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An urgent message from the teachers of Hinsdale District 86.

October 1, 2014


October 1, 2014

We would first like to express our gratitude for the outward support many of you have shown. From the 1,165 who have signed the petition to the hundreds of people who have attended board meetings and emailed board members to the many, many expressions of appreciation within and around Hinsdale Central and Hinsdale South since August, we thank you for it all.

Our purpose with this email is to counter the deceptions that President Richard Skoda has continued to deliver to your personal email accounts, including the latest on September 24, and that we assume will be reinforced in the mailer he said he plans to send to your homes—again with the use of District 86 funds and resources.

Despite what members of the new District 86 Board majority would have you believe, the teachers do have your children’s best interests in mind. We are keenly aware of the anxiety this situation causes students regarding upcoming athletic and other extracurricular events, and that is why we have made concessions and tried to compromise to reach an agreement that is sustainable while allowing District 86 to remain competitive.

However, the board has prevented negotiations from moving forward. Never in the history of District 86 have teacher negotiations been filled with this much strife and contentiousness.

In the midst of this, we continue to deliver to your students the award-winning curriculum that we have created; we have participated in Homecoming Week celebrations at South and will do the same at Central; we continue to coach and sponsor all of the athletics and activities that have often resulted in championships and significant achievements; and we continue to work well beyond the school day to write letters of recommendation and to help students complete college applications.
We continue to act in a professional manner despite being publicly attacked by members of the school board. In his September 24 email, President Skoda said that neither he nor any other board member has “denigrated individual teachers.” Yet, later in that same email, he claimed teachers were motivated by “avarice,” or extreme greed for wealth. At the August 4 Board meeting, President Skoda and Board member Claudia Manley made erroneous accusations that teachers threatened them via Facebook, despite the newspaper who made the technical mishap taking responsibility. They continued to pursue the claim, even after the police department dismissed it. And, perhaps the most egregious example, at the September 22 Board meeting, President Skoda compared us—your students’ teachers, whom so many of you have come to know personally and professionally—to the extreme terrorist group ISIS when making an analogy to explain his decisions.

We could cite example after example of occasions when President Skoda and some of his colleagues have aimed insults, directly or indirectly, at us. If you’d like to see more examples or to see what District 86 Board meetings under his direction have regressed into, we encourage you to visit the District 86 Board website and archives that include videos of the August 4, August 18, September 8, and September 22

Committee of the Whole or Regular Action meetings: Furthermore, to see firsthand what has become the norm of your community’s school board meetings, we encourage you to attend the upcoming October 6 meeting at Hinsdale South at 7:00 p.m.
Our offer is not motivated by greed. Actually, by any measure, the teachers’ offer is financially conservative. Using the board’s projections from November 2013—at the time of the 0% tax levy decision—the teachers’ proposal is more than $1.3 million below projected revenue total for the four years of the contract, and it reduces health care costs for the district. The teachers have also decreased by half their legal retirement incentive, which is not illegal “pension spiking,” as President Skoda calls it.
Using the very same system the teachers are proposing now, the District also has increased its reserves in recent years. For fiscal year 2015, the district has $56.2 million dollars in reserve. That number is projected to grow to $74.3 million by 2019. By maintaining this system, District 86 will be able to continue the financial and academic excellence it has been recognized for.
However, this reputation is in jeopardy due to the contentious public negotiation strategy of President Skoda and Mr. Corcoran. Instead of working with the teachers, President Skoda and Mr. Corcoran have written you deceptive emails, sent a mailer using district funds and resources, held a press conference without allowing the public or other board members to attend, and filed a police report against the teachers. All of these publicity stunts have brought negative attention to our schools while creating avenues to easily and inappropriately include students.
We would like to re-emphasize that our goal has been to make a sustainable offer that maintains the competitive edge that District 86 has always had in attracting and retaining top-quality teachers for your children. The reason we were forced to initiate the public posting process on September 9 is because, for over one year, President Skoda and Mr. Corcoran refused to follow the standard procedures of collective bargaining by making a complete offer, outlining all of their costs. More specifically, until we initiated the public-posting process, President Skoda and Mr. Corcoran provided us with offers that were a mere two to four pages in length, noting only parts of the contract. Our negotiators did not see the complete 125-page offer until it was made available to the public, a requirement of the public-posting process. However,
President Skoda would have you believe that “[t]he Board devoted its summer to a successful culmination of these talks prior to the start of school.”
We encourage you to go to the Illinois Education Labor Relations Board to see the financial details of our ongoing negotiations. You can see our offer—which objectively outlines a comparison and notes the many compromises and concessions we have made—and the offer that President Skoda and Mr. Corcoran are largely responsible for as the District 86 negotiation team:
In closing, we would like to thank you again for your support as we work through this.
We value the relationships we have built with you and your children; they are a primary reason why we would most like to continue our careers in District 86.
Thank you,
Your Teachers

CPS enrollment and tenured teacher layoff numbers. I’m trying to make meaning from the data.

October 1, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-10-01 at 9.27.04 AM

Source: Catalyst.

CPS enrollment numbers came out this week. There are fewer students in CPS now than at any time since 1970.

Although the enrollment numbers have been in steady decline for years, there was a major jump the last two years.

The jump in numbers coincides with Rahm’s closing of 50 neighborhood public schools.

Since Rahm imposed the largest shutdown of public schools in American history, 6,000 students have left the system.

At the same time as neighborhood schools closed, more charter schools opened. The newly opened charter school enrollment has not matched the neighborhood school decline, however.

Charters are being opened without their seats being filled.

Ask CPS administration for an explanation for any of this and you get none.

CPS’s McCaffrey said until the preliminary 20th day enrollment numbers are vetted, the district is unable to speculate why the schools lost children. More detailed numbers will be out in the coming days and that will help CPS understand what areas of the city are losing the most kids and what grade levels see the biggest drops.

Meanwhile Catalyst reports that some teachers who were laid off during the summer have now been recalled.

But for those who believe mistakenly that tenure and seniority rights somehow guarantee life-time employment, the numbers tell a different story.

The CTU CPS contract does have specific language regarding order of layoffs and seniority rights.

But those rights have been significantly eroded as a result of Senate Bill 7, which ironically the Illinois Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Education Association endorsed, as well as by the shift to school-based principal discretion over layoffs and hiring.

And the CTU CPS contract has no recall provision other than the right of teachers to retain their limited tenure and seniority rights if they are rehired.

Of the 299 non-tenured teachers laid off this summer, 177 or 59 percent were brought back for full-time jobs, according to district data that the CTU shared with Catalyst.

Meanwhile, of the 231 laid-off tenured teachers, 123 or 53 percent were rehired and more of them landed only substitute of part-time jobs. 

Apparently few principals are willing to spend the money to hire laid-off teachers with valuable classroom experience. It would take more out of their school-based budget than hiring a less expensive non-tenured, yet inexperienced teacher.


CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey says the stats prove that the district’s new student-based budgeting model discourages principals from hiring more experienced teachers because they are paid more. Last week, CPS officials announced they wouldn’t cut school budgets if their enrollment numbers fell below projections. Sharkey says he’s glad principals won’t have to lay off more teachers, but that it’s too late to reverse some of the negative impacts already felt by experienced teachers because of the new budgeting formula.

Sharkey is absolutely right.

It also brings into sharp focus the impact of the slow but steady erosion of tenure and seniority rights for teachers in Chicago and across Illinois.

John Dillon. Looking for “a fortiori,” a better reason to vote for Quinn.

October 1, 2014

John Dillon

- John Dillon is a retired teacher, pension activist and a member of the IEA Retired S.O.R.E chapter. He blogs at Pension Vocabulary.

In education, ironically, Rauner and at least one of the Democratics on the gubernatorial ticket can agree: on their perception of what’s best for education. Vallas and Rauner are clearly on the same page when it comes to supporting/promoting the privatization of public education, one of the last cash cows abruptly under the long, narrow eye of Wall Street investors interested in managing all that public money. In this arena, Rauner’s beneficence is mammoth indeed: Noble Network of Charter Schools received $2 million on 2012; Stand for Children, $600,000; Teach for American Chicago, $1,100,000 (and Payton Prep, $200,000)

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Just as hedge fund manager Bruce Rauner considers these chosen targets of his wealth and fiscal favoritism good business sense – they will if successful return money to him as and if they can change the nature of the business environment – so too do they consider Rauner and other politicians investments to get this done. Quid pro quo.

Now, Illinois’ public unions and educational groups inflict self-injury and bitterness by urging members of one organization to support Quinn, unlike the other group…


ludicrously laud Quinn for positions inconceivable to anyone remotely aware of what the current Governor has done in his “earthly” tenure.

Endorsements like “Gov. Quinn supports a continuation of our defined benefits pension plan that guarantees benefits for life” is so off-the-mark that its use to dissuade a reluctance to vote this year is dissembling and manipulative. (IEA-R letter urging vote for Quinn)

Honesty would have forced a poignant and perhaps more uncomfortable rationale: “While current Gov. Quinn has not been an ally nor an advocate for public workers’ defined pension benefits, our union name here encourages our members to vote for Quinn rather than Bruce Rauner, and then become active in the efforts to make significant changes in the leaderships in Springfield to assure the respect given to those who toiled for the State and seek some sense of security –as promised – in their later years.”

A winning Rauner promises a spate of Koch’s money and right wing influence in my state of Illinois that I cannot accept: I will vote to defeat him. On the other hand, Quinn represents the worst kind of politician, a populist who plays to the people but who has no regard for the Illinois Constitution he swore to uphold and the promises to the workers in Article XIII, Section 5. After November 4th, I will work to find an alternative to him and those who would knowingly accept or compromise with his duplicity.

Read the entire post here.

Hinsdale issues scab call in preparation for teacher strike.

September 30, 2014


The HInsdale District 86 board is advertising for scab teachers.

This is a sign they are not interested in a negotiated agreement.

This is not about compensation or working conditions. It is about the union itself. The Hinsdale District 86 board wants to bust the union.

Daily Herald:

HINSDALE HIGH SCHOOL D86 J O I N U S! J O I N U P! Enroll in Hinsdale High School District 86’s Team Effort Dedicated to Your High School Students’ Future by Providing Continuous Education and Student Activity Substitute Teaching positions are now being offered to fill in for teachers choosing to walk off their jobs to support a Union agenda. You get: Academic Leadership of up to seven (7) daily one-hour class sections, featuring the top students in the Nation, plus Expert Administrative Guidance in Lesson-Planning Work side-by-side with Teaching Professionals who put Children above Union Leadership Satisfaction of Community Involvement in Re-Taking Control of Our Public Schools $257/day (Two (2) days of initial of training will be provided and Paid) Secure Entry and Exit from the Premises Opportunity to Augment Compensation by Coaching or Advising Student Extra-Curriculars You need only: A Four-Year College Degree and an ISBE Substitute Licensure/Certificate Clear a Fingerprint Background Check through District 86 or at the DuPage Regional Office of Education. Visit Hinsdale High School District 86’s Website and Apply today…

Not my kids. Your kids.

September 30, 2014


“I hope this extra time to find new employment alleviates some of your hardship,” Balanoff said in the call.

September 30, 2014


SEIU Local 1 President Tom Balanoff.

I hope writing about CPS janitors doesn’t cause me to receive a letter from SEIU lawyers.

Like my brother Mike.

There is news this morning that the firing of Aramark employed janitors has been delayed.

As far as I can tell, it wasn’t because the union leadership of SEIU Local 1 raised a stink.

It was the loud voices of principals and teachers that complained about filthy schools and classrooms that hit the news and embarrassed the CPS board and the Mayor.

This all was the result of outsourcing custodial work, and management of union custodians, to the private firm.

Aramark, the private service company now in charge of managing all the custodians in Chicago Public Schools, has decreased the number of janitors who were going to lose their jobs on Tuesday, the Chicago Sun-Times learned Monday night. And layoffs of the rest were postponed for a month.

The news comes in the wake of Board of Education promises to resolve numerous complaints from a wide range of school communities about dirty conditions and delayed responses from new managers at Aramark.

SEIU Local 1 warned members that 468 custodians were going to lose their jobs on Sept. 30, but 178 with top seniority will stay on, the affected members learned Monday in a robocall from union president Tom Balanoff.

SEIU has been attempting a nationwide organizing campaign among Aramark employees. But in this case CPS unionized employees were handed over to Aramark management as a part of the $280 million privatizing move.

SEIU Local 1 President Tom Balonoff made a robocall to laid-off custodians yesterday.

“I repeat: 178 custodians on the layoff list — those with the highest seniority — will keep your jobs,” the call said. “This is a bittersweet victory, and we are not done fighting yet.”

Of those 178, 83 will keep their jobs and 95 will work until the end of the school year, be laid off for two months, and then be rehired in the fall, according to union spokeswoman Julia Valentine, who verified the call.

An additional 290 will work in their schools until Oct. 31, they learned Monday.

“I hope this extra time to find new employment alleviates some of your hardship,” Balanoff said in the call.

Extra time to find new employment?

Talk about a fighting union.

That is little comfort to custodians who served the schools, or to children, teachers and parents who expect clean classrooms and bathrooms.

This is obviously a quick fix intended to cool the anger over our children currently being taught by teachers in filthy schools.

It is the result of the Mayor being embarrassed once again.

They are hoping this makes the anger goes away.

Will it?

“If they don’t teach us civil disobedience, we will teach ourselves.”

September 30, 2014

Students protest proposed AP History changes

Columbine High School students line the bridge at South Wadsworth Blvd. and West Bowles Ave. during their walk out September 25, 2014 to protest proposed AP History curriculum changes. Both Columbine and Dakota Ridge merged at the corner to protest as one. (John Leyba, The Denver Post)

- From the Denver Post:

JEFFERSON COUNTY — While teachers and the Jefferson County school board are busy blaming each other for this week’s student walkouts and protests, the teens are happy to take credit.

“People think because we are teenagers, we don’t know things, but we are going home and looking things up,” said Savanna Barron, a senior at Lakewood High School, as she waved a sign on Kipling Street on Thursday morning. “If they don’t teach us civil disobedience, we will teach ourselves.”

By Thursday, the fourth straight day of protests, students had improved their organization, message and size, rallying a group of roughly 1,000 at a combined Columbine and Dakota Ridge high school walkout that saw kids crowd onto a pedestrian bridge over South Wadsworth Boulevard.

PHOTOS: View more images from Thursday’s student protests in Jefferson County.
A movement that started with cardboard signs and random chants has moved to bullhorns and even a slogan: “It’s our history, don’t make it mystery.”

Facing criticism about skipped classes — including from passing motorists at Lakewood High who shouted at the demonstrators — some students opted to use their lunch or free periods to protest.

Others said they didn’t mind skipping class.

“It’s an unexcused absence, but I don’t care,” Tayler Lopez, a sophomore at Columbine and a protest organizer, said Thursday. “This is more important than truancy.”

Hundreds of high schoolers across the county have hit the streets protesting a proposed curriculum committee that would call for promoting “positive aspects” of U.S. history and avoiding or condoning “civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law.” They’re also upset about an evaluation-based system for awarding raises to educators.

Controversy has swirled around the Jefferson County school board after the election of a conservative majority to run the 85,000-student district. Action began last week when two schools closed because 50 teachers either called in sick or took a personal day.


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