Random thoughts.


“A fish first stinks at the head,” is an expression that comes from the Turks.

That stink you smell comes directly from the 5th floor.

Anita Alvarez has finally, after 400 days, indicted Jason Van Dyke, one psychopathic cop, for the murder – but nobody for the cover-up of the murder – of Laquan McDonald. Too little. Too late. It is just not good enough.

Other cops stood there and watched and followed their racist bullshit code of silence.

Alvarez, McCarthy and the Mayor knew what went down all this time and kept silent.

They tried to cover it up with a $5 million payment to the family of Laquan McDonald before there was even a lawsuit.

At the Sun-Times, Sneed has already begun publishing the names of Black and brown cops that are possible replacements for McCarthy.

Alvarez will not survive. We will elect Kim Foxx as the new State’s Attorney.

But in the streets, the chants are for more.

The cover-up of the killing of Laquan McDonald.

400 days

-Curtis Black, Chicago Reporter

It was just about a year ago that a city whistleblower came to journalist Jamie Kalven and attorney Craig Futterman out of concern that Laquan McDonald’s shooting a few weeks earlier “wasn’t being vigorously investigated,” as Kalven recalls. The source told them “that there was a video and that it was horrific,” he said.

Without that whistleblower—and without that video—it’s highly unlikely that Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke would be facing first-degree murder charges today.

“When it was first reported it was a typical police shooting story,” Kalven said, where police claim self-defense and announce an investigation, and “at that point the story disappears.” And, typically, a year or 18 months later, the Independent Police Review Authority confirms the self-defense claim, and “by then no one remembers the initial incident.”

“There are an average of 50 police shootings of civilians every year in Chicago, and no one is ever charged,” said Futterman. “Without the video, this would have been just one more of 50 such incidents, where the police blotter defines the narrative and nothing changes.”

Read the entire article here.



Tenth Ward Alderman Susan Sadlowski Garza, Chicago’s first elected Chicago Teachers Union member of the Chicago City Council.

I can imagine that at this coming Thursday’s Thanksgiving dinner the topic of Chicago teachers might come up in family conversation. On one side of the table young cousin Martha, a Chicago teacher herself, will be extolling the virtues and sacrifices of her colleagues and why the union’s bargaining position is fair.

Uncle Bill, an ardent supporter of the presidential aspirations and immigrant positions of Donald Trump, will sneer and say, “If your union bosses are all for the kids, why the hell are they asking for any money. Sweetie.”

Talk of current events at extended-family Thanksgiving dinner can often be a toxic combo.

Personally, that’s not true for me. There will only be union supporters sharing turkey at our dinner. Things may only turn south when the dessert dishes are cleared and we engage in what my brother calls full-contact Scrabble. It is only then that the gloves may come off.

One year we went head to head over the legitimacy of the word, clafouti.

Since the word included all seven tiles, the outcome of the debate was a game changer.

I only tell this story because it was my Scrabble word and I remember winning the game. Other members of the Klonsky family may remember it differently, of course.

Perhaps the spirit of unity that I saw at last night’s CTU rally will spread across the land on Thursday. Uncle Bill and cousin Martha will come together as folks did in Butler Field on a cold November evening on the Lakefront.

By the way, even most Chicagoans don’t know that the lawn in front of the Petrillo Band Shell is called Butler Field. I received many calls during the day yesterday asking, “Where the F is Butler Field.”

What the rally demonstrated to me was that this fight is more than a fight for money. Oh. Make no mistake, Uncle Bill. It’s about money.

Rahm and the board want money and they want to take it from the teachers, nurses, paraprofessionals, clinicians and others covered by the CTU contract,  a contract, which President Karen Lewis reminded me, has already expired.

Yes, Uncle Bill. This is a contract fight in which the board wants to take money away from their employees.

Last night was a rare sight. Real diversity in a city that rarely has a chance to witness such such a thing. It was a show of support with Democrat State Representative Robert Martwick from the northwest side of Chicago sitting with young Black Lives Matter activists.

As an aside, Illinois Federation of Teachers President Dan Montgomery gave a rousing speech. Illinois Education Association Executive Director Audrey Soglin was announced but was a no-show.

Maybe the cold kept her car from starting.

No matter. My take-away is that if the teachers in Chicago walk, it will be for genuine fairness. Nor just for money.

And this is just some advice I give to Mayor Rahm and CEO Forrest Claypool. I give it for free. You should settle now and avoid a strike. It is much harder to settle when teachers walk out for fairness than it is to settle when they bargain for money.

It is harder to quantify fairness than it is to quantify money. Union members will know it when they see it.

Am I right cousin Martha?


If we are to get Goldman Sachs out of ESEA, we will have to be the ones to do it.


-Bev Johns

If we are to remove/change Goldman Sachs Pay for Success in S. 1177, we have to do it.

The National groups to which we belong have decided to do nothing.

The Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities (CCD) generally decides “our” position on “our” issues. All major groups in our field belong to CCD.

CCD met last week on Pay for Success. They decided to take no position.

Not surprising since one of the Co-Chairs of the CCD Education Task Force is the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) which, through its membership in America Forward, supports Pay for Success.

CCD stated it has not seen the final language on Pay for Success in S. 1177 (nor has anyone else as it is now being written for release on November 30).

Of course it will be very difficult to change/affect any language in S. 1177 AFTER the bill is WRITTEN and ready for a final vote in the U.S. House  and U.S. Senate, as the bill must pass both with identical wording.

Will YOU make a call to D.C. (per the message below)?


The concepts in ESEA have passed Conference Committee but the actual language in S. 1177 is now being written: S. 1177 is to be released to the public on November 30.

It is hard to believe that some members of the Conference Committee on ESEA (Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders) knew that Goldman Sachs Pay for Success is in S. 1177.

After all, only the words Pay for Success are there – no explanation that Utah is using Pay for Success to reduce identifications for special education by over 99 percent, or that Goldman Sachs is already being paid for this “success” for these “results” in Utah.

Or that in Chicago Goldman Sachs will be paid $9,100 each year for each child NOT identified as needing special education as a result of being in the Pay for Success program.

You can CALL the D.C. office of Senator Lamar Alexander, talk to a live person, strongly request to talk with committee staff about Goldman Sachs Pay for Success in S. 1177. If you do, assume they know nothing about how Pay for Success has been used in Utah, nothing about the New York Times  articles on Utah and Pay for Success, etc.

What happens to special education when Goldman Sachs is paid each time a school does NOT identify a student as needing special education? And Goldman Sachs is paid year after year for that same student?

You can do the same for Senator Patty Murray, Representative John Kline, and Rep. Bobby Scott (the other 3 leaders on ESEA).

Below is what we are doing in Illinois on Sen. Mark Kirk:


On Monday and Tuesday please call the offices of our U.S. Senator Mark Kirk urging him to act on removing/modifying the Goldman Sachs Pay for Success part of  S. 1177, the reauthorization of the Elementary and

Secondary Education Act (ESEA which used to be called No Child Left Behind).

Sen. Kirk, despite weeks of contacts on Pay for Successapparently has done nothing, even though he was a Member of the Conference Committee between the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate on ESEA.

I received a telephone message on Thursday from Sen. Kirk’s Washington, D.C. office saying nothing could be done by Sen. Kirk.

The actual language of S. 1177, based on concepts approved by the Conference Committee, will not be released until November 30. Changes were being negotiated on Friday after the Conference Committee was over, and that will continue this week.

Utah is using Pay for Success to reduce special ed by 99 percent (and is the first project to actually start to pay back Goldman Sachs), and Chicago will be paying

Goldman Sachs $9,100 EACH YEAR for each student NOT identified for special education (multiple payments for the same student).

Please express your concerns to Sen. Kirk’s staff on his lack of action on Pay for Success in S. 1177,and the absolute requirement for action to avoid permanent harm to special education students and their parents in Illinois. (for D.C., if you want to speak to a live person, do not take any options offered but simply wait until someone answers)

U.S. Senator from Illinois Mark Kirk

Washington, D.C.: 202-224-2854

Chicago: 312-886-3506

Springfield (often no one there): 217-492-5089

Random Thoughts.


Last night at the great Chicago Teacher Union rally in Grant Park I was at the foot of the stage taking pictures. I waved to 10th Ward Alderman Sue Sadlowski Garza and Karen Lewis.

Sue waved back. Karen Lewis waved, but was trying to tell me something. The crowd was screaming and I’m not wearing my hearing aids. I could tell Karen Lewis was saying something about “contract.” Contract? I couldn’t tell more than that.

Later I found out what she was telling me. I had written that the CTU contract expires at the end of this coming year. “It has already expired,” the President corrected me. Chicago teachers are working without a contract.

“My apologies,” I wrote to her.  “I corrected it in the post with my error crossed out. I hate it when people don’t admit their errors. ‘Show your work,’  my math teacher used to say.”
“Yep. I always taught my students good laboratory practices. Draw a single line through the mistake, initial and date it.  Then fix it,” she wrote back.
An educator in charge.

Random thoughts.



Tonight at 5:30 tens of thousands of union teachers and supporters will rally in Grant Park. The Chicago Teachers Union is in a tough battle with Rahm and his hand-picked school board over a contract. The current one expires contract expired at the end of this past school year. Rahm has threatened to fire 5,000 teachers early in the coming year.

By the time the sun goes down over Butler Field temperatures will be around freezing and dropping.

For many of us the question for tonight is: How do you get a red t-shirt to fit over your multi-layers and heavy winter coat?

Maybe I will wear it as a scarf.

Charter expansion. Where is the IEA?

Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 7.04.27 AM

Look closely at the picture above of those attending the press conference Friday at the Thompson Center in Chicago. They were there to oppose the actions of the Illinois Board of Eduction in seeking and receiving a $43 million federal grant to open 48 more charter schools, half downstate and half in Chicago. The federal grant provides start-up money with all future costs coming from local dollars that would otherwise go to local public schools.

The Illinois Education Association, one of two state teacher unions in Illinois, was not present at the press conference.

The press conference and protest took place with plenty of notice.

On Thursday I posted on Facebook a notice I received from Illinois Jobs With Justice and Raise Your Hand.

In protest, NIJwJ along with Raise your Hand and other parents and citizens organizations will hold a press conference at the Thompson Center in the Blue Room on the fifteenth floor at 8:45 that day. Please join us there.

Progress Illinois, the website of the SEIU reported:

Elected officials at the press conference included state Reps. LaShawn Ford, Will Guzzardi (D-Chicago) and Robert Martwick (D-Chicago) as well as Chicago Ald. David Moore (17th) and Cook County Clerk David Orr.

Representatives from the Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, Chicago League of Women Voters, Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, Northern Illinois Jobs for Justice and other groups were also at the press conference.

But not the IEA.

A representative of the Illinois Federation of Teachers was present.

But not the IEA.

What is the problem? I know the IEA opposes expansion of charter schools. I know that they were a past lobbying voice for a bill to limit the power of the Charter Commission. The bill died but I assume IEA lobbyists will continue to support the effort to limit the power of the Charter Commission or do away with it.

But it seems that when it comes to uniting with others to fight a common foe, IEA would rather go it alone. If they didn’t know about the press conference, why didn’t they? How out of the loop are they?

If they couldn’t make the press conference, where is the statement from the IEA’s Communications Director supporting opposition to this secret charter expansion that will cost districts – and therefore members – plenty.

Where is the message to local leaders? To members?

An IEA activist and Grassroots Political Activist shared his frustration with me:

IEA formed a Charter School Task Force. We met with IEA recommended legislators from both parties in their home offices to discuss the legislation. Talking points focused on the removal of local control. Democratically elected local school boards were being asked to spend tax dollars on charter schools that non-elected entities, i.e. Charter School Commission/ISBE were deciding to foist on their school districts. ( I will tell you it was interesting how the GOP folks we talked to expressed discomfort with our then newly elected governor and agreed with our basic point, yet they ultimately voted with the Governor.)

At our Grassroots Political Activists election training last weekend, we were told of IEA’s support for the bill limiting authority to authorize charter schools to local school boards. We were told to expect and be prepared to get members to make calls.

That never happened.

The Charter School Task Force has been disbanded.

And as we saw earlier this week IEA was no where to be found and apparently wasn’t even in the loop to know about this action.

Here’s a few of my frustrations and observations. IEA wants to play the “inside game or the seat at the table” and doesn’t want to organize its members to take meaningful action. Cinda will say that most of our members are not there yet and I would agree with that to a point, but then aren’t leaders supposed to lead? Also IEA doesn’t want to form any sort of alliances with independent non-union groups like Raise Your Hand or Jobs with Justice. 

I’ve often said in my own local, when asked why the “union” wasn’t doing anything to deal with a particular issue, beside the obligatory “you are the u in union speech” that when parents got upset about the issue and went to the board, the issue would become a priority. The reluctance of IEA to engage with and support parent groups who are finally seeing the damage being done by corporate reformers is one of my biggest frustrations.

This IEA activist is on to something.

The IEA seems to pit sitting at the table against creating a united effort among all those who have a vested interest in the outcome.

Lobbying isn’t just something done with legislators in Springfield.

What else explains their refusal to go outside of unions in the We Are One coalition when fighting for pensions. Annuitant groups and the Illinois Retired Teachers Association were not part of the WAO, and no other coalition was formed.

In fact current and former IEA leaders put out sniping messages about IRTA even as we were fighting for our pension lives.

Not until the courts combined the lawsuits and forced them all to work together did it happen. And even then the sniping continued.

How crazy is it that the IEA won’t unite with others unless there is a court order?