We Are One Illinois’ statement on the “consideration model”.

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The following points represent the We Are One Illinois Coalition’s position on a pension model currently receiving attention that is commonly referred to as the “consideration model.”

The hundreds of thousands of workers (teachers, firefighters, nurses, police and other public employees) represented by We Are One Illinois oppose this purported “consideration model” because it fails the test for good pension law:

• It is not constitutional;

• It is unfair in its outcome;

• It will not solve Illinois’s long-term pension funding obligations; and

• It will exacerbate the challenges those obligations pose by kicking down the road to a future day implementation of a lawful funding solution.

The following core points explain the why this plan is not constitutional. Additional legal analysis of its unconstitutionality is set forth in this memo.

 • This supposed “consideration model” violates the Illinois Constitution.

The Illinois Supreme Court has now made it clear in two cases (the state “SB1” case and theCity of Chicago case) that unilateral changes to diminish the pension benefits belonging to any member of a retirement system are unconstitutional.

The model commonly referred to as “the consideration model” also fails the constitutional test because it offers pension system members (regardless of Tier I or Tier II) a choice between two versions of diminished benefits. There in fact is NO CONSIDERATION in the legal sense. A public employee would be forced to choose between two options, each of which illegally strips away pension benefits. This is a construction that the Supreme Court has expressly ruled violates the Illinois Constitution Pension Protection clause.

Consideration requires some countervailing substantial new benefit that the pension holder must be able to accept or decline. This suggested new model offers no such thing; in fact, it offers a choice between reduction of two already protected pension benefits. Therefore, it is unlawful.

• This supposed “consideration model” will not survive a court challenge and therefore will only worsen Illinois’ fiscal position.

If passed into law, such a plan will be swiftly challenged in court. When the Illinois Supreme Court rules—yet again—that diminishment of pension benefits is illegal, the state’s pension systems will surely be further underfunded and the pension payments the state must pay will be larger. Simply put, our problems will only be harder to solve. A vote for such a plan is a vote to kick the can down the road, a vote to not solve Illinois’s fiscal challenges.

The We Are One Illinois coalition strongly urges all legislators to abandon pursuit of illegal pension benefit diminishments and work instead on lawful, rational and fair approaches to funding Illinois pension systems.

Action: http://www.weareoneillinois.org/news/statement-on-so-called-consideration-model-pension-changes

Random thoughts. Chicago leads in numbers of the disconnected.

RANDOM

A Brookings study of the numbers of “disconnected youth,” shows Chicago leads the nation.

The study uses an algorithm to define disconnection.

Specifically, the analysis examines the employment and unemployment rates of teens, young adults, and prime-age workers, using microdata data from the American Community Survey for the years 2008–2014. The analysis also examines a key subpopulation among teens and young adult population: “disconnected youth” who are neither working nor in school. These young people are missing key educational and employment experiences and are at increased risk for a host of negative outcomes: long spells of unemployment, poverty, criminal behavior, substance abuse, and incarceration. Data on disconnected youth also comes from American Community Survey microdata, but to compensate for small sample sizes, the analysis uses a three-year estimate encompassing the years 2012–2014.

Part of the data looks like this:

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Chicago’s unemployment rate among African American 20-24 years olds is 47%, the worst of any big city in the nation.

The data is one thing. The solution is another.

The Chicago Police Department also has looked at the data and has also developed what it calls an algorithm said to predict potential, not actual, criminals.

And arrest them.

In a broad drug and gang raid carried out last week amid a disturbing uptick this year in shootings and murders, the Police Department said 117 of the 140 people arrested were on the list.

And in one recent report on homicides and shootings over a two-day stretch, nearly everyone involved was on the list.

“We are targeting the correct individuals,” Mr. Johnson said. “We just need our judicial partners and our state legislators to hold these people accountable.”

Many government agencies and private entities are using data to try to predict outcomes, and local law enforcement organizations are increasingly testing such algorithms to fight crime. The computer model in Chicago, though, is uniquely framed around this city’s particular problems: a large number of splintered gangs; an ever younger set of gang members, according to the police; and a rash of gun violence that is connected to acts of retaliation between gangs.

Supporters of Chicago’s list say that it allows the police to focus on a small fraction of people creating chaos in the city rather than unfairly and ineffectively blanketing whole neighborhoods. But critics wonder whether there is value in predicting who is likely to shoot or be shot with seemingly little ability to prevent it, and they question the fairness and legality of creating a list of people deemed likely to commit crimes at some future time.

Okay. Out of the car! You’re under arrest.

What did I do?

You’re in violation of an algorithm. You’re disconnected.

The symbiotic relationship between the Trib and the Illinois Policy Institute.

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-By John Dillon who blogs at Pension Vocabulary.

Usually it takes at least a couple of days before the Chicago Tribune’s Editorial Board follows an emotional diatribe by Illinois Policy Institute’s opinion writer Diana Sroka Rickert with an echoing piece re-mastered to smooth some of the hysteria and to borrow some of the arguments.

Perhaps with Bruce Dold now charge of the daily, McCormick (the novice Editor) couldn’t wait to follow up.  It was quick, but in keeping with Dold’s models, he and his team elevated Rickert’s rants, cleaned up the innuendos, and thieved her arguments in a more, well, tastefully manner.

But, it’s always wise to remember that the Illinois Policy Institute enjoys a special relationship with the Chicago Tribune, one in which the far-right leaning group gets expansive opportunity to promote their tea-party, state’s rights, free markets, and no taxation policies.  And that relationship is symbiotic, as the Trib can later (usually more than one day) edit and refine the I.P.I.’s latest tirade into something more palatable for their avid readers and corporate elite.

According to Rickert’s argument, General Assembly legislators – Democrats – are playing at computer games like Candy Crush, while the state budget goes undone.  While this is not a new phenomena – legislators of both parties have been caught before doing emails, seeking purchases on E-Bay, even playing Battleship with each other – but this affront by Rep. Cloonen and Rep. Smiddy took place while the debate over the budget took place and was caught on WCIA television.  Heavens!

WCIA has always been receptive to the I.P.I.’s offers to put their own spin on what is happening in Springfield, and as a centrally located television studio in Champaign area, they both have continued to curry this relationship. You’ll find the I.P.I. is often part of their coverage.

The WCIA helps I.P.I.; and the I.P.I. helps the Chicago Tribune.  Symbiotic.

Read the entire post here.

Illinois House passes budget bill, including school funding with no special education funding cuts. Rauner says he will veto it.

Bruce Rauner

Democrats pass budget bill challenging Rauner to veto K-12 funding for every Illinois pubic school district.

-By Bev Johns

By a vote of 63 Yes, 53 No, and 1 present, the Illinois House of Representatives  voted last night to provide $9,000 for each special ed teacher next school year (Disabled Student Personnel Reimbursement) as part of a huge budget bill for Fiscal Year 2017.

In addition, the 500 page Amendment 2 to Senate Bill 2048 rejected the recommendation of the Illinois State Board of Education to move $303 million from another special education line item to General State Aid, and keeps that $303 million for special education.

SB 2048 is real money, including $387 million for Chicago schools, as opposed to Senate Bill 231 which would change school funding formulas BUT PROVIDE NO REAL MONEY.

SB 2048 includes $700 million for a new Equity Grant for poorer schools and no school district would receive less money next school year than it received this school year.

SB 2048 now goes to the Illinois State Senate for consideration and votes. Governor Rauner has already threatened to veto SB 2048 as it contains spending but no increase in taxes to pay for the spending.

PLEASE THANK THE HOUSE DEMOCRATS WHO VOTED TO FUND SPECIAL EDUCATION AND SPECIAL EDUCATION TEACHERS AND OTHER PROFESSIONALS PROVIDING SERVICES TO STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES. 

PLEASE URGE YOUR STATE SENATOR TO SUPPORT SPECIAL EDUCATION AND SPECIAL EDUCATION  TEACHERS.

Illinois legislative clock ticks down. The incredibly silent IEA. UPDATED.

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The regular session of the Illinois General Assembly ends May 31st.  Nobody I know expects a budget deal with the crazy governor by then.

I was talking with Springfield lobbyist the other day and the conversation about the governor seemed to be more about his psychological state than his political strategy.

“He doesn’t care if he wins or loses,” said the lobbyist.

I’m not a shrink. So I’ll stay focused on the politics of it all.

Conventional wisdom seems to be that some agreement on K-12 funding will get done.

Yesterday I wrote again about SB 231, Senator Manar’s bill to change the funding formula and take money from special education categorical funding and move it to school districts’ general fund. It effectively reduces money for special education.

When Bob Kaplan, IEA retired activist and member of the IEA’s legislative committee asked on Facebook why the IEA was neutral on the Manar bill when the IEA’s Legislative Program opposes both the spending shift and cuts to mandated direct categorical special education  grants, he received a response from IEA President Cinda Klickna.

Cinda Klickna: “You might ask for details.”

Bob: “I have and have gotten no explanation.  I’m asking for details.”

 Cinda Klickna: “Last year the board discussed supporting giving to poorer districts from more affluent. Remember?”

What is odd is that the Manar bill has been around in one form or another for three years. It has been in one legislative committee or another this session. The IEA Representative Assembly met and approved the Legislative Program just about a month ago. They may have “discussed it on the board” last year, but no changes to the Program were presented or voted on.

Characterizing the Manar bill as “giving to poorer districts from more affluent” doesn’t do justice to what they want to do.

The negative impact on special needs students may be devastating.

Here is the language from the IEA Legislative Progam approved a little over a month ago:

“All of Illinois’ students deserve the same access to learning opportunities, level of commitment, and economic support. School funding should be based on a per-pupil amount equal to that of the wealthiest districts in the state (my emphasis).”

That is what an education funding bill should say. I don’t know what was discussed a year ago at a board meeting, but that language is what the members through their delegates at the state IEA Representative Assembly voted for.

The Legislative Program is intended to guide lobbyists and leadership as to what legislation IEA opposes or supports. It is the membership’s voice on these issues.

Some have suggested that the “neutral” position is just a place holder until the language of a bill is finally ready for a vote. Although Klickna’s “we discussed it on the board” comment would suggest otherwise. But even if neutral is a place holder, that wouldn’t prevent the IEA from speaking publicly on what they want. I thought that was what all this “sitting at the table” stuff was about.

There is a new state education spending bill, HB828. It is viewed as an alternative to SB231 which remains in Executive Committee.

According to Bev Johns:

State spending for next school year may be frozen at this years level EXCEPT for $500 to $700 million added to the low income part of General State Aid (perhaps plus pension money for Chicago OR allowing Chicago to raise taxes to pay for pension costs).

The Evidence Based plan (which moves direct aid to special education) is now in legislation as Amendment 1 to House Bill 828 

Adding $500 to $700 million would greatly help schools with concentrated low income students.

According to the current formulas, if a school district has 15 percent or less low income (as determined by the DHS formula) they receive $355 for each low income student. For more than 15 percent, there is a formula. For example, if 30 percent, it is $537 for each low income student; if 50 percent, $969 per student, and if 80 percent low income students, it is $2,022 per student.

ANY combination of money, SB 231 and HB 828 is possible, or NOTHING may be done before May 31. (After that date it takes a 3/5 vote of the Illinois House and Illinois Senate for a bill to be immediately effective.)

Update:

Fred – This is a little confusing.

There are 3 entirely separate and independent proposals.

(1) $500 to $700 million in more money for next school year. This is just appropriations with NO change in the school funding formulas.

(2) Senate Bill 231, the Manar bill, which has a Block Grant for special education (changes school funding formulas, but appropriates NO money).

(3) House Bill 828, with Amendment 1, which has an entirely different Block Grant for special education (changes school funding formulas, but appropriates NO money).

Thanks, Bev

When it comes to school funding formula and special ed the IEA ignores its own Legislative Program.

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Democratic State Senator Andy Manar.

As I have been writing, Democratic State Senator Andy Manar wants to change the state school funding formula with no new revenue. He wants to pay for it by cutting special education categorical grants to school districts and make them block grants. Categorical grants mean the money must be spent on special education students. Block grants move the money into the district’s general fund. the money can be spent on anything.

Why doesn’t the Illinois Education Association oppose SB231?

Their membership wants them to. At least that is what the delegates to the IEA’s Representative Assembly wants them to do when they adopted the IEA’s Legislative Program.

State Funding Plan 


All of Illinois’ students deserve the same access to learning opportunities, level of commitment, and 
economic support. School funding should be based on a per-pupil amount equal to that of 
the wealthiest districts in the state. Additionally, district-by district variations in state funding 
should be based on district wealth, tax effort, student population, accurate Title I weighting, and other 
factors that might otherwise restrict equal access to free and appropriate education.

 

All categorical 
grant funding and education reform mandates should be funded at 100% of established levels. To 
achieve these goals, money should not be taken from one district in order to subsidize other 
districts or from one program to subsidize another program.

 

Funding Priorities 


 

When state revenues are declining, the Association supports the following priorities for funding state 
education programs:

General State Aid, including an increase in the poverty grant formula.
Average Daily Attendance (ADA) Block Grant.

Mandated categorical programs such as special education and transportation

Early Childhood Block grants.

The IEA is officially neutral on the bill, even though it contradicts the IEA’s own legislative agenda.

Why?

I have heard that the Government Relations department, the lobbying arm of the IEA, recommended that the organization oppose SB 231 but were overruled.

Who can overrule IEA Government Relations?

Only the executive leadership: President Cinda Klickna, Kathi Griffin and Al Llorens.

That’s how democracy works in the IEA.

Feds looking into Lincoln Way ex-Superintendent Lawrence Wyllie.

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Feds open an investigation of Lincoln Way ex-Superintendent Wyllie.

Hey Fred,

Been a long time since I’ve emailed you.  Hope all is going well…happy and healthy.

I’ve  been extremely busy working with the Lincoln Way Area Taxpayers Unite group trying to stop the closing of Lincoln Way North High School.  Very sad…

But during this journey we’ve uncovered so much corruption, mismanagement, and insider deals  that it will make your head spin.  We were in court last Friday and were told to expect a decision via mail by June 20th.

Unfortunately it’s left me no time to gather my thoughts and write another article.  Hopefully soon though.

Below is an article which broke at 3 p.m. today…The Feds are now involved and are finally going after the former supt. Lawrence A. Wyllie….we know they’ve already brought in Asst. Supt. Ron Sawin for questioning.  Both of these guys are so dirty.  It’s so sad that people making big bucks never feel like it’s enough.  “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Take care and have a great summer,

Lee R. Talley

Proud Retired Educator

May 23, 2016

U.S. Dept. of Justice ‘investigation’ ongoing into LWD210, Wyllie

by Meredith Dobes, Contributing Editor

Lincoln-Way Community High School District 210 was subpoenaed by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to testify before a grand jury May 18 at the Dirksen Federal Building in Chicago, according to a subpoena released Monday, May 23, by Taryn Atwell, community relations director for District 210.

District 210 was required to bring to the hearing a variety of documents and recordings from Jan. 1, 2000, to present, many of which related to former superintendent Lawrence Wyllie. The subpoena was dated May 4.

The former district leader retired in 2013, but his tenure recently has come under scrutiny. Financial decisions, some made directly by Wyllie without board approval, are being questioned. Results of a comprehensive agreed-upon procedures audit of May 2006, February 2007 and December 2009 bond issues determined the district spent money “inappropriately” in accordance with State law during his tenure.

The records requested included salary and compensation information for Wyllie; other forms of reimbursement to Wyllie, particularly relating to travel and training; complete personnel files for Wyllie; reimbursement records for unused leave for Wyllie; attendance reports and applications for leave for Wyllie; requisition and approval forms for all payments made to all American Express and other credit cards used by or on behalf of the district or Wyllie; all records related to the Superintendent’s Emergency Fund(s) at the district; School Board policies and procedures; School Board meeting memorandum, minutes, details and recordings, including from closed sessions; records related to misappropriation of federal, State and local funds, including bond funds, restricted funds and student activity funds from 2006-present; and all records related to the district’s participation in the E-Rate program.

Atwell said both district and School Board members have been advised not to comment on any items pertaining to the investigation and did not answer any questions related to the subpoena.

Joseph Fitzpatrick, public information officer with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, said the district cannot confirm or deny the existence of investigations and can only comment if criminal charges are filed.