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Why you should care about Hinsdale. Staff jumping a sinking ship? This is what happens when anti-public school activists win control of a public school board.

August 27, 2014

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Hinsdale District 86 school board president Richard Skoda.

Tea Party followers got elected with a low turnout to the Hinsdale District 86 board with an agenda of driving out experienced teachers.

And it looks like that they are making headway.

On the one hand, the Hinsdale teachers union is winning wide-spread support from a community that is concerned about the possibility of a decline in the quality of the historically high performing school district in the western Chicago suburbs.

On the other, experienced staff are leaving in unprecedented numbers because of the uncertainty of what is to come.

Official figures are hard to come by.

But here is what I have heard:

At least 8 para-professionals have left as of last Friday. But more quit this week.

The total number of staff that have left since the new majority was elected may be more than 50.

This includes all the top administrators including both principals.

The talent pool for Central had no candidate with experience as a principal.

At Hinsdale South they hired principal with 100% negative rating.

Rauner uses armed investigators to scare off third-party voters. This is what Rauner’s democracy looks like.

August 27, 2014

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Bruce Rauner and Republican Rod Gidwitz hunting Libertarians?

Sun-Times’ Dan Mihalopoulos:

Rauner’s campaign tried to distance itself when I first tried to ask about the Libertarian ballot-access case last week. “I believe that is a state party issue,” said Schrimpf, the spokesman.

Illinois Republican Party officials readily confirmed hiring the lawyer for the petition challenge, John Fogarty, and they said it was Fogarty’s firm that paid Morrison Security of Alsip to help build a case against the Libertarian petitions.

Last week, the state GOP officials said it was routine for Morrison Security’s investigators to pack heat while on the job.

On Tuesday, though, the state party’s spokesman provided this “updated” statement: “We do not support the practice of any investigator wearing a firearm while verifying petition signatures. If even one person felt intimidated, that’s unacceptable.”

A closer look at the sordid affair shows it’s not so simple for the state party to take the fall here and for Rauner to disassociate himself for what happened. Consider that:

■ Fogarty’s law firm has been paid more than $53,000 to work for Rauner’s campaign and for the unsuccessful, Rauner-backed push to hold a referendum on term limits in state government, according to campaign-finance reports.

■ A notary for the effort to knock the Libertarians off the ballot, Morgan Kreitner, is a salaried employee of the Rauner campaign.

■ Rauner personally contributed $6,500 to the Palos Township Republican organization — which is led by Morrison Security owner Sean Morrison.

It’s not enough for Rauner to say he was blissfully unaware of what was being done on his behalf. Not when those efforts involved many people he knows well, people he has relied upon heavily in what he says is a campaign to clean up Illinois politics.

Kristin Crowell. Beating Rahm requires deep organizing.

August 27, 2014

Chris Christie comes to Chicago to campaign for Bruce Rauner. Although Rauner needs no lessons from Christie on how to reward political pals with pension funds.

August 26, 2014

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Graphic: International Business Times

New Jersey’s joke of a governor is in Chicago to campaign for the joke of a gubernatorial candidate, Bruce Rauner.

What is happening to those Illinois public employees who are counting on their pension systems for retirement income is no laughing matter

Pension sleuth David Sirota is writing about the latest scandal involving the New Jersey governor and his state’s pension systems.

Bruce Rauner, Illinois’ billionaire candidate for governor has made plenty off of managing illinois public employee pension funds.

David Sirota explains how Christie helped his investor pals like Rauner.

Sirota: 

Between fiscal year 2011 and 2014, the state’s (New Jersey) pension trailed the median returns for similarly sized public pension systems throughout the country, according to data from the financial analysis firm, Wilshire Associates. That below-median performance has cost New Jersey taxpayers billions in unrealized gains and has left the pension system on shaky ground. Meanwhile, New Jersey is now paying a quarter-billion dollars in additional annual fees to Wall Street firms — many of whose employees have financially supported Republican groups backing Christie’s reelection campaign.

“Driving Value within a Changing Network of Schools through Learning and Development: The Use of a 360° Feedback Tool To Drive Change and Bring Value in Public Education.”

August 26, 2014

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Terrence Carter (right) and his attorney.

We are on our way from our family’s August vacation rental in Rhode Island to a stop-over with more family on Long Island. This required getting on the ferry from New London, Connecticut to Orient Point, New York.

New London.

The home of a story I have been covering involving The phony doctor Terrence P. Carter.

Carter, whose education leadership background is in Chicago directing CPS turnarounds for the Academy for Urban Leadership, was picked to be superintendent for the New London schools.

Then the local newspaper did what newspapers used to do and looked into Carter’s background. His claim of having earned a doctorate from Stanford University turned out to be a lie.

As did so much of his resume.

The appointment was put on hold pending further investigation.

Now as the New London school year begins, the Courant is reporting that Carter’s latest claim of a doctorate from Lesley University is not happening. They are hinting that his claim of a dissertation, “Driving Value within a Changing Network of Schools through Learning and Development: The Use of a 360° Feedback Tool To Drive Change and Bring Value in Public Education,” may be bogus as well.

“I can confirm that Terrence Carter does not have a degree from Lesley University,” director of communications John Sullivan said in an email.

 

 He was then asked whether other candidates received their degrees on Monday’s long-scheduled “conferral date” of Aug. 25, and whether it’s still possible that Carter would receive his doctorate.

 

“Degrees have already been conferred today. He does not have a degree from Lesley,” Sullivan said in a subsequent email. “Beyond that, I have no further comment on his or any other student’s academic information.”

 

Carter did not respond to Courant messages seeking comment Monday.

 

Carter was selected by New London’s school board in June to be its next superintendent, but the board postponed a vote on awarding him an employment contract in late July.

 

The postponement came in the wake of newspaper revelations that Carter had used Ph.D. and Dr. with his name for at least five years without having a doctorate from an accredited college, and that large portions of his New London job application essay were identical to language in articles published on the Internet.

 

Lesley University would not discuss why Carter’s degree was not awarded.

 

Questions about Carter deepened when a national research organization provided The Courant with a copy of a bio that it says Carter submitted in 2011, including the claim that he had a Ph.D. from Stanford University, which he does not. The Courant also reported that Carter got a Ph.D. in 1996 from “Lexington University” — which doesn’t have a campus and had a website offering degrees for several hundred dollars with the motto “Order Now, Graduate Today!”

 

The school board commissioned an investigation into Carter’s background after the disclosures in July. The report on that probe by the Hartford law firm of Shipman & Goodwin, the board’s legal counsel, is due to be presented at a meeting Thursday night. It’s unclear whether the board will go through that night with its previously scheduled vote on whether to enter an employment contract with Carter.

 

Carter had told New London officials during the application process that he was due to receive a Ph.D. in education from Lesley this summer — and, in a letter dated June 10, Carter’s senior adviser at Lesley verified that he had “successfully defended his dissertation” on May 28, and would officially be awarded his Ph.D. on the “next degree conferral date, August 25, 2014″ — which was Monday.

 

Last week, former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons, whose wife is a pre-doctoral candidate at Lesley, walked into the president’s office at the university and delivered a letter advising the school to think twice before awarding Carter a Ph.D.

 

“Numerous local and state newspaper stories show Mr. Carter to have lied about his accomplishments [and] he has plagiarized substantial portions of his application for a job in Connecticut,” the former 2nd District congressman wrote to school President Joseph B. Moore.

 

Simmons said he was concerned about Lesley’s reputation on behalf of his wife, a retired New London teacher now studying at Lesley.

 

“I strongly suggest that Lesley examine his course work and papers carefully before giving him any degree much less a Doctorate,” Simmons wrote, adding that failure to do that “could lead to real embarrassment for you, the faculty and the University.”

 

Simmons, of Stonington, who served in Congress from 2001 to 2007, concluded his letter by saying: “We remain strong supporters of Lesley University and consider a Lesley Degree of any sort a high honor not to be earned easily or dishonestly.”

 

The Ph.D. that Carter had been scheduled to receive was for a dissertation entitled “Driving Value within a Changing Network of Schools through Learning and Development: The Use of a 360° Feedback Tool To Drive Change and Bring Value in Public Education.”

 

Carter told The Courant in July he would be willing to send a copy of the dissertation, but he has not done so. Lesley has declined to release a copy.

While the scandal in New London is worthy of attention, so is the role that Terrence Carter played in Chicago’s corporate reform movement led by AUSL among others. 

And the silence on that issue remains.

Election year CPS graduation rates.

August 26, 2014

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CPS President Vitale, CEO Byrd-Bennett and Rahm do the counting.

Anne and I are still on the road.

Still I want to wish my Park Ridge District 64 colleagues all the best as they start the new school year with students arriving in their classrooms today.

It is only two years since I retired, but it is a little odd when I think about the last grade of kindergarten students that I taught on now entering third grade and the third graders I last taught are starting middle school today.

Speaking of a little odd.

Rahm and Barbara Byrd-Bennett had their public relations department write up a campaign flyer and the Sun-Times printed iit as an op-ed piece touting CPS graduation rates.

The latest evidence of that progress is a record high school graduation rate of 69.4 percent for the last school year, a 4 percent increase from just a year ago. It may not sound like much that 7 out of 10 CPS students are graduating from high school — until you compare it to the 58.3 percent who were graduating just three years ago. 

That is good news!

Three years ago?

Back in June of 2012 Jean-Claude Brizard, Barbara Byrd-Bennett’s predecessor, made a similar announcement.

Chicago Public Schools announced Saturday that more than 60 percent of their 2007-2008 freshmen graduated last year, calling it a history-making record.

The current administration has only been in place for a year and therefore can take no credit for the increase in graduation rates. However, CPS spokeswoman Robyn Ziegler says the news can provide “great momentum going into next year.”

More than 60%. Not 58%.

There’s an old Chicago saying about elections. It’s not how many votes you get. It’s who does the counting.

It seems true about graduation rates as well.

TMD. Lisa Madigan pleads insanity.

August 23, 2014

INSANITY

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