Leaving Hillarytown.


-Arthur Goldstein blogs at NYC Educator.

Hillary Clinton opened her mouth the other day, and said she wouldn’t keep open any school that wasn’t better than average. She later clarified to say she meant good, rather than better than average. To me, that was not much of a distinction. I work in a good school, but I don’t delude myself that it’s because we are all super teachers. I’d say it’s because we have super kids, and that any school with such kids can do well. Just ask Geoffrey Canada, who had to dismiss entire cohorts to make himself look good. Ask Eva Moskowitz, with her got to go list.

For anyone who hasn’t noticed, there is a direct correlation between high poverty, high needs, and low test scores. Kids like the ones I serve are a drag on any school, because it turns out people who don’t know English tend to score poorly on standardized tests in English. Perhaps one day someone will do a study and prove it, and we’ll all be amazed. Until then, schools dominated by ELLs will be targeted. For example there was the one in Rhode Island, where they wanted to fire all the teachers. Obama and Duncan thought that was fantastic. (If I recall correctly, the teachers were kept on, but under worse working conditions. Another victory for the reformies.)

Despite this explanation in Diane Ravitch’s blog, and the convoluted story to which it links, I cannot rationalize this as Hillary having misspoken. While the feds don’t directly close schools, they’ve had massive influence in school closings anyway. For Hillary to even utter such a sentence indicates to me that she has drunk deeply of the reformy Kool-Aid that says teachers and schools are to blame. She does  not seem to have read Ravitch or considered what this reformy movement is all about. It also kind of dashes my hopes that she will advocate for a rational teacher evaluation system. The fact that Eli Broad contributes to her gives me even more pause.

Read the entire post here.

Random thoughts. Averages.

This clip of Hillary is making the social media rounds this morning.

I will tell you whose Facebook news feed it’s on.

Every teacher I know.

They are NEA and AFT members who may well be wondering why our leadership rushed their endorsement of her.

They are math teachers who wonder what Hillary was doing when she attended math class at nearby Maine South High School in suburban Park Ridge.

They are shaking their heads by her misuse of averages.

On the one hand, this is just a case of Trump Mouth.

“Closing schools that aren’t performing better than average,” is a practical impossibility since as soon as you close the ones below the average  you have created a new group that are below the average.

On the other hand, it is red meat to the corporate reform crowd in the Democratic Party.

The truth of the matter is that labeling public schools, teachers and students as failures is Democratic Party policy at both the local and national level.

Keeping schools open or closed does not really fall under the job description of the president.

That didn’t keep Obama’s Secretary of Education from creating policies that encouraged the practice of closing schools.

And stupid math has shown its ugly head before.  No Child Left Behind demanded 100% of students be at grade level by 2014.

“Each State shall establish a timeline for adequate yearly progress. The timeline shall ensure that not later than 12 years after the end of the 2001-2002 school year, all students … will meet or exceed the State’s proficient level of academic achievements on the State assessments …”

Not only didn’t that happen, it couldn’t. Many of the states’ assessments are normed, with some students necessarily falling above and below an average.

Garrison Keiller famously skewered this notion years ago when he described the fictional town of Lake Wobegon as a place where “all the children are above average.”

Since the NEA and AFT are pumping a ton of money into Hillary’s campaign, maybe Presidents Lily Eskelsen Garcia and Randi Weingarten can pull her aside with a little math tutoring.

The more difficult job will be to get Democrats to stop with the school closings, particularly those that target communities of color.

It is a measure of how much Democratic and Republican Party politics have become a Bizarro World that candidates like Clinton consider promising to close schools rather than open them is the what you say to get elected.

My suggestion is to call Dyett High School an “incubator.”


The three-day community vigil at Dyett High School.

For the past couple of days parents and members of the Bronzeville community have been holding a vigil at the neighborhood’s last open admission public high school.

That would be Walter H. Dyett High School.

CPS plans to shutter it.

But community and school activist Jitu Brown and others have developed a proposal for the Dyett Global Leadership and Green Technology High School, supported by the CTU and other organizations in the Coalition to Revitalize Dyett.

“If Dyett closes, there will be no more open-enrollment, neighborhood high schools in Bronzeville, and the question we have for Ald. Will Burns and for Mayor Rahm Emanuel is, ‘What did you do?’” said coalition leader Jitu Brown. “Not how you felt, not what your opinion was about it, not a letter you wrote, but what did you do on behalf of those students?”

I hesitate to give suggestions to Jitu Brown who is a genuine leader in the community.

But I suggest that he rename Dyett and call it an incubator.

I mean, that’s what schools are, right? Incubators for our young people to grow and learn and be innovators?

I got this idea from reading about Howard Tullman.

When millionaire Democrat Howard Tullman wanted public money for his incubator project at the Merchandise Mart, the Mayor and the Governor were eager to hand over a check.

On Monday, the state confirmed it will pledge $2.5 million from the Build Illinois bond fund to retrofit an additional 25,000 square feet on the 12th floor of the Merchandise Mart into workspace for digital entrepreneurs. 1871’s goal is to help build businesses to the point of self-sufficiency.

“This expansion shows that our investment in the next generation of Chicago businesses is paying off,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement. “The jobs of tomorrow will come from the types of small businesses growing at 1871 today, and this expansion will allow even more entrepreneurs and businesses to locate here, bringing new jobs with them and supporting the city’s economic growth.”

1871 is a co-working space for tech entrepreneurs who want to build new companies. Benefits include the opportunity to collaborate with other entrepreneurs and venture capital firms who also call 1871 home — currently about 250 companies. It’s name is a nod to the rebuilding that took place in the city in the year 1871 after the Great Chicago Fire.

One more thing, brother Jitu.

The 1871 incubator project belongs to millionaire Howard Tullman.

In addition to calling your plan for Dyett an incubator you should be like Tullman and donate some money – big money – to the campaigns of Rahm, Rauner or Pat Quinn. It doesn’t matter which. The Tullman brothers don’t let things like party affiliation bother them.

Howard Tulllman has been a big-time Democratic Party donor. 

And his brother Greg Tullman is a big-time Rauner donor.

No need to thank me, brother Jitu.

Just trying to help.

Save Dyett.

From Progress Illinois:

Chicago education activists are ramping up their fight to save Walter H. Dyett High School from closing at the end of the 2014-2015 school year.

At a news conference at City Hall on Monday, a coalition of parents, students and South Side community leaders blasted Chicago Ald. Will Burns (4th), whose ward includes Dyett, for not supporting their proposal to keep Dyett open beyond 2015 and transition it into a “global leadership and green technology” open-enrollment, neighborhood high school. Toting signs reading “Stop disinvesting in black children,” members of the Coalition to Revitalize Dyett High School called the alderman’s lack of support for their community-driven, academic plan “disrespectful” to the families who live near Dyett and accused Burns of “ignoring” the needs of neighborhood children.

The Chicago Board of Education voted to phaseout Dyett, located in the city’s historic Bronzeville community, back in 2012 due to poor academic performance. Dyett is slated to close completely in 2015 after its last senior class graduates.

For several months now, the Coalition to Revitalize Dyett High School has urged Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and school district officials to accept the group’s blueprint to offer a global leadership and green technology curriculum at Dyett. The coalition’s plan, developed over a two-year period, also includes programs involving agricultural sciences and cultural awareness. Blacks in Green, the Chicago Teachers Union, the Metropolitan Tourism Council, Teachers for Social Justice as well as parents and students from Dyett and its feeder schools helped produce the school proposal.

The coalition has collected some 700 petition signatures in support of the community-proposed high school, which is also backed by the DuSable Museum of African American History, the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University, the Washington Park Advisory Council, the Chicago Botanic Garden and the University of Illinois at Chicago’s (UIC) College of Education.

Read the entire post here.

“Twelve Months Later: The Impact of School Closings in Chicago” examines myriad of CPS’s Broken Promises.


CHICAGO—The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) released today a report on the state of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) one year after the Board of Education (BOE) voted to close 49 elementary schools and one high school program, the largest, one-time school closing action in U.S. history and a decision made in the wake of massive opposition and protests throughout the city of Chicago.

The study, titled “Twelve Months Later: The Impact of School Closings in Chicago,” looks at what happened as a result of the mass school closings of 2013, and answers such questions as: Were CPS promises for receiving schools kept? How much money was saved? Did resources increase at affected schools? Have services increased for special education students at consolidated schools.

On May 22, 2013, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s handpicked BOE shuttered 50 neighborhood school communities, “turned around” five schools and co-located 17 others. Faced with widespread opposition to this action, CPS promised hundreds of millions of dollars in capital improvements and transition supports for schools receiving students from closed schools. CTU examination of the evidence has found, however, that promises made to receiving schools were hollow in many cases and only partially fulfilled in others. Among the findings:

· Receiving schools are still disproportionately under-resourced compared to other elementary schools.
· Students were moved to schools with libraries, but funds weren’t available to hire librarians. Just 38% of receiving schools have librarians on staff, whereas across CPS, 55% of elementary schools have librarians.
· Computer labs were upgraded at receiving schools but only one-fifth of these schools have technology teachers.
· CPS touted iPads for all receiving-school students, but included few related professional learning opportunities for teachers.
· CPS spent millions on large-scale programmatic changes at 30 elementary schools, but the success and continued funding of STEM and IB programs remain to be seen.

“Shuttering our schools was touted as a hard and difficult choice by the mayor and the Board, but this was the easy, draconian choice,” said CTU President Karen GJ Lewis. “Parents, teachers, and the public demanded resources and supports for these education communities. Sadly, by making promises that remain unfulfilled, these schools and the students they serve have been dealt yet another blow—from failed policy to broken promises.”

For this report, the CTU interviewed teachers from seven of the receiving schools to gather information about the fulfilment of CPS promises. Additionally, researchers reviewed CPS material on the school closures, operating and capital budget documents, position files, vacancy reports, class size data, and other public data.


CPS school closings. Many students left behind.



Level three is the lowest level school by the CPS board’s measure.


Catalyst’s analysis of the data on enrollment from the 1st, 10th and 20th day of school also showed that more than 2,000 students, including preschoolers and severely disabled students, were not enrolled anywhere on the first day of school. This figure represents about 18 percent of the 11,729 displaced students and is more than double the 7 percent of students whom CPS admitted over the summer were not enrolled.

 All but 570 of these students eventually enrolled in a school. Despite the pricey renovations and new resources, the welcoming schools did not attract the bulk of students after the first day. In fact, those schools lost about 80 students between the 10th and  20th day after the start of school.

“Do you have any idea what your doing to us … our school … even to me?”


Before walking into Yale Elementary School, an emotional Jaleel Carr, 13 wipes his face, before enter the building on the last day of school – ever – at Yale. Carr will attend Westcott next year. “I’ll miss the school, period,” Carr said. Jessica Koscielniak ~ Sun-Times

Chicago Sun-Times:

Vasquez had no idea how Paula was feeling until she stumbled upon her daughter’s letter a few weeks ago while cleaning the 6th-grader’s book bag.

“I have one question to ask,” it begins, in Paula’s girlish printing.

“Do you have any idea what your doing to us … our school … even to me? We all have tried and tried everything to keep our school open. How can people like you have no mercy on us?”

Paula wrote that she is heartbroken. She called CPS decision-makers “cold hearted,” and their decision “barbaric.” And she closed the letter by writing, “I just don’t get it, I don’t get it at all.”

Outside King Wednesday afternoon, Paula said she wrote that letter in anger — and “for myself.” She said it made her feel better, made her happy to share her feelings.

Fighting tears, she, like many other children Wednesday, called her school a second home.

That pained the adults around Paula — and parents, teachers and children across the city.

West Pullman special education teacher Sheryl Campbell is now without a job but her worries are for her kids’ safety in getting to their new school: “Hopefully their needs will be met.”

And at Calhoun on the West Side, crossing guard Mona Conway watched as students headed to class for the last time Wednesday.

“When you hurt, they hurt,” said Conway, herself a Calhoun grad. “When the school hurts, I hurt.”

These other schools shut their doors for the last time Wednesday afternoon: Altgeld, Louis Armstrong, Banneker, Bethune, Bontemps, Delano, Emmet, Goldblatt, Henson, Herbert, Key, Kohn, Lafayette, May, Morgan, Overton, Paderewski, Parkman, Pope, Ryerson, Songhai, Williams Elementary and Middle, Woods and Yale.

Philly fires nearly 4,000 teachers and district employees. What will Weingarten do?


Good statement. What will she do?

Philadelphia has announced the lay-offs of 3,700 school district employees.

AFT President Randi Weingarten issued this statement:

“What was Superintendent Hite brought in to do? Mass close schools even though it makes the corridors and streets less safe for kids and destabilizes neighborhoods? Make draconian budget cuts that strip schools of nurses, libraries, guidance counselors, art, music and after-school activities, and rob children of the rich learning experience they deserve? And now impose nearly 3,800 layoffs so that public schools can’t function?

“This is a travesty. We are watching before our very eyes the evisceration of public education in the City of Brotherly Love. And instead of an all-hands-on-deck approach, instead of investing in our children’s futures, we see Gov. Corbett and Mayor Nutter sit on their hands while Superintendent Hite and the School Reform Commission have the gall to strip our schools to the bone and blame the very people who work closest with kids—the very people who devote their lives to helping children achieve their dreams. Where are the priorities of the governor, the mayor, the superintendent and the SRC? Certainly not with the children of Philadelphia.”

Jerry Jordan, the President of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers issue this statement:

“Today we are seeing what a ‘doomsday’ budget looks like for Philadelphia’s schoolchildren, and how our city’s educators are paying the price for a deficit we didn’t create. The nearly 4,000 layoffs announced today represent not only hard-working educators who face the very real prospect of joining the ranks of the city’s unemployed, but the loss of essential programs that our children need to receive a quality public education. 

“The school district will say that these layoffs are a tough but necessary part of financial rightsizing. We say that these cuts are an unconscionable action that deprives children of sports, art, music, counselors, librarians, nurses and other vital programs and services. The impact of these layoffs will hurt our city’s poorest children, the ones who rely most on public education to provide a foothold to a better future. 

“These cuts are beyond unnecessary—they amount to an immoral act that no Philadelphia taxpayer should tolerate. Everyone who is able to should join us in Harrisburg on June 25 as we demand that our elected leaders do their jobs and properly fund public education. 

“It’s time to stop balancing the budget on the backs of school employees and students. It’s time to move away from year after year of deficit emergencies and cutbacks. It’s time to move toward a funding formula that adequately and consistently supports high quality public education for our children.” 

Good statements.


What will they do?