Funding. What time is it?

Go to the IEA web site and the state leadership tries to paint a picture of optimism.

The interpretation of the IEA Government Relations Department is…that the Speaker is telling those of us who care about fixing funding that members of the House, both Republicans and Democrat need to be convinced we expect action.

Oh, that may not sound optimistic. But when you compare it to the Chicago Tribune’s interpretation of the goings on in Springfield the IEA Government relations office sounds positively giddy.

House Speaker Michael Madigan all but ruled out raising income or sales taxes Wednesday, saying his Democratic majority wouldn’t support higher taxes but might back expanded gambling as a way to solve the state’s budget problems before the legislature’s May 31 adjournment deadline.

In a rare news conference, the powerful Southwest Side Democrat sent the strongest message to date that lawmakers are headed toward a vastly scaled-back budget that would disappoint many groups seeking large spending increases for education and health care.

Since all sides believed that this was the session when something had to be done, it looks very likely that serious funding reform is now off the table for a while.

Says north suburban board member and blogger Open Board Blog:

Given that their 2-year re-election cycle will soon be upon them, distracting them from any meaningful legislative work, I will go out on a limb and declare that – barring any shocking new developments – education funding reform is dead for the forseeable future.

We’ll need to do a debrief when the actual session is over. But there’s plenty of blame and cowardice to go around.

More LA teachers looking at Green Dot.

While there have been lots of theoretical discussion going on about teacher unions and charter schools and weather Greet Dot is anti-union or if Steve Barr is actually pro-union, reality keeps butting in.

The LA Times reports:

Faculty at two more Los Angeles high schools met this week with a leading charter school operator to discuss alliances aimed at breaking away from the school district.

The meetings took place between teachers from Santee Education Complex in South Central, among LA’s poorest neighborhoods, Taft High School, described in the Times as diverse with middle of the road test scores, and Green Dot’s Steve Barr.

The response by UTLA President AJ Duffy and school board President Marlene Canter, seems to suggest they have no response to the latest developments in LA between teachers and Green Dot:

A.J. Duffy, president of the union, and school board President Marlene Canter expressed confidence that collaborative efforts to jump-start reforms in the district would take root soon and ease teachers’ frustrations.

“In the absence of us providing other options, [Green Dot] is starting to look like the only option to teachers,” Canter said. “This is obviously a call to action…. I am still confident that this district can respond.”

Boy. Tough talk, huh?

Richard Gibbons, a veteran teacher was one of those that took the lead in bringing teachers at Taft and Green Dot together. Ironically, he is a UTLA union rep at Taft.

IEA returns to THE issue: social justice in funding.

It’s late in the game. There’s just two weeks left for us before the school year ends. But, since I was critical of the IEA leadership when I thought they screwed up, I’ll tell them when they did good. If you go to the IEA’s web site now, there’s no sign of the Burnham Plan, no talk of accountability, no arcane references to new forms of governance. They’re back to the issues that got 8,000 people to Springfield: The fight for justice, equity and fairness in funding.

“Arrested while grieving.”

I’m in NY for the weekend. I’m seeing the kids and Lucy, my grandchild. And we’re celebrating my sister-in-law and brother-in-law’s 25th wedding anniversary.

But the news in New York is not all celebratory. Bob Herbert’s column in today’s NY Times is a disturbing story reminiscent of the things you might have read during the Rudy Giuliani days. A group of high school kids on their way to a funeral of a friend, students from Bushwick Community High School, were literally assaulted by members of the NYPD. Evidence of their gang affiliation? They were wearing shirts that said, “RIP.” As Herbert titled his column, they were “arrested while grieving.”

Thirty-three people were arrested, 20 men for unlawful assembly and disorderly conduct, seven women got disorderly conduct summonses, and six juveniles were released on their own recognizance.

Herbert’s column, which requires registration to access on the NY Times web page, reports that the original story that the police were responding to a gang provocation was not supported by any civilian witnesses and was contradicted by the testimony of the kids themselves.

They were kids of color in NY going to the funeral of a friend.

What’s private? What’s public?

Sometimes the comments sections of postings get overlooked. And I would recommend you scroll down to the posting or just click on, I had to read Edwize again..

JD, Leo Casey and I exchange some thoughts about Green Dot, tenure, contracts and the issue of what’s private, what’s public and what does it mean for teacher unions. It’s a good discussion, if only just the start of one.

Leo challenged my assumptions about Green Dot as anti-union. He thinks we need to reconsider how we define these things. I challenged Leo to explain the contradictions between what Green Dot says on their web page and what Leo says they actually do. JD appreciates the need to see the issues through many lenses and warns against dogmatic definitions.

It’s just really interesting to me and I didn’t want you to overlook it.

Spellings was really funny.

Appearing on the Daily Show with John Stewart last night, DOE Secretary Margaret Spellings was hilarious.

My favorite part was when she said:

The old solution to education challenges was to spend money and cross our fingers. Now, we can find out what actually works because we are measuring. It’s become a favorite refrain of mine, “What gets measured, gets done.” I’m even thinking about getting a tattoo.

Oh wait! That wasn’t on the Daily Show. That’s what she said in a speech to the right-wing think tank, The Manhattan Institute.

I wonder if I could get that tatoo?

Sacco and Vanzetti.

sacco_vanzetti3.jpgBen Shahn’s Sacco and Vanzetti

My old friend from Atlanta, Jesse Crawford, has produced a documentary about the story of two Italian immigrants and anarchists, Sacco and Vanzetti.

Sacco and Vanzetti were arrested for a robbery and murder it is now agreed they did not commit. They were executed in 1927. Their case became a world-wide cause celebre. Amazingly, this is the first major documentary ever made that tells their story.

It is showing at Chicago’s Facets Multimedia through tomorrow night.

The schedule of showings around the country can be found at First Run Features web site.

Where did the IEA go?

I’m only a local president, so I’m not in the loop. But then again, neither is the rest of the rank-and-file.

For months leading up to May 2nd, we were asked by the IEA leadership to put everything into mobilizing for Capitol Action Day, our annual lobbying effort. This year was special. It was different. This was the moment. The window of opportunity.

First we were told to support the governor’s proposal: the Gross Receipts Tax. It had the best chance of passing the legislature. It had Senate President Emil Jones’ support and, besides, the governor said he would veto any income tax increase.

There was talk we were actually for Senator James Meeks’ tax swapping bill 750 before we were against it. But by the time we got to Springfield (sounds like a Jimmy Webb song) we weren’t supporting any specific bill. We were for increased, sustainable funding. But OK. We got the membership moving. Thousands showed up at the Capitol. We bombed our local state senator Kotowski with e-mails and phone calls. The IEA rank-and-file were asked to step up. And we did.

And then…

What happened? Where’d everybody go?

Go to the IEA website and you’ll find some stuff about The Burnham Plan. No more talk about mobilizing the ranks. No more mass lobbying.

Has the IEA’s leadership now changed its strategy? Did we go from a focus on mobilizing the rank-and-file, building a coalition between urban, suburban and downstate organizations involved in public school support to a focus on lobbyists, back-room political deal making, and most disappointingly, a shift to pressing accountability issues in order to prove we deserve the funding?

Please tell me I’m reading this all wrong.

Graft, kickbacks, bribery are a PR problem for the DOE.

spellingsx.jpgMargaret Spellings

Way down at the bottom of the USA Today piece on DOE Secretary Margaret Spelling’s appearance on tonight’s Daily Show is a telling comment from Andrew Rotherham of Education Sector, a right-wing think tank.

Rotherham is quoted as saying that the administration realizes it has “a pretty substantial public relations problem and that they need to get out there and try to turn it around.”

I love it when they call criminal acts a PR problem.

Thinking about Green Dot.

There’s been a lot of discussion around about Green Dot, the non-profit charter operation in LA headed by Steve Barr, former Democratic Party fundraiser and founder of Rock the Vote.

Green Dot doesn’t seem to fit the mold of many charter operations that have earned the suspicion of public school advocates. But it’s a challenge to teacher unions and supporters of public schools to figure it out.

Some issues:

  • Do they support or undermine the public sector of education?
  • Do they support or undermine quality schools in underserved communities?
  • Do the collaborate with or undercut teacher unions and the collective bargaining process?
  • Do they promote or undermine the professional role of teachers?
  • Do they encourage or discourage community and family involvement?
  • Are they held to the same standards as public schools?

Of course, most of these same questions must be asked of public schools.