Archives for category: Chicago

Mike Klonsky updates us on Rahm’s financial hustle. 

Rahm Emanuel, who learned his creative financing tricks, like “scoop and toss” bond financing while working for Bruce Rauner at GTCR, plans to borrow $500M from the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund, one day after paying the Fund $634M in overdue required city contributions.

The real cost of this trickery is felt right in the classroom with 1,400 teachers and staff being hit with lay-off notices yesterday.

That is what is called “chutzpah.” He pays the pension contribution, borrows from the teachers’ pension funds, and lays off 1,400 teachers.

Mike Klonsky writes that Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Governor Bruce Rauner have brought the city and state to their knees with their austerity budgets.

“Mayor 1% finally made his long overdue payment to the teachers pension fund, but not without extracting his pound of flesh — 1,400 teachers being laid off and another $1B in borrowing, another windfall for his bankster patrons and another attack on the teachers union and teachers’ collective bargaining rights.

“Aside from the hardship the layoffs will bring to the teachers and their children and families, think about what the loss of so many union jobs means to the community and the continuing destruction of the city’s middle class.

“Think also about spiraling class sizes and program cuts in city schools and what that will mean, especially for the neediest of students who need personalization more than ever. It also makes another teachers strike that much more likely.

“By my figuring, 1,400 teacher jobs lost means minimally, about $84 million in yearly taxable income that won’t be spent in neighborhood groceries, auto dealers, hair salons and shoe stores. That translates to hundreds more lay-offs from local businesses, millions more in lost revenue for the city and state and the further pauperization of the community’s working class and small businesses owners.”

“Likewise for our sociopathic billionaire governor who will shut down the state government, with an even greater civic toll, rather than taxing his corporate and LaSalle St. cronies even one penny more on their speculative windfall profits.”

Mike Klonsky writes a post with one of the best titled ever.

He tries to figure out why reformers don’t care about class size. They say there’s no evidence for smaller classes. Well, there is plenty of evidence, but they brush it aside.

It turns they don’t care about evidence. They are not data-driven. They want to take your funding and your schools. They want to save money, but not to spend it on smaller classes.

Mike Klonsky asks why the Chicago Board of Education intends to approve $50 million tonight to build three new Noble charter schools when the district supposedly has a huge budget deficit.

He posts a letter from a teacher at Kennedy High School, a public high school whose basic needs are not met even as the district finds money to build three shiny new charter schools.

The teacher contrasts the struggles and successes at Kennedy with the favoritism shown to Noble charters:

“We have had the highest growth on the ACT in 2012 in both Composite Gains and Meets/Exceeds Increases. We have been recognized by the Illinois State Board of Education for increases in Student Achievement by being placed on their Honor Roll. We have been authorized as an IB Diploma World School. What more can we do to prove that Kennedy is a great general public high school which services all students from low-incidence to IB, and everything in between.

“When Noble Charter students are asked to leave for minor discipline infractions and lack of academic achievement, they come to Kennedy and we educate them. We don’t have the ability to ask students to leave our school for discipline issues, while at the same time having the Student Code of Conduct rewritten to handcuff our abilities to truly discipline students and hold them accountable for their poor behavior.

“We have achieved the most impressive turnaround in student achievement for a general public high school in all of Chicago. We did not do it through a multi-million dollar school improvement grant. We even managed to work through this with a $1.9 million budget shortfall in 2013. We have done this through collaborative effort, blood, sweat and tears at times. When will be the moment when our voices are heard? We were never asked to submit an RFP for capital improvements at Kennedy. We don’t have the opportunity to request additional resources to improve our building.”

The Noble charter network is the favorite of the city’s power elite; it names each school for rich patrons.

Martin Levine writes in the NonProfit Quarterly about the war between charter schools and public schools in Chicago. Two years ago, Mayor Emanuel closed almost 50 public schools, most of which will be replaced by charters.

Levine writes:

“What is happening in Chicago illustrates well the debate going on nationally between those who believe that the solution to our educational challenges lies in creating a more robust educational marketplace where every parent and child has the ability to choose the school that is best suited to their needs, interests, and talents, and those who believe that ensuring a quality education for all children requires dealing with issues of proper school funding, poverty, race and community. The struggle in Chicago seems to indicate that the advocates for a market-based strategy are winning this tug of war.

“The Chicago Tribune ended an editorial this week with this plea: “This is a war that has to end. It does not serve children.” But with limited school budgets and little data to suggest the marketplace model of education actually outperforms or even matches the public school model, it seems unlikely that their wish will come true.”

How do you cope in Chicago when you have a newly elected mayor whose claim to fame is that he closed 50 public schools, mostly in black neighborhoods? And you have a governor from the 1% who wants to cut the budget for the most vulnerable?

Mike Klonsky describes a night at the Hideout with Karen Lewis, writer Ben Joravsky, and principal Troy LaRaviere. I wish I had been there.

Troy offered this bit of data:

““Of the 50 highest-performing schools in Chicago, all 50 are public schools that were here before he [Rahm Emanuel] arrived,” he said in the four-and-a-half-minute video, referring to NWEA scores. “Of the 20 lowest-performing schools in Chicago, 13 of them – over half – are turnaround and charter schools, which are cornerstones of the Rahm Emanuel education reform agenda.”

The gossip of the night? Troy for mayor. Mike’s brother Fred Klonsky was there, and he loved the idea. Think about it.

Mike Klonsky speculates on who might replace Barbara Byrd-Bennett, who resigned in the midst of a federal investigation of a $20 million np-bid contract to SUPES, a principal training program that BBB once worked for.

Will it be the return of Paul Vallas? A businessman?

MIke says it doesn’t matter.

“Meanwhile, the media debate is all about whether Rahm should appoint another career educator like BBB or J.C Brizard, or another non-educator business guy? I don’t think it makes a damn bit of difference so long as either one, along with the hand-picked school board, are mere puppy dogs. It’s mayoral control of the schools that’s the real issue here. The fact that Rahm is shopping for Chicago’s 6th CEO in 6 years following Huberman, Mazany, Brizard, Byrd-Bennett, and Ruiz, makes my point. Instability is the name of the game and when things go south, like a major scandal or a teachers strike, they are all easily replaceable.

“We need an elected school board and an end to autocratic rule over the schools.”

News from Chicago about what happens when the Feds start digging and turn over rocks.

Michael Klonsky tells the story here

The cast of characters: Rahm EMANUEL, Paul Vallas, Barbara Byrd-Bennett, and more.

Business as usual in Chicago? Crony capitalism? A city with a big deficit, so big it closed 50 schools. .

NEWS ADVISORY

IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Stephanie Gadlin
May 26, 2015 312-329-6250

CTU to lead picket before Chicago Board of Education meeting calling for halt to charter school expansion

CHICAGO—The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) has organized a picket line before the Chicago Board of Education meeting on Wednesday, May 27, to highlight the hypocrisy of the district’s insistence on expanding charter operations throughout the city while claiming a $1 billion budget deficit. The financial “crisis” for Chicago Public Schools is the result of the district’s own fiscal irresponsibility—hundreds of millions of dollars mired in scandal, swap deals and failed, privatized outsourcing. By allowing the unchecked growth of charter schools, including some into closed neighborhood school buildings, CPS continues its plan to weaken communities by creating a culture of chaos that the district will use to justify cutting school budgets, closing schools and laying off thousands of CPS educators and education support staff.

Four Points of CPS Charter Hypocrisy

· Lying to the Illinois General Assembly that there would be no charter schools placed into any school building that was part of the mass school closings in 2013. CPS is “selling” the Peabody Elementary School building—closed in 2013—and putting Rowe Charter into that building.

· Expanding charter operations—a Noble Street charter school moving into the Uptown neighborhood; Rowe moving into the Peabody building; a Perspectives charter school moving to 85th & Lafayette—as the district claims a massive budget deficit

· Ignoring community opposition to place a Noble Street charter school into a community that has voiced outrage over the proposal. “They told my mom what she wanted to hear to get me and my brother to go there, but she realized after a few years of struggle, that the school doesn’t live up to its promise,” said a former Noble Street student who is now attending a neighborhood high school in Uptown. Another student added: “Noble schools don’t work with kids to do better—they just kick them out to their neighborhood schools.”

· Rewarding an ally of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Alderman Howard Brookins with the lucrative placement of a Perspectives charter school into the Rev. Charles Jenkins’ Legacy Project development, with no disclosure of how the project is being financed.

WHO:

CTU teachers, community partners and allies

WHAT:

Picket line before the Chicago Board of Education meeting

WHEN:

Wednesday, May 27, 2015, at 6:30 a.m.

WHERE:

Chicago Board of Education
42 W. Madison St.
Chicago

Catalyst reports that the teacher evaluation ratings for the public schools contained errors.

“Citing a computer coding error, district officials have acknowledged that they miscalculated last year’s REACH performance task scores for one out of every five educators.

“Only a tiny fraction of the 4,574 errors were significant enough to result in ratings changes, however. A total of 166 teachers were given corrected ratings earlier this year, and most moved up a category, CPS officials say. Teachers whose ratings dropped won’t be penalized.

“The coding error involved matching student rosters with scores on performance tasks, the subject- and grade-specific assessments that were developed by committees of CPS teachers.

“Though the problem was not extensive, the number of mistakes – and the possibility that there are still others – has renewed criticisms about the use of such a complex system to evaluate educators and put jobs on the line.”

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