Archives for category: Chicago

The Network for Public Education took a look at who is financing the candidates for Mayor in Chicago.

Not surprising. Chuy Garcia is sustained by small donations. The big money is betting on Rahm.

Anthony Moser writes a guest column for EduShyster, asking and answering some questions about Mayor Rahm’s campaign: Who is funding it? Who benefits most from the mayor’s determination to make (or keep) Chicago “a world-class city”?

Moser looks at the city’s TIF (Tax Incentive Fund):

“This, presumably, is the justification for Rahm’s obsessive focus on downtown. Nearly half of the money collected in TIF districts has gone to the central business district. In case you are unfamiliar, TIFs are a means of diverting property taxes from their normal destinations, like schools and parks, and instead earmarking the funds for *development.* As originally enshrined in Illinois law, they were tools for improving blighted districts. Of course the Loop does not fit most definitions of *blight,* but the complicated rules of TIFs allow money to be shunted around between adjoining districts, so that money collected in Englewood can fund development downtown. Wealth does not flow from the prosperous center to the impoverished fringes, but instead the growth of downtown is financed by the parts of our city most in need….”

“Our mayor came into power after living in the city for less than a year with a campaign funded by powerful, wealthy people across the country. He has rewarded them with city contracts and privatization schemes even as he fired ordinary working folks like teachers and janitors by the thousands. He sues to curb pension benefits, while turning over those same pension funds to his friends and donors. He stands before the national media, taking no questions, to celebrate investment by and for the richest among us (and, given his ties to New York, Washington and LA, not among us). The campaign contributions Mayor Emanuel accepts in a week are more than many of the city’s residents could earn in a lifetime.”

For the links to sources, read the article.

The mayoral election in Chicago on April 7 is a contest between big money and grassroots organizing.


Mayor Rahm Emanuel has raised nearly $20 million for his re-election campaign, while his challenger Jesus “Chuy” Garcia has raised some $3 million.


The latest big gift to Mayor Rahm comes from a hedge fund billionaire who has given him nearly $1 million. According to Huffington Post, Ken Griffin has supported Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and other prominent conservative Republicans.


Ken Griffin, CEO of the hedge fund Citadel, has donated nearly $1 million to pro-Emanuel groups in the last year, including $750,000 since March 2, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.


Griffin has also contributed to Walker, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), and Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.). Schock, under fire for lavish spending, said on Tuesday that he would resign from Congress. Since last year, Griffin has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars American Crossroads, America Rising, the Republican National Committee and other conservative groups.

The New York Times has a fascinating analysis of the mayoral election in Chicago.

In 2011, Rahm Emanuel cruised to victory with a 31% margin. In the 2015 primary, he did not win a majority.

Rahm’s base is white voters.

If Chuy Garcia turns out the Hispanic vote and wins the black vote,Rahm could lose.

Sheri Sobel, a mom in Chicago, writes:



“PARCC testing in Chicago!! My son is in 6th grade and was part of the 10% of CPS population scheduled to take the test; originally. As we are aware NOW, that CPS has to administer the test to 100% or lose IL funding to the tune of $1.6B, He suffers from an Anxiety Disorder and has been distraught, crying, literally freaking out about taking the test for the past 4 weeks.


“He was so distraught 3 weeks ago that I had to take him back to his dr. and therapist ASAP (he has been stable for the past 2 yrs. and seeing his dr. every 3 months and a therapist 1 or 2 times per month as needed). Now he has to go weekly.


“Yesterday was the last straw. No child has to take a standardized test and can opt out; however, this is not what my son was hearing from the teachers. I wrote a notice of refusal; sent it out to his teachers, counselors, and CPS testing director. When i picked him up from school yesterday and gave him a copy of the letter I sent out; it was like a wave of happiness and calm came over him.


“What are we doing to our kids that there is so much pressure on their performance for funding?”

Troy LaRaviere, principal of Blaine Elementary School in Chicago, recently wrote an electrifying letter urging parents in his school, in his state, and in the nation to OPT OUT!


Now he has written an open letter to Barbara Byrd-Bennett, the Superintendent of Chicago Public Schools, reprimanding her for pressuring students not to opt out.


He writes:


Ms. Byrd-Bennett,


In response to parent and teacher support for opting children out of the PARCC Test, you sent a message to all CPS principals. It states:


“Please be advised that ISBE does not recognize a parent’s right to opt a child out of required student assessments, as there is no law in Illinois allowing this. While a parent cannot “opt a child out,” there may be students who refuse to participate in required state assessments.”


There are numerous faults and inconsistencies in your letter. I attempt to address a few of them here.


“Choice” Hypocrisy


It is pitifully ironic that you, Mr. Emanuel, and ISBE Chairman James Meeks—self-professed proponents of what you call “parental school choice”—would fight so vigorously to deny parents the choice of opting their children out of testing.


Posturing, Bullying and Wasting Learning Time


Your letter states that even if the parent states, in writing, not to test the child, school officials still must present each child with each one of the five sections of the PARCC tests and force the child to refuse each section separately. In April—when the second half of the PARCC is administered—you have directed us to repeat this process with up to 3 sessions. In total we have been directed to force students to verbally or physically refuse the PARCC on up to eight distinct occasions.


Your letter goes on to state:


“It is unfortunate that ISBE’s limited guidance on this matter has placed the burden of refusing the test on students. I believe this is unfair to our students, families, principals and staff. However, we are obligated to follow ISBE’s limited direction to avoid sanctions that would have a devastating impact on our district.”


If you believe it is “unfortunate,” and “unfair” then why are CPS officials forcing children in some schools to refuse not only to the teacher, but to the principal and the network chief? If you believe it’s “unfair,” why was a network chief sent to Mollison School—my elementary alma mater—where the chief forced each student to refuse directly to her; in one case allegedly forcing a fourth grade autistic child to articulate his desire to opt out despite the fact that he’d already made his desire clear when he himself submitted a signed note from his mother?


Then there’s what is alleged to have happened at Taylor school on the far southeast side, where a teacher reported an administrator, “got within a few inches of the face of one young man in the [opt-out] line, and asked him loudly, “DID SHE PUT A TICKET IN YOUR HAND?!!!”, then ordered the teacher to “PUT A TESTING TICKET IN EVERY STUDENT’S HAND AND PUT THEM IN FRONT OF A COMPUTER!”


Although the facts behind both of the above incidents are in dispute, it is noteworthy that the people making the above claims are all parents of low-income minority children—the children our mayor said would “never amount to anything”; the children whose schools he shut down; and the children who he funnels to charter schools where they experience less academic growth than in the public system they came from. Why has CPS added PARCC bullying to the long list of offenses it has committed against these children and their families?…..


CPS has exhibited intense hypocrisy in regard to parental choice. It has bullied children and their families, been deceptive in its repressive framing of the law in regard to opt out rights, and parroted dubious claims about losing funds in relationship to opting out.


As a result, I will be taking the following course of action and call on you to advise all CPS principals to do the same:


Our school will meet its responsibility to administer the PARCC to all students who want to take it. Nearly 80% of our students have already expressed their decision to refuse the PARCC by submitting letters from their parents opting them out of the test. When students handed that opt-out letter to their teachers, that act was an expression of their refusal to take the test. That is enough for me, and it should be enough for CPS and ISBE. No child under my watch, who has expressed his or her decision to refuse the PARCC, will be sat in front of any computer to take it, nor presented with any materials. We will not waste even more learning time by subjecting our students to ISBE’s deceptive fear-mongering and CPS’s hypocritical test-driven political theater.




Troy LaRaviere


CPS Graduate
Former CPS Teacher
CPS Parent
CPS Principal
Twitter: @TroyLaRaviere

Chicago’s superintendent of schools Barbara Byrd-Bennett wanted to delay PARCC testing. She knew the students and teachers were not ready. She proposed testing only 10% of students. The state of Illinois said it would lose $1.1 billion in federal funding if Chicago failed to participate.

Last week, Secretary Duncan was in Chicago. When asked why he threatened to cut off federal funding, he denied it.

When he arrived at a school, his driver took a wrong turn, and Duncan got out of the car and was swarmed by angry parents protesting the testing.

“Once safely inside the school, Duncan was asked about the protest outside.

“Why is his U.S. Department of Education forcing a controversial standardized test — one many parents don’t want and that Mayor Rahm Emanuel has argued is “not ready” for prime time — down the throats Chicago Public Schools?

“I’m not,” Duncan said. “The state works it out without Chicago. . . . That’s the state’s decision.”

“But isn’t the mandate being dictated by the federal government? Isn’t that what’s behind the threat to withhold $1 billion in funding that forced Chicago’s hand?

“No. You’re wrong. . . . You’re making stuff up. You don’t have your facts straight,” Duncan said.

“The secretary was asked about the parental animosity stemming from the PARCC test and the resulting protest that forced him to go through the gantlet of protesters to get into Ariel Community Academy, 1119 E. 46th Street.

““I welcome the conversation. It’s good. . . . It’s a healthy conversation to have,” he said.

“But he said, “It’s important to assess kids annually. . . . Millions of kids around the country are taking the test. We’re fine.”

“With that, a press aide to Duncan stepped in and ended the interview.”

The Network for Public Education enthusiastically endorses Jesus (Chuy) Garcia for Mayor of Chicago.

The election has national significance. NPE believes it will send a message that closing public schools en masse and replacing them with private charters is unacceptable; that the public schools are a public responsibility and should be fully funded to meet the needs of students.

If you live in Chicago, please vote, volunteer, and help turn a new page for the students of Chicago by electing Chuy Garcia.

The International Business Times reports that pension funds from Chicago teachers have been invested with Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s friends and campaign donors.


According to city documents obtained by IBTimes, the firm affiliated with Illinois’ Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner — a longtime friend of Chicago’s Democratic mayor — as well as executives at private-equity giant Madison Dearborn have gained substantial investments from the Chicago Teachers’ Pension Fund (CTPF) since Emanuel took office. The documents also show the CTPF has an indirect equity stake in Grosvenor Capital Management. Executives at the latter two firms have donated nearly $1.8 million to Emanuel’s campaign and political organizations since 2011.



EduShyster hosts a Chicago citizen who shows what the New York Times got wrong about Rahm.


The newspaper article mostly repeated the Mayor’s talking points instead of digging to find out if they were true.


The author, Maria Moser, writes:


“Here’s what happened: Rahm systematically attacked nearly every city service through a neoliberal privatization plan. As a friend put it, *Rahm’s not so much the mayor as the guy auctioning off what’s left of our public goods.* And public goods have a disproportionate value to middle class and poor people in our city. Your library is open less and has less staff. There are fewer lifeguards on our beaches in the summer. Or you spent hours on the phone trying to activate your new Ventra card only to be disconnected. We’ve taken notice as these things have happened because they affect our lives. What’s it like to live in a city with an auctioneer at the helm?”


And read this correction:


“NYT: And many of the neighborhoods that faced schools closings were in predominantly black or Latino areas.


“Chicago: Uh, that’s a bit of an understatement. As it turns out, of 46,000 students impacted by school closures (not 30,000, as CPS tried to suggest), 88% were black, 10% were Latino, and .7% were white. So yes, predominantly. Like, 98%.”


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