Archives for category: Chicago

The Chicago Teachers Union plans a protest rally tomorrow, calling on Mayor Emanuel to fight for funding for the public schools. The schools face an intolerable 39% budget cut because of the failure of the city and state to fund them.

CTU to protest Mayor Emanuel’s refusal to stabilize Chicago Public Schools on Wednesday

CHICAGO—The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) has turned an imposed Chicago Public Schools (CPS) furlough day into a “fight back” day and will lead a series of demonstrations throughout the Loop on Wednesday, June 22. The Union, parents, students, education justice activists and others are calling on Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the Chicago City Council and other lawmakers to fund public schools and implement a series of measures that will lead to long-term sustainability of the district.

Last month, the CTU released details of a $502 million CPS revenue recovery package and called on Emanuel and the City Council to stabilize the district. The Union said this act of “self-help” will ensure lawmakers in Springfield that local leaders are fully committed to restoring funding to our schools.

The following is for planning purposes:


Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Jesse Sharkey & CTU Members
8:30 a.m.
United Center Protest @ Willis Tower

Chicago Teachers Union Financial Secretary Kristine Mayle & CTU Members
8:30 a.m.
Chicago Board of Education Protest/Elected School Board
42 W. Madison

Chicago Teachers Union Recording Secretary Michael Brunson & CTU Members
9:30 a.m. Civilian Police Accountability Council Protest/Elected Police Board
City Hall, 121 N. Lasalle

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis & CTU Members
11:00 a.m.
All Member, Parent & Community Rally/Speak Out @ JR Thompson Center
Wednesday, June 22, 2016

This is one of the best posts ever, written by a Chicago public school parent and blogger.

Julie Vassilatos asks the question: whose schools? Who do they belong to? In Chicago, they are currently “owned” by the mayor and his hand-picked board. In other major cities, they are being given away to boards controlled by hedge fund managers, entrepreneurs, and corporate chains.

In Chicago, the mayor wants to cut the schools’ budget by 39%. Unimaginable!

Julie has a different understanding: These schools belong to US. They are OURS.

She writes:

The public schools belong to us. They are ours. In a very personal way, in a theoretical way, and in an actual, absolute financial way. Chicago Public Schools belong to us, the families who pay taxes to sustain them.

They do not belong to a handful of small-minded men who want to break them down, write them out of their budgets, and sever our communities from each other. They do not.

They. Are. Ours.

Our buildings, some of them historic, we have upheld and gardened and and repainted with our own volunteer efforts. We have papered their walls with our children’s art. We have forged relationships with our teachers, we have worked at this and so have they. We have struggled to get educational access for our special needs kids–struggled to create conditions in which our kid can learn despite draconian state-imposed limits, struggled together with our counselors and caseworkers and teachers and paraprofessionals.

We have chaperoned field trips and ridden on noisy bouncing buses, we have invented, organized, and staffed creative fundraisers, we have helped out in the classroom from stapling papers to reading to kids to finding and putting tennis balls on chair feet.

We have served on PTAs and LSCs, anxious and striving, weeping and sweating, laughing over shared meals and cheering over bake sale profits, working out and forging action on critical things like who our principal is and how we can best allocate our few paltry dollars.

In many cases our kids go to the same schools we went to, and our hearts can be filled with pride over this or with shame that they may be using the same textbooks we used. These schools are ours over generations.

These schools are ours. We pay for them. They are for our children and our society. They are not for the profit and manipulations of a ruler class, some of whom we elected in foolishness, and many of whom are appointed and about whom we have no say whatsoever. These educational overlords have shown that they do not care about our children’s educations. They care about their own children’s educations, as indeed so do we for our own children. It’s comfortable and easy for them, but the costs for this are high–a shrinking Chicago tax base, an exodus out of the city that will soon become a torrent, a generation of kids’ educations in jeopardy, and the moral cost of all the effort to maintain a lower class whose educational opportunities are denied.

Friends, readers, CPS parents, public school parents of the nation, hear this. Your school is yours. Our schools belong to us. Do not forget it. We have some power we need to retake here. We have a district to reclaim.

Mike Klonsky reports that Chicago’s open enrollment public high schools are driving the city’s improving graduation rate. You know, the public schools that accept everybody.


“Well, it’s that time of year when the media spotlight in all the privately-run charters schools that supposedly enroll 100% of their students in a college program. Of course they fail to mention they mean 100% of the 25% or fewer that make it from freshman year to the graduation ceremony.


“I wonder how many of those 100%-ers actually show up for college classes, can afford skyrocketing tuition, or graduate some time down the road. Urban Prep, for example, continually boasts about it’s college-acceptance rate for the few that graduate, but rarely about reading and math scores which are among the lowest in the city. This year only 24% of students at this school are considered proficient in math and/or reading.”


“Check out the number of Urban Prep Charter Academy (Englewood) 9th-graders in 2014, compared with the number that make it to senior year.


“Or the high-flying Noble St. charters which lost about half their students by senior year.”


What’s driving the rising graduation rates? Not the charters, with their exclusion of kids with disabilities and ELLs. The open enrollment public high schools.



The Chicago Sun-Times reported on a startling conflict of interest.

The rightwing, anti-union Walton Family Foundation has been funding the Illinois State Charter School Commission, a state agency, as well as many charter schools in Illinois. When the Chicago Public Schools recommended closing two charter schools because of their poor performance, the Commission blocked the closing. The two failing charters were also funded by the Walton Family Foundation.

Have you ever heard of a public agency that relied for funding on a private foundation with a political agenda of privatization?

Reporters Dan Mihalopoulos and Lauren FitzPatrick write:

A private foundation started by the late Walmart mogul Sam Walton and his wife has contributed heavily to the Illinois State Charter School Commission and to two charter operators whose schools the state agency has blocked the Chicago Board of Education from closing over poor student performance, records obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times show.

Even in the complex history of public education in Chicago, the situation involving the two charters, the Chicago Public Schools, the charter commission and the Arkansas-based Walton Family Foundation is unusual.

Unusual is an understatement.

For years, CPS has faced criticism for allowing the expansion and taxpayer-financed funding of privately run charters even as it shut down traditional public schools over low enrollment and bad test scores.

Aiming to show it expects charters to meet the same standards as CPS schools, the Board of Ed moved last November to cut off funding for three schools — including the Amandla Charter School in Englewood and Lighthouse Academies’ school in Bronzeville — over poor student performance. The charter commission overruled the Board of Ed and, in March, blocked CPS from closing the schools.

Beside Amandla and the Bronzeville Lighthouse Charter School, the commission also saved the Betty Shabazz International Charter School’s Barbara A. Sizemore Campus in Englewood from being closed. The Walton foundation hasn’t donated to Shabazz.

CPS responded later in March by suing the state agency over its ruling, which Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s schools chief, Forrest Claypool, called “ill-advised and destructive.”

Over the past 20 years, the Walton foundation has given more than $45 million to educational groups in Illinois, including charter schools and the state commission that regulates them, records examined by the Sun-Times show.

The biggest recipients were the Chicago-based IFF — which helps charter schools finance construction projects and got more than $9 million — and the Illinois Network of Charter Schools, an advocacy group that’s received about $8 million.

The Illinois charter operator that benefited most from Walton grants was the UNO Charter School Network, which got more than $3.5 million from the foundation. Its last grant was in 2012 — a year before Sun-Times reports exposed a contracting scandal involving the politically connected charter operator.

Though the commission is a government agency, its initial funding came from private organizations and individuals, including the Walton foundation. Current and former commission leaders say they sought grants because state lawmakers didn’t provide funding when they created the agency.

Members of the commission insisted that they were not influenced by the Walton Family Foundation to stop the closure of the two Walton-funded charter schools.

Whether they were or they were not, it is strange to see a state agency underwritten by the sponsor of the organizations that the agency is supposed to regulate. A classic example of regulatory capture.

The next time you hear boastful claims about “reform,” think Chicago.


Poor Chicago! Arne Duncan launched his version of reform there in 2001, with Gates funding. School closings, test scores above all, new schools, charter schools. And what is left now: a public school system struggling to survive. The results of Arne’s reforms: zilch.


Then Obama named his basketball buddy as Secretary of Education and the reforms that failed in Chicago were imposed on the nation by the ill-fated Race to the Too, where everyone is a loser.


So, Mike Klonsky tells us, reform is business as usual. The Chicago way. Those that have, get more. Those that have not, get ignored.


Fifteen years of reform. Think Chicago. Where Democratic leaders pander to billionaires and strangle the public schools.

Guess who really puts children first? Their parents!


MEDIA ALERT: Wednesday, May 25th, 9:00 a.m.


Billion Dollar Bake Sale/Rally Demands Budget Solution; Sustainable Revenue for CPS


WHAT: Hundreds of CPS Parents from across the city are leading the first ever: “Billion Dollar Bake Sale/Rally” for Sustainable Funding to Save Our Schools. This demonstration will illustrate parents’ frustration and determination to keep the pressure on elected officials throughout the summer and demand appropriate and equitable funding for CPS schools.


The mock bake sale will include “$250K Clout Cakes,” “$100k nothing-but-crumb cakes,” “Overcrowded Cookie Jars,” etc. to illustrate how traditional methods of filling budget gaps, like bake sales, will no longer suffice. The rally/march will also include real time logging of 1000+ calls from parents to city/state representatives demanding that they put children before politics.


WHERE/WHEN: Wednesday, May 25th
9:00 a.m: Gathering at Thompson Center;
9:15 a.m: March to Dearborn and Madison
9:40 a.m: Rally/Press Conference at Dearborn/Madison (Across from Board of Ed)


CPS plans to cut budgets by 25-30% after years of massive deficits that have gone ignored by state, city and CPS. Parents will announce plans for a summer full of public protests and events to keep the heat on for sustainable funding for Chicago Public Schools.


Paris Shaw, parent Leif Ericson
Pastor Kristian Johnson, parent Ravenswood
Parent Jose Hernandez, Calmeca
Parent Tim Alexander, OA Thorpe

Photo opp: Hundreds of parents from around the city, creative signage, “baked goods” ie “$250k Clout Cakes,” Etc.

Wendy Katten 773-704-0336

Interesting times in Chicago. Frightening too. Can the nation’s third largest school district survive?


Mike Klonsky reports that Mayor Rahm, who does not like public schools, has proposed a 40% budget cut.


It is tough to teach amidst so much instability, austerity, and hostility.


Meanwhile, Blaine Elementary School’s dissident and suspended principal, Troy LaRaviere, was elected as president of the Chicago Principal and Adobistrators Association. Troy was suspended and may soon be fired, despite winning many awards. He has been an outspoken critic of Mayor Rahm.


When Rahm Emanuel became mayor of Chicago, he had one big idea to reform the schools and increase student achievement: a longer school day. His model, writes Mike Klonsky, was Houston. Rahm claimed that students in Houston got a total of three more years of instruction because of the longer school day.


But what’s this?,  asks Mike. The wealthy suburban districts outside Chicago are shortening their school day.


“The plan aims to reduce stress and let students get more sleep for the students who attend schools in six suburbs. The plan also proposes to ease up on the amount of homework.
“We’ve come to the decision that our kids are more than a standardized test score. We want them to be well rounded global citizens who can contribute in a meaningful way,” said District 214 Superintendent David Schuler. — ABC7 News”


Maybe Rahm’s model should be the suburbs, not Houston.


A few weeks ago, Troy LaRaviere was removed as principal of Blaine Elementary School by officials at the Chicago Public Schools headquarters. He had previously been warned about his boldness in criticizing the school system and Mayor Rahm Emanuel. LaRaviere openly campaigned for Emanuel’s opponent, Chuy Garcia, and for Bernie Sanders.


In this post, LaRaviere explains how and why he was removed from his school.


It reads like the latest issue of “True Detective.”


It exemplifies the thuggery that is often called “the Chicago Way.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he had nothing to do with the “removal” or “reassignment” of Blaine Elementary School’s award-winning principal Troy LaRaviere.


Apparently the Mayor forgot that he controls the Chicago public school system. He appoints every member of the Board of Education. He chooses the Superintendent of schools.


The parents of Blaine are outraged. They can’t believe their principal was taken away mid-semester.


Troy LaRaviere wrote several posts that appeared on this blog. For his courage, I placed him on the honor roll of this blog. Read any his posts and you will see why the powers that be had to silence him. See here.  Or here.


He is fearless and outspoken. In Rahm Emanuel’s town, those qualities get you punished. Removed. Reassigned to nowhere.


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