Rauner’s pension board appointees are Rahm’s friends too.


Rauner’s pension thief, Mark Levine, is a Rahm donor too.

Sun-Times reporters Chris Fusco and Mick Dumke disclosed Bruce Rauner’s take-over of a state pension board.

You can read the whole thing here.

One of his appointees, Marc Levine, is a notorious proponent of pension theft.

But these paragraphs in the story jumped out at me:

• Rauner appointee Levine, co-founder of Chicago Asset Funding, a financial services firm, and chairman of the New Trier Township Republican Organization. He launched a campaign for an Illinois senate seat in 2011 but dropped out of the race. He’s made $221,250 in state political contributions in the past five years, including $25,000 to Rauner; $50,500 to Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, a former Republican nominee for governor; and $5,000 to Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

• Rauner appointee Mark Cozzi, a founder of the Lincoln Park Capital investment firm and the board’s new vice chairman. Cozzi was on Emanuel’s transition team in 2011 before being appointed by the mayor to the Chicago Housing Authority board. He also was on Rauner’s transition team last fall. Cozzi has made $25,700 in state political contributions — $20,000 of that to Emanuel-controlled campaign funds.

• Rauner appointee Ezequiel “Zeke” Flores, another member of Rauner’s transition team, who is chief executive officer of an airport food and concessions business called Flying Retail LLC that has lucrative deals at Chicago’s airports. Since 2010, Flores and his companies have made $17,214 in campaign contributions, $11,000 of that to funds controlled by Ald. Edward M. Burke (14th).

Note that all three are bi-partisan donors.

In fact, Mark Cozzi  sat on Rahm’s transition team and has very deep pockets for the  Democratic Party.

Fast Eddie Burke is all hat and no horse.


14th Ward Alderman Fast Eddie Burke is a powerful guy. He’s been an alderman for many years.

He took part in the famous Council Wars that tried to block Mayor Harold Washington’s reforms.

He chairs the Council’s Finance Committee.

While Mayor Rahm was delivering his budget address – which includes a $600 million property tax increase that will fall most heavily on working and middle class homeowners in the city – someone in the council galleries snapped this picture of Fast Eddie checking his smart phone for cowboy hats.

One time when I was at a union convention in Dallas a couple of us drove the half hour it takes to get to Fort Worth.

A couple of the women delegates I was with wanted to check out the Cowgirl Museum which was pretty cool.

I dragged them over to the Kimball Art Museum which now has two great buildings. One designed by Renzo Piano (which wasn’t built when we were there) and another by architect Louis Kahn, which is amazing.

Fort Worth has a daily cattle drive down by the stockyards.

We had lunch as a local steak house where I had the best chicken fried steak with gravy.

And I bought a white Stetson hat.

The Stetson set me back about seventy bucks. Since then I have learned several lessons. One of them is that a white Stetson hat seems like a really good idea in Fort Worth, Texas and but is a terrible idea in Logan Square.

I wore it one more time to a Toby Keith concert at Frontier Days while on a trip to Chayenne, Wyoming. Even there I wasn’t fooling anyone.

I admit that I like Toby Keith and know all the words to I Love This Bar.

So, while I don’t expect Fast Eddie to give a rat’s behind about the working and middle class families in this city who are going to pay a huge price for the policies he continues to be hugely responsible for, I am offering some free advice.

I don’t blame him for being bored listening to the Mayor.

I’m just suggesting that he not get the hat.

Can I suggest he download Drop 7?

Instead of shopping, he can play while the Mayor speaks.

An old story. Those who love the rich more than the rich love the rich.



I think we should raise the taxes on corporations until they feel so much pain that they leave the state, then tax the rich folks so much that they spend more time at their houses in Palm Springs and Florida so they basically don’t live here any more then we stop borrowing money so you don’t have to pay interest to the evil bankers, then elect Chewy mayor,

Then sit back and enjoy the spoils of victory.


Dear Anon,

This is an old song: Those who love the rich more than the rich love the rich. Or the rich who like writing to my blog.


Illinois does not have well-calibrated performance assessment scorers. Oh, dear.

3d numbers exploded


edTPA is a good assessment, founded on decades of research. It is much better than the former “APT” exam, a multiple choice exam for all of pre-k-12 teacher candidates on pedagogical practice. edTPA actually gives candidates a way to showcase what they know and can do. The rubrics are well-defined and based on pedagogical foundations. The only thing I find not to like about it is the high cost for candidates and the Pearson scoring. But, Illinois did not have a workforce of well-calibrated and trained performance assessment scorers ready to take this on. Before you get on the bandwagon of haters, consider reading the assessment handbook, and suggesting an alternative that is better if you have one.

– Math Ed Professor

Dear MEP,

“The only thing I find not to like about it is the high cost for candidates and the Pearson scoring. But, Illinois did not have a workforce of well-calibrated and trained performance assessment scorers ready to take this on.”

The fact that we need someone you describe as a “well-calibrated performance assessment scorer’ is all I really need to know that edTPA is a bad idea.

As a teacher who worked with student teachers for years, I don’t know if I qualified as being well calibrated.

But I was a damn good teacher and a good cooperating teacher and mentor.

As for joining the bandwagon of edTPA haters? I don’t see a bandwagon yet. But I’m working on it.

– Fred

Wayne Au: Washington’s charter ruling.

Screen Shot 2015-09-04 at 7.25.34 PM

-By Wayne Au. Wayne Au is an Associate Professor of education at the University of Washington, Bothell and an editor for the social justice education magazine, Rethinking Schools. This originally appeared in the 2013 Washington State Kappan. Au was one of the named appellants in the suit overturning the Washington charter law.

After rejecting charter schools three times since 1996, Washington State voters approved Initiative 1240 (I-1240) by a 50.69% majority in November 2012, potentially paving the way for charter schools here. While there are several problems with I-1240, I have two major concerns.

First, it radically redefines the “public” in public education. Under I-1240, while locally elected school boards can be authorizers, the state board for authorizing charter schools is appointed, and the governing boards of the charter schools are appointed as well. This structure is complicated by the fact that charter schools in Washington State will be funded by public school dollars following the students into charter schools. This combination of appointed governance and state funds means that I-1240 functionally creates a separate charter school system, one using public monies but with no required mechanism for public accountability. This is a classic redefinition of public education vis-à-vis a business paradigm of school reform, and in this definition the public good equals consumption amidst deregulation. Thus, as the argument goes, charter schools will improve education through business-like production and competition.

There are, however, significant problems with this paradigm:

1. Students are not manufactured like products or assembled like cars. Humans are complex beings who develop unevenly and under a diverse array of conditions. Similarly, schools are not businesses where “productivity” can be easily measured when it comes to human learning and teaching;

2. The deregulation of public education and lack of public accountability within charter schools has been highly problematic in many states, producing numerous instances of embezzlement, questionable accounting, and test score gaming, amongst other scandals;

3. This same deregulation has contributed to charter schools consistently segregating students by only enrolling select groups, thereby not serving truly “public” populations of English Language Learners and students with disabilities;

4. While some individual examples of success exist, charter schools have yet to deliver on promises of improving student performance relative to comparable public schools.5 My other major concern is with the Yes On 1240 campaign and what it says about democratic governance. One individual, Bill Gates Jr., disproportionately influenced what is supposed to be a democratic process.

Of the $10.9 million spent on the campaign, Gates Jr. himself donated $3 million, and Gates Jr. connected donors, either through Microsoft or through ventures jointly funded with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), accounted for just over 76% of the total Yes On I-1240 campaign donations.6 Further, the four organizations that formed the Washington Coalition for Public Charter Schools and took credit for implementing the campaign were either funded by or have other BMGF connections.

Overall it appears that one individual had an inordinate amount of power over I-1240, particularly compared to the average voting citizen in Washington State. In a political system that is supposed to function as a democracy, it is not clear to me that a single person should have so much power in the establishment of a statewide education policy.

Yes, we do need to improve and strengthen public education in Washington State, but this work requires at least two vital concepts not included in I-1240.

First, efforts to improve public education must be grounded in a radically democratic process based on full community engagement. Instead of being driven by a handful of politicians, business leaders, and billionaire philanthropists, education reform should instead start with widespread participation of parents, teachers, students, and researchers.

Second, these efforts require a full recognition of what the research tells us: While teachers and schools are necessary for student success, they alone are insufficient in the face of non-school factors associated with poverty. Successful systems of education require thoughtfully, purposefully, and amply applied resources to make sure that all kids have equal access to social, economic, and institutional opportunities. In practice this includes providing kids with wrap-around services that include important needs like healthcare and food.

Transforming public education must be a part of a larger social and economic project – one that is within our capacity, if we decide to do it.

Sunday posts, pics and tweets.


The Black Panthers documentary film is coming to PBS this Fall.

An analysis of several economic measurements illustrates that, overall, workers in right-to-work states tend to have lower wages and lower union membership rates. Also, people generally are less well-educated and have lower incomes than those in states that don’t have right-to-work laws. These states also tend to have a higher percentage of people without health insurance and higher infant-mortality rates — indicators of the overall health of a population.



Happy birthday Richard Wright.


Imagine you have won 21 Grand Slam singles titles, with only four losses in your 25 appearances in the finals. Imagine that you’ve achieved two ‘‘Serena Slams’’ (four consecutive Slams in a row), the first more than 10 years ago and the second this year. A win at this year’s U.S. Open would be your fifth and your first calendar-year Grand Slam — a feat last achieved by Steffi Graf in 1988, when you were just 6 years old. This win would also break your tie for the most U.S. Open titles in the Open era, surpassing the legendary Chris Evert, who herself has called you ‘‘a phenomenon that once every hundred years comes around.’’ Imagine that you’re the player John McEnroe recently described as ‘‘the greatest player, I think, that ever lived.’’ Imagine that, despite all this, there were so many bad calls against you, you were given as one reason video replay needed to be used on the courts. Imagine that you have to contend with critiques of your body that perpetuate racist notions that black women are hypermasculine and unattractive.




Buyer’s remorse. NEA and edTPA.

In our continuing discussion of the expansion of edTPA as a licensure process for teachers entering the profession, I reprinted the original supporting position of the National Education Association.

The American Federation of Teachers position of opposition was also posted on this site.

I then was blasted by a series of twittering academics for every imaginable sin. Since I don’t have a PhD after my name and thousands read this blog, my views on this topic are suspect.

For some in the academic world it is always better to publish in journals read by dozens than on blogs read by thousands.

That is why I had to laugh when I read this summer’s review of edTPA published by the very same NEA in its research journal, Thought and Action.

Its circulation is limited, so it should have some credibility.

It’s authors are Deborah Greenblatt, a Ph.D. candidate in urban education at The Graduate Center at the City University of New York with a concentration in educational policy and leadership and Kate E. O’Hara, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the School of Education at New York Institute of Technology.

Neither are bloggers to my knowledge.

As states across the country continue their implementation of the edTPA, a complex and high-stakes certification requirement for teacher certification, there are important lessons for educators and education advocates to learn from New York State’s implementation. As Linda Darling-Hammond, developer and promoter of the edTPA, cautioned at the 2014 American Educational Research Association meeting: “New York is a prototype of how not [original emphasis] to implement teacher performance assessment.”1

edTPA stands for the Teacher Performance Assessment Portfolio, an assessment of teacher readiness developed by The Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning and Equity (SCALE) and the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) but nationally distributed and scored by Pearson Education, Inc. It differs from previous assessments in that it purports to measure “performance” by requiring student teachers to compile a portfolio, including lesson plans, student work samples, a short classroom video (15 to 20 minutes), and a lengthy “instructional commentary” of 40 to 60 pages.

Currently, there are 622 educator preparation programs in 35 states and the District of Columbia participating in edTPA. Some states are still exploring its use while others require edTPA as part of program completion or for state licensure.2Among them, New York’s story is unique: Although the New York State Education Department had begun working with Pearson in 2009 on its own teacher performance assessment, it switched to the edTPA when it became available in February 2012. The handbooks and rubrics were made available to faculty and students in New York’s schools of education that same spring.3 New York only conducted one year of field testing before fully implementing the edTPA as a high-stakes assessment.4

As a result of the rapid rollout, faculty at colleges of education had little time to reflect on their data and prepare their students for success: “We have basically set up a cohort of our students to fail,” warned Jamie Dangler, vice president of the United University Professions (UUP), the union of State University of New York educators, to New York State Education Department officials in January 2014, “and the consequences will be disastrous for students and teaching programs.’”

With the federal push to standardize a national evaluation requirement for pre-service teachers, all states and their educators must also consider and contend with the impact of profit-oriented corporations in the teacher preparation process. The certification of teachers has been taken out of the hands of the states and now turned over to a for-profit company that has much to gain from a national adoption of the edTPA: Pearson Education, Inc.

Concerns over the corporatization of teacher certification are fueled by Pearson’s lack of transparency. When participating in Pearson workshops, trainings, or test scoring, faculty have to sign non-disclosure agreements. Faculty are not allowed to share materials with their colleagues or their students.5 Furthermore, although the edTPA Myths and Facts document asserts the criteria for selecting and training scorers is “rigorous,” the teacher candidates’ score reports do not include the qualifications of their scorer nor is specific data about edTPA current scorers readily available online.

It is our hope that educators, activists, and policy makers will benefit from the lessons we have learned in New York and join our effort for a certification process that does not standardize teacher education programs but rather draws upon an effectively designed certification process and represents what is important to the profession, not politicians and corporations.

After describing the negative lessons learned by the roll-out of edTPA in New York state, the authors conclude:

The practical and ethical implications for implementing the edTPA are complex and significant. From our experiences in New York State, it is arguable whether or not the edTPA adequately assesses teacher performance. However, what we can say with certainty is that the edTPA privileges student teacher placements; shifts student teaching of candidates to test prep by candidates; has inherent inconsistencies in the scoring by Pearson; privileges certain candidates and higher education institutions; and makes assumptions about candidates’ technology access and skills. As teacher educators, we have learned significant lessons, and so have our teacher candidates. “The moral of this story is to predict what the raters might want, and give it to them, no matter how relentlessly repetitive and monotonous the rubrics may be.”30 A follow-up lesson is that the teacher candidates do truly “perform” on this test, determined to create a show that their audience will like. With edTPA portfolios being outsourced nationally, teacher candidates can only hope that their performance earns them applause from the lone worker being paid $75 per portfolio. Although currently the edTPA is being used by more than 70 percent of teacher certification programs in the country, the flaws are evident. A word of advice from New York: Buyer beware.

I didn’t say it.

But it’s true.

edTPA. The Gates and NCTQ plan, a long time in the works.


Graphic: Rethinking Schools

edTPA is not new.

I have been posting about it now because the implementation of edTPA in Illinois, mandated by the Democratic Party controlled state legislature as the path to teacher certification, is moving at full steam.

If you go back to the summer of 2013 Rethinking Schools has an article by Wayne Au which places edTPA right in the center of the debate over corporate school reform, the Gates Foundation and the corporate National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ).

Incidentally, I wrote about the cozy relationship between the Illinois Education Association’s Executive Director Audrey Soglin and NCTQ back in April of 2013.

But this is part of what Wayne Au wrote for Rethinking Schools two years ago:

Conservatives have been developing an infrastructure to attack teacher education at least since 2000, when the Thomas B. Fordham Institute created the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ). As former Fordham Institute board member Diane Ravitch recalls: “Conservatives, and I was one, did not like teacher training institutions. . . . [The Fordham Institute] established NCTQ as a new entity to promote alternative certification and to break the power of the hated ed schools.”

With $5 million from then-Secretary of Education Rod Paige and the Bush administration, the NCTQ founded the American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence (ABCTE), which would grant anyone a “passport to teaching” as a valid teaching credential in any state that agreed, as long as the individual had a bachelor’s degree and passed a background check and a computer test. Voucher proponents and advocates for privatizing public education filled the ABCTE’s advisory board, and Kate Walsh, now president of NCTQ, served on its board of directors.

Although the ABCTE still exists as an online teacher certification program (get your teaching credential for just under $2,000!), it lives on the fringes of the national education policy conversation. On the other hand, corporate education reformers have placed NCTQ in a position of national prominence. Diane Ravitch explains: “Today, NCTQ is the partner of U.S. News & World Report and will rank the nation’s schools of education. It received funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to review teacher quality in Los Angeles. It is now often cited as the nation’s leading authority on teacher quality issues. Its report has a star-studded technical advisory committee of corporate reform leaders like Joel Klein and Michelle Rhee.”

NCTQ supports the use of high-stakes test scores in teacher evaluation (known as value-added measurement, or VAM), including using test scores of students to rate the teacher education programs from which their teachers graduated. Taking a page directly out of the rabidly pro-corporate American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) playbook on education reform, NCTQ has already issued report cards for teacher education by state and is on the verge of “grading” most individual teacher education programs in the country.

Kate Walsh and the NCTQ are part of the cabal of corporate reformers dismantling public education today, and they have teacher education squarely in their sights.

So the edTPA has to be seen strategically as a push back against the forces of corporate education reform. It aims to reframe teaching as a profession along the lines of being a medical doctor or a lawyer (think national bar exam for teachers).

This would explain why edTPA has roots in the ideas of Linda Darling-Hammond and other proponents of focusing on teacher quality.

Like other education reform ideas that seemed good at the time, they often get turned into their opposites with the infusion of foundation and corporate dollars.

I got into a Twitter debate about edTPA with John Seelke, an employee of the University of Maryland and someone who does student teacher placement and supervision

He has been one of the rare defenders of edTPA to comment since I started writing about it.

Seelke’s objectivity is suspect as someone who is employed to implement edTPA.

But he raises a good question:

“Connection to Gates? Is edTPA perfect? No…do it think it’s better than other current assessments like praxis?”

By praxis, John means the current system of local cooperating teacher evaluation along with a university or college supervisor.

Au raises a similar question:

If we sink the edTPA, what will we be left with? In the midst of corporate education reform, will we in teacher education get stuck with whatever Kate Walsh, the NCTQ, and the privatizers have in store for us? That is a dilemma, and I don’t have the solution. I do know, however, that the edTPA has had a significant impact on my teacher education program.

As I have written before, whatever problems there are with current teacher preparation practices, nothing can be fixed by handing it over to private corporations like Pearson which rake in million of dollars in profits or by implementing the plans of the Gates Foundation.

In defense of edTPA from a reader.



While I know that leaving this comment will get me crucified, I wanted to respond to the question about “who are the edTPA evaluators?”.

To qualify to be an edTPA scorer, one must either be a teacher in that content who has worked with student teachers, a university faculty or staff member who works in teacher preparation in that content area, or a nationally certified board member in that content area. You must then undergo and pass a rigorous 20+ hour training process.

The training process and protocol are designed and controlled by Stanford University, specifically the Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, and Equity (SCALE).

In fact, the edTPA in its entirety is authored and controlled by SCALE. Pearson is the operational partner.

To address another issue, Pearson does not own the videos; they belong to the teacher candidates who submit them and there is a very strict protocol surrounding their use.

I am all for discussion about this issue but let’s make sure we know all the facts and are discussing them accurately. I would encourage those reading to explore more about the content of the assessment itself and separate that from the discussion of high stakes assessments in teacher preparation.

They are two different issues and should be treated as such.

– Elisa


Nobody gets crucified on this site for expressing an opinion or sharing what they perceive as facts.

Most of those who have testified on this blog about edTPA have fallen into two categories:

Student teachers who have been evaluated by edTPA.

Faculty of education programs who have had student teachers evaluated by edTPA.

Of the over 30,000 visitors to the original article, not one said it was a valuable experience. Or even a good one.

Those are facts too.

Thanks for sharing yours.

– Fred