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.

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Did Jason Leahy, Executive Director of the Illinois Principals Association block special education leader, Bev Johns, from webinar?

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-By Bev Johns

We like to think we live in a free country where we can express our political viewpoints without fear of retaliation, particularly on proposed legislation.

This afternoon I received a telephone call from the Associate Director for Professional Development of the Illinois Principals’ Association (IPA) canceling my IPA Webinar planned for April 25.

As I have gotten to know and like her (and she is soon retiring from IPA) she told me what this was really about.

My first Webinar for IPA on March 2 on Sixty 60 Second Behavior Interventions (the April 25 was to be a repeat of that) was well-attended, and got excellent reviews.

I was told today that IPA PD did not want to cancel, that registration was good for April 25, but that she was directed by Jason Leahy, Executive Director of IPA to cancel. (Jason Leahy has not returned my call to him.)

Why the cancellation?

She stated that IPA had received complaints on my personal position on the Evidence Based Model and that concerns had been expressed to IPA about my email and Facebook comments about IAASE and their positions on legislation (the IPA supports the Evidence Based Model in HB 2808 and SB 1).

Of course that had absolutely nothing to do with my Webinars for IPA.

She stated it was possible that the Webinar might be re-scheduled if the situation changed.

Remember that I had previously received email threats from the President-Elect of IAASE, and then the February 21, 2017 letter from a Washington, D.C. law firm “on behalf of the… Illinois Alliance of Administrators of Special Education (‘IAASE’)” making several false statements and demanding that I cease certain email activity.

This is still a free country, and nothing will stop me from being an advocate for students and teachers.

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

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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.”

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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.

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Beverley Holden Johns: SB 16 will be back with a new number, but it is still bad policy.

Beverley Holden Johns

Me and Bev Johns.

– By Beverley Holden Johns. Beverley is a long-time special education activist and advocate. She is a frequent contributor to this blog.

Illinois has failed to fund pensions and has failed to fund schools, and last year attempted to cover over those facts with poorly designed legislation.

Senate Bill 16 was largely an attempt to cover over a failure to fund Illinois schools by taking away direct funding of special education teachers and re-distributing that money in a block grant.

The General State Aid (GSA) formulas worked very well when Illinois was properly funding schools, and still partly work today. Special education Personnel Reimbursement, which is separate from GSA, now provides $9,000 for each special ed teacher, each school social worker, each school psychologist, each school nurse and other professionals that work full-time with special education students.

SB 16 would have completely abolished this dedicated funding for special education Personnel Reimbursement, which now provides up to 1/3 of a special ed teacher’s salary in a poor district but less than 1/10 of that salary for some teachers in a wealthy district.

This school year under GSA, the 64 highest wealth school districts are entitled to receive only $218 per student, while the 86 poorest school districts are entitled to receive over $4,000 per student.

But this school year Illinois is funding only 89 percent of those GSA amounts (proration) meaning the poorest school districts are losing over 6 percent of their total budgets while the wealthy school districts are losing about 1 percent of their total budgets.

More importantly, Illinois has failed for years to provide the needed funding increases for K to 12 education.

In 2002, by State law, Illinois was to provide $4,560 per student thru a combination of State and local funds (which was determined based on low-spending but high achieving school districts).

Now, by State law, Illinois is to provide only $6,119 although the amount determined based on low-spending but high achieving school districts is $8,672.

As Jim Broadway, Illinois School News Service, stated on January 6, “The formula no longer works” because “The original formula was crafted to ‘work’ satisfactorily as long as the state’s share of total PK-12 public school funding would be 50% or so, with the local share maybe 40% to 42% and the feds paying the rest. As the state’s share has fallen from a peak of about 48.5% in the mid-1970s to less than 30% of the total today, the portion paid by local property owners has ballooned to 60% or more.”

You cannot cover over the failure of Illinois to fund schools by blaming formulas that work as intended when schools get the funds they need.

The Illinois General Assembly is expected to try to change school funding again in 2015 and dedicated special education direct funding for special ed teachers will again be a target.

A very few people in Illinois believe special ed teachers will not be needed in the future, that general ed teachers should do it all.

It is up to us to see that those people do not win in 2015 and that students receiving special education have the specialized teachers and other professionals that special ed Personnel Reimbursement helps assure.

Beverley Holden Johns: SB 16. Why so hard to change special ed funding?

– Beverley Holden Johns is an Illinois special education leader and advocate. She writes frequently for this blog.

Why is it so difficult to change the way Illinois funds special education?

Largely because special ed is different than all of the rest of elementary and secondary education. By law, the needs of an INDIVIDUAL student come first – a local school district must provide assistance in the general ed classroom, in a separate class, in a separate school, in a private school, or in a hospital or residential school depending ONLY on the individual needs of a student.

As Fred Weintraub, one of the architects of the original Federal special education law (now IDEA), stated in 2012, “This principle of building a program around a child, as opposed to fitting a child into a program, was a revolutionary departure from the traditions of general and special education in that it assumes there are no common outcomes or approaches. It requires that a school district have available an array of placement, service, curricular, and instructional options and that the IEP team has the freedom to select options that meet the needs of the child.”

Depending on how completely a local school district complies with the law, this means there is tremendous variance in how many special ed students a school district identifies.

In addition, poverty is tied to disability.

Also, parental knowledge of the law and the advocacy of parents varies dramatically across school districts.

So for these reasons, special ed costs vary far beyond regional variance in cost of living, and the identification rates for special ed vary.

In addition there is a relatively new problem. There is always a tension between the costs of special ed and administrators’ desire to focus on the majority of students.

This leads to efforts to NOT identify students under the Federal and State laws as that gives parents and students legal rights that other students do not have.

There is an effort to set up an alternative system, and then there is the need to fund that system. We are increasingly moving in Illinois to 3 types of classes: general ed, special ed and Response to Intervention (RTI) ed.

Part of the push to block grant special ed is to provide flexibility so local school districts can fund RTI ed.

A form letter being used by some school districts shows how far this RTI ed has progressed in Illinois.

The MacArthur Middle School (Prospect Heights, IL) letter says four (4) times, “RTI class” (for “all five days during the week”), and at the bottom, “Parent Signature Refusing Placement.” All of this is outside Federal and Illinois law.

The Federal special ed law, IDEA, was reauthorized in 2004 to say that RTI “may” be used (it was permissive, not mandatory) by a local school district ONLY as part of the process to identify Learning Disabilities (LD).

After a heated dispute, Illinois adopted rules mandating RTI, but again ONLY as part of the process for identifying a child as having Learning Disabilities, and therefore being qualified for special education.

The MacArthur Middle School letter does not even pretend that their five-day-a-week RTI class is part of any process to identify LD.

But some local schools are using RTI for almost anything and for almost anyone as there are NO Federal regulations on RTI, and no details in Illinois regs on what RTI is and is not.

Students have NO legal rights under RTI, so some school districts actively support RTI and do all they can to convince parents not to ask for an evaluation for special ed.

But schools have to get the money to fund RTI, and they can use only 15% of their Federal special ed money for it, which in most cases is only about $100 per student, and according to Illinois law, State special ed funds can only be used for identified special ed students.

For all of these reasons, changing special ed funding in Illinois is far more complex than just coming up with one block grant.

Bev Johns. For the first time in my life I will not be voting for one of the candidates for Governor of Illinois.

– Beverley Holden Johns is a Special Education activist, advocate and frequent contributor to this blog.

Supporters of Public Education face a horrible choice
for Governor of Illinois: Republican Bruce Rauner
versus Democrats Pat Quinn and Paul Vallas.

I cannot bring myself to vote for Pat Quinn/Paul Vallas.
Our current Governor is completely willing to act
unconstitutionally, not only on teacher pensions, but on
vetoing legislators’ pay (which the courts ruled
was unconstitutional).

Quinn appears to have little respect for our very
process of governance. What if our Governor
vetoed legislators’ compensation whenever the
Illinois General Assembly did not do what he wanted,
in an attempt to bully them?

It is an action totally outside of checks and balances
and separation of powers. It is an action of an
autocrat without a sense of history and good governance.

Why did Quinn pick Paul Vallas as his candidate for
Lt. Governor? As Quinn has stated several times,
because of his expertise on the budget and on education.
We all know what Vallas has advocated for and done
as School Superintendent in Chicago, and in New Orleans
(where every school is now a Charter School),

Quinn has already taken several actions in support of
Charter Schools (UNO $95 million grant, establishment
of charter school commission, etc.).

What will Vallas advise him (and actively push him
every day given Vallas’ personality) to do on
Charters Schools, and even on School Vouchers
(no matter how much Vallas is now denying it).
Remember limited Vouchers passed the Illinois State
Senate a couple of years ago and almost passed the
Illinois House but got tied up in end of session party rivalry.

And in Illinois, there is always the chance that
Vallas could become Governor due to Quinn’s IDOT
hiring, the supposed neighborhood violence
State money spent just before his 2010 election, etc.

Former Chicago Mayor Harold Washington, who
hired Pat Quinn as the city’s revenue director, then
fired him less than a year later, said that hiring him
was his “greatest mistake,” saying Quinn was a
“totally and completely undisciplined individual who
thinks this government is nothing but a large easel
on which he can do his PR work.”

Bruce Rauner has supported privately run but
publicly financed Charter Schools (one is named
for him). These de-regulated schools are not
real Public Schools, which have to accept and
teach every child. Rauner says he supports
School Vouchers. Rauner says he would abolish
Teacher Pensions, and try to implement private plans.

Rauner says he will cut State taxes by Billions of dollars,
freeze local property taxes, but just lately has been
claiming he will increase education funding – even
the Chicago Tribune which has supported him
finds that hard to believe when Illinois already
has a $5 Billion deficit each year and the highest
total debt of any State.

All the other political parties have been thrown
off the ballot (except for the Libertarian Party which
states it would privatize education).

It is not possible to write in a candidate for Governor
as no one informed all 102 counties in Illinois by
September 4 that he or she wanted to be a candidate.

When I go to my polling place on November 4, for
the first time in my life I will not be voting for one of the
candidates for Governor of Illinois.

Bev Johns. NCLB required all students to be proficient on state tests by 2014.

– Bev Johns is a Special Education advocate and activist and has contributed frequently to this blog.

NCLB required all students to be proficient on State tests by 2014.

Failure of the public schools to reach that goal has been widely viewed as the failure of public education, requiring movement to charter schools and even increasing the talk of vouchers in the name of choice. Failure of the public schools to reach that goal has been widely viewed as the failure of public education, requiring movement to charter schools and even increasing the talk of vouchers in the name of choice.

Now Arne Duncan seeks to require ALL students with disabilities to demonstrate proficiency or advanced mastery of challenging subject matter on the NAEP tests?

As this is impossible (students without disabilities do not come close to doing it and are making very little progress toward meeting that goal), what will be the impact on special ed?

Special education will be deemed to be an utter failure, and some will urge RTI/MTSS and full inclusion for all (although there is no evidence that will cause students to meet the NAEP goal).

What is wrong with using NAEP?

(1) National Assessment of Education Progress, or NAEP, was not designed for any such purpose, or validated for any such purpose.

(2) NAEP is given at only a few schools in each State to get a sample of how the state is doing in the 4th and 8th grades
in math and reading every 2 years.

NAEP makes no pretense of testing all children or all schools.

So NAEP offers no accountability whatsoever at the vast majority of schools in each state.

(3) There have been consistent problems on whether students with disabilities even take the NAEP, and on whether the NAEP tests will offer accommodations for students with disabilities (on which each state has made tremendously varying decisions).

So the percentage of students with disabilities in each state taking the NAEP varies tremendously from state to state (making state to state comparisons totally invalid).

(4) NAEP is not aligned with the Common Core so it does not reflect what may be taught in the classroom.

What does Arne Duncan state that the goal of special ed Results Driven Accountability is?

“While the goal is to ensure that ALL children with disabilities demonstrate proficient or advanced mastery of challenging subject matter, we recognize that States may need to take intermediate steps to reach this benchmark.”(emphasis added)

Please see footnote 7 at http://www2.ed.gov/fund/data/report/idea/partbspap/2014/2014_part_b_htdmd.pdf

Can anyone provide a complete description of this accountability system that parents and educators can understand?

On August 4, 2014, all 8 Republicans on the U.S. Senate education committee in a 3 page letter asked Arne Duncan detailed questions about this special ed Results Driven Accountability:

“It is troubling that the department made unilateral changes to the [Individuals with Disabilities Education Act] compliance framework without seeking legislative approval, disregarded congressional intent, and appears to have violated the clear letter of the law.”

“The changes spelled out in your ‘Results-Driven Accountability framework clearly amount to federal influence on the standards and assessments states and school districts use to direct the education program of students with disabilities and would give the federal government authority to use students proficiency as measured by the NAEP to evaluate and either reward or
sanction school districts.”

No Child Left Behind, the joint product of George W. Bush and Ted Kennedy, has positives and negatives, but overall it has been a disaster for the public schools because it had unrealistic and utopian goals.

We cannot allow special ed Results Driven Accountability to be a similar disaster.

Bev Johns. Arne’s new system greatly reduces IDEA compliance enforcement.

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– Beverley Holden Johns is a Special Education activist and advocate.

The U.S. Department of Education today announced
new standards for judging States on special education.

The new system greatly reduces compliance enforcement for IDEA, on the theory that States are in procedural compliance with IDEA, in return for using NAEP test results to judge educational outcomes for students in special ed.

NAEP was NEVER designed or tested for any such purpose (see below). NAEP is a test taken by a sample of school districts from each State, every 2 years.

Below is my summary of the conference call hosted by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today.

Arne Duncan: “Other stuff we should be looking at to eliminate?”

Conference call on new Special Ed requirements for States, June 24, 2014.

USDOE plus two Commissioners of Education, called Superintendents in some States – Massachusetts (MA), Mitchell Chester, and Tennessee (TN), Kevin Huffman.

TN: “States build up their little special education units.” 40 percent of students with SLD can achieve same test results as others – “not students with significant cognitive disabilities.” (last comment made several times by others)

MA: identifies 17 percent of students for SE. Tom Hehir assisting them: double the number of students in poverty identified for SE. More students
of color need to be in general ed classrooms.

USDOE: New system has fewer data reporting requirements, no need for reporting on results of actions taken on previous non-compliance, no need to have improvement on previous indicators, etc.

Arne Duncan to the 2 Commissioners: “Other stuff we should be looking at to eliminate?”

Reporter question: NAEP ever been used this way? NAEP designed for high stakes testing? NAEP designed for students with disabilities?

Duncan: “Only accurate measurement we have. Imperfect…” “I would not call it high stakes.” “NAEP given every 2 years.”

Reporter question: reinventing the wheel? If States cannot meet requirements, then change the requirements in 5 years?

USDOE: “We have to own these kids.”

MA: SE needs to be integrated into the mainstream.

Reporter question: What are the consequences?

Duncan: No real answer, withholding funds not his
first priority.

Reporter question: What outcomes? The same proficiency for all students?

USDOE: Vast majority of students in SE must achieve to the same high standard required by NAEP of all students. “do not have cognitive disabilities” Most students in SE now do not have access to content standards or to the same assessment.

The tone of the call was set by having 2 non-experts in special ed, the 2 Commissioners.

The Senate passes SB 16 and Special Education funding is put at risk.

Yesterday the Illinois Senate passed SB16. The bill now goes to the House.

It is claimed that SB16 will shift state funding to poor districts. No new funds will be made available in a state with the lowest state funding for education in the nation. The legislature is poised to cut education funding further.

The IEA takes no position on SB16.

This morning I asked Beverley Holden Johns about SB16. Johns is a Special Education advocate and activist who frequently contributes to this blog.

Beverley,

Yesterday the Senate Passed SB16.

A few weeks ago I posted your critical comments.

Is the SB16 that was passed by the Senate yesterday the same bill with the same problems.

Can you write me something to post?

– Fred

Beverley responded:

With the formal support of only Stand for Children and Advance Illinois, the latest version of  Senate Bill 16 passed the Illinois Senate Executive Committee.

Then the Illinois State Senate voted 32 yes, 19 no, and 6 present to pass SB 16.

At the last minute the sponsor of SB 16 removed the amendment that would have allowed local school districts to waive many current mandates.

However, SB 16 seems to say that education funding is only  about which school districts receive money.

SB 16 still ignores the fact that State funds are now tied to actually doing something, to encouraging or requiring that those funds be spent for certain students or for certain activities.

As amended, except for very high cost students, Illinois  State Senate Bill 16 would allow special ed funds to be spent for almost anything a local school district  wants to spend them on, move the funding from students  with IEPs to a guess “representative of the statewide average population of students with disabilities,” and almost eliminate special ed funding for some school districts.

As this would violate Federal law, Amendment 5 was added to Senate Bill 16 to say that Federal IDEA (but NOT State) funds must be spent on special ed.

Illinois now provides State education funds tied to services to students. SB 16 would pretend that every school district serves exactly the same percentage of special ed students.

SB 16 would disconnect State funding from actual services to students.

Amendment 3 to Senate Bill 16 (which replaced amendments 1 and 2) would eliminate the $9,000 Illinois pays for each special ed teacher,and instead fund Illinois special ed  with one flat percentage of students no matter how few or how many students a local school district identifies as needing special education.

This would punish some school districts appropriately  serving students, while rewarding other school districts NOT identifying students as needing special education.

The current special ed Personnel Reimbursement formula directly provides $9,000 for each special education teacher, and all other specialized personnel “providing services in accordance with an individualized education program (IEP).”

This direct funding is essential to the provision of  specialized and individualized instruction.

SB 16 would spend State money NOT on students with IEPs, but instead on a “weighting percentage” established by the State Board of Education “representative” of a guess as to the number of students with disabilities in Illinois.

It can NOT say based on the number of students with disabilities because no one knows what that is. So it says “representative” of that number.

To eliminate special ed Personnel Reimbursement is to invite all of the problems that have resulted from the Chicago Block Grant.

 

Illinois election choices.

governor

Bev Johns is a frequent contributor to this blog. She mostly keeps me and you up to date on the attempts by the ISBE to raise the class size limits that currently are in place for special education students.

She also writes frequently about the election for governor of illinois. The primary is March 18. The general election is next November.

We are allies on the class size fight.

She is frustrated with me when we discuss the election.

We disagree on whether any one of the Republicans
is better than Bruce Rauner or Quinn/Vallas.

I believe either Dillard or Rutherford is better.

Given importance of our votes on March 18 and
in November, isn’t this worth a more detailed
discussion?

The beauty of a blog is that you always have
the last word.

Thank you for your posting on the attempted 
elimination of special ed class size.

Bev

I thought that I had posted lots of views about what to do in March and November. But, I responded to Bev by asking her to make her case. And she did:

Educators wanting to send a real message to Illinois 
politicians face a stark choice on March 18 – vote for 
a Republican lesser evil OR vote third-party or not vote at all.

I believe we need to do everything we can to avoid having
a choice between Bruce Rauner and Qninn/Vallas in November.

Bruce Rauner would be a disaster for Public Education in
Illinois, and Quinn/Vallas would be as well.

There is ONLY one thing we can do to avoid having Rauner
or Quinn/Vallas as our next Governor: pick a Republican on
March 18.

There is zero chance of electing a write-in candidate,
or a third-party candidate for Governor.

It might make us feel good to vote for a third-party candidate
or to write in one, although that is extremely difficult to
do with the new computerized voting machines.

But if we are to save Public Education in Illinois, we have
to do what is effective.

To send a real message to Illinois politicians we need to take
a Republican ballot on March 18, and vote for Kirk Dillard
or for Dan Rutherford.

The difficulty I have with Bev’s argument is nested in her post.

Kirk Dillard or Dan Rutherford?

Aside from the fact that these two are right-wing Republicans, members of ALEC (Dillard is state Chairman of ALEC), and are no friends of public education, Labor, civil rights or the poor and working poor, Bev can’t tell us which one to give our vote to.

How is this an election strategy?

This problem reflects the current situation. There is no agreed consensus on what to do about the governor’s race.

Vote for a Republican? They are all terrible.

Vote for Squeezy? In spite of the shocking AFL-CIO endorsement, he is the most anti-union Illinois Governor in 50 years.

Write in Ralph Martire? Write-in votes are not counted if the candidates have not filed that they are write-in candidates.

One thing is certain. We will not win in November in the race for Governor of Illinois.

Voting for Governor will take about 30 seconds. Do what you feel like doing.

I will be taking a Democratic ballot, voting for Will Guzzardi as my State Representative and I am leaving the top of the ticket blank.

And then I will go back to doing what others, including the Chicago Teachers Union, are advocating.

Build an independent political organization that can challenge the Republicans and Machine Democrats – an organization that represents the working families in the state.

And on that final point I bet Bev and I agree.