Archives for category: Chicago

There is a story (legend?) that the Chicago Cubs were cursed by a tavern owner in 1945, who was ejected from a World Series game because he smelled like his goat Murphy and other fans complained. In his fury, he said the Cubs would never win again.

They broke the curse!

Not only did they win the World Series, they did so by coming back from a 3-1 deficit, a rare accomplishment.

Congratulations, Cubbies!

A new study demonstrates that charter schools in Chicago get worse results than Chicago’s much-maligned public schools. Here is the abstract of the study by Myron Orfield and Thomas Luce:

“Charter schools have become the cornerstone of school reform in Chicago and in many other large cities. Enrollments in Chicago charters increased by more than ten times between 2000 and 2014 and, with strong support from the current mayor and his administration, the system continues to grow. Indeed, although state law limits charter schools in Chicago to 75 schools, proponents have used a loophole that allows multiple campuses for some charters to bypass the limit and there are now more than 140 individual charter campuses in Chicago. This study uses comprehensive data for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years to show that, after controlling for the mix of students and challenges faced by individual schools, Chicago’s charter schools underperform their traditional counterparts in most measurable ways. Reading and math pass rates, reading and math growth rates, graduation rates, and average ACT scores (in one of the two years) are lower in charters all else equal, than in traditional neighborhood schools. The results for the two years also imply that the gap between charters and traditionals widened in the second year for most of the measures. The findings are strengthened by the fact that self-selection by parents and students into the charter system biases the results in favor of charter schools.”

Troy LaRaviere, award-winning principal in Chicago who was dismissed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel for what was probably political reasons (he supported Senator Sanders in the primaries and he is an outspoken critic of Rahm) recently spoke to the Boston Teachers Union. He came to warn them to fight hard against Question 2, which would expand charters. He explained the havoc that charters have wreaked in Chicago, the damage they have done to public schools, even though public schools outperform the charters.

His talk was “Why Public Schools Are Far Better than Charter Schools.”

Although Rahm fired him, LaRaviere was elected by his colleagues as president of the Chicago Principals’ and Administrators’ Association.

Please read the excellent letter in the New York Times by Jitu Brown, director of Journey for Justice, defending the decision of the NAACP to call for a moratorium on charter schools.

Jitu was one of the leaders of the Dyett hunger strike, in which a group of community activists refused to eat for 34 days until the city of Chicago agreed not to close the last open-enrollment high school in their community. They won and the school reopened this fall.

Jitu is an authentic civil rights leader in Chicago and nationally. He has organized parents in major cities to fight back and speak out against school closings.

He is also a valued member of the board of directors of the Network for Public Education.

The city of Chicago averted a teachers’ strike, but charter teachers at the city’s largest chain–UNO–may go on strike.

This is richly ironic, because one of the central goals of the charter industry is to kill teachers’ unions.

93% of charters are non-union. The Walton family of union-haters has promised to spend $1 billion on new charters in the next five years.

Juan Rangel, founder of UNO, resigned in 2013 after revelations of nepotism, conflicts of interest, etc.

Keep your eye on Chicago.

This just in:  




September 26, 2016 312-329-6250



Teachers vote 95 percent to authorize strike to resolve contract dispute

CTU House of Delegates to meet Wednesday to discuss possible strike date


CHICAGO—The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) today released totals of its recent strike authorization vote. Now, its governing body will meet in a special session on Wednesday, Sept. 28 to determine the next steps, including whether to issue a 10-day strike notice to the Chicago Board of Education. If that happens, the first possible date for a teachers’ strike would be Oct. 11. This would be the third work stoppage by the city’s public school educators since Mayor Rahm Emanuel took office in 2011.


The Union’s Rules & Election Committee reported that on a 90.6 percent turnout, 95.6 percent of votes cast voted in favor to strike. This should come as no surprise to the Board, the mayor or parents because educators have been angry about the school-based cuts that have hurt special education students, reduced librarians, counselors, social workers and teachers’ aides, and eliminated thousands of teaching positions.


The CTU House of Delegates will meet this week to discuss the next steps in the contract fight. CTU officers and rank-and-file members will conduct a press conference at the conclusion of that session to share the results of those deliberations.



The Chicago Teachers Union represents nearly 27,000 teachers and educational support personnel working in the Chicago Public Schools, and by extension, the more than 400,000 students and families they serve. The CTU is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers and is the third largest teachers local in the United States and the largest local union in Illinois. For more information please visit CTU’s website at


Julie Woestehoff is interim director of Parents Across America. For many years, she ran a parent group in Chicago called Parents United for Responsible Education.

In PAA’s newsletter, she recalls how parents warned Chicago Superintendent Arne Duncan that his public school-closing/charter-opening program called Renaissance 2010 would likely lead to violence. Do you remember Renaissance 2010? Arne Duncan said that Chicago schools would enjoy a dramatic renaissance by the year 2010. Julie sent me her newsletter after reading a similar post that I had written about the possible connection between school closings, neighborhood destabilization, and increased violence. Arne Duncan learned nothing from the failure of Renaissance 2010; he brought the same policies to Washington and embedded them in Race to the Top.

She writes:

It has been more than 10 years since I and many of my former colleagues began warning Chicago that massive school closings would not improve education and would most likely lead to increased violence. It gives me no pleasure to see that this prediction has come true, and to such a tragic extent.

We began to sound the alarm about school closures in 2004, as Mayor Daley and Arne Duncan touted their Renaissance 2010 program, an attempt to satisfy the business community’s call to create 100 charter schools. Some of us slept on the sidewalk outside of the Board of Education headquarters the night before the August 2004 board meeting so that we could present a steady stream of testimony the next morning against the plan’s proposed 60 closures.

While Arne Duncan dismissed parent and community concerns, affected schools and neighborhoods became increasingly dangerous. In 2006, the media reported that violence had soared at five of the nine high schools that accepted most of the students transferred out of the high schools closed under Renaissance 2010. West side activists rose in anger in 2007 when 27 children were killed within a few months of the closure of the only open enrollment high school in Austin, the city’s largest neighborhood, forcing their children to travel across several gang lines to get to school. The nation was gripped by the horrific 2009 recorded murder of Fenger High School honor student Derrion Albert by a few youth from a faction of students transferred to Fenger after their neighborhood high school was closed.

In 2012, I wrote an article for Huffington Post, “Are Charter Schools the Answer to — or One Reason for – Chicago’s Violence?” The number of shootings and homicides had taken another alarming leap, and a charter school official suggested that the solution was opening more charter schools. The studies and reports I cited made it clear that this idea was exactly the wrong approach.

Along with the warnings and protests, advocates also tirelessly developed school improvement proposals in collaboration with recognized education experts, parents, teachers, students, and neighbors. All of these community-generated proposals were dismissed and disrespected by district officials.

Mike Klonsky writes about the latest anti-union screed from the Chicago Tribune.

Funny thing about the Trib: they complain about the union but not about the Mayor’s indifference to the children of Chicago.

Mike Klonsky comments this evening on an especially meretricious list of “children’s rights.”

A reformer’s dream. School choice (vouchers and charters).

No collective bargaining for teachers.

Merit pay.

School closings.

Here is Mike’s bill of rights for kids:

“A real student Bill of Rights might include items like:

The right to learn in a safe environment in a safe community.

The right to be well-fed, rested and clothed.

The right to opt-out of high-stakes, standardized testing.

The right to attend a racially desegregated public school.

The right to gender equality including freedom from LGBT discrimination.

The right to vote and have voice on important matters concerning school policy.

The right to think critically, free from censorship, locker searches and book banning.

The right to have a qualified, certified teacher in every classroom.

The right to the same level of funding and resources as students in the wealthy suburbs.

The list of student rights could and would be a lot longer, if students had any voice in compiling it. I’m quite sure that didn’t happen over at the Tribune.”

In Chicago, hunger strikers sat in front of Dyett High School, demanding that Mayor Emanuel keep the school open.

They wanted an open enrollment neighborhood high school, and Dyett was the last one in the city.

Not only is the school open, the city spent $14 million to renovate it. It reopened as an arts-themed neighborhood high school.

Total victory for our friend Jitu Brown and his steadfast, courageous allies.

Jitu would be the first to say that he does not deserve credit or recognition. But he was there every day. He led. The hunger strikers won.

Jitu Brown hereby joins the honor roll of this blog. I am happy to say that he is a member of the board of the Network for Public Education.