Friday, July 31, 2015

CPS Engineers, Beware



From the comments:

"Rumor has it that CPS is planning on laying off all of the engineers in November, at which point, they will have to reapply for their jobs. Rumor also has it that Mr. Cawley is looking to eliminate 200 engineers, as per his "brown bag lunch" webinar (is this the correct term). The feeling that Mr. Cawley has, is, that 300 engineers can take care of some 600 buildings, based upon his suburban model. That model means that, according to him, the engineers who are rehired will be pulled out of their schools and report to the high schools, then fan out to the elementary schools for work orders.


It's funny that a company that hasn't been relevant since the mid-90s, Motorola, is suddenly the blueprint for an aging guy from Winnetka who does not live in the city, never really got out of middle-management, to implement changes for the school buildings."


CPS management, and Tim Cawley specifically, appears hard at work, yet again, dismantling any and all facets of a functional school system. In the process, they seem dead-set on destroying any vestige of union involvement in any part of our schools. Local 143 has been part of CPS since 1863, and if Tim Cawley has his way that tradition may be greatly altered. Time will tell...

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Teacher Pee Time, Really Atlantic?

The Atlantic began as a literary and cultural commentary magazine, and morphed into a publication aimed at serious national readers and thought leaders (their words). In 2015, this means discussing--ad nauseam--the bathroom habits of teachers to discredit a study the AFT and BATS commissioned to gauge the quality of worklife for working teachers.

30,000 respondents weighed in on: job enthusiasm (little to none); respect given by others (little to none); job stress (a lot); workplace bullying (too much). WCT agrees with all of this, and sees first hand a lack of enthusiasm, lack of respect, increased stressors, and especially bullying and intimidation in the workplace.

Highlighted as another job issue in the survey is, yes, lack of adequate bathroom breaks. This is included along with other health-related issues like depression, the ability to see a doctor when needed, and the ease with which one can stay home when ill. All valid, but the Atlantic chooses to focus on bathroom breaks. As if having bodily functions gone over with a fine-tooth comb isn't bad enough, author Alia Wong throws around some snide teacher bashing, too.

The Atlantic's opinion of the study in general:
"The survey results should certainly be taken with some skepticism." Skepticism? Teachers who respond to a survey about their experiences on the job apparently can't be trusted because...unions?

The Atlantic's opinion of the commissioning bodies of the study:
"As the second-largest education union in the country, the AFT clearly has a vested interest in advocating for better working conditions for educators...". No shit, for lack of a better term. Alia Wong, must not have consulted Wikipedia to discover the function of a labor union. Otherwise, she would have discovered the very purpose of a labor union is to, among other things, advocate for better working conditions for its members.

The rest of this 1,800 word treatise on the toilet goes on to glibly discuss all sorts of bladder issues, yet manages to include two links that cite teachers as big whiners and over-exaggerators. Again with the teachers being too clueless to know about their own experiences.

Channeling Chicken Soup for the Teacher's Soul, Ms. Wong comes to the trite conclusion that, "Part of teaching is being able to adapt and make sacrifices."

The Atlantic's cultivated readership takes to Twitter to join the teacher-bashing fun, too:

@BeauABlackwell is the angriest respondent who rants: (1) because they get 3 months off in summer, a Christmas break, and a spring break. I don't feel sorry for them. (2) Then get a new job, and (3) As I said before, I don't get any breaks--holidays, vacation, nothing

@twitslovetotwit opines: Research has shown that teachers give better lectures when their pants are full of shit and piss.

@CaptAmerica1787 says: More apt title: Unions only want money - don't give a shit - literally!

Thanks, Alia Wong and the Atlantic for your hard-hitting journalism and think-piece on number 1 and number 2. You and your editors are regular fucking Woodward & Bernsteins.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Cha-ching!

        Graphic credit: Chicago Tribune, July 25, 2015

Wow! A big WCT shout out to the financial geniuses at the City of Chicago who've accrued $1,052,300,000.00 in fees, settlements, and bad investments.

The Tribune alerts residents to the slew of new taxes and fees they can expect to pay for such gross mismanagement. At the same time, hedge-fundies have also been alerted to this "lucrative" debt and have invested more in Chicago's debt because of the city's ability to raise revenue and cut expenses. This is Newspeak for increase taxes and reduce services for residents.

Chicago, known for record-breaking violence, is now also known for record-breaking interest rates on bond offerings, an apparently unheard of 5.69%.

We're counting down to see when city unions get blamed for this.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Ed Reform's BFF: U.S. Murder Rates


Ed reformers love to bang the gong of U.S. educational crisis:

But if we compare international educational performance with international murder rates, the day-ta is strikingly similar:  
The most recent UNODC international statistics for murder and firearm homicide rates for a wide selection of industrialized nations.
Even a student with below-average PISA scores could probably conclude that nations with higher rates of crime produce students who perform lower on standardized tests.  

We at WCT have to conclude that U.S. murder rates are the BFF of ed reform philathro-capitalists and all who $wallow their bullshit. For if U.S. murder rates were on a par with Japan or Finland, profiteers who conceal their financial ambition and improve their public image via ed reform efforts would have to find another venue.

Next thing you know, ed reformers will be pinning the blame for American crime on failing schools, bad teachers, and greedy unions.  Oh wait...

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Idiotic Piece from Ed Reform Now



Chad Aldeman, Washington D.C.education policy analyst who has spent zero hours working in any capacity in any type of school, recently published a really stupid essay on Ed Reform Now's blog.  A few highlights:

  • With Congress debating the future of educational policy, here's a thought-provoking statistic: American adults in the 1940's had the same odds of being a high school graduate as today's Americans have of being a college graduate.
  • Beyond the pure shock value of this dramatic shift, it begs the question of whether the two rates will grow at the same rates.  Will we boost college attainment rates in this century as fast as we increased high school attainment rates in the last century?
Perhaps these statistics are thought-provoking and shocking for people who have never been inside an actual school for any length of time.

But for those of us who have experience in a field known as "teaching," it's quite simple:
  1. Public high school teachers are not permitted to fail students anymore in inner-cities
  2. High school grades have been drastically inflated for the past 30 years
  3. High school graduation rate data in inner-cities is very easily manipulated
  4. A high school diploma now means nothing 
  5. Students from inner-cities are pushed to attend college by smug elites because all other viable alternatives have been eliminated
  6. Students from inner-cities arrive to college without the necessary skills
  7. Students who are unprepared for college drop out
Chad Aldeman, you're a fucking idiot.  


Ed Reform Truth Deniers



Campbell Brown offers us a simpering smile and feeble "inspiring stories," such as her recent lame tweet about students who lined up to get a janitor's autograph before he left their school for greener pastures.

Nevertheless, her non-profit (wink-wink), The Seventy Four, seeks to undermine the foundations of American public education through the usual means; charter profiteering, vilification of labor unions, teacher-bashing, and reliance on the old hoary failing schools myth.  Like all philanthro-venture-investment-capitalist ed reformers, Campbell Brown and her ilk remain silent on the unpleasant and politically tricky truths that shape the lives of many inner-city students.

For example, 10 people are dead and 35 are wounded after the usual violence in Chicago last weekend.  In fact, 1495 people have been shot in Chicago this year to date. Think this might affect student performance?

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Triple Digit NOLA Murders Despite Charter Proliferation




Laissez les bon temps roulez!

Nearly a decade ago, Hurricane Katrina killed more than 1,000 people and rendered thousands more homeless, leaving large areas of the city without schools.  At the time, 2/3 of New Orleans public schools were deemed "failing."  Sniffing opportunity, charter profiteers descended.

Currently, 92 percent of NOLA students are enrolled in a charter school.

Ironically, New Orleans just hit triple digits in murders 55 days sooner than in 2014.  Furthermore, NOLA's solve rate for homicides has slipped to 50 percent. Detectives in 2015 are handling 30% more cases than in 2014, with a homicide unit that is 25% smaller than 2014.  These troubling statistics are vaguely explained as resulting from various form of [police] attrition.  What could be sapping the strength of NOLA police officers?

And noxious ed reformers, where is the excellence you promised?  Where is the turn-around? Where is the college and career readiness? Where are the bright futures?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

More $$ Nonsense

Reporters for major Chicago newspapers are giving us some confusing information.  First, the Sun-Times reports that spending at neighborhood schools will drop by $60 million.  Next, the Trib reports that CPS plans to spend $500 million that the district does not have.

We have become somewhat immune to the power of big numbers.  $85 billion in Illinois unfunded pension liability?  Yup.  $443 million to charter schools in 2015?  Got it.  $9 million to CPS Network Instructional Leaders?  Whatever.

The "takeaway," as our loathsome U. of C. thought partners are wont to say, is that money does not solve the academic problems of our CPS students.  As we discussed in a recent truth alert, many of our students come to school with issues that schools cannot solve.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Truth Alert!



It's happened again readers, our newspapers are publishing items that reveal some truths about the lives that many students who go to CPS experience.

Sun-Times columnist Laura Washington writes:
In a new published study, Dr. Bell and a colleague examined 611 patients at a family medical clinic on the South Side. They identified 237 as "having profiles consistent with neurobehavioral disorders associated with prenatal alcohol exposure." That's 39%.
Washington goes on to report the additional findings by Dr. Bell and his colleagues. Those affected by Fetal Alcohol Syndrome often have explosive tempers, bad judgement, and "they are doing stuff that doesn't make sense. Explosive violence."

Some other unpleasant realities that Dr. Bell has observed:
  • Black communities are saturated with liquor stores.
  • Black women have high rates of unplanned pregnancies.
  • Women drink unknowingly during pregnancy.
  • Children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome often go undiagnosed.
As Washington points out, these observations are difficult to hear, but a place to start. This would also be a problem which could be described as systemic, intractable, and an issue which contributes to the generational poverty urban students experience. 

These students are likely also some of the same who experience violence on a regular basis. Despite students with explosive tempers, impulsivity, and poor judgement, these students are expected to sit through hours of tests, and additional reform-y hoops as put forth by CPS.

 WCT wonders where in Noble Street's mission of, "scholarship, discipline, and honor...to lead exemplary lives and serve as a catalyst for education reform in Chicago," the school addresses this. Wait, they don't. Neighborhood schools, currently starved of resources and funding, are expected to not only address issues like these, but reverse them.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Gary Solomon: B3's Babysitter



It's amazing what happens when reporters are able to investigate stories instead of reviewing Bruce Rauner's talking points for inclusion in any and all editorials. Such is the case with the excellent investigations the Sun-Times continues into the ceaseless connections between City Hall and its contractors. In this week's installment, readers  learn about Gary Solomon: SUPES CEO and B3 "conduit." 
Solomon's emails to Beth Swanson, Emanuel's then-deputy chief of staff for education issues were so frequent that Swanson described him in an interview Friday as, "Barbara Byrd-Bennett's conduit--an extension of her team who pushed for her hiring."
Conduit seems like a polite word for someone who, according to the article, complained on B3's behalf that she was kept out after midnight by high-ranking CPS officials (waah!), lobbied the Mayor's office for her "Wish List" (all charters please!), and negotiated how exactly how many days B3 could be counted on to be physically present in the district (zero!) though she would be serving as the CEO. Aside from k being a "serial networker who emailed constantly," Solomon served as nanny-in-chief for Triple B.

Solomon's judgement is questionable--and kickback likely steep--for him to proclaim Bennett would "nail" the top post in CPS. She nailed it, right out of the district and into a Federal investigation as a result of SUPES. Chicago taxpayers and anyone employed by CPS is still getting nailed thanks to the $20.5M contract Bennett and Solomon are now infamous for.

CPS officials, when asked about the glaring conflicts, answered with variations on the theme of huh?

Thursday, July 9, 2015

A Perk For One, A Perk For All


For those of you hired after 2011 (known in teacher pension world as Tier II), don't fret. Tony Smith, the new ISBE superintendent is getting a perk. Since we're all in this together--shared sacrifice, all about the kids, insert insipid phrase here--it should apply to all Tier II hires:

"Smith is getting a special perk: The Illinois State Board of Education is giving him a stipend each year, expected to be worth thousands of dollars annually, to make up for his reduced pension...it is intended to match retirement benefits of his predecessor, who was a member of the more generous Tier I plan." This is on top of his $225,000.00 salary, the Tribune reports.

It's almost as if by doing this, Bruce Rauner acknowledges there is such a disparity between the two tiers of the pension system, no one in their right mind would work under the Tier II system knowing they do the same work as a Tier I employee, and yet will receive a lesser benefit upon retirement.

At least this bonus could have been contingent upon Smith becoming a licensed teacher or administrator in the State of Illinois and passing all requisite tests just like every other educator must.

Should do wonders for attacting the top teaching candidates to the state, retaining teachers, and morale.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Truth Time


"You have a criminal-justice system that let's out too many people repeatedly who use guns. You have a father who's lost a child that should be cooperating with the police department in solving the crime of their child. And you have gangbangers without any moral compunction--without any moral remorse or responsibility shooting into a playground or shooting into a front yard as if it's their personal shooting gallery." -Rahm Emanuel in response to 7 year old Amari Brown's death.

"Antonio Brown, who police say is a ranking member of the Four Corner Hustlers street gang has been arrested 45 times on charges ranging from gun possession to burglary, and is not cooperating with detectives...'Quite frankly, I've never seen anything like this [arrest record], it's probably about 22 pages long.'" Garry McCarthy commenting on Amari's father, Antonio.

***

Rahm Emanuel and Garry McCarthy have repeatedly used the words responsibility, values, and accountability when addressing Amari Brown's shooting and his father's inaction. Rightly so. Still, WCT can't help but wonder what policies schools have in place that encourage such inaction and shirking of responsibility.

Our previous post highlights the theatrics of the new grading and attendance policies as showcased in a recent Atlantic article. Grade inflation and attendance manipulation aside, these policies appear to promote the exact behaviors, in light of the weekend's events, that Garry McCarthy and Rahm Emanuel rail against: the denial of responsibility and lack of accountability for one's decisions. If, starting at a young age, one faces virtually no consequences in school, or in the case of Antonio Brown, 45 previous chances with law, what is the downside?

Further consequences, in the name of policies like restorative justice, standards-based grading, and on-track ratings, that foster limited student responsibility and accountability, while provoking continually emboldened student behavior:
  • Administration's feigned ignorance of known gangbangers in the building and their gangbanging in the hallways and classrooms because it would negatively affect the suspension rate.
  • Non-existent deans and disciplinary action to reduce the number of high-level discipline infractions. 
  • Principal intervention in police matters, such as advising students not to cooperate in ongoing investigations, lest it bring unwanted attention to the school and add to high-level disciplinary infractions.
  • Students stridently adopting the no-snitch policy when it comes to fights and other illicit behavior in school.
All in the name of rankings, accountability, and quality. This is only amplified when you add in charter schools and their "no excuses" drivel, despite the fact they expel students frequently. These same students go to their neighborhood school, and because said school is under constant pressure to remain off probation, their whims rule the day.

A charitable view, as the article indicates, is to see the policies as a means to provide students an opportunity to right their wrongs, experience success, and graduate. In a harsher light, these policies provide a haven for gangbangers and cultivate the intractable no-snitch mentality that stops a father from helping solve his own son's murder. 

Another Stupid Statement from the Trib



After the tragic shooting death of yet another Chicago child, 7-year-old Amari Brown, the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board issues yet another stupid statement: "We don't yet know the tick-tock that preceded the shooting of Amari - the swirl of bad acts and motivations that left him bleeding to death."

Yes we do.  Here's the tick-tock:

  • Amari's dad, Antonio Brown, is a high-ranking member of the Four Corner Hustlers
  • Antonio has a 22 page rap sheet, with 45 arrests for gun crimes, narcotics crimes, and forcible felonies
  • Antonio has a 5-pointed star tattooed on his forehead and a blunt tattooed on his cheek
  • Antonio was the intended victim of a gang shooting
  • Antonio had his 7-year-old son outside after midnight on a historically violent night in a historically violent neighborhood
But apparently Garry McCarthy is a bully for pointing out that Antonio Brown is responsible for his son's death.

CPS Grade and Attendance Manipulation



The Atlantic recently published an essay about CPS titled What Schools Will Do to Keep Students on Track.

Highlights that outline CPS attendance manipulation:
  • At Manley High School, students frequently skip first and last periods...The records show that administrators frequently change absences marked by teachers as "unexcused" to "school function." This change marks the child as present, boosting attendance data.  Even with the school function changes, nearly 60% of the students had unexcused absences from more than 100 classes each.
  • At Juarez High School, one student accumulated unexcused absence marks in 381 separate classes, amounting to 54 school days.  The student's transcript showed just 21 unexcused absence days.
Highlights that outline CPS grade manipulation:
  • Many teachers across Chicago fear the new grading policies - with names like "standards-based-grading" and "no zero grading" make passing too easy.
  • At Manley, some students refuse to work until the very end of the quarter - in some cases just cutting class - when teachers must give them a make-up packet.
Rationalizations for data manipulation:
  • "If kids get away with something in adolescence and still on on to graduate high school, that's a good thing."  -Sarah Duncan, University of Chicago's Network for College Success; Harvard grad and sister of Arne Duncan
  • "When you go to elite schools, they won't let you fail.  Why don't kids in public schools, poor kids, deserve a chance?" -Liz Kirby, CPS Network 11 Chief
Ms. Duncan's rationalizations remind us of the Tribune's recent congratulations to Englewood for producing no shootings during the recent 4th of July weekend.  Of course, the lack of shootings in Englewood was a result of a massive police saturation, with CPD officers working back-to-back 12 hour shifts and days-off cancelled.

As for Ms. Kirby's claim that at elite schools "they" won't let you fail, we wonder: Which schools is she referring to?  And who are the "they"?

Sunday, July 5, 2015

$100 G to Burn Down House



Less than a week after making a $634 M payment to the teachers' pension fund and then asking for $500 M back, Rahm has pledged $100 G of city money to burn down a house.  The house-burning is planned for September 26th to celebrate the 2nd Annual Great Chicago Fire Festival.

The 1st Great Chicago Fire Festival in 2014, to which Rahm gave $350 G, is now known as the "fiasco on the river," as rainy weather prevented the fire from spreading and many tourists were disappointed.

CPS teachers, keep up the begging on Donors Choose.  It looks like you're going to have wait for those dry erase markers, pencils and chairs that you need in the classroom.

CPS Waste, Exhibit D: Tim Cawley and AUSL



In response to a reader's suggestion, we've turned our attention to big league cornholer Tim Cawley, Chief Administrative Officer for CPS and former leader of AUSL turnaround schools.

  • CPS Salary: $215,000.000
  • Community of Residence: Winnetka
  • Value of Winnetka home: $2,650,000.000
  • Reason why he lives outside of Chicago: papal dispensation residency waiver
  • Reason why he can afford $2 mil home: Aramark kick-backs
  • Amount that Cawley's botched Aramark deal cost CPS: $7 million
  • Cawley's previous ed experience: AUSL (Academy for Urban School Leadership) Managing Director; AUSL is a "non-profit [wink wink] that partners with CPS to turn around chronically-failing schools."
  • Amount of $$ funneled into AUSL by Chicago Public Education Fund while Cawley has been employed by CPS: $1,080,000.00 
  • Per diem fees charged by AUSL for staff members' time: $1000 - $3000 based on staff member senority
Current Donors Choose begging pleas posted by teachers AUSL Turnaround Schools (A-D only) that Tim Cawley has tran$formed:

AUSL Turnaround School:  Curtis School of Excellence

  • $479: double-wide teaching easel with magnetic upper and lower-case letters

AUSL Turnaround School: Dvorak School of Excellence
  • $395: pencils, filler paper, dry erase markers
  • $670: document camera
  • $275: desktop computer
  • $334: iPad Mini
AUSL Turnaround School: Deneen School of Excellence
  • $528: math games library, dry erase markers
  • $469: dictionaries and thesauri
Tim Cawley's answer to the question, "What are you passionate about personally?": "Helping those less fortunate."

If you weren't schooled about Tim Cawley prior to reading, it should now be clear that his excellence lays in his duplicity.

CPS Debt: Cha-ching!


Floated quietly on July 4th, the Sun-Times outlines the minefield that is CPS borrowing and its associated fees. In the Spring, CPS sold $478,000,000 in bonds, and the $4,400,000 fee for such borrowing has been spread around to those with ties to mayors past and present.

Chris Fusco has connected all the dots for anyone who cares to see how the connected continue to make money while CPS and the city go broke:
  • Law firm Katten Muchin & Rosenman's profit: $300,000. The connected: former Mayor Daley who made pension holidays de rigueur is Of Counsel at the firm, and the firm's attorneys have contributed $61,000 to Emanuel's campaigns since 2010. 
  • Law firm Thompson Coburn's profit: $350,000. The connected:  John Cullerton, Mayor Emanuel's bro in the Illinois General Assembly.
  • Finance firm Loop Capital Markets profit: $180,000 in underwriting fees. The connected: James Reynolds, Jr., firm founder who's also an Emanuel appointee to World Business Chicago and the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority. World Business Chicago has a sleek website but WCT is unsure of what they do to benefit citizens. IFSA is an ineffectual organization who does things like pay the debt on U.S. Cellular while not collecting the rent.
Going broke has never paid so well, at least for some. WCT thought Mayor Daley's continued profiteering from the mess he created was the big middle finger to the taxpayers, but it turns out the giant middle finger is:
  • Finance firm Cabrera Capital Markets: A portion of the $2,300,000 in fees for this year's bond deal, plus half of the $18.1M in fees since 2011.  If the name Cabrera rings a bell it should: Martin Cabrera, Jr. was UNO Charter Schools chairman after the SEC probe of UNO's awarding of construction contracts based on best price nepotism. Cabrera Capital, not coincidentally, was one of the underwriters of the $37.5M in loans UNO received in 2011.
The list of the connected goes on and on. Don't be a-feared, citizens, Emanuel spokesperson Adam Collins reassures readers, "...there is no connection between the awarding of CPS bond work and contributions to the mayor's political fund." Thanks for clearing that up. If City Hall says it, it must be true.

Our political ruling class engages in financial malfeasance as its sole practice, and the constellation of cronies assembled in Chicago is continually enriched thanks to such deals. Meanwhile, Chicagoans are bracing for a slew of taxes ranging from increased property taxes to a tax on the cloud so our ruling elite can remain so.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy Independence Day!

"Democracy is when the indigent, and not the men of property, are the rulers." 
-Aristotle

Friday, July 3, 2015

Rahm Skips Chiraq for Aspen



Rahm Emanuel had a busy week: funding CTU's pension, laying off 1,400 CPS employees, and then borrowing $500M back from the pension to pay to keep schools open. Whew! After all of that, one might expect him to keep a low profile, or be around for the 4th of July weekend since in Chiraq it will mean bodies piling up. Nonsense, readers! Rahm jetted right to Aspen to be interviewed at the 2015 Aspen Ideas Festival.

The Aspen Ideas Festival is billed as, "the nation's premier, public gathering place for leaders from around the globe and across many disciplines to engage in deep and inquisitive discussion of the ideas and issues that both shape our lives and challenge our times." People who live on planet Earth have *ideas festivals* all the time and they're called conversations. Aspen's fresh mountain air and spectacular vistas must make it a special place for plutocrats and profiteers of all stripes to exchange trade secrets.

Rahm Emanuel felt the need to announce, "I am not an education reformer. My job as mayor is to make sure you have quality."

Here are some key issues of education reform and Rahm's stance:

School choice: The more, the better. Words like excellence, rigor, and tran$formation are regularly bandied about. Headline after Rahm won his second election: "A victory for Rahm Emanuel is a victory for school choice."

Teacher tenure: It is lazy, complacent teachers who are the ruin of the school system. The Reader's Ben Joravsky points out that CPS has in effect abolished tenure by redefining positions and creating other bureaucratic workarounds to the union contract.

Teachers' Unions: It is union teachers who make it impossible to effectively teach the 21st century student. Chicago's 2012 strike, massive school closings, and teacher layoffs indicate Rahm agrees.

Privatization: The free-market, corporate-driven policies of ed reform will cure all education ills. Rahm and his elected school board recently privatized school nurses who work in our buildings, the janitorial staff in our schools, and have funded a wealth of external partners to come into our schools and indoctrinate staffs in corporate edu-speak.

Rahm fully embraces every tenet of education reform, but he's not a reformer. He's the quality guy. WCT can only guess what the Doublethink Dept. will come up with when, in several months, schools open with an unparalleled level of chaos and a dearth of funds to actually accomplish anything. Will he then say he's the austerity guy?

Ed Reform in Chiraq?



The Illinois Network of Charter Schools glibly states, "We know all children can achieve academic success and have bright futures!"  As actual Chicago public school teachers, we at WCT would, of course, like to believe the same.  CPS has certainly supported INCS's ed reform tran$formation efforts, with $442 million of tax-payer money given to charter schools in 2015.

But will busting unions ed reform really provide bright futures to all children? What are some other factors that get in the way of children's bright futures besides unions lack of charter schools?

Yesterday's Trib published two interesting op-eds on Chicago's violence problem:

  • In the first, Robert Milan, Cook County State's Attorney, asks that the National Guard be called in to protect Chicago.  Milan notes that "CPS's regular school year is over and thousands of teenagers are now on the streets."
  • In the second, Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin calls for 1. strict curfew enforcement 2. prosecution of gangbangers as domestic terrorists 3. increased presence of Cook County Sheriff's police 4. an increase in parenting/drug rehab/work training programs.

These op-eds, plus the ongoing debate over Spike Lee's new film, provisionally titled "Chiraq", warrant a review of Chicago crime data:
  • A person is shot every: 3.22 hours
  • A person is shot and killed every: 19.21 hours
In other words, a Chicago student, parent, cousin, aunt, uncle, grandma, grandpa, brother or sister commits, witnesses, or is the victim of an act of gun violence every 4 hours.  And that's just guns.

So, Illinois Network of Charter Schools and ed reformers everywhere, we ask you:  How are you so sure that all children can have bright futures if only unions are busted and education is privatized?

Perhaps Ken Griffin and his ilk can get moving on some lucrative corporate police reform.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Rahm's Pension Wizardry


As Bozo Show fans from way back, WCT immediately thought of Wizzo the Wizard when we read about Rahm Emanuel's latest pension follies. Wizzo did card tricks, magic tricks, and used sleights of hand to entertain thousands of children. He would do all of this while saying do-di-do-di-do and waving his fingers right before the big payoff. Rahm Emanuel, just a day after funding the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund, directed the city's new CFO to ask for $500M of the $634M back. Now you have it, now you don't. Magic! 

Maybe Rahm and Chicago's CFO Carole Brown were looking at spreadsheets saying, "do-di-do-di-do," as they hit upon the idea to ask for 78% of the pension payment back. Brown called the request a, "big ask." We'd call it another accounting scam, but okay. Brown's wizardry continued as she used words like "cash-flow relief" and "assumed actuarial return." You can almost see her waving her fingers and saying "do-di-do-di-do" to Charles Burbridge, the CTPF's executive director, as she explained the details of her big ask.

In the fine print of Rahm's pension proposals, he suggests combining CTPF with the state's pension fund for more equity. The writers at International Business Times detected a sleight of hand with this change, too: 
What the mayor did not say is that the initiative could end up shifting billions into a fund whose portfolio is run, in part, by Grosvenor Capital and Madison Dearborn Partners, two firms whose executives have together given over $4 million to the mayor's campaigns and affiliated PACs. That includes over $2.7 million from Grosvenor CEO Michael Sacks and his wife, Cari. Sacks has been called Emanuel’s “fixer” and “go-to guy;” he was appointed by Emanuel to serve as vice chairman of World Business Chicago, an economic development group that Emanuel chairs.
The IB Times also notes that, "In fiscal year 2014, Grovesnor collected over $3.2M in fees from the state's Teachers Retirement System, and Madison Dearborn Partners over $370,000." Cha-ching!

Today's 3 part trick is as follows: 1) Take back 78% of a payment you just made, 2) Suggest combining pension funds under the guise of equity, and 3) Make sure to further enrich hedge fund pals and campaign donors in the process. Yes, and don't forget to go full-tilt Wizzo and finish with a flourish and the signature, "do-di-do-di-do" so we know when the trick's over.

Whiners, Swine and ... Beggars



The public's perception of CPS teachers is that we're whiners, pigs and greedy thugs, thanks to the media's effective manipulation and the complexity of our district's financial problems.  However, we at WCT would like the public to know that we are also beggars.

Donors Choose is an online charity where American public and charter teachers can post "classroom project requests," and if they're lucky, their project will be funded.  Funding donations are completely tax-deductible. If you're imagining that teachers are hoping to take students to France or to purchase top-of-the-line microscopes, you're wrong.

Some current requests posted on Donors Choose:
  • $264 for ink cartridge replacements, Lindblom Math Science Academy
  • $354 for calculators, Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy
  • $309 for a carpet, Dawes Elementary School
  • $356 for a nurse's office refrigerator, Dawes Elementary School
  • $1,230 for projector and screen, Gage Park High School
  • $269 for pencils, mechanical sharpener and caddies, James Otis Elementary School

Meanwhile, Heather Y. Anichini, President and CEO of the Chicago Public Education Fund, makes $292,833.00 per year overseeing the Fund's funneling of cash to the usual racketeers, kick-back artists, cronies, and ed reform profiteers.  They claim that their "inve$tment portfolio has improved outcomes for the children they serve."  Right.


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Here A Cut, There A Cut

Photo credit: WBEZ

WBEZ posted this memo from CPS to their Twitter feed today.

While WCT does not have the benefit of 9 data strategists at our disposal, here are some "takeaways" (admin-speak for conclusions) from this release:

*Two groups of schools are virtually untouched: magnet schools (save for how students are transported to and from) and selective enrollment schools. How plutocratic that the best resourced schools--like the kind Governor Rauner clouted his kid into--get to stay that way. 

*Neighborhood and elementary schools seem to be disproportionately affected since they often have a greater need for Special Ed services. 

*Newspeak alert: the the Orwellian terms "transform" and "rightsizing" are used to explain how Special Ed services will be delivered.

*Funding has also been cut for turnaround schools--those schools whose entire staff has been fired because of chronically low performance--which is at odds with providing resources to help failing schools improve their performance.

*Hope everyone puts a toolkit and plunger on their back-to-school shopping list as many repairs in buildings will suddenly be D.I.Y. thanks to a 25% reduction in repair and maintenance. What's a botched $260 Aramark contract between friends, especially now that engineers will be shared.

Rahm, ever the steadfast blowhard, says he does not regret his decision to close 50 schools. Clearly. He's making fast moves to put schools into such turmoil, collapse, and chaos that he will get free reign to do just what his buddy Ken Griffin suggested: close 125.