Right-wing Trumpnuts go bonkers over New Trier civil rights program.


I received a copy of Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad as a Christmas present. It is a hell of a read.

Although a work of fiction, the depiction of our nation’s original sin of slavery is brutally on display in telling Cora’s story.

It makes perfect sense that when the organizers of at New Trier High School’s  “Understanding Today’s Struggle for Racial Civil Rights” they would invite Whitehead and New Trier’s students are lucky to have him.

As currently planned, students at the Winnetka and Northfield campuses will hear from a keynote speaker at the Feb. 28 event on “Understanding Today’s Struggle for Racial Civil Rights,” and choose two of more than 100 sessions or workshops to attend, according to Assistant Supt. Tim Hayes. Keynote speakers are National Book Award winner Colson Whitehead, author of “The Underground Railroad,” and Andrew Ayden, co-author with U.S. Rep. John Lewis of “March,” a graphic novel series chronicling Lewis’ civil rights history.

A group of north shore Trumpnuts are not willing to surrender the narrative of slavery or current battles for social justice.

An outfit called  the Illinois Family Institute is screaming foul.

From reading the seminar schedule, it seems that Big Brother has finally arrived. Such a patently one-sided indoctrination program is clearly a violation of education principles and parental rights. As for community member Paul Traynor’s comment that opposition to the seminar is small, I would say, that’s what Hillary and the cabal of progressives thought.

I hearken back to William Buckley’s statement that “In the hands of a skillful indoctrinator, the average student not only thinks what the indoctrinator wants him to think but is positive he arrived at his position by independent intellectual exertion. He’s usually outraged by the suggestion he is a flesh and blood tribute to the success of his indoctrinator.” And to think we pay taxes to finance another liberal assault on conservative values.

As of this morning over 5,000 New Trier parents and community members have signed a petition supporting the program as it is currently organized.

Fewer than 400 have signed an on-line petition in opposition.

There is a board meeting tonight where the issue will be discussed. Both sides plan to be present.

Listen to Hitting Left with the Klonsky brothers on the radio.

“Contracts, like hearts, are meant to be broken.” -Ray Kroc.

The Founder, a movie about McDonald’s and Ray Kroc, is a totally entertaining fairy tale.

Michael Keaton is great at playing Kroc and portraying him as a lovable scamp.

Although he was really just a failed con man until Harry J. Sonneborn came along and explained to Kroc that he wasn’t in the hamburger business. He was in the real estate business, renting the land that the franchises were built on.

Two things came to mind as we watched the movie this weekend.

The first thing was that Kroc totally fabricated the story of McDonald’s. He called himself the founder and he wasn’t.

That title belonged to two brothers who created the concept for their McDonald’s in San Bernardino, California.

Kroc stole the brand and the concept from under the brothers and fleeced them out of hundreds of millions of dollars.

And the lies didn’t end there. The official history of McDonald’s is nothing but a fake story, and the movie makes that clear even as Keaton makes Kroc totally likable.

Of course, who you like is Keaton, not Kroc.

Still, Donald Trump kept coming to mind. Both Trump and Kroc were and are masters of fabricating the narrative.

When I explain to people about the attempts at teacher pension theft in Illinois, one of my arguments is that we have a contract.

If I were to say that to Ray Kroc when he was alive he would have said, as he does in the film, “Contracts are like hearts. They are meant to be broken.”

That should be engraved over the two legislative chambers and the governor’s office in the Illinois Capitol.

Truth be told, Kroc is right.

We have our pensions today not because we have a contract.

We have our pensions today because we could enforce the contract, with lawyers and political threats and retribution.

It is enforcement of a contract that matters way more than the contract itself.

It is an important thing to remember.

Listen to Hitting Left with the Klonsky brothers on the radio.

The problem with special education in Illinois is not over-funding or over-identification of students with special needs. Amend HB 2808.


State Senator Andy Manar told the Gov. Rauner’s School Funding Reform Commission on January 17 that there was “drastic over-identification.”

-By Bev Johns

On the surface Illinois is engaged in a debate on how to fund Illinois schools. But Illinois House Bill 2808 includes a completely different system for special education.

Is our vision IDEA, the Federal special education law, or House Bill 2808?

Special education or RTI (MTSS)?

Disability or (temporary) differences?

Special Educators or General Educators that do it all?

Continuum of Alternative Placements or full inclusion?

Differing outcomes as individual as an IEP or one outcome for all?

Dedicated funding or funding based on general education?

Special educators or interventionists?

Under-identification or over-identification?

There are some saying students are over-identified for special education in Illinois. State Senator Andy Manar told the Gov. Rauner’s School Funding Reform Commission on January 17 that there was “drastic over-identification”. 

NO STUDY confirms that.

A January 23, 2017, study says Chicago UNDER-identifies African-American AND Hispanic students for special education.

Parents, teachers and disability rights advocates say new oversight protocols keep kids from getting services they need, while BGA analysis raises questions about Chicago Public Schools’ claims that minority students are over-identified for special ed.

HB 2808 assumes the problem is over-identification, and offers two solutions:

(1) Special ed funding based on a fixed number of GENERAL education students.

(2) Funds for Interventionists (RTI or MTSS: Response to Intervention or Multi-TieredSystem of Support).

HB 2808 now includes INTERVENTIONISTS based on the assumption that Response to Intervention (RTI) will “prevent disability” and reduce the need for pecial education.

There is ZERO evidence you can do that (see http://spedpro.org ).

Texas tried using RTI to do that, but late last year the Houston Chronicle wrote a series of articles that forced Texas to stop doing it.

But the most harmful delay tactic, according to employees, has been Response to Intervention, a new set of regular-education teaching techniques in use across the country that have been championed in Houston by Kumar.

Federal officials have approved RTI, with one caveat: Schools cannot require teachers to try RTI before requesting a kid be evaluated for special ed.

That is exactly what has happened in HISD, according to numerous current and former staffers.

“RTI was a huge roadblock,” said Renee Tappe, who retired in 2015 after 35 years in special education at HISD.

“Every now and again, it would help a kid a little bit,  but when you look at the number of kids denied, it’s not even close to being worth it.”


House Bill 2808 needs an Amendment to stop Special Education Personnel Reimbursement from being removed from Illinois law.

The Amendment would remove the words through fiscal year 2017 from the bill on pages 234, 235, 236 and 237.

If the Amendment is added, Illinois would continue to provide $9,000 in State funds, each year, for every special education teacher (and other specialists working full-time with students with disabilities).

Illinois would then continue to have direct and  dedicated funding for the specialized services so needed by students.

Listen to Hitting Left with the Klonsky brothers on the radio.

We have been here before. 75 years ago today, FDR signed Executive Order 9066.

In the summer of 2011 we were on a road trip through beautiful western Wyoming.

Jackson Hole. The Tetons. Yellowstone.

We drove back through the eastern part of the state so that we could stop for a day in Cheyenne for the rodeo.

I desperately needed an excuse to wear my white Stetson hat that I had purchased in Fort Worth a few years earlier at an NEA Representative Assembly in Dallas.

There are not many opportunities to wear a white Stetson hat in Chicago.

That part of the west is not called big sky country for nothing. Eastern Wyoming is mostly flat with a few outcroppings, one of which is Heart Mountain.

We drove along the interstate through miles of open prairie until we came upon markers for the Heart Mountain internment camp.

During World War II 14,000 Japanese, some American citizens and some non-citizen immigrants, were rounded up and moved to Heart Mountain, Wyoming based on FDR’s  Executive Order 9066. Photos: Fred Klonsky

Today, February 19th, marks the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, when 150,000 Japanese and Americans of Japanese descent were rounded up, their property confiscated and forced into concentration camps scattered across the western states.

The only reason for their incarceration was their nationality and the nationality of their ancestors. They had committed no crimes.

Only 75 years ago.

Listen to Hitting Left with the Klonsky brothers on the radio.


Resistance Sunday.


In neighborhoods across Chicago with large immigrant populations, people are banding together to form rapid response networks to support their neighbors in the event of expected deportation raids by President Donald Trump’s administration.

In the 35th Ward on the city’s Northwest Side, Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa has started what he calls the Community Defense Committee.

In Rogers Park, home to an extremely diverse immigrant population, volunteer organizers have chosen to dub their effort Protect RP.

In Little Village, the Mexican capital of the Midwest, they have picked the name La Villita Se Defiende, which translates to Little Village Defends Itself.

As with the different names, each group seems to be charting its own tactical approach, but the overarching goal is the same: to protect undocumented immigrants by resisting efforts to deport them.

Resistance eventually could take the form of actually interfering with federal agents in the performance of their duties, something not to be taken lightly but a measure of what’s at stake. Mark Brown, Sun Times



Yesterday was Toni Morrison’s 86th birthday. 


Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and the president of a teachers union that strongly resisted her confirmation have agreed to tour schools together.

“I said I’d like to visit a public school with her, and then I’d like her to visit a choice school with me,” DeVos told Axios Thursday, recounting a recent phone call with Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). The Hill



Donald Trump has made a lot of big promises. Among the most ambitious is his vow to “create 25 million new American jobs in the next decade and return to 4% annual growth.”

That’s a lot of jobs to create. Even trickier than creating those jobs, however, will be finding American workers to fill them. Trump’s stance on immigration makes it unlikely that the US will be importing many foreign workers. So where will they come from?

That still adds up to around 9 million of Trump’s new American jobs that will need filling. The math gets even hairier if you take Trump at his word on deportations of immigrants who are in the US illegally. Though it’s hard to estimate with certainty, at least 7 million people working in the US today are unauthorized immigrants. If the president makes good on his plans to deport even just a fraction of them, that’s even more want-ads to post.


Get back to work!

The only other option for Trump to make good on his promise is to hire elderly workers. The share of those aged 65 and older who would have to join the workforce would soar to 32%, up from the current 19%, according to EPI’s Zipperer.

“Having the elderly work more is problematic for two reasons. First and foremost are our social priorities: shouldn’t a growing rich country make it easier, not harder, for its older citizens to retire?” he says. “Second, older individuals are already working more in record numbers.” Quartz



Hitting Left Episode #3 with the Klonsky brothers and in-studio guest Bill Ayers.

We are a little late posting the MixCloud of yesterday’s live broadcast of Hitting Left with the Klonsky brothers.

It is nobody’s fault other than we broadcast and are hosted by the kind folks at Lumpenradio who also run a community art space at Co-Prosperity Sphere.  They had an opening last night that went to midnight.

These are hardworking folks who juggle more jobs to make good things happen then you can possibly imagine.

This is not an interview show.

Hitting Left is all about conversation.

Our old friend Bill Ayers joined us this week talking about resistance.

And anti-resistance.

We are still novices at this radio thing, so there are tons of missed cues, tangents and lost trains of thought.

We think it is what makes the show real. But we need to get better.

Feedback helps us do that.

Next week lawyer, education activist and musician, Matt Farmer, joins us in studio.

The week after that CTU President Karen Lewis will be out guest.

And thanks again to Co-Prosperity Sphere and Lumpenradio.com


Keeping retirement weird. Betsy DeVos and racial education gaslighting.


I entered first grade in 1954. It was a historic year for education in the United States.

That year the U.S. Supreme court ruled that school segregation was illegal. The court found that apartheid schools could never provide equal education to children of color.

In 2016, 62 years after Brown v. Board of Education a U.S. Government Accounting Office (GAO) report  instead found that U.S. schools are quickly becoming more racially segregated than ever.

Black, Hispanic and poor students are increasingly concentrated in what researchers for the GAO called “isolated schools.”

GAO investigators found that from the 2000-2001 to the 2013-2014 school year, both the percentage of K-12 public schools in high-poverty and the percentage comprised of mostly African-American or Hispanic students grew.  During that period high poverty, segregated doubled from 7,009 schools to 15,089 schools. The percentage of all schools with so-called racial or socio-economic isolation grew from 9% to 16%.

Researchers define “isolated schools” as those in which 75% or more of students are of the same race or class.

“Isolated schools.” It sounds more benign and passive than calling them segregated. As if nobody did it.

Such schools offered disproportionately fewer math, science and college-prep courses and had higher rates of students who were held back in ninth grade, suspended or expelled.

GAO investigators found, that public charter schools, what new Education Secretary Betsy DeVos calls choice schools, take minority and poor students from larger more diverse public schools and enroll them into less diverse schools.

Investigators found, Hispanic students tended to be “triple segregated” by race, economics and language.

U.S. Rep. John Conyers, a Michigan Democrat and one of two lawmakers who requested the study, said it “confirms what has long been feared and proves that current barriers against educational equality are eerily similar to those fought during the civil rights movement. There simply can be no excuse for allowing educational apartheid in the 21st century.”

Betsy DeVos says she had never given a moment’s thought to the job of Education secretary. “It was the day after the election that somebody with whom I’ve worked for a number of years actually e‑mailed and said, ‘Would you ever think about Secretary of Education?’ She didn’t respond to the email for a day, but after talking to her husband, Dick, she replied: “I literally have never given it a thought, but if the opportunity ever presented itself, how could I not consider it?”

An opportunity to do what?

An opportunity to destroy the Department of Education and any role it might have in ensuring racial and economic equality in American public schools.

She doesn’t believe there is a federal role in education. DeVos is in charge of dismantling the  Department of Education that she was just appointed to head.

She doesn’t believe the GAO report about Jim Crow schools,  or doesn’t care what it says.

She is engaged in educational gaslighting.

“I think in some of the areas around protecting students and ensuring safe environments for them, there is a role to play … I mean, when we had segregated schools and when we had a time when, you know, girls weren’t allowed to have the same kind of sports teams — I mean, there have been important inflection points for the federal government to get involved.” But are there any remaining issues like that where the federal government should intervene? “I can’t think of any now,” she replied.