Week in review.

A year since Charlottesville. Pic: Time Magazine





Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers. The Teacher Show. Jen Johnson, Trish Connolly and Clare Kelly.





Blog posts.

When a candidate to the Illinois legislature comes knocking on your door, ask about the 3% cap on teacher salaries.

1968 Chicago events.

The shortage of values is in City Hall.

Missouri voters reject right-to-work. In Illinois state teacher salary caps are right-to-work creep.

A most disgusting act by those in charge of a city that makes it hard to be any more disgusted.

Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers. Episode 78. The Teacher Show with Jennifer Johnson, Clare Kelly and Trisha Connolly.

Illinois’ right-to-work creep and the cap on teacher pay.

A taxing week.

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Striking adjuncts at Chicago’s Columbia College.

This week’s drawings.


This week’s Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers podcast.



This week’s tweets.


This week’s blog posts.

IEA’s endorsement of GOP Congressman Rodney Davis. Thanks for nothing.

Keeping retirement weird. Cancer and a teachable moment.

Walking the strike lines with Columbia’s adjuncts.

Chicago’s Columbia College part-time faculty strike!

Boys will be boys.

Rahm: “I eliminated retiree health care. Only elected official to eliminate — not cut or reform — a benefit. Thank you very much.”

Chuck Schumer talks tough.

Sunday week in review.

This week’s drawings.


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This week’s Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers podcast.

With Fritz Kaegi, candidate for Cook County Tax Assessor.


This week’s tweets.






The week’s blog posts.

I’m voting against Joe Berrios, but I don’t know why I should have to.

Maria and the Hawk.

Union talk. The contract is the starting point. We do collective bargaining every day.

Union talk. Protecting and defending the good teachers.

Keeping up with Park Ridge schools. Parents leery of cops in charge of school discipline.

Keeping retirement weird. Our Miss Brooks.

Sunday week in review.

Eating union since 1973.

This week’s drawings.



This week’s Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers episode #39 with Juanita Irizarry, executive director of Chicago’s Friends of the Parks.



This weeks Tweets.


This week’s blog posts.

Palatine ESPs back at work without a contract. Treated “like a family.” A dysfunctional family.

Attorney John Fitzgerald. Notes on his presentation to the Illinois Retired Teachers Convention.

The gentlemen’s agreement.

On the condition of adjunct faculty. Like Martin Luther did this day 500 years ago, Glen Brown nails his theses to the doors of Benedictine University.

Can you hear me now? Hearing aids, medicare and insurance.

If you live in New York and don’t know why to vote no on a constitutional convention, read this from Crain’s.

No rubles for old men.

The loss of DNAinfo and an independent media.

Quincy, Illinois teachers and staff ready to walk. IELRB posts state-wide current bargaining status.

Keeping retirement weird. The $250 teacher tax deduction.



Sunday week in review.

Veteran African American political reporter joined The Klonsky Brothers in studio this week.

This week’s drawings.

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This week’s Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers podcast.


This week’s blog posts.

JB and Joe Berrios. The hovel next door.

Keeping retirement weird. They don’t want to just end our defined benefit. They’re going after the defined contribution too. Shameless thieves.

Raimondo and Rahm make an offer to Amazon. It’s a secret.

Progressive Caucus demands Claypool testify before City Council after investigation finds special ed scandal.

Congratulations to the graduate student workers at the University of Chicago.

In CPS it is the squeaky wheel and the color of your skin when it comes to special education services. Rahm says “they get what they deserve.”

Democratic Party Chairman and tax man Joe Berrios is back to his old dirty tricks.

Sarah Karp’s report on Forrest Claypool’s secret study, special ed service cuts and outrageous consultant fees. $15 million for proof reading?

Palatine para-professionals aren’t worth an 11 cent raise but they are too essential to allow them to strike.

Illinois teacher retirees: What the hell is Walgreen’s up to?

The Chicago Trib’s scab columnist John Kass calls me a fanatic.


Earth Sunday.


40,000 take part in Science March, Chicago.


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




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


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.


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


Resistance Sunday.


In neighborhoods across Chicago with large immigrant populations, people are banding together to form rapid response networks to support their neighbors in the event of expected deportation raids by President Donald Trump’s administration.

In the 35th Ward on the city’s Northwest Side, Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa has started what he calls the Community Defense Committee.

In Rogers Park, home to an extremely diverse immigrant population, volunteer organizers have chosen to dub their effort Protect RP.

In Little Village, the Mexican capital of the Midwest, they have picked the name La Villita Se Defiende, which translates to Little Village Defends Itself.

As with the different names, each group seems to be charting its own tactical approach, but the overarching goal is the same: to protect undocumented immigrants by resisting efforts to deport them.

Resistance eventually could take the form of actually interfering with federal agents in the performance of their duties, something not to be taken lightly but a measure of what’s at stake. Mark Brown, Sun Times



Yesterday was Toni Morrison’s 86th birthday. 


Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and the president of a teachers union that strongly resisted her confirmation have agreed to tour schools together.

“I said I’d like to visit a public school with her, and then I’d like her to visit a choice school with me,” DeVos told Axios Thursday, recounting a recent phone call with Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). The Hill



Donald Trump has made a lot of big promises. Among the most ambitious is his vow to “create 25 million new American jobs in the next decade and return to 4% annual growth.”

That’s a lot of jobs to create. Even trickier than creating those jobs, however, will be finding American workers to fill them. Trump’s stance on immigration makes it unlikely that the US will be importing many foreign workers. So where will they come from?

That still adds up to around 9 million of Trump’s new American jobs that will need filling. The math gets even hairier if you take Trump at his word on deportations of immigrants who are in the US illegally. Though it’s hard to estimate with certainty, at least 7 million people working in the US today are unauthorized immigrants. If the president makes good on his plans to deport even just a fraction of them, that’s even more want-ads to post.


Get back to work!

The only other option for Trump to make good on his promise is to hire elderly workers. The share of those aged 65 and older who would have to join the workforce would soar to 32%, up from the current 19%, according to EPI’s Zipperer.

“Having the elderly work more is problematic for two reasons. First and foremost are our social priorities: shouldn’t a growing rich country make it easier, not harder, for its older citizens to retire?” he says. “Second, older individuals are already working more in record numbers.” Quartz



Sunday morning coming down.

Other Democrats as well as anti-Trump Republicans are reluctant to acknowledge the scale of our crisis, because our institutions may not be strong enough to cope with it.

On CNN, David Axelrod, Barack Obama’s former campaign manager, said he was “not comfortable” with Lewis’ words, making an argument that echoed Rubio’s. “The greatest triumph for Russia would be to legitimate their charges about our democracy,” he said. “I worry about our institutions. I worry that we’re in this mad cycle of destruction. I understand the outrage. But where is this all going?”

This is a legitimate fear: Nobody knows where this is all going. Democrats particularly are in a difficult position, because they want to uphold basic political norms, but doing so alone, while the other side shamelessly flouts them, puts them at a constant disadvantage. The peaceful transition of power is a cherished value of our democracy. But it’s not the only value, or the highest one. It should not require us to sleepwalk into authoritarianism. If the price for preserving our democracy is pretending that our would-be god-king-emperor has clothes, then it’s already rotted beyond repair. Michelle Goldberg, Slate




The Illinois Democratic County Chairmen’s Association’s executive board voted recently to endorse U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., as chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Doug House of Rock Island County, president of the chairmen’s group, said in a news release that Ellison “has the experience, ability to unify, the vision and fundraising experience with grassroots and large donors” to lead the DNC.

“All eyes will be on Illinois in 2018 as we take on millionaire Governor Bruce Rauner,” House added. “We are looking forward to working with Congressman Ellison as we take back the governor’s office in 2018, and in 2020 take back the White House.”

Neither the Democratic Party of Illinois nor its chairman, House Speaker Madigan, has taken a position on who should be the national party chairman, Madigan spokesman Brown said. Bernard Schoenburg, Springfield State Journal Register





Tromain Collier was looking for work last year when he heard about an opening at Ceria M. Travis Academy, a private K–12 school in Milwaukee where student tuition was funded by taxpayers. He was hired and started at the beginning of October. Collier, 33, had an online bachelor’s degree in business and experience as a security guard and basketball coach. He figured teaching couldn’t be that much harder.

He was assigned to teach a split class of third- and fourth-graders. The school, he says, offered him no curriculum and no record of what the previous teachers had taught. He started punching search terms into the computer such as “third grade reading” and “Common Core”—academic standards he’d heard of on the news. The classroom bookshelf held a total of five science books, which Collier recognized from his own elementary school days. They still listed Pluto as a planet, though it was demoted more than a decade ago. Erin Richards, American Prospect

Second Sunday.


Like many Louisiana towns — perhaps 300 of them, according to official estimates — St. Joseph can’t afford to maintain and improve its water system, he said.

More than half of the 528 families in town make less than $50,000 a year, according U.S. Census Bureau data.

In 2015, the town raised $115,883 charging fees for water, gas and other services;$117,328 from sales taxes; and $37,237 from ad valorem property taxes, according to the town’s financial records.

Brown went to Washington, D.C. in 2006 and got help from then U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu. But the money Landrieu had found went away when Congress ended the practice of earmarks.

He then headed to Baton Rouge and persuaded then Gov. Bobby Jindal to visit in 2013 and have a glass of water.

Jindal promised $6 million. The town would have to put up a match of about $2 million, which is about what the town could raise if it sold every piece of property and equipment. Jindal waived the match.

But the money could not be used. The town’s finances were so shaky, it could not get the clear audit necessary to release the funds.

Then in March, Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera released a report finding that Brown’s hiring of a cousin to do maintenance work may have violated state law.

On June 6, an independent auditor issued a report that allowed the town to access the $8 million to replace pipes and upgrade the water filtration facility. Sixth Judicial District Judge John D. Crigler, of St. Joseph, then appointed David Greer, a former assistant legislative auditor from Watson, to oversee the finances.

Since then, the water tower has been refurbished. The replacement of all the town’s distribution pipes, which pumps the water to the customers, will begin in a couple weeks. The facility that treats the water will be upgraded. The goal is to have the new system going by June.

In the meantime, each resident is receiving three liter bottles of water each day. The water is distributed from an empty lot that once was a grocery store, where residents sign a sheet to collect their daily ration.

Pastor Donald Scott, one of the volunteers from the town’s churches handling the task, said he has suspended baptisms at his Oneonta Baptist Church until he can work out a source to provide clean water. Celebrants’ heads are plunged fully underwater by the minister as part of the ceremony.

“They say don’t drink it. I just don’t feel comfortable immersing people in that water,” Scott said. “I’m pretty sure God understands.” Baton Rouge Advocate





Leah Menzer, producer of a talk show for Lumpen Radio called EcoChicago and a co-founder of Lumpen Radio, was essential in getting the station on the air, navigating Lumpen through the tricky FCC licensing and tower-building process.

“It’s the golden age of radio, I would say, right now,” she said. “There’s never been such public attention to creative radio art before now. It usually used to be that the news journalism tradition was the American way of doing radio. But recently it’s like—This American Life, the whole Gimlet thing, all that kind of stuff is blowing up.” South Side Weekly


 The late Carrie Fisher on Donald Trump:


A bill introduced by GOP congressman Todd Rokita of Indiana would eliminate civil service protections, including the right to union representation for all new federal employees, including new postal workers.

A key provision of Rokita’s “Promote Accountability and Government Efficiency (PAGE) Act” states:

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any employee in the civil service (as that term is defined in section 2101 of title 5, United States Code) hired on or after the date that is 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act shall be hired on an at-will basis. Such an employee may be removed or suspended, without notice or right to appeal, from service by the head of the agency at which such employee is employed for good cause, bad cause, or no cause at all.

The bill also says that

The term “employee” has the meaning given such term in section 2105 of title 5, United States Code, and includes any officer or employee of the United States Postal Service or the Postal Regulatory Commission.

American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. said “Giving political appointees and the managers who serve them free reign to punish workers without cause, while removing the checks and balances that keep everyone honest, is the antithesis of accountability.” Postal News