Outside Trump Tower in Manhattan.
Two of my most popular blog posts in 2016 simply provided information. A list of school layoffs at CPS had over 51,000 hits. And a post providing information about how to donate money and supplies to Standing Rock had 20,000 visitors.
I have a lot of friends across the country, and something is about to happen in Chicago that will get national attention: a strike in our public school system. This likely will be brought up by Trump or Clinton at some point. The circumstances that got us to another teachers’ strike are complex. Before someone highjacks the issue on the national stage, I thought it’d be worth a relatively short explanation.
The Illinois State Board of Education Wednesday unanimously moved to change the way the state sends special education money to school districts, aiming to increase base funding to poor districts with the resources that are currently available.
ISBE is proposing to take an entire $300 million special education line item, Funding for Children Requiring Special Education Services, and distribute it thru the General State Aid formulas.
This means all schools will lose special ed funding while some schools gain significant General State Aid funding.
Teachers! We need your help and we need it now! As you may know, the US Postal Service—very like public education itself–is being attacked on many fronts, by privatizers, union-busters, those who would dismantle an essential public service out of greed, ideology and contempt for the everyday people our work serves.
Right now, the biggest assault is the attempted hijacking of the Postal Service by the Staples office supply megachain, with the complicity of top USPS management. Every Staples outlet in the country is opening a little fake post office, staffed not by postal workers but Staples employees: minimum wage, hours held under 25 week to avoid paying benefits, no training and massive turnover, no record check. The result will be shorter hours at real POs, more mishandled mail, fewer postal workers and eventual post office closings.
I always have to explain to visitors that there is an everywhere except Chicago rule in the state of Illinois.
When I taught and was a union leader in Park Ridge, a Chicago suburb, if the district was going to lay-off a teacher due to low-enrollment or budget issues, they needed to do it 45 working days before the end of the school year. This is state law.
The law gives teachers time to find other employment and it prevents massive disruption. The kind we are seeing now with 1000 CPS employees fired a month before school begins.
But in 1995 the law was changed by an amendatory act that excluded Chicago teachers and CPS from that protection. It is the same law that keeps us from having an elected school board even though every other district in Illinois has an elected board.
Here is the skinny.
The City of Chicago is offering exactly zero dollars to city retirees to help subsidize health care.
Members of all four retirement plans will have to come up with $1400 for single coverage, $2600 for couples and $3600 for family coverage.
A good friend of mine worked for the City of Chicago for 30 years and retired a few years ago. He now must pay over $30,000 a year for health insurance for his family because the Mayor cut off his pension health care benefit.
In one of the private emails that Rahm Emanuel was forced to release as a result of a Better Government Association law suit, the Mayor gloats about the pain he is visiting on thousands of Chicago public employees.
Back in 2011, a year before my retirement, my school district received a FOIA request from Ben Velderman and the Michigan-based Education Action Group for all my work emails and my personnel file.
Which they got.
Creepy guy. I referred to him as “my stalker.”
I only bring it up now because the EAG was funded with money by the wing-nut DeVos family.
Betsy DeVos is a member of the family which has given tons of bucks to anti-public education groups and causes, including those who engage in extremist union bashing. Included among those receiving DeVos family funding was the Education Action Group.