NEA’s charter position is okay but a little like closing the doors on an empty barn. No mention of vouchers?

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NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia convened an organizational national task force on charter schools to reconsider the union’s statement adopted by the Representative Assembly in Los Angeles 15 years ago.

The wheels of the NEA turn kind of slowly. The past 15 years have seen a lot of battles around charter schools. The NEA board of directors will consider the task force’s document at their next meeting.

I posted a copy of the document last week.

In 2001, the last time the NEA took a national position on charters, there were around 2,100 charter schools operating in 34 states and the District of Columbia. Most were run by parent groups, nonprofit organizations and a few for-profit education companies. About a half million students attended them nationwide.

The landscape has radically changed.

Today, half a million students attend charter school just in California alone.

Between school years 2003–04 and 2013–14, the percentage of all public schools that were public charter schools increased from 3.1 to 6.6 percent, and the total number of public charter schools increased from 3,000 to 6,500. In addition to increasing in number, charter schools have generally increased in enrollment size over the last decade. From 2003–04 to 2013–14, the percentages of charter schools with 300–499, 500–999, and 1,000 or more students each increased, while the percentage of charter schools with fewer than 300 students decreased. Similar patterns were observed from 2012–13 to 2013–14.

So there we were. It was September of 2016. Two months before the presidential election. We had fifteen years of the Department of Education run by pro-charter secretaries like Rod Paige, Maggie Spellings, Arne Duncan and now, perhaps worst of all, Betsy DeVos, and the NEA thinks it might have something new to say about charter schools.

The NEA’s main observation is that charters are no longer mom and pop shops and have become corporate managed and profit centers, threatening public neighborhood schools and public control of what should be a public institution.

The result of these efforts has been a massive and burgeoning sector of charter schools that are not subject to the same basic safeguards and standards as public schools. Frequently the resulting charters are operated expressly for-profit, or are nominally non-profit but managed or operated by for-profit entities. These charters are nothing like the original conception of charters as small incubators of innovation within school districts. Most importantly, the growth of charters has undermined local public schools and communities, without producing any overall increase in student learning and growth.

I can’t argue with that.

Some of us have been saying it for a decade and longer.

I assume the NEA board of directors will pass it.

And then what?

Will the NEA and President Eskelsen Garcia follow her friend Randi Weingarten in school tours and seek a seat at the table with Betsy DeVos?

Or will they fight like hell against the Department of Education and its Secretary which has become the Mother of All Bombs when it comes to public, secular, neighborhood schools?

One observation: The Illinois member of the NEA task force sits on the Illinois Charter Commission, which has the authority to overturn local school district decisions to deny charter applications and which we have been trying to get the legislature to disband.

One more observation. Betsy DeVos and the Trump administration are not just charter advocates. Their other tool in the fight against neighborhood public schools is the voucher.

There is no mention of vouchers in this document.

I hope we don’t need to wait 15 years for it.

Earth Sunday.

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40,000 take part in Science March, Chicago.

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Just a few years ago, the police in Chicago almost never locked anyone up for violating probation or parole. Now, they do it several times a day, on average.

From 2001 through 2012, the police made a total of 96 arrests for parole violations, city data show.

The number then rose to 338 in a single year, 2013. Then, it surged to 1,978 in 2015.

Arrests for all types of crimes plummeted last year after the release of the Laquan McDonald shooting video led to more scrutiny of the police. But Chicago cops still remain on pace this year to arrest more than 900 people for parole violations.

“It’s a way to get them off the street” and also to make it easier for the police to keep tabs on gangs, says one veteran cop who spoke only on the condition that his name not be used.

He also offers a reason for the sudden rise in parole arrests, pointing out that it began after the city decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana in 2012: “We can’t get them for weed anymore.” Mick Dumke. Sun-Times

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EPA attorney Nicole Cantello said she and her colleagues knew the EPA was going to be on the chopping block, so they started brainstorming who they should enlist for the coming battle.

“We thought we had to hire a lobbyist,” she said. “But several people, including several Senators said to us, ‘No, you should hire a publicist.’ ”

So that’s exactly what they did.

Joanna Klonsky, a PR consultant that can usually found around Chicago’s City Hall juggling press requests for a handful of aldermen, is now helping Cantello and seven other attorneys on their lunch breaks figure out that most people won’t know what to make of phrases like “bioaccumulation of PCBs.” WBEZ
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Since the 9/11 attacks, most of the 796 terrorism defendants prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice have been charged with material support for terrorism, criminal conspiracy, immigration violations, or making false statements — vague, nonviolent offenses that give prosecutors wide latitude for scoring quick convictions or plea bargains. 523 defendants have pleaded guilty to charges, while the courts found 175 guilty at trial. Just 2 have been acquitted and 3 have seen their charges dropped or dismissed, giving the Justice Department a near-perfect record of conviction in terrorism cases.

Today, 345 people charged with terrorism-related offenses are in custody in the United States, including 58 defendants who are awaiting trial and remain innocent until proven guilty. The Intercept.

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Chester “Checker” Finn, Grand Poobah Emeritus of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, is the reformster most likely to unleash his higher dudgeon over Kids These Days and Those Darn Teachers, and he has done so again on the Fordham Flypaper blog. “Will Teacher Tenure Die?” appears to have been edited down from an original title, “Will Teacher Tenure Ever Die, Please?”

Some of his complaint is simply incorrect. As his old colleague Diane Ravitch points out, his notion that K-12 trickled down from colleges and universities is ahistoric— K-12 tenure was a response to too many teachers losing jobs to school board members’ nieces and failing to register with the correct political party, among other abuses.

After cheering on the slow death of tenure at the college and university level (because I’m sure having a cadre of part-time underpaid instructors is going to make college education super), Finn goes on to bemoan the continued existence of tenure in the K-12 world (even, in some cases, by contract in right to work states). And teachers can get tenure after only a few years and some “satisfactory” ratings, which strikes Finn as evidence. This is an old reformy trope, and I’m not sure what to make of it– instead of saying, “Hey, teachers are mostly well-rated, so the profession must be in good shape,” reformsters say, “Hey, teachers are mostly well-rated, so the evaluation system must be broken, because we just know that a huge number of teachers suck.” So, data is good, unless it conflicts with your pre-conceived biases, in which case, just throw the data out. Peter Greene

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With Dr. Eve Ewing on this week’s Hitting Left.

On Prince by Eve Ewing

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Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers #12.

HITTING LEFT #3

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The Klonsky brothers and Dr. Eve Ewing on Hitting Left.

The latest episode of our show is up on MixCloud, and as a downloadable podcast on Liberated Syndication and iTunes.

We spoke with Sarah Chambers, teacher of students with special needs at Saucedo Academy in Little Village. At least she was teaching until CPS suspended her for charges as yet unknown.

But Sarah has her opinions as to why CPS is trying to fire her. “I know why. Because I’m active!” she told us.

Our in-studio guest, Eve Ewing, also has a theory about Sarah’s suspension. She thinks those in power want to send a message to every teacher that if they speak up as advocates for their students, particularly the most disadvantaged students, then they will be fired too.

We all agreed. “An injury to one is an injury to all.”

Eve is a former Logan Square neighbor kid who went on to the University of Chicago and Harvard.  She is now an accomplished author, poet and sociologist who most recently has been looking at the mass closing of Chicago’s public neighborhood schools and the devastating impact that the closings have had on students and communities of color in Chicago.

And don’t miss her poem to Prince on the one year anniversary of his death. It is powerful.

Best show ever.

Thinking about you, Logan Bay.

Keeping retirement weird. Who is leaving?

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On this beautiful Earth Day I am going to be a judge evaluating high school students who are aspiring political cartoonists.

I will receive a small stipend, but I’m not doing it for the money. The stipend is not much. Like so many other retired teachers, we volunteer in schools, we coach, we are political activists and so much else.

We are a free asset to our communities.

I read the other day that every ten years or so the pension actuarial tables and mortality rates have to be recalculated. Some of us are living longer.

For others, life expectancy is actually decreasing. We can blame the widening gap between rich and poor for those whose lives are at greater risk.

For teachers in the retirement pension system, living longer is a problem for the state. The pension actuaries have to account for our increasing life expectancy. It is one factor in the state’s $130 billion pension liability. Some of our state’s politicians complain that retired teachers are living too long.

When I write, as I did yesterday, about health care, pensions and taxes, I inevitably receive two kinds of responses.

“If you tax the rich, they will leave the state.”

No they won’t.

Bruce Rauner has nine homes and they’re not all in Illinois. So do his billionaire buddies. They don’t have to leave. The can pretend they are Donald Trump playing golf and stuffing his face at Mar-a-Lago on the weekends.

For the poor and working class it is another matter. As Chicago’s industrial base has disappeared, so have the people who did the work and paid the taxes.

Hundreds of thousands of African American workers have left Chicago and Illinois over the past couple of decades. It is a reversal of the Great Migration from the South that occurred in the early part of the 20th Century.

A flat income tax that allows the richest billionaire hedge fund manager and the poorest worker to pay the same income tax rate, while union jobs have been replaced by minimum pay jobs, means working people have moved someplace else. A state that doesn’t raise enough revenue to pay its bills has put the tax burden on the towns and homes of those who can afford it the least.

The least wealthy of us can’t afford to stay.

It is those people who have left. Only the rich can afford the life style that the City has to offer them.

Yet those who repeat the myth of the disappearing 1% are unconcerned by all of this.

“Illinois should tax retirement income.”

Yes. Illinois does not tax retirement income.

I don’t have a problem with a fair, progressive tax on retirement income.

Everybody’s.

I do find it puzzling that those who propose this think it is preferable to starting with a fair tax on the rich.  How does increasing taxing old folks address the revenue problem?

I also find it puzzling that the folks who send me these comments, often the same folks sending both, hold what appears to be two contradictory ideas.

Taxes cause people to leave the state. Tax the income of retirees who can leave the state fairly easily? Taking their income and taxable spending with them?

What is keeping a retired teacher from moving to Southern California?

California does tax retirement income. Illinois doesn’t. It ain’t the weather that keeps us here.

My annual.

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This is Anne and me in Wakarusa, Indiana. 2009.

April is the month I get my yearly physical.

First of all, the results are pretty good for a guy who turns 70 next year. I don’t turn 69 until June, but I like saying, “I turn 70 next year.”

I go to the gym regularly. I try to watch any up-tick in my weight. I have to control my blood pressure with some meds. But all-in-all, the doctor and I were satisfied with the results.

The health insurance system works pretty well for me.

I am insured through a combination of Medicare and the retired teacher’s state health care system. It is not free. I pay a premium for insurance which is subsidized by payments from the state. I helped support the subsidy to retirees by payments I made when I was an active teacher.

Like my pension, that was the deal made when I started teaching 35 years ago.

Now Governor Rauner is threatening to end the state subsidy.

From the Illinois Retired Teachers Association:

Teachers’ Retirement Insurance Program (TRIP) is composed of two insurance programs: Standard TRIP and TRAIL.  Standard TRIP is the health insurance for those retirees under 65 years old and those retirees who are not Medicare eligible.

The February breakdown from Central Management Systems (CMS) of funding sources for TRIP are as follows:

Active Teachers 24.5%

Retirees 31.6%

School Districts 18.4%

State of Illinois 22.9%

Medicare 0.4%

Other 2.2%

IF the governor’s budget were to be adopted with the TRIP line zeroed out, then retiree-participants would have to bear the increased cost or drop out of TRIP and go to the public marketplace for insurance coverage.

Breaking a promise made to me when I began teaching would cause my slightly elevated current blood pressure to rise even more.

To the trolls who will surely want write and tell me how unfair it is that Illinois’s teachers have it so good: Don’t bother.

Nobody is more aware than I am that it could be worse. And it is worse for many, even with the Affordable Care Act that the Repugs are again trying to do away with.

Take the case of the retired mine workers who will lose their health coverage later this month if Congress doesn’t act.

Donald J. Trump made coal miners a central metaphor of his presidential campaign, promising to “put our miners back to work” and look after their interests in a way that the Obama administration did not.

Now, three months into his presidency, comes a test of that promise.

Unless Congress intervenes by late April, government-funded health benefits will abruptly lapse for more than 20,000 retired miners, concentrated in Trump states that include Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. Many of the miners have serious health problems arising from their years in the mines.

In mining areas like Uniontown, Pa., and surrounding Fayette and Greene Counties, which Mr. Trump carried 2 to 1, it is an upsetting and potentially costly prospect. “It’s just a terrible, terrible feeling,” said one of the retirees, David VanSickle, who spent four decades at work in the mines. “I think about that 25 times a day.”

The president has offered no public comment on the issue, even as he has rolled back regulations on mine operators, an omission that has not escaped the notice of Mr. VanSickle and other retired miners.

“To me, that was kind of a promise he did make to us,” Mr. VanSickle said about Mr. Trump, whom he supported last fall. “He promised to help miners, not just mining companies.”

Yes. They voted for Trump. But I take no satisfaction in saying that they were foolish to believe him.

In a society that thinks of itself as democratic and humane, where affordable healthcare and quality public education should be a right, it is crazy that we are still fighting for both.

 

Download Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers #12.

Bev Johns: Illinois special education funding. Fact and fiction.

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-Bev Johns

Senate Bills 1 and 1124, and House Bill 2808 would change all of the school funding formulas in Illinois, AND would change the very nature of special education.

Is special ed as detailed in the Federal special education law, IDEA, OR is it a Response to Intervention (RTI also called MTSS), more full inclusion in the regular, general education on the theory that we can prevent disabilities (because there are no true disabilities, only differences)?

On April 18 the special ed administrators, IAASE, sent an email with a one-page supposed fact sheet titled  ACTUAL IMPACT ON SPECIAL EDUCATION (Fix the Formula Illinois) that makes a claim we did NOT make (that direct and dedicated funding for special education would be eliminated) instead of correctly saying that direct and dedicated funding for special education TEACHERS (and other personnel) would be eliminated by HB 2808 and SB 1 and 1124.

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Here is what the fact sheet claimed, and what is true.

CLAIM: Will evidence based funding eliminate “direct and dedicated” funding for special education? No.

FACT: The Evidence Based Model (EBM) in House Bill 2808, and in Senate Bills 1 and 1124 would eliminate direct and dedicated funding for special education TEACHERS.

On pages 234 through 237, HB 2808 would eliminate Special Education Personnel Reimbursement by adding the words “Through Fiscal Year 2017” which would end Special Ed Personnel Reimbursement after the current 2016-2017 school year.

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IAASE also included another fact sheet titled 5 KEY FACTS, SPECIAL EDUCATION FUNDING IN HB2808, Fix the Formula Illinois.

CLAIM: The legislation allocates funding for special education based on total student enrollment…

FACT: True. Funding for special education would be based on the number of GENERAL education students.  

CLAIM: …resulting in one special education teacher and one instructional assistant for every 20 students with an IEP, on average.

FACT: Highly misleading if not false. Using the words “on average” as a Statewide average has zero relevance to any one school district or special ed co-op. (1) House Bill 2808 on page 332 under Special Education Investments provides for one position (OT or PT or speech/ language or social worker or teacher) for 141 GENERAL education students and one assistant for every 141 GENERAL education students.

(2) This is just funding so it can be spent on as many (or as few) special ed teachers as a school district wants to spend it on – OR on anything that the school district calls special education.

(3) This would be a great incentive to identify fewer students for special education as a school district would receive exactly the same amount of money no matter how many (or how few) students the school district identifies as needing special education. 

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In addition these fact sheets make NO mention of the fact that special ed co-ops would receive NO new money under HB 2808, SB 1, or SB 1124 (even if NEW money is appropriated).

The fact sheets make NO mention of the requirement for Response to Intervention (RTI) in the 3 bills as it is an “ESSENTIAL” part of the Evidence Based Model.

And none of these bills would provide any NEW money. That will take separate appropriation bills, but only the poorest school districts would receive significant new funding under the 4 Tiers of funding in HB 2808, SB  1 or SB 1124 EVEN IF significant new money is appropriated.

Download Hitting Left podcast.

NEA’s charter school policy statement.

The NEA’s charter school taskforce policy statement will be discussed at an upcoming NEA Board of Directors meeting.

Charter School Policy Statement
As Recommended by the Charter Taskforce to the NEA Board of Directors

Introduction

Charter schools were initially promoted by educators who sought to innovate within the local public school system to better meet the needs of their students. Over the last quarter of a century, charter schools have grown dramatically to include large numbers of charters that are privately managed, largely unaccountable, and not transparent as to their operations or performance. The explosive growth of charters has been driven, in part, by deliberate and well- funded efforts to ensure that charters are exempt from the basic safeguards and standards that apply to public schools, which mirror efforts to privatize other public institutions for profit.

Charters have grown the most in school districts that were already struggling to meet students’ needs due to longstanding, systemic and ingrained patterns of institutional neglect, racial and ethnic segregation, inequitable school funding, and disparities in staff, programs and services. The result has been the creation of separate, largely unaccountable, privately managed charter school systems in those districts that undermine support and funding of local public schools. Such separate and unequal education systems are disproportionately located in, and harm, students and communities of color by depriving both of the high quality public education system that should be their right.

As educators we believe that “public education is the cornerstone of our social, economic, and political structure,” NEA Resolution A-1, the very “foundation of good citizenship,” and the fundamental prerequisite to every child’s future success. Brown v. Bd. of Ed. of Topeka, Shawnee Cty., Kan., 347 U.S. 483, 493 (1954). The growth of separate and unequal systems of charter schools that are not subject to the same basic safeguards and standards that apply to public schools threatens our students and our public education system. The purpose of this policy statement is to make plain NEA’s opposition to the failed experiment of largely unaccountable privately managed charter schools while clarifying NEA’s continued support for those public charter schools that are authorized and held accountable by local democratically elected school boards or their equivalent.

Findings of NEA Charter Taskforce in Support of Proposed Charter Policy Statement_April 2017

 

 

I taught students with Autism and disabilities for 30 years. I could not read this story without anger and tears.

As The Washington Post’s Susan Svrluga reported, the complaint cited state statistics that black students with disabilities were nearly 13 times as likely as non-disabled white students to be punished with short-term suspensions in the 2014-2015 school year.

The complaint, filed in August by the Legal Aid Justice Center and the ACLU of Virginia, also alleged that although students with disabilities made up 17.7 percent of the student population, they accounted for 29.8 percent of students who were suspended short-term and 37.4 percent of students who were suspended long-term.

Washington Post, by Lindsey Bever:

John Benjamin Haygood was slouched in a chair with his hand over his eyes, a video shows.

A school resource officer at Okeechobee Achievement Academy in Florida stood over the 10-year-old boy as his mother asked: “Does he have the same rights as an adult?” Then, the officer reached for the young boy’s wrists.

“I don’t want to be touched,” John Benjamin said, throwing his hands in the air. “I don’t like to be touched.”

Luanne Haygood filmed her son being arrested by Okeechobee County deputies at his school on April 12, after she said said they were called in for testing. (Luanne Haygood)

His mother, Luanne Haygood, who was filming the emotional scene, said she and her son had been called into the school for state standardizing testing April 12; while they were there, she said, officers arrested her son for an incident that occurred in October.

He spent the night behind bars at a juvenile facility, Haygood said.

Haygood said John Benjamin, who has been diagnosed with autism, had kicked and scratched his paraprofessional educator (also known as an educational assistant) and, unknown to his own family, had an outstanding warrant for battery on a school board employee, a third-degree felony.

“I didn’t know I was going to get arrested like this,” the boy added, as the officers secured his wrists. “I don’t want to be touched. Please don’t touch me.”

As the officers escorted the boy to the police vehicle, his mother asked them whether she could ride with her son to the jail; one of the officers told her no.

“I don’t know what’s going on, Mama!” he screamed. “I don’t understand.”

“I know, honey,” his mother told him. “He has autism — he doesn’t know what’s going on, he’s scared to death, he’s 10 years old!”

Haygood, from Okeechobee, Fla., said her son, who was diagnosed with autism two years ago, has had an individualized education plan (IEP) since he started school and was assigned a paraprofessional educator last year. But, Haygood said, he had been having issues with his aide, claiming he was hurting him, and the school would not assign a new one.

On Oct. 27, the educator reported, John Benjamin was being disruptive in class, “throwing paper balls around the classroom and hitting other students,” according to a probable cause affidavit.

“When John Benjamin was asked to go to timeout he refused,” according to the court records. The educator “attempted to remove the student and sent him back to the timeout place. At this point, John Benjamin started kicking and scratching and punching” him.

The educator “had to restrain the student, he advised he came around the student and wrapped his arms around the upper chest as to not restrict child’s breathing,” according to the documents.

It was that October incident that led to her son’s arrest, Haygood said.

It was not known why the boy’s family was not informed of his outstanding warrant.

Scott Badesch, president of the Autism Society of America, said the organization has been in contact with Haygood to help provide support services and legal counsel.

“It appears the school’s responses are beyond wrong and evil,” he said. “It is a tremendous failure by two allegedly responsible institutions — the police and the school.”

Badesch said the Autism Society is examining the case to determine whether it should ask the Justice Department and the Education Department to investigate any wrongdoing.

Similar cases have been seen in other states. The Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights is investigating one in Virginia, following a complaint that Richmond public schools unfairly punish black students and students with disabilities more harshly than others.

As The Washington Post’s Susan Svrluga reported, the complaint cited state statistics that black students with disabilities were nearly 13 times as likely as non-disabled white students to be punished with short-term suspensions in the 2014-2015 school year.

The complaint, filed in August by the Legal Aid Justice Center and the ACLU of Virginia, also alleged that although students with disabilities made up 17.7 percent of the student population, they accounted for 29.8 percent of students who were suspended short-term and 37.4 percent of students who were suspended long-term.

When asked about John Benjamin’s case, Okeechobee County schools spokeswoman Renee Geeting said the district cannot disclose specific information about incidents involving students. But, she noted, the district would not “invite someone to one of our campuses for the sole purpose to arrest.”

“The district routinely assists students by providing services from our board certified behavioral analyst, licensed mental health counselors, school social workers, and psychologists,” she added in a statement. “As a team, these individuals develop interventions, conduct assessments, and offer support both at school and in the home in order to assist students and families.”

Prosecutor Ashley Albright said he is meeting, Wednesday afternoon, with the paraprofessional who pressed charges. Albright said the State Attorney’s Office will take the boy’s special needs into consideration when determining how to proceed with the case and added that juveniles are treated differently by the justice system anyway.

When asked what she hopes to accomplish by going public with the arrest video, Haygood said she just wants her son “to have the same education every other child is entitled to and receives.”

John Benjamin is due in court for his arraignment May 11.

 

Illinois revenue and urban legends.

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Fred,

You state: “It is a problem of a state that won’t raise sufficient revenue to pay its bills. There is too little revenue and too little spending on the real needs of the state.”

But Illinoisans are the highest taxed state per capita in the nation. How can we not be raising sufficient revenue unless our bills are “even higher”?

Isn’t the real issue, the corrupt bargains between politicians (Republicans and Democrats) and Union leaders? The ever escalating pensions and tricks and gimmicks that allow state and municipal workers to generate a pension that in some cases is higher than the highest salary these individuals ever had? That state and municipal workers in Illinois are the only slice of the middle class that has continued to see strong net income (including benefits and pensions) increases, while the rest of the middle class saw stagnant if not declining total compensation?

While revenue likely should be increased to pay down the horrendous debts we’ve accumulated as a state, city and municipal workers should shoulder their part as well. If not, this remains a stalemate that will end with the first bankruptcy of a state. Not to put to fine a point on it, but if both sides don’t come together on this issue the state “WILL”  go bankrupt, whether Rauner is there, or another future ex-convict of a governor.

Josh McClure

Josh,

As a guy interested in taxes, revenue and finances, I wonder what list you are citing that puts Illinois as number one, the highest taxed, in the nation.

Your comment to this blog is full of urban legends.

No matter. I agree that the working people of Illinois are over-taxed. But that is because the richest people are under-taxed.

You must be aware that Illinois has a flat income tax. That means that the heaviest tax burden falls on those that earn the least. It means that members of the Pritzker family who own the Hyatt Hotel chain and live in Illinois, are taxed on their huge income at the same rate as the maid that cleans the Hyatt’s rooms.

It also means the local city and county governments must rely on property taxes to make up for the fact that the state doesn’t raise enough revenue, leaving the state to rely on the taxes of its least wealthy citizens.

How can a state pay its bills when it taxes the people the most who have no extra money? You can’t raise revenue by taxing people who have no money.

Reliance on property taxes is an additional burden on those who can least afford it.

Those like Bruce Rauner have no trouble paying their property taxes on their multiple homes. Plus they have the accountant and lawyers to find tax loop holes. But those of us in Chicago, who struggle every month to meet our mortgage payment, have just seen a massive increase in property taxes.

Again it is a burden on those who can least afford it.

To pay for their schools, local school districts must tax the maximum the law allows to make up for the fact that the state doesn’t have the money to take care of what the Illinois Constitution says is a primary responsibility: Funding public education.

This is less a burden on towns on the North Shore than it is on towns like Robbins and Harvey.

The result is that the support for an Illinois student’s education depends on their zip code.

Or really their skin color and their economic class.

That is the real reason for the current situation, Josh. Not pensions and labor contracts.

Ask the members of AFSCME, faced with a take-it-or-leave-it bargaining position by the Governor, about the so-called sweet-heart deals for state workers.

I agree with you about the declining living standards of the working class in this state. But your solution is to pull state workers down into the pit instead of stopping state giveaways to private companies.

You must know that the largest corporations in Illinois collect and keep the state income tax they collect. They have done it for years under both Republican and Democratic administrations.

My pension is a contract. You believe in the sanctity of a legal and mutually agreed upon contract, don’t you?

But again. No matter. The Illinois Supreme Court believes in it and has ruled that our pensions are a legal contact and guaranteed by our state’s constitution.

As to who has and who has not paid their share, as a financial expert you are aware that state workers and teachers have never missed a payment into their pension funds while the state went decades without making any of their payments.

If the state were a private corporation they would be charged with a federal crime for failing to make their payments.

Someone would go to jail.

I’m no lawyer, but your threat of state bankruptcy goes counter to my understanding of the law. Since the state has the power to raise revenue, the courts will order it to if they, the legislature, does not raise revenue on their own.

Fred