The Sunday Mail.


March 8th is International Women’s Day. Graphic: Meredith Stern/Just Seeds.

Mike Dumke on how closing schools destroys neighborhoods.

Remembering Blood Sunday at the Edmund Pettis Bridge. Fighting for the right to vote. That is what the racist Antonin Scalia calls a racial entitlement.

They say this is a big rich town, but I live in the poorest part. I know I’m on a dead-end street in a city without a heart.

“If this is the deal, Philly teachers should strike.”

This week’s Louder Than a Bomb schedule in Chicago.

Jeb Bush’s foundation is more about profits than education.

Aware they were not wanted, fearful they might be attacked, 22 founding members of Delta Sigma Theta, a new Howard University sorority, joined the procession anyway. Among black activists, the prevailing view was that if white women needed the vote to secure their rights, black women needed it even more. One adviser was Mary Church Terrell, a founder of the NAACP and an activist for women’s rights. When the sorority was founded Jan. 13, she wrote its secret oath.

Memories of parades fade like old photographs. But for those who were least welcome, the 1913 suffrage parade has become a touchstone. Says Ella McNair, the Deltas’ director of public relations, “Everybody who has been a member of this organization knows about the march. They could have had a social, they could have had a tea. But they did not choose that. They were committed to advocacy and social action.”

Marking their historic role a century ago, and also celebrating the centennial of their founding, thousands of Deltas plan to fill Pennsylvania Avenue today along with members of other women’s organizations.

If Paul had her druthers, there would have been no black marchers. But just days before the parade, she became more receptive to the possibility. What brought matters to a head was a letter from Nellie M. Quander, a schoolteacher and Howard graduate, who said that Howard women wanted to take part. Usually prompt to reply, Paul took a week to respond. She suggested Quander “call” at the headquarters of Paul’s parent organization, the National American Woman Suffrage Association. Records do not reflect a meeting.

Complaints of discrimination reached the association, which wired orders to permit black marchers. Paul had no choice. Representing the sorority in negotiations, Terrell agreed that the Deltas would march next to the New York delegation.

Meanwhile, panicky reports came from white suffragists in Chicago that Ida B. Wells-Barnett, the celebrated author of an anti-lynching campaign and an African American, planned to join the procession. When the Illinois unit mustered, leaders instructed Wells-Barnett to walk with an all-black group. Tears forming, Wells-Barnett refused to take part unless “I can march under the Illinois banner.” By all accounts she solved the issue herself, defiantly joining the unit in mid-parade. Mary Walton, The Day the Deltas Marched into History. The Washington Post

The Sunday Mail.


It is a coalition of snakes (aka The Friends of Rahm) that are running against Karen Lewis and the CORE slate to run the CTU.

UNO’s Juan Rangel fronts for Mayor 2% in the school privatization movement.

You won’t read this in the NY Times. Thousands in Texas rally for public education.

Don’t believe the hype. The Illinois Teacher Retirement System had good returns on its investments. If only the state had paid its share.

Last chance. Sign our petition for a constitutional solution to the pension issue.

Gay-hating Jesus Freaks will picket Oscar and then go after students at Santa Monica High School on Monday morning.

MichelleRhee’s Radical is heading for the remainder table at a bookstore near you.

Five members of Congress have called on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to clarify if Blackwater founder Erik Prince’s recently disclosed deal to provide a small mercenary army to the United Arab Emirates complies with US law and export regulations. “We question whether private US citizens should be involved in recruiting and assembling forces, as well as providing military training and support to foreign governments and militaries,” wrote the lawmakers, led by Representative Jan Schakowsky, a member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. “The implications of allowing a US citizen to assemble a foreign legion in any foreign country, and especially in a combustible region like the Middle East, are serious and wide-ranging.”

On May 14, the New York Times revealed that Prince was leading an effort to build an army of mercs 800 strong—including scores from Colombia—in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. They would be trained by US, European and South African special forces veterans. Prince’s new company, Reflex Responses, also known as R2, was bankrolled to the tune of $529 million from “the oil-soaked sheikdom,” according to the Times, adding that Prince was “hired by the crown prince of Abu Dhabi” Sheik Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nahyan. Jeremy Scahill

The Sunday Mail.

Photo credit: Sarah Jane Rhee/  Ravenswood says no to school closings. Carol Haysie and Tim Furman on right.

A report called “In the Public Interest” shows the Foundation for Excellence in Education, a Jeb Bush front group, is writing and editing education laws and regulations in six states in ways that could benefit its private funders. Essentially a “pay-to-play” scheme in which corporations can influence policy and then reap the profits.

Tara Stamps, a teacher at Jenner School. Jenner is on the short list for closing by CPS. Tara Stamps is the daughter of the late long-time Chicago public housing activist, Marion Stamps.

Chicago school closings, Rahm’s phony budget crisis and fuzzy math.

Thousands are gathering this morning in DC to demand action on climate change.

147 companies control everything.

Chicago teen attends Obama speech on gun violence and then is shot to death hours later.

Let us not forget: Hardly had Obama been elected for the first time than the apartheid political philosophy of John C. Calhoun started making an unlikely comeback and talk of secession bubbled up from Rick Perry’s Texas through Dixie. The “dark vein of intolerance” that Colin Powell saw in his political party during the 2012 campaign is for real. A large national majority, 61 percent, in a Pew survey last spring disagreed with the statement that “discrimination against blacks is rare today.” Obama’s reelection was soiled by the spectacle of long lines of black Americans waiting hours to vote in Florida and Ohio, just two of the several states that have been engaging in voter suppression. On Election Night, anti-Obama riots broke out at Ole Miss, some 130 miles from Greenville, Mississippi, the site of Tarantino’s Candyland. The specter of the Old South rising again also haunted inauguration weekend: State legislators in Richmond, the former capital of the Confederacy, took advantage of an African-American colleague’s decision to attend the festivities in D.C. by passing a racially gerrymandered redistricting plan that the absent senator’s vote would have otherwise defeated. No less an authority than the executive producer of the Fox ­Cable Networks adaptation of Bill ­O’Reilly’s Killing Lincoln told television reporters last month that John Wilkes Booth couldn’t “easily be dismissed as a psychopath” because he “believed what still probably 20 percent of this country still believes.” However much it may resonate, Django Unchained, to put it mildly, has about as much chance of winning Best Picture as Mel Gibson does winning the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. The Vegas oddsmakers are probably right when they calculate that the Oscar will go to either Argo orLincoln. John Wilkes Booth and the Ayatollah Khomeini aside, they both provide the kind of uplift the voters of the Academy have always favored. But it’s worth noting that of all the American films that have made movie­going seem more vital this year, Django is the only one to demonstrate unequivocal “crossover” appeal—“crossover” being the entertainment industry’s undying euphemism for movies that draw large black and white audiences alike. That movie­goers of both races are willing to check out a white filmmaker’s profane, impolitic riff on the most sacred African-American history says something hopeful about America. Frank Rich

The Sunday Mail.


Active and retired teachers pack a room to question Illinois Senator Dan Biss and Representative Robyn Gabel on their pension busting bill. We filled another room across the hall.

Why can’t Illinois pay its bills. Illinois Companies and Wealth Individuals Hide Millions in Off-shore Accounts.

Read a banned book lately?

In defense of secrecy and drones, Obama has become what he once opposed.

The secret to creating good schools in Union City, New Jersey. No one size fits all programs. No school closings and turnarounds. No Teach for America. Just good teaching practice.

Penny Pritzker in the Obama cabinet? Just what we needed. A union-busting, school-closing tax-cheat from Chicago.

Resisting the ambush of American education.

Diane Ravitch on what Obama should say in his state of the union message. But don’t bet that he will.

Obama’s Agriculture Department is blocking school integration.

Our nation’s dialogue about education has been commandeered by a bunch of ill-informed, intellectually lazy, bought-and-paid-for edu-celebrities. Michelle Rhee, Joel Klein, Wendy Kopp, Ben Chavis, Steve Perry, Jeb Bush, Arne Duncan, and a few others are pushing an agenda that has little evidence to support it; worse, they are rarely questioned by well-informed journalists as to the specifics of their plans.

When I see this, I fear for America’s future. We cannot continue to be a country that makes policy through bouts of trite media exposure. Our fatuous ways got us into Iraq, crashed the economy, and are burning up the planet. Now that same brainlessness threatens to destroy our public school system.

We don’t need more Oprah-style interviews with edu-celebrities where we let them babble on about how much they love teachers; we need, instead, a frank and informed discussion about the implications of the “reform” policy agenda. Until we get that, it is the duty of everyone who cares about public schools to point out – over and over, if necessary – how truly stupid our national conversation about education has become. Jersey Jazzman

The Sunday Mail.


Baltimore Raven’s Brendon Ayanbadejo.

So, you want to buy a school board?

In Chicago, young people of color are in the crosshairs.

Gun sales soar after photo emerges of Obama with a rifle.

Ed Koch’s contribution to education? Not much. He liked school uniforms.

NY teachers show solidarity with striking bus drivers.

March and vigil to remember Hadiya.

As for the Ravens, they are the team of linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, who is part of a new wave of outspoken athletes for LGBT rights. Ayanbadejo aided the successful referendum for marriage equality in the state of Maryland in November while braving disagreements from teammates, criticism on sports radio and even a Maryland state delegate requesting that team chief executive Steve Biscotti “take the necessary action, as a National Football League owner, to inhibit such expressions from your employees.” But the Ravens took no such action and Ayanbadejo hasn’t stopped expressing himself, and won’t stop this coming week.

After Baltimore beat the New England Patriots to go to the Super Bowl, the Ravens linebacker typed out what he is calling his “Jerry Maguire e-mail” at 3:40 am. He wrote to the founder of New Yorkers for Marriage Equality, Brian Ellner, and the political director for media mogul Russell Simmons, Michael Skolnik. Ayanbadejo’s message was that the Super Bowl, the shiniest, most watched event in all of North American sports, could be a remarkable podium to make the case against homophobia. He wrote, “Is there anything I can do for marriage equality or anti-bullying over the next couple of weeks to harness this Super Bowl media?”

After the e-mail went public, Ayanbadejo spoke to Frank Bruni of The New York Times about why he reached out in the wee hours of the morning. “It’s one of those times when you’re really passionate and in your zone,” he said. “And I got to thinking about all kinds of things, and I thought: how can we get our message out there?” Dave Zirin

The Sunday Mail.


Logan Square El station. 1954.

Young folks stepping up.

Teacher unions. We can fall apart or stand together. What’s it gonna be?

Alfie Kohn joins Debbie Meier at Bridging Differences. Why punishment doesn’t work.

So what happens when teachers join forces and make a carefully considered–and, importantly, collective-decision about what their students need?

How Senator Steans greased the UNO charter deal.

The Los Angeles Times has always hated teachers and public schools.

Why doesn’t the Illinois Education Association join our efforts and post our public employees’ petition on its website? Perhaps it is because the Illinois We Are One Coalition is planning a “summit” with a few, thus far, unsuspecting legislators (like Elaine Nekritz, for example, “who [said she] had not heard about the union summit”) slated for February 11 and because “unions have said they’re willing to have members pay more toward their pensions” in exchange for “ending a series of business tax breaks…” (State unions propose pension summit).

Perhaps it is also because IEA president Cinda Klickna and her coterie are weary of a possible court battle; thus, they are willing to modify a contract as a sort of offering or appeasement, hoping legislators will forgo a constitutional challenge of Article XIII, Section 5 (“Pension Clause”). Nonetheless, many of us believe there will never be enough placation to satisfy any unscrupulous legislator with a mania for so-called “pension reform.” Too many legislators are deeply dependent on the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago’s campaign money and influenced by the Committee’s collective ill-will toward public employees. Glen Brown

The Sunday Mail.


Ms Gunderson’s class sings together.

Now would be a good time for Obama to change his attachment to Duncan and market-based education reforms.

Why does the US do poorly on international rankings in education achievement? Too many poor kids.

Karen Lewis on the Ed Show blog.

$240 billion amassed by 100 richest people enough to end extreme poverty four times over: Oxfam.

Study shows kids not “kindergarten ready.” I just kind of expected them to come the first day. With clothes on.

It’s no surprise that Wayne LaPierre and the NRA think that increasing the presence of armed police and security in schools will be good for our children. More disturbing, however, is that Vice President Joe Biden and other key Democrats appear to agree. As reported by The Washington Post, recommendations coming out of the Gun Violence Task Force chaired by Vice President Biden are likely to include support for increasing the presence of police in schools. Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer has already proposed raising the allocation for the federal COPS in Schools program, a major source of funding to pay school police salaries. But as extensive research has shown, such measures don’t make students safer. In fact, they endanger their futures by further greasing the notorious school-to-prison pipeline. Increasing police in schools results, for students, in increased contact with the juvenile justice system, deterioration in academic performance and greater dropout rates. Lori Bezahler

The Sunday Mail.

The writers

Springfield, Illinois. January 3, 2013. Photo: John Laesch.

Larry Lessig remembers Aaron Swartz. Swartz committed suicide Friday. Aaron was a target of the feds for his insistence on freedom of access to public information.

The Washington Post exposes the high rate of expulsions by DC charter schools. 72 per 10,000. Public school expulsions: 1 per 10,000.

Forget about the Flu. It’s Seattle’s Garfield High teacher boycott of MAP testing that is contagious.

Mother Jones interviews the Viking’s Chris Kluwe.

The return of the Neocons. Boots on the ground versus drones in the sky.

Yesterday I got MY membership renewal from the Democratic National Committee — I’m supporter 011355811. All that means is I’m a lifelong Democrat and given money to every Democrat running for President since Eugene Mc Carthy. Today I’m returning my renewal with a big NO Inked over my renewal information and no check and a note to President Obama. I told the President, my President, that I worked hard to elect and re-elect — How could I stay a Democrat? How could I support the DNC when the Chair of the Illinois Democratic Party – Speaker Mike Madigan is sponsoring and testifying in favor of PENSION KILLER Bills! When Governor Quinn – A Democrat – compares me and my teacher colleagues to snakes and introduces PENSION KILLER Bills. If this is the new Democratic Party …I’m voting Green. Bob Haisman, retired teacher and former IEA President.

The Sunday Mail.


Springfield Capitol Rotunda. Friday. Photo: IEA

Veteran teachers explain their view of the the pension issue. You won’t see this on the channel seven news.

There is no pension deal yet. Keep the pressure on. Call 888 412 6570.

Has the Newark Teachers Union brought on its own destruction? A lesson for union leadership everywhere.

Have today’s schools become penitentiaries of boredom?

A PBS Frontline documentary examines Michelle Rhee’s cheating legacy in DC.

And Rhee’s BS is too much for even top Democrats to stomach.

Standardized testing has made life so much easier for students, teachers, and society. It is not an exaggeration to say that it benefits the world as well. By limiting the knowledge that students obtain by applying stringent curriculums for classes, teachers can put in minimal effort in lesson planning, since the teaching standards have already laid out what teachers are to teach for the next year or so; As a result, society will have a less confusing way to determine whom to hire for what job: all people have the same mindset and knowledge! There will also be no more bullying because all students will be standardized by the same knowledge and nobody would be labelled “nerd” or “geek” because of their superior intellect; “superior intellect” would not exist. Discriminating terms like “outstanding” and “elite” will be diminished. With that, one may conclude that standardized testing will inadvertently lead to universal equality and peace on earth, and everyone will go to heaven. leesk

The Sunday Mail.


Close the School of the Americas.

Remembering Don Cornelius. In 1973 we would roll up the carpet at Dennis and Roberta’s Garfield Boulevard apartment on the South Side and dance to Love Train.

New Jersey’s Governor Christie started his rule attacking teachers. It’s a gateway drug.

Poor kids don’t need Art and Music education. What?

An online petition for an elected school board in Chicago, the only Illinois school system that doesn’t have one. Sign it. Pass it on.

The pension rallies are on. See you in Springfield on Thursday.

The Chicago Teachers Union’s Jackson Potter tells the Sun-Times that we don’t won’t billionaires running our still-public schools.

I work in a psychiatric hospital in Chicago. Unlike many teachers out there who see only their small window of the reform world, I get to see the cross-section.  Students cycle through my program so quickly (too quickly, thanks to massive cuts in mental health services) that I hear dozens of stories a week from all over the city and surrounding suburbs.  And what’s happening out there is beyond heart-breaking, it is wrong.  Kids have come in to the hospital with massive anxiety, depression, and aggression related, in part, to school policies.  I have students who report fear of “getting jumped” on the way to schools across town after their neighborhood school was shut down.  I’ve had kids with school refusal due to the very real fear of a dangerous bus route through rival neighborhoods. Young people are afraid of the increases in violence and gang activity as kids from all parts of the city are thrust together in schools whose only response to the rage is zero tolerance lockdown.  There is no healing, just ignoring and punishing the problem, pushing the fights off of school grounds.  Almost every child I work with from the neighborhoods targeted for the brunt of school reform has symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.  They have difficulty sitting still, are quick to react to any perceived threat with violence or aggression, cannot concentrate on school work, and have come to hate the experience of school.  And yet all they get from school leadership is school closures, fired teachers, and false choices. Ms Katie