Archives for category: Emanuel, Rahm

A recent poll shows that if Chicago’s mayoral election were held now, union leader Karen Lewis would beat Rahm Emanuel.

“If the mayoral election were held today, the lightning rod union leader who was the architect behind a 2012 teachers’ strike would beat Emanuel by 9 percentage points in a head-to-head contest, the survey found.

“Lewis was leading Emanuel 45 percent to 36 percent with 18 percent of the likely voters undecided.

“And Emanuel could face an even steeper hill if he faces Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, long considered his most formidable challenger.

“A head-to-head contest found Preckwinkle romping Emanuel by a stunning 24 points.

“Preckwinkle dominated with 55 percent of those surveyed. Emanuel notched just under 31 percent.”

Smart politicians understand that the appearance of reform is even better than real reform. Chicago Democrats have learned that lesson and turned it into an art form.

Here is an article from the Chicago Tribune that makes the point–not about schools but about crime and police. In education,”reform” means closing schools, shutting down libraries, and replacing experienced teachers with newcomers.

“Chicago Democrats a protected species on the national stage”

John Kass

July 9, 2014

Prominent Chicago Democrats have had an easy time with the national media for decades — as easy as shaking a ring of keys to distract an anxious child in church.

Former Mayor Richard M. Daley rode a bicycle in photo ops and put a few plants on the roof of City Hall, leading the national news networks to cast him as the “green” mayor, not as the absolute boss of a broken and corrupt political system that piled debt on the city and drained its future for the benefit of the insiders.

President Barack Obama appeared on the late-night talk shows as the mystical healer of America’s broken politics, not as some untested suit who held the hand of now-imprisoned bagman Tony Rezko while learning to cross Chicago’s political streets.

And Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s former chief of staff?

He hangs with Jimmy Fallon and they tell jokes about jumping into a freezing Lake Michigan. Emanuel is as cool and practiced a media manipulator as the fictional Frank Underwood in “House of Cards.”

But a headline of 82 people shot in Chicago in 84 hours is embarrassing to the mayor, particularly for a mayor who sees the fifth floor of City Hall as a mere stop on the road to his national political destiny.

So he held a news conference on the Far South Side this week, a familiar exercise, full of the necessary archetypes:

Wise neighborhood matrons flanking the mayor and nodding their heads in agreement. Grieving families in support, better there at his side than out on the street asking angry questions.

They talked of the need for everyone to step up to face the crisis, from community leaders to parents, federal officials, judges — everyone except, of course, the mayor of Chicago.

And he avoided the overriding question, again and again: When are we going to hire more police officers?

“Now, a lot of people will say, ‘Where were the police? What were the police doing?’ That’s a fair question, but not the only question,” the mayor said.

“Where are the parents? Where is the community? Where are the gun laws? Where are the national leaders, so we don’t have the guns of Cook County, Indiana and downstate Illinois flowing into the city?”

Rattle those keys, Mr. Mayor.

A TV reporter asked him about tired police officers who’ve been working overtime because he won’t hire more. Another reporter asked why New York and Los Angeles have lower homicide rates than Chicago.

“Well, thank you (for) your question,” Rahm said, launching into a diatribe on gun laws, rather than on police staffing.

He’s good at shaking keys. And some analysts bought his talking points, agreeing with City Hall that talking of police manpower was just too easy.

Too easy? What else is left? A miracle?

According to city data, overall Police Department staffing was about 12,250 at the start of this year, down almost 900 officers from the end of 2009. The Rahmfather has been hiring police, but not at a fast enough rate to keep up with attrition.

Just about every police officer I’ve talked to feels overworked and tired. They’re worn thin. Morale is down. That’s what month after month of overtime can do.

On Wednesday, Pat Camden, spokesman for the Fraternal Order of Police in Chicago, wasn’t receptive to the mayor’s policies during an interview with me and Lauren Cohn on WLS-AM 890.

“It would have been nice to hear the mayor saying, ‘Where were the police? The police are out there doing their job, and if I had more police maybe we wouldn’t have had so many shootings.’ But that’s not the way he operates,” Camden said.

There’s always money to be found when the politicians want to find it.

Some $50 million has been set aside for yet another monument to a Daley, a park named for the former mayor’s late wife. And there’s about $600 million or so for a lakefront project that includes a new athletic venue for DePaul University, although the Bulls and Blackhawks offered the use of the United Center rent-free.

And just before his last election, Gov. Pat Quinn found $54.5 million in state cash for a violence-reduction program now being investigated by the feds as a possible political slush fund.

There are not enough good-paying jobs on the predominantly African-American South and West sides. But there seems to be plenty of political cash to toss around.

Meanwhile, Democrats are encouraging waves of unskilled labor from south of the border to compete for what few low-skilled jobs still exist.

Families already savaged by decades of dependency on government programs continue to dissolve. Violence reigns. The giant street gangs have broken up into small and viperous neighborhood cliques.

Many children aren’t allowed outside. I remember a detective telling me that for such children, it’s like the “Hunger Games” out there.

But the political class in charge for decade after decade after decade — the Chicago Democrats — isn’t ever held to account nationally.

When seen in the national news, they’re about as green as forest ferns. Or they’re all about soothing old political scars and healing divisions.

Or they’re hip and they know Hollywood and can jump into icy lakes with late-night TV personalities.

All they have to do is rattle the keys, misdirect, smile and turn on the charm.

jskass@tribune.com

NEWS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Stephanie Gadlin
June 26, 2014 312/329-6250

EMANUEL CONTINUES ASSAULT ON CITY’S TEACHERS

CHICAGO—Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) President Karen Lewis released the following statement regarding today’s announcement of 1,150 teacher and school support staff layoffs by Chicago Public Schools (CPS):

“The decision by the mayor and his handpicked Board of Education to lay off 1,150 teachers and school support staff today in yet another brutal attack on public education in Chicago is bitterly disappointing and an example of the continued destruction and decimation of neighborhood schools. In a little over a year, CPS student-based budgeting has led to the removal of close to 5,000 teachers, teacher assistants, librarians, paraprofessionals and school-related personnel (PSRPs), technology coordinators and instructional aides from classrooms as severe cuts cause principals to make the difficult decisions that the district cannot. This loss of teachers and staff will directly impact the quality of instruction offered in our schools, and is unnecessary and shameful for a district that claims to provide a high-quality education for its students.

“With this latest round of layoffs— the fourth time in the past five years in which we have seen summer layoffs in excess of 1,000—and the hundreds of positions lost at the three schools slated for turnaround this year, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his Board continue their war on our educators by doing nothing to salvage school budgets other than forcing principals to terminate valued teachers and staff.

“Of the 1,150 layoffs announced today, 550 are teachers and 600 are Educational Support Personnel (ESP). Approximately 250 of these ESPs are Chicago Teachers Union PSRPs. The layoffs stem from the low level of per-pupil funding which CPS Central Office set for schools, meaning that all over the city, principals are being forced, for example, to choose between keeping a veteran teacher and keeping a program library. Current budgets are so low that schools can’t keep both.

“While the district claims that most of the cuts are due to drops in enrollment, there are an ever-increasing number of charter schools siphoning students out of public schools and contributing to a system of dysfunction and instability that leads parents to seek other options for their children. The situation serves to underscore the unacceptably low level of funding that Chicago’s neighborhood schools receive, as every time teachers and other staff are cut, it is harder for schools to serve communities, and the teachers who remain have to shoulder more and more of the burden.

“This decision further demonstrates the disdain for public education and the lack of leadership and vision for the city from our mayor and his handpicked Board. Do we want “Star Wars” museums or public, neighborhood schools? Do we want presidential libraries or librarians for every child?”

###

This post by Ken Previti directed me to a hugely important story that I had missed.

David Sirota of Pando and Ben Joravsky of The Chicago Reader unearthed a story of money, politics , and greed that is startling.

The headline is that Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s top donor bought a big bloc of stock in Marriott hotels shortly before Marriott won a very lucrative contract from the city. The deeper story is about the web of money and contracts that makes buddies of all the movers and shakers in Chicago. This is a city that claimed it had to close 50 public schools and that pensions were too much to bear.

Yet Chicago has a program called TIF (Tax Increment Financing) that allows the mayor to spend vast amounts of money: “As previously reported by Pando and the Reader, TIF is a program in which Chicago annually diverts roughly $500 million in property taxes–paid in the name of schools, parks, police, etc.–into bank accounts largely controlled by the mayor. The money is supposed to be used to subsidize development in blighted communities that are so poor they would receive no development—but for the TIF.”

This, Emanuel was able to award a coveted contract to Marriott. “After all, the company will be running one of America’s largest hotels next to America’s largest convention center – and doing so with massive taxpayer subsidies, but without having to pay to construct the hotel and without having to pay property taxes.”

“Keep in mind–TIFs divert property tax dollars from public schools that are so dead broke many of them can’t afford to buy basic supplies, like toilet paper. Moreover, the mayor is earmarking money to build the Marriott at the very moment he says he has to jack up property taxes and cut payments to pensioners because the city can’t afford to make good on its pension obligations.

“In short, the city claims it doesn’t have money for its school children or retirees, but it somehow has plenty of cash to enrich a hotel corporation – one that just so happens to be part owned by the hedge fund of the mayor’s largest contributors.”

So is this a story about schools? Yes, indeed. When a city closes public schools because it has a deficit but gives generously to finance a luxury hotel that won’t have to pay taxes, this is a story about public officials who don’t care about schools, education, or children.

NEWS RELEASE
FOR EMBARGOED RELEASE CONTACT: Stephanie Gadlin
Midnight, May 21, 2014 312/329-6250

New CTU report analyzes massive public school closings on one-year anniversary
“Twelve Months Later: The Impact of School Closings in Chicago” examines myriad of CPS’s Broken Promises

CHICAGO—The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) released today a report on the state of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) one year after the Board of Education (BOE) voted to close 49 elementary schools and one high school program, the largest, one-time school closing action in U.S. history and a decision made in the wake of massive opposition and protests throughout the city of Chicago.

The study, titled “Twelve Months Later: The Impact of School Closings in Chicago,” looks at what happened as a result of the mass school closings of 2013, and answers such questions as: Were CPS promises for receiving schools kept? How much money was saved? Did resources increase at affected schools? Have services increased for special education students at consolidated schools.

On May 22, 2013, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s handpicked BOE shuttered 50 neighborhood school communities, “turned around” five schools and co-located 17 others. Faced with widespread opposition to this action, CPS promised hundreds of millions of dollars in capital improvements and transition supports for schools receiving students from closed schools. CTU examination of the evidence has found, however, that promises made to receiving schools were hollow in many cases and only partially fulfilled in others. Among the findings:

· Receiving schools are still disproportionately under-resourced compared to other elementary schools.
· Students were moved to schools with libraries, but funds weren’t available to hire librarians. Just 38% of receiving schools have librarians on staff, whereas across CPS, 55% of elementary schools have librarians.
· Computer labs were upgraded at receiving schools but only one-fifth of these schools have technology teachers.
· CPS touted iPads for all receiving-school students, but included few related professional learning opportunities for teachers.
· CPS spent millions on large-scale programmatic changes at 30 elementary schools, but the success and continued funding of STEM and IB programs remain to be seen.

“Shuttering our schools was touted as a hard and difficult choice by the mayor and the Board, but this was the easy, draconian choice,” said CTU President Karen GJ Lewis. “Parents, teachers, and the public demanded resources and supports for these education communities. Sadly, by making promises that remain unfulfilled, these schools and the students they serve have been dealt yet another blow—from failed policy to broken promises.”

For this report, the CTU interviewed teachers from seven of the receiving schools to gather information about the fulfilment of CPS promises. Additionally, researchers reviewed CPS material on the school closures, operating and capital budget documents, position files, vacancy reports, class size data, and other public data.

###

Troy LaRavierre, principal of Blaine Elementary school, one of the highest performing schools in the city, decided he had had enough. He wrote a candid letter to the Chicago Sun-Times blasting the administration of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, whose political interference and disrespect were unprecedented in his career.

This is a man of courage. He won’t be silenced, not by Rahm Emanuel or anyone else who demands that he betray the best interests of the children in his care. No, he is not a “hero” like the billionaires pumping millions into the destruction of public education. He is the real thing.

He wrote to the Chicago Sun-Times:

#################

“Since 2011, CPS principals and teachers have experienced unprecedented political burdens. Early on, teachers felt publicly maligned and disrespected by the mayor, leading to the historic strike of 2012.

“While publicly praising principals in speeches and with awards, behind the scenes this administration has disregarded principals’ knowledge and experience. They have ignored and even suppressed principals’ voices in order to push City Hall’s political agenda for Chicago’s schools.

“The administration’s interaction with principals is often insulting. During the debate over the longer school day, some principals questioned its merits. CPS officials were then dispatched to tell the principals their opinions didn’t matter. “You are Board employees,” a central office official told a room full of principals at a meeting, “and when you speak, your comments must be in line with the Board’s agenda.” He instructed us to have an “elevator speech” supporting the longer day ready at a moment’s notice. We were told that if Emanuel and the press walked into our schools, we’d better be prepared to list the benefits of his longer day. In a move that further humiliated principals, they were called on at random to give their elevator speeches at subsequent principal meetings.

“Shortly afterward, CPS slashed school budgets, voted to close 50 schools and made disingenuous statements about the slashed budget giving more “autonomy” to principals. They insinuated these cuts would have little effect on classrooms. I spoke up to give Chicagoans a factual assessment of the effects of these cuts. A reporter from WBEZ Radio recorded a statement I delivered at City Hall in July 2013 and posted it on the station’s website. It became one of the station’s most downloaded audio files.

“Several months later, I spoke about overcrowded schools on WYCC television. A few hours before filming, I emailed CPS officials to inform them. Later that afternoon — unaware the show had already been taped — those officials told me not to appear because I did not have permission. On the subject of whether I had the right to speak as a private citizen, CPS said I should wait to receive clarity. After more than two months I’m still waiting for “clarity” from CPS on my right to speak.

“Recently, during a break at a training session, a few principals gathered to discuss what they could not say publicly. They expressed concerns about the impact of Emanuel’s effort to cut teacher pensions on our ability to recruit talented people into the teaching profession. They questioned unfunded mandates that pull resources from classrooms, and condemned CPS’ expenditure of over $20 million on Supes Academy — an organization the CEO of CPS once worked for — to provide principal training, a training that principals agreed was among the worst they’d experienced.

“Principal after principal expressed legitimate concerns that none felt safe expressing publicly. Finally, I spoke.

“This administration gets away with this because we let them. We are the professionals. Yet, we allow political interests to dominate the public conversation about what’s good for the children in our schools. Every time these officials misinform the public about the impact of their policies, we need to follow them with a press conference of our own to set the record straight.”

“Those who responded expressed concerns about being harassed, fired or receiving a poor evaluation. Principals sat paralyzed by fear of what might happen if they simply voiced the truth. One of them asked me plainly, “Aren’t you afraid of losing your job?” The question awakened a memory:

“General Quarters! General Quarters! All hands, man your battle stations!”

“In 1989, when I was in the Navy, I was stationed onboard an aircraft carrier and accustomed to hearing the “General Quarters” battle readiness exercise. However, on January 4 of that year, it came with a sobering declaration: “This is not a drill.”

“Our ship had entered the Gulf of Sidra near Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya, and crossed Gaddafi’s “Line of Death.” Two Libyan warplanes were headed our way. Fortunately, our F-14 fighter jet pilots were able to shoot the warplanes down. Our captain later praised the pilots and ship’s crew for our willingness to risk our lives to preserve American freedoms.

“So when people ask me, “Aren’t you afraid of losing your job if you speak out?” this is my answer: I did not travel across an ocean and risk my life to defend American freedoms only to return and relinquish those freedoms to an elected official and his appointed board of education.”

Bill Ruthhart, a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, reviewed hundreds of emails about CNN’s “Chicagoland” and discovered that the “documentary” was an infomercial for controversial Mayor Rahm Emanuel. CNN honored him at the very time that he took the historically unprecedented step of closing 50 public schools. CNN has no shame.

He writes:

“If it seemed as though some scenes of CNN’s documentary series “Chicagoland” were coordinated by Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s City Hall and the show’s producers, that’s because they were.

“More than 700 emails reviewed by the Tribune reveal that the production team worked hand in hand with the mayor’s advisers to develop storylines, arrange specific camera shots and review news releases officially announcing the show.

“Producers asked the mayor’s office to help them set up key interactions in what the cable network has billed as a nonscripted eight-part series, including Emanuel’s visits with the school principal who emerged as a star of the show, emails show.

“City Hall’s frequent correspondence with the producers illustrates how senior aides to a mayor known for shaping his media image managed how their boss would be portrayed on CNN to a prime time national audience.

“The production team for the series, whose final episode aired Thursday night, told Emanuel’s staff that particular scenes would present the mayor in a positive light, with one of the producers expressing a desire to showcase the mayor “as the star that he really is.”

“Creator and executive producer Marc Levin made a pitch to the mayor’s office last May as Emanuel’s hand-picked school board was two days away from a vote to close nearly 50 schools.”

A reader responds to Jeff Bryant’s
article by
wondering why so many Democrats in office are
ignoring their base by aligning themselves with the free-market GOP
ideology:

 

“Yes, yes, yes. Lately Democratic operatives have been
moaning and groaning about lack of excitement among their voters.
Supposedly this is a law of nature. Democrats just don’t get
excited about midterms. Yet, “school reform” is demobilizing
important elements of that base vote. This is one of the most
vibrant web sites around these days, and unfortunately, we have to
fight not only the GOP but also our “own” party – from President
Obama to Arne Duncan to Rahm Emanuel to Pat Quinn (who couldn’t
wait to make Paul Vallas his Lt. Gov. Running mate, within days of
Vallas being run out of Bridgeport, CT on a rail). “Stop doing
things to harm your base voters. What a concept! Maybe then we’d
vote. Don’t you realize you’re going to need every vote you can
get?”

An independent investigation found that nearly half of Chicago’s charter schools are under-enrolled, but the mayor-controlled school board plans to open more. This will drain more students and resources from the public schools. Mayor Emanuel hopes to destroy public education as his legacy to the city.

The mayor’s hand-picked board will vote tomorrow on authorizing 31 new charters.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Amy Smolensky, 312-485-0053

Data Analysis Reveals Nearly 11,000 Empty Seats; 47% of Charter Schools Under-enrolled

Pending Vote for Opening 31 New Charters Likely to Have Devastating Impact on Many Chicago Public Schools

CHICAGO, January 20 2013 — In an independent investigation of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) data from the 2013-14 school year compiled by parent Jeanne Marie Olson of the Apples to Apples project, parent group Raise Your Hand has discovered that 47 percent of CPS charter and contract schools had student populations below the CPS threshold for ideal enrollment. This equates to 50 schools with nearly 11,000 seats sitting empty. The analysis also reveals a decline in overall CPS enrollment of 3,000 students this academic year. Despite this drop, the Chicago Board of Education could approve as many as 31 new charters over the next two years.

These revelations combined with tremendous CPS budget cuts, a one billion dollar deficit and the recent closing of 50 neighborhood schools, have parents and community members demanding a halt to charter expansion. Opponents to the charter expansion, which is scheduled to be voted on during Wednesday’s Board meeting, are outraged at the prospect of adding 31 new charters (10 of which have already been approved) while neighborhood schools continue to receive funding cuts that have forced elimination of critical teaching and support positions as well as fundamental education programming.

“CPS has been opening charters in the Austin neighborhood for years and cannibalizing district schools,” said RYH Board member Dwayne Truss. “It is especially offensive to me as a resident of Austin that anyone would propose a new charter in our community after the closing of four district schools last year due to a so-called underutilization crisis manufactured by the district.”

CPS has contended that they will open more charters to meet parent demand and relieve overcrowding.

Raise Your Hand member Jennie Biggs said, “CPS claims to face another near billion dollar deficit. They risk destabilizing all of our schools by this unwarranted expansion. Every type of school in CPS has wait lists and this myth that CPS must open more charters to meet parent demand is insulting as a taxpayer and a resident of a community that had schools on the closing list last year and now has a charter proposal. We must strengthen our existing schools or we face another even more students leaving the system.”

Link to Apples to Apples: http://cpsapples2apples.wordpress.com/2014/01/19/a-history-of-cps-enrollment-1999-2014-rough-draft/

About Raise Your Hand for Illinois Public Education: Raise Your Hand is a growing coalition of Chicago and Illinois public school parents, teachers and concerned citizens advocating for equitable and sustainable education funding, quality programs and instruction for all students and an increased parent voice in policy-making around education. http://www.ilraiseyourhand.org.

For a list of under-enrolled charters, contact:

Amy Smolensky
amysmolensky@comcast.net
312-485-0053

NPR says Rahm Emanuel gets a “mixed” grade at midterm.

On education, his grade is not mixed.

It is a big fat F.

He will remembered long after his term ends as the mayor who closed 50 public schools.

He will be remembered as the mayor who showed callous indifference to the children of Chicago.

He will be remembered for putting Rich Investors First.

He will be remembered for his contribution to the destruction and privatization of public education in Chicago.

He will be remembered because he did not fight so that all children had the opportunities available to his own.

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