Three over coffee.

Letizia’s Natural Bakery on Chicago’s Division Street. Summer home of PREA Prez.

The long Chicago nightmare is over. Winter is done. Saturday coffee moves outdoors. No more Peets until Fall. We make our annual shift to Letizia’s Natural Bakery on Division Street where we can sit outside with the baby strollers, dogs and Eastern European guys who smoke at the next table even though that is now against Illinois law. It is true. You can’t even smoke at outside tables.

This morning one guy had two packs of Marlboros and the other guy had three packs of Parliaments stacked on their table. What is that? About $50 in cigarettes. You could fill half a gas tank for that.

McBush gives Obama a gift.

Here’s a winning plan: Get Bush and McCain to focus the election of their accomplishments in Iraq. These past couple of days have demonstrated Obama’s incredible Karma. And a preview of the upcoming campaign.

Gail Collins in the NY Times:

On the one hand, it’s always helpful to hear a candidate’s broad vision. On the other, the vision loses some of its import if you can’t get there from here. Pressed for details on his foreign-policy strategies, McCain said the secret was “setting goals and achieving.” You can just hear the Democrats of 2013 kicking themselves: Goals and achievements! Why didn’t we think of that?

And across the page Bob Herbert quotes the Times reporter, Elisabeth Bumiller (usually a Bush apologist and mouthpiece):

There were no real checkable facts in Mr. McCain’s divination.

What going on in District 207?

District 207 includes Maine South High School. My students all go to Maine South. Like a number of towns in Illinois, Park Ridge is not a unit district. Different school boards for the high schools and for the middle and elementary schools. Different contract. Different teacher union local.

207 teachers have been without a contract for all this past year. The 207 board and Maine Teachers Association have now called in a mediator.

The local paper reports:

Joann Braam, school board president, and Emma Visee, president of the Maine Teachers Association (MTA), which represents the district’s nearly 500 teachers, both said that the marathon negotiations have stalled over a relatively small number of items.

When asked about the potential for a teacher strike, Visee said that it wasn’t even in the MTA’s vocabulary.

Eduwonkette thinks you need a bigger sample size.

There was big media excitement about the study of Teach for America success in North Carolina. The NY Times even editorialized how the study showed that they ought to dump teacher ed programs as a national education policy.

The results suggest that states that want students to do better in math and science need to focus recruitment on more selective colleges instead of on traditional teacher education programs, which are often little more than diploma mills.

Eduwonkette wonders about what conclusions you can draw from this study:

A special shoutout goes to the New York Times editorial board for making national policy recommendations based on the Urban Institute’s study of Teach for America in North Carolina, which included a whopping 69 Teach for America teachers – a .5% sample of all TFA teachers placed during those years.

Did I call Alexander Russo an “a–hole?” Google says “no.”

This came up when I searched Google Image for “asshole.” Kind of looks like Russo.

From Alexander Russo:

Most of all, I’d say that blogging has created a nice sense of collegiality for me even though I’m not in DC anymore (and even though sometimes the collegiality comes in the form of being called an asshole by one or another of the Klonsky brothers).

From my brother at Small Talk:

For the record, my brother and I don’t blog together and I’ve never called Russo, an asshole on my blog. I try to be much more creative in my use of language.

As for me, I can’t absolutely positively say that I never called Russo an asshole. I don’t think I did. I tried going back and looking. I did a word search on “PREA Prez,” “Russo,” and “asshole.” Nothing came up.

However, I did Google “Alexander Russo” and “asshole” and there are 22 results, none having to do with me.

I wonder whose picture would show up if I did a Google Image search for “asshole?”

US Arts debate reported in UK.

The Guardian’s Chris Wilkinson.

Obama brought it up. The recent discussion on the value of Arts Education has traveled across the Atlantic. Chris Wilkinson, who writes on the Arts for the Guardian in the UK, summarized the debate, which can be found here. He includes my response to Alexander Russo’s condescension. He agrees:

These questions will be familiar to anyone who has debated the issues of arts education or arts funding in the UK too. What is also familiar is the dismissive attitude of many who work outside the arts

Chicago runs Wal-Mart out of town.

Bottom feeding, anti-union, and funder of school privatizers, Wal-Mart, has been run out of town, reports the Trib.

Wal-Mart got the word from city officials last month that Mayor Richard Daley doesn’t want to risk a messy showdown with unions over Wal-Mart—like the big-box store battle of 2006—while Chicago is still in the running as a host city for the 2016 Olympics, according to people familiar with the matter. The International Olympic Committee is slated to make that decision in October 2009.

Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

On the untimely death of Jason Gill.

Gabe Lyon is a friend of mine. She runs Project Exploration here in Chicago. Today I received this sad letter from Gabe:


If you read the Chicago Tribune last week you may have come across the following headline followed by a few paragraphs: Chicago man shot to death while standing on his front porch. Jason Gill was murdered. He was 26 years old.

I am writing to you tonight to honor Jason Gill, who was my godson and, more importantly, helped to inspire the creation of Project Exploration.

In a room of 6th graders at Fiske Elementary school, where I first began teaching, Jason was the one student whose spark of curiosity was so strong it carried him out of his seat to get a closer look, to try something himself, to get hands on with the subject matter, to ask questions fearlessly and sincerely…As his interest in art grew he found satisfaction in a passionate pursuit and found confidence and a new voice in drawing and art; as he grew older the voice went verbal and he began to rap…

Jason was one of four students I brought to Big Bend , Texas , in 1997, along with a college class from the University of Chicago . The wonder he and the other students experienced during that trip in no uncertain terms inspired the creation of Project Exploration – a science organization that reaches out specifically to students who aren’t academically successful but who are curious and open-minded…We created an entire organization dedicated to making room for kids like Jason, who get left out, or looked over because they don’t really excel at school, they don’t find success easily but when they do they embrace it and shine…

I brought Jason to Perspectives Charter School for high school because I believed he would thrive in a small environment that focused on knowing its students well. He found success there, though not easily, and he changed all of us in the process. Jason challenged us as caring educators to be our best selves as people; he helped everyone to grow, a little bit, and encouraged us to be curious, and open minded even when the struggles seemed overwhelming.

Jason was complicated, promising, artistic, frustrating, funny, challenging, curious – and shot dead standing on his porch, waiting for a family friend to bring back pizza. There were so many things about Jason’s life beyond his control but in spite of it all Jason inspired people to laugh and love and be their best selves.

I wish he wasn’t dead… and many other things when I think about Jason and his life and his family.

The funeral will be held Saturday, May 17, 2008

Visitation: 10:00 Service: 11:00 St. John Baptist Temple 6145 South Woodlawn – Chicago , IL 60637

Thank you for letting me share a few things about Jason with all of you who care so much about Project Exploration and Fiske school.


This is why Russo is creepy.

Joes Williams of DFER is sniffing around the same fire hydrant.

This is why Alexander Russo is creepy.

He’ll link to a column like this in the LA Times.

Protecting an alleged child molester won’t get you fired from L.A. Unified, but supporting a charter movement will.

Wow! A guy who was a child molester wasn’t fired from the LAUSD, but a charter school advocate was? Why that is outrageous.

Except what do these two cases have to do with each other? Well, they both took place in LA. That’s one thing they have in common. They both took place in this century. That’s another thing they have in common. Uh. Oh, they both involved people who worked in the LAUSD. Hmmm. Anything else. Uh. No, not really.

Are people who are against charters for child molesting? Against child molesting: For charters?

Charters and child molesting. Good work, Russo. Thanks for bringing this brilliant yet meaningless relationship to our attention.

And sniffing at the same fire hydrant is DFER’s Joe Williams.