana has handed out more than 8,800 school vouchers to students for this coming school year, marking a 30 percent increase since the program expanded statewide in 2012, according to a statement from...


Exiting teachers-union leader Julie Blaha talks of tenure, retention — and improv MinnPost: She is possibly the funniest woman in education leadership circles in the upper Midwest. She’s capable of rendering even a seasoned journalist helpless with laughter, and thus unable to impose a linear structure on the conversation.

Arne Duncan Says Philadelphia District 'Starved for Resources' District Dossier: The U.S. Secretary of Education also said that Pennsylvania's current level of commitment to funding public schools in Philadelphia is "unacceptable."

Rachel Aviv on a middle-school cheating scandal WNYC: The New Yorker's Rachel Aviv on a middle-school cheating scandal in ATL.



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  • New Ray Elementary local school council re-starts principal search process http://ow.ly/zbcWP

  • Lab School places in national math and science competition http://ow.ly/zbdjh HP Herald

  • Charter schools subject of Urban Education Institute talk http://ow.ly/zbehO

  • I am sure President Lewis if she were elected Mayor would try her best to ameliorate budget cuts on the part of the City of Chicago and Public Schools to offset their obligations to pension funds and accumulated bond debt. But even with the elimination of TIFs where possible and the restoration of those funds to municipal taxing bodies (including CPS), some limited additional taxes on corporate entities that by some miracle might pass the Illinois General Assembly, the city’s property tax rate will have to rise.

    This idea is immensely unpopular, in a poll conducted in May for Early & Often, the Chicago Sun-Times’ political portal showed that raising property taxes beyond the current cap was immensely unpopular among Chicagoans. All of the other revenue proposals presented by the CTU: the so-called “LaSalle Street Tax,” a commuter tax on those who work in Chicago but live outside the city, and TIF reform appear to go beyond the home rule powers of the City and would require action by the Illinois General Assembly. None of these ideas stand a chance among suburban and downstate Democrats, nor Republicans if Chicagoans don’t increase their property tax rates.

    This issue has repeatedly been raised at committee meetings I have attended in Springfield and in Chicago. An example would be the House Education appropriation committee meeting of February 18, 2014 where not only Republicans criticized Chicago’s low property tax rates, but the Democratic chair of the committee from the south suburbs effectively joined in the criticism. I have records of these type of comments going back several years coming from both Republicans and out of Chicago Democrats.

    Currently what is called the composite property tax rate for the City of Chicago is 6.396. This includes all taxing bodies including the Chicago Public Schools (3.442 or 53.5% of the total rate). Chicago's rate is the lowest in Cook County. For example a home in the City of Blue Island would have a rate between 14.271 and 14.407 depending on which elementary school district the house was in. The town of Cicero has a composite rate of 14.038, The village of Mount Prospect's rate is between 9.181 and 8.813 depending on the school district. The City of Evanston has a composite rate of around 8.537. (go to http://cookcountyclerk.com/tsd/DocumentLibrary/2012%20Tax%20Rate%20Report.pdf to see all the data).

    So if the City of Chicago's rate went up by 35% the rate would be about 8.63, a little higher than Evanston's 2012 rate, but still considerably lower than Mount Prospect's rate or far lower than the rate for a town like Cicero.

    But given the political unpopularity of a property tax increase beyond the cap, which I have no doubt the General Assembly members outside of the City would approve, its political poison for current Mayor Emanuel, President Lewis, and Ms. Preckwinkle too, so it is avoided at all costs during the election cycle.

    In so many respects Mayor Emanuel has been a disaster, in part due the fiscal basket case he inherited, in part due to his own arrogance, and in part due to his own insolated middle class reality on the north side of Chicago. But just electing a populist Mayor doesn’t fix everything just like magic.

    Let’s recall the experience of Dennis Kucinich when he served as Mayor of Cleveland, Ohio from 1977 to 1979. In his campaign, Kucinich hearkened back to Cleveland's glory days, especially of Tom L. Johnson, the former progressive mayor who governed the city from 1901 to 1909. Kucinich ran on Johnson's populist philosophy, which he felt would ultimately solve the city's problems. He went publicly to war against the banks that were leaning on Cleveland and wanted the city to sell off Municipal Light (also known as Muny Light).

    Kucinich proposed saving money by laying off 600 city employees, including 400 police officers and firefighters, and proposed a $50 million bond issue to pay the Muny debt. He even agreed to seek an increase in the city income tax, something he had steadfastly refused in the past.

    Cleveland became the first major American city to default on its financial obligations since the Great Depression at midnight on December 15, 1978. Republican George V. Voinovich easily beat Kucinich as the impact of the default ever deepened on the City. I would argue that Kucinich was principled in his opposition to the banks, but the political reality was ultimately both he and his populist program were crushed in Cleveland and the majority of his supporters abandoned him. There are lessons in the Kucinich story for where Chicago may be headed.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Rod- You are always very thoughtful in your comments. You would make a fine appointee to a future BoE. That said, I have a few off-the-cuff remarks.

    To compare the economy of Cleveland (or Detroit) to Chicago is misleading. Both of those cities had all of their eggs in one basket. Chicago is MUCH more diverse. It is also far wealthier. The money IS here- the trick is getting the wealthy to pay their fair share.

    To suggest a potential Karen Lewis mayorship to Dennis Kucinich's tenure in Cleveland is also misleading. Emanuel is no Ralph Perk. Of course she would have to right the ship sent astray by Emanuel and Daley. At the very least voters could be certain she explored every possibility if a tax increase ever happened. Daley and Emanuel flat out refused to make their class feel any pain. Emanuel claimed we all needed to have "skin in the game", but I don't see him and his donors risking anything.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Well said and as a CTU delegate for over 15 years I met Karen Lewis when she was a delegate. I supported her candidacy and admired her resolve during the strike of 2012 and even though I retired in 2012 I still follow CPS/CTU.
    I do know that, unlike typical Illinois political types, Karen Lewis is ethical and I really think that attribute will trump political inexperience. It would be refreshing to see decisions about Chicago based upon the premise, " it is the right thing to do"

    Rod Estvan would be a phenomenal choice as the CEO of CPS. I have never understood why we go out of Chicago/Illinois for central office administrators when we have people like Rod Estvan who have actually taught in CPS. His resume is much more impressive than many new hires at CPS.


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    Only black woman electrician teaching black youth to get good paying Union Jobs was fired by CPS last week.

    Action meeting
    When : Tuesday July 15, 2014 -- 5:30 pm
    Where: 8458 S. Green, Chicago, IL

    Latisha Kindred, 33, an electrician who teaches at Simeon Career Academy high school on the South Side, said it’s even harder to excel in the construction industry when you are a Black woman.


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