NEA and AFT “call to action” against DeVos nomination.


From the Illinois Education Association:

When President-elect Trump nominated Betsy DeVos for U.S. Secretary of Education, educators nationwide were disappointed and frustrated, but not surprised. (Click here for NEA’s press release and click here for the Edvotes story “5 reasons why Trump pick Betsy DeVos is wrong for Secretary of Education.)

Knowing our members also had thoughts and feelings about the nomination, NEA wanted to organize a call to action that would help them not only voice their dissatisfaction in this particular nominee, but also re-assert their values as educators. In partnership with AFT, an online sign-on letter has been created, called, “Open Letter: A Commitment to Student Success in Public Schools.”

In this letter, we declare DeVos an enemy of public education, articulate our values as educators, and challenge elected leaders and policymakers to recommit to public education.

Please share the open letter and call to action using these links:

Go to the IEA Facebook page and “like” and “share” the open letter with your Facebook friends. It is at the top of the IEANEA page. (If you’re not on Facebook already this is a great time to jump in).

in addition,

If you are on Twitter, here is a link to the tweet on the IEA feed: simply click on the “retweet” button on the tweet.

It’s important to use these links as they will show that IEA members participated.

Please spread to word to your colleagues and friends. We will have a lot of work to do over the next four years. It starts now.

Thank you.

National universities plead to Trump on behalf of DACA, but…


Luis Gomez, a 21-year-old senior at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Following up on the previous post.

While the University of Illinois has turned a deaf ear to faculty, student and alumni calls for undocumented student sanctuary, Muriel A. Howard, the president of the American Association of State Colleges & Universities, voiced support for these students.

DACA is the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which Trump vowed to rescind as he campaigned for the presidency. DACA is the 2012 Obama directive that gave undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children a chance to work and study legally, without getting deported.

Howard sent a letter to Trump this week in support of the program. “Only through such a robust and accessible infrastructure for all of our people can America compete on the global stage,” she wrote.

However, after congratulating Trump on his election, the letter included this:

“We appreciate your most recent comments that immigration enforcement should focus on undocumented immigrants who have committed serious crimes.”

This statement is a straw man and feeds into the Trump racist statements about immigrants being rapists and thieves.

Reading this, I recalled the comments of Luis Gomez, a 21-year-old senior at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Gomez had been invited to join Mayor Rahm Emanuel and my Congressman Luis Gutierrez for a press conference on Chicago’s commitment to sanctuary.

Gomez surprised the Mayor and the Congressman by criticizing their selective sanctuary position.

“If unity is to be achieved, you need to stop categorizing and separating the undocumented community between deplorable and DREAMers,” Gomez said. “I demand that you stand for all immigrants.”

In a follow-up interview with In These Times, Gomez explained further.

Trump gave an interview saying that he was planning to deport or incarcerate undocumented immigrants with a criminal record. And his policy proposal wasn’t specific about which kinds of crimes they would target, meaning that some immigration violations could in fact become criminal, like returning to the United States after you’ve been deported. It could also include people who lost their way when they were younger, but now are in school—I know people like that who got in trouble with the law—and people who have been desperate because of their situation with no legal status and have resorted to means of survival that are not legal.

When I heard that Trump was planning to incarcerate and deport these people, I knew I had to do something. These people that I’m talking about, these are people in our communities, these are families, these are our friends. It’s important for me to speak for these people because if they deport everyone that I know and love, then there’s no point in saving me.

You need to protect us all, not just the people who you deem as deserving of being saved.

No sanctuary for undocumented students at the University of Illinois.


Anti-Trump protesters in New York. Photo: Fred Klonsky

I often tell folks that because I grew up in California in the sixties there were a lot of diversions. I was diverted by most of them and so I dropped out of college in ’68.

A little over a decade later I returned. I enrolled at the University of Illinois at Chicago, then known as Circle Campus, drove a taxi cab, and studied art education at what was then called the College of Art, Architecture and Urban Planning.

I loved it. I loved it so much that after earning a degree in Art Education, I continued to study there while teaching. I earned my Masters with honors (not to brag) several years later and went crazy, applied to and was accepted into the doc program.

Once the doctoral course work was done, I was done.

There is a trend now for graduating high school students to take off a year before college. A “gap year,” they call it.

I had a “gap decade.”

Driving a taxi, a family at home and taking classes was tough. But Circle was and is an urban campus and  many of my classmates were struggling even more than me. Many of the students were foreign born. Smart, but struggling with English. Many undocumented.

The Latino Policy Forum, a Chicago-based advocacy group, estimates that there may be 1,500 Illinois college students who are undocumented in 2016.

I am disappointed to learn that my alma mater, the University of Illinois, has turned it’s back on undocumented students, refusing to declare the university a sanctuary university from Trump’s threats to round up undocumented immigrants.

“There’s just a lot of unknowns and a lot of speculation. But what we do know is that we don’t want to put our institutions and our people at risk of not complying with laws,” university spokesman Tom Hardy said.

We are talking about laws that target millions of families in the United States. The statement echoes another sorry and scary time in the not so distant past.

The university receives roughly $733 million annually in federal funding – about 13 percent of its $5.6 billion operating budget – that could be at risk if the university does not comply with immigration law, said Hardy.

Cities across America have declared themselves sanctuary cities in spite of threats to federal funds, including Chicago. They are refusing to cooperate with federal (anti-)immigration officials.

UIC and the other two state university campuses have taken a different and much more discouraging course of action.

Breaking. Judge orders TRO against Rauner and for state workers.


A circuit court’s temporary restraining order (TRO) issued Dec. 6 will halt the Rauner administration’s attempts to unilaterally impose its contract terms on state employees for now.

AFSCME requested the TRO because Governor Rauner was moving to impose his demands even before the Labor Board had issued a formal, written finding of impasse between the parties.

Although the Board’s written decision was issued while the TRO request was pending, the judge found that “by implementing new terms and conditions of employment without notice to and the agreement of the union”, the Rauner administration “has violated that Tolling Agreement” that extends the terms of the current contract.

Under the TRO, the administration must honor the tolling agreement and rescind any changes it has made, at least until a hearing now set for January 13 (possibly sooner).

“Although temporary, this order sends a message to Governor Rauner that he is not above the law,” AFSCME Council 31 Executive Director Roberta Lynch said. “Instead of sparking further conflict in the courts and at state worksites, Governor Rauner should return to bargaining and work with us to find common ground.”

Rauner’s demands include a 100% increase in employee costs for health care, a four-year pay freeze, and a blank check to outsource public services for private profit. The governor has refused to negotiate with AFSCME ever since the administration broke off talks and walked away back in January.

The Rauner-appointed Labor Board’s impasse decision threw out the recommendations of the administrative law judge who presided over two months of hearings in the case. The ALJ had found no impasse on major issues such as wages and health care, and had said Rauner should be ordered to return to bargaining.

AFSCME has appealed the Labor Board decision in Cook County appellate court. The union will request a stay to prevent Rauner from imposing his terms during the appeal process.

Rauner’s labor board ruling on AFSCME. Do you believe in magic, coincidences and Santa Claus?

In his continuing attempts at destroying public employee collective bargaining in Illinois Governor Rauner, announced that negotiations between him and the union representing state employees, AFSCME, had reached an impasse following his last and final offer of a four year wage freeze.

AFSCME filed a lawsuit in St. Clair County circuit court seeking an injunction to block Rauner from imposing the contract on state workers.

A ruling from the judge had been expected Monday afternoon. It was expected the judge would rule in favor of state workers.

Suddenly, early yesterday, the Rauner-friendly Illinois Labor Relations Board issued a ruling favoring the Governor.

The governor’s office argued that the ILRB ruling made any court ruling moot.

AFSCME will appeal the ruling in a Chicago state appellate court.

(AFSCME’s Anders)Lindall said the union found it “more than coincidental” that the labor board “suddenly” issued its written decision about the time a circuit court was “set to block the Rauner administration from illegally moving forward” on implementation of contract provisions.

Melissa Mlynski, executive director of the labor relations board, said the board’s timing had nothing to do with the St. Clair County case, and it was “absolutely” a coincidence that the written decision came on a day an order was expected from that southern Illinois court.

Do you believe in coincidences? Magic?

Santa Claus?

Blaming teachers. I am a “negative demographic change.” I ain’t dead yet.


Standing among the Chinese Terra Cotta Warriors at the Field Museum, created for the Chinese emperor Qin Shi Huang, who died in 210 BCE. He’s dead and I’m not, making me a negative demographic change

I had some time on my hands this afternoon after coming back from seeing the amazing terra cotta warriors from China at the Field museum.

Because of that extra time I got into a Twitter debate with some folks about teacher blaming and shaming.

Three of them blamed teachers for electing Trump. We were blamed on two counts: We don’t teach civics well enough.

And 1 in 5 teachers are estimated to have voted for Trump.

I agree that the 20% of our profession that voted for the guy should be ashamed of themselves.

But that means 80% of us teachers didn’t vote for Trump. I only know of a couple of demographic groups with a better voting number against Trump than that.

When I responded with that I was told I wasn’t being reflective enough.

Sorry. I’ll try harder.

Then I read from Greg Hinz in Crain’s that the pension problem exists because not enough teachers are dead yet.

We are what is now called a “negative demographic change.”

Teachers are to blame for this too. Not the failure of the state to pay what they owe for over 7 decades.


From my point of view it is a positive demographic change. Particularly because, for the time being, it includes me.

And I’m not sorry.