Pension song.


Please Don’t Steal My Teacher’s Pension by Glen Brown

(an emulation of John Prine’s “Please Don’t Bury Me”)


G                                  C

Woke up this mornin’, wrote another essay

G                            D

about sustainability

G                          C

And that unfunded liability, of our State’s pensions

G                          D                                     G

And that Committee of Chicago, and their greed


         C                                                       G

So please don’t steal my pension, and make me feel blue


I don’t want to work as a greeter, and meet ‘em ‘til I’m through

       G                                                        C                          G

So lower that fundin’ ratio; make the State pay debtors too;

                C                    G                                  D                       G

Tax the rich and the corporate, and the pensions will accrue

G                                                       C                      G

Don’t be duped by promises, legislators will not keep

G                                                     D

Defined-contribution plans are savings that will seep

G                                                              C                         G

There’s a six-trillion-dollar deficit, for holders of such heap

C                             G                              D                    G

A defined-benefit pension plan, is the only way to reap

(Repeat Chorus)

G                                              C             G

Let’s send our legislators, to Afghanistan

G                                                                D

Let’s hope that their replacements will do what they can’t

G                                        C                        G

I met a rep or two, that didn’t understand

C                  G                                D                    G

So I left her my research; without any cash in hand


(Repeat Chorus)


G                                                       C                G

Let’s generate more revenue, as fast as we can

G                                                     D

A graduated income tax is the answer and best plan

G                                                   C                        G

Let’s redesign the legislators’, lack of attention span

C                      G                       D                            G

Fire all their actuaries, and House’s Confidence Man.


(Repeat Chorus)


G                                                C                    G

I’m singin’ you this song, and I’m about to sigh

G                                                             D

‘cause Illinois pension reform, will likely be disguised

G                                                                 C                               G

We must stand together, against the wealthy and their bids

C                                      G          D                           G

Because-all-parents-need us; so do all of their kids

(Repeat Chorus)

Saturday coffee.



No time to sit over the coffee this morning.

Anne and I are headed to the Printers’ Row book fair. I think it is named for that daily rag in the tower up Michigan Avenue. But I still call it by the original name.

We have tickets to hear a talk with Art Spiegelman at the Harold Washington Library.

Spiegelman is the cartoonist who drew the graphic novel, Maus.

As readers know, I have played with cartoons here over the past year.

But I am not even in the farm system of the league Spiegelman is in.

He is arguably the inventor of the graphic novel form.

Speaking of art.

The treatment of the WPA murals in the CPS schools that will be closed is still is reverberating.

If it weren’t for the parents at Trumbull, artist and friend Ellen Gradman, other parent activists like Cassie Creswell and this blogger, the murals would be in storage this morning.

We made some noise and the big media got a hold of it and CPS had to back down.

But only for the moment.

The options for those fifty buildings are clear.

Sit and fall into disrepair. Or sold for commercial development.

Here is the problem:

Removing the murals from their locations is desecrating them. They were designed for their location. They are site-specific.

The other thing is that their locations, the buildings themselves, are also works of art. Part of our communities’ cultural inheritance.

The architecture critic Lee Bey writes:

How the plan will impact students and families is the stuff of vigorous public discussion for now and for months to come. But the proposed move places another question on the horizon: What will happen to the closed school buildings, many of which–like Ericson–are remarkable pieces of architecture, often done by the city’s best architects, and are worthy of preservation and reuse?
CPS is creating a lousy record when it comes to showing concerns for the culture life of our city.
CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett’s banning of the graphic novel Persepolis is but one example.
The bureaucratic way they handled the murals is another.
The noted conservationist Heather Becker, who has spent over a decade working with CPS to restore and protect the collection of WPA murals, was not given the courtesy of a call-back when she submitted a plan for the murals in the shuttered schools.
And now the buildings themselves.
Bey points out the  Prairie style of Trumbull is the work of Dwight Perkins. Perkins designed the beautiful Schurz High School and ironically, 50 other Chicago schools.
His son founded the famous firm of Perkins and Will.
Do the bureaucrats at the CPS board know any of this?
Do the fat cats who sit on the board?
Don’t tell me I care more about brick and mortar and some old paintings than I do about kids.
This is about the kids.
This is their cultural inheritance we are talking about.

Parents get a win at Trumbull. The future of the WPA murals remains a question.


Late this afternoon, after a flood of media attention, CPS announced that they would agree to Trumbull parents’ requests to delay the removal of the two WPA lunettes that are over the doors in front of the auditorium until after the end of the school year.

Parents expressed concern that the student’s graduation ceremonies would be made even more difficult if the murals, which have always been placed above the auditorium doors, were removed  today as planned.

Graduation will be difficult enough since the school is on the Mayor’s closing list.

With a hat tip to artist Ellen Gradman, here is the CPS statement that was issued this afternoon:

Subject: CPS Statement on Murals
From: “Office of Communications, CPS” <>
To: CPS Office of Communications <>

“CPS is not removing any murals from any school until the end of the school year. When they are removed, the murals will be placed in protective storage to ensure they are preserved and secure until we determine a new public location for them, most likely in CPS schools.”Becky CarrollChief Communications OfficerChicago Public SchoolsJune 6, 2013


– CPS is partnering with Parma Conservation, a leading painting and mural conservation group, to ensure that the removal and storage of all art from sending schools is handled by professional art conservation experts.

– CPS will coordinate with welcoming schools, school network chiefs and art experts to find a new home for these murals at other schools throughout the district. This will be dependent on the timing of construction completion and availability of qualified art moving and installation vendors.

– CPS will make every effort to have all art reinstalled in welcoming schools by the first day of school, Aug. 26.

There remains a deep concern among conservationists and parents that the murals, many of them created for the specific locations at the schools, will not be appropriately displayed if they ever do find their way to the new schools.

CPS book banning.


Photo: CPS Chatter.

Is there a free speech storm brewing at Lane Tech?

Here is what I am hearing.

CPS suits apparently sent a directive to Lane (and how many other high schools?) on March 13th, 2013 to remove copies of the graphic novel, Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi.

Persepolis deals with the Iranian Revolution and issues of intolerance. The author wrote a sequel. An award winning animated movie was made in 2007.

But the staff at Lane Tech’s library were directed to remove the book from their shelves.

I have been told that some students reported the removal of Persepolis in a journalism course. As reporters, those students called CPS central offices to try to find out what had happened and why the books were being removed.

On March 14 Lane staff members received the following email:

Yesterday afternoon, one of the Network Instructional Support Leaders stopped by my office and informed me (per a directive given during the Chief of Schools meeting on March 11) that all ISLs were directed to physically go to each school in the Network by Friday (3/15) to:*Confirm that Persepolis is not in the library,*Confirm that it has not been checked out by a student or teacher,*Confirm with the school principal that it is not being used in any classrooms,*And to collect the autobiographical graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi from all classrooms and the Library.I was not provided a reason for the collection of Persepolis. If I learn more I will inform all staff.

Are there legal issues involved in book banning at CPS?

One teacher shared this:

Board of Education vs. Pico in 1982 states that is illegal to remove a book from a high school library. This, effectively, is a violation of the Freedom of Speech. Board of Education v. Pico, 457 U.S. 853 (1982), was a case in which four Justices of the United States Supreme Court concluded that the First Amendment limits the power of local school boards to remove library books from junior high schools and high schools, four Justices concluded the contrary (with perhaps a few minor exceptions), and one Justice concluded that the Court need not decide the question.

News on social media boards yield that CPS is claiming that there was a set of new books sent to schools and the distributor included copies of this one by mistake. Since CPS hadn’t paid for them, schools were asked to pull the books and send them back. “a mix-up’. The books, in fact, were purchased some years ago by an English teacher when she applied (and received) a grant to pay for them.

More to come. I’m sure

“The Night That We Were Shocked, That We Were Shocked…By CPS” by Missy Hughes & Dave Stieber.

From: Dave Stieber’s blog. Performed at this week’s Louder Than a Bomb, Chicago.


Our skin has become thicker

From Chicago

Thicker from the winters

Thicker from the corruption

The lies and double speak

From sacrifices demanded by our city

The violence

The violent sacrifices of our students

Of spirit — Antoine, Terrell, Dre

Of body—Patrice

Of life—Trevell

We know our skin is thicker

It has to be

We know you CPS

Perpetrators of Educational Apartheid

Our Chief Officer

Graduation Rates?

College Acceptance & Persistence?

Those matter less

Standardized test scores that’s what shows a quality school.

Our CEO says

Trust Us

I come from people like you

I am you

We will listen to you

We are with you

She baptizes Englewood with her lies:

Like she did Detroit

We know you CPS

Been to your bogus meetings before

Seen people yell at you about your budget and supposed deficit

Saw your arrogance (no questions while god is speaking)

Heard your disrespect (25% of kids won’t amount to anything to Rahm?)

Paternalistic tendencies

That Monday night our skin wasn’t thick enough

School field trips

Yellow busses

100’s of kids/teachers K-8

Thousand parents

In Englewood

On a school night

Going  to church

Picture the altar, elevated , on the stage

Only the CPS anointed are allowed on this altar

Protected by position

By power

By the pastors prayers of appropriate worship

Picture the anointed

Security guarded

Suited up

Salaried up

Faulty dated  up

Walton family funded

Bull shitted up

Picture the congregation, coming to pay homage, or bear witness

To repent for their sins

Being Poor,

Being Black,

Being  from Englewood

They have come to beg for mercy

Their souls must be saved

Forgive us CPS for we have sinned

Is that what you wanted to hear?

You give the people 6 minutes of your holy ear

Picture confession

Confessions of children

“We will find the space you say we have if you let us stay open”

“I’m in the 2nd grade please don’t close my school”

They know their god is a just god

A father says, “I challenge you to let your children walk in our children’s shoes”

Their penance

Confessions of parents & teachers

Presentations, speeches

Data, testimony

Just visit our school —-you will see

You demand confessions

But on your time

Just 6 minutes

Times up

Next in line

Still not enough

You must tithe 33% of your schools

No more public schools in, Auburn-Gresham, Woodlawn, Lawndale, Englewood

Let the children walk longer to school

It is in god’s hands now

Make them cross major streets, neighborhood lines, gang lines,

Make them bus

If they want it bad enough they will go

Make them pray about it

God will guide them

But last night in Englewood a thousand people

Realized they were not the sinners

Realized you were just playing

Just playing god

They flipped the script

When you asked for two minutes

They gave you ten seconds

They counted you down

10 all the way to 1

They will not listen

Will not stand by

Will not let this happen

God no longer


Times up

Saturday coffee.


The street art of Chicago’s Vicente Jasso Jr.

The calories in a Peets large latte is the same as in a 12 ounce can of Coke.

They’re not sugar calories. But they are calories just the same. There’s a lot of milk in a large latte, even if it’s non-fat. And calories are calories even if they’re not fat calories.

So this morning I shifted over to a cafe au lait. 

It is part of my retiree life-style change of eating more carefully and exercising regularly at a gym and working with a trainer.

But not today. Not on Saturdays.

It is a beautiful morning in Chicago. After enduring a week of cold and gray the sun is shining. The sky is blue. The streets have turned white. Not from snow but from the dusting of salt and chemicals that remains after the melting of  our record  setting – so far for this year – two inches of snow.

Chicago has a long history of public murals. In the seventies there was even an organization of artists known as the Chicago Mural Movement whose art still can be found on buildings all over the city.

They included activists like John Pitman Weber, William Walker, Mario Castillo and retired Whitney Young High School art teacher Catherine Cajandig.

While street art has never disappeared from the walls in our city, I’ve noticed a lot of ink being given to a new gun in town.

Vicente Jasso Jr.

Vicente is a former student at Telpolchcalli, a Little Village public elementary school.

He is self-taught. And he has adopted the new style of putting large scale prints on walls using art paste.

Contratiempo has an article here.


Here is his Jedi Zapata on Cermak in Chicago from his Facebook page: The Art of Vicente Jasso Jr.


Tomorrow they are predicting sleet, snow and freezing rain.

Today would be a good day to get out and around Little Village and Pilsen to enjoy some art.

Free and open to the public.