Springfield Update from IEA.

Today, the IEA posted this latest report on their website:

Despite rumors a one-year budget would be passed out of the Illinois Senate, it doesn’t appear there are sufficient votes for that plan. The budget would be balanced with gambling expansion and loophole closings, however, the internal politics that have permeated the Senate all session long may prevent this bill from passing.

The bill includes a $900 million increase for education and the education component is viewed by many of the members of the General Assembly as one of the key motives for the budget idea. In fact, several legislators have been holding back on supporting the health insurance plan until they see some progress on education funding. President Jones’ “bottom line” on an education funding increase is said to be $900 million, with 20 percent of that going to the Chicago public school system.

Finally, next week there will be a Committee of Whole in the House to discuss, you guessed it, education! Stay tuned.

Getting Extra Credit.

Thanks to James Forman Jr. for putting PREA Prez on his blogroll. As is tradition his blog is now on mine and I encourage you to visit Extra Credit. Forman is involved in charter schools in Washington DC. His blog deals with schools, race and social justice issues.

Rotherham: We claim the legacy and name of Cesar Chavez. (Updated)


Mexican-American hero and Union Man, Cesar Chavez.

Andy Rotherham of Eduwonk hates teacher unions. That’s a given.

But that in no way gives him permission to lie about the work of a great man, a Union Man.

I grew up in California. As a teenager I rode in car pools and car caravans to Salinas and Delano and Fresno to support the United Farm Workers. The fight to organize farm workers into the United Farm Workers union in the fields of California, along with the fight to end the war in Vietnam and the Southern Civil Rights Movement, were the great moral battles of the era.

Cesar Chavez, the leader of the UFW, was a Union Man.

No doubt.

But Andy Rotherham wants us to believe, like some BS death bed confession story, that Chavez once told a school choice guy in 1979, that he, Chavez, supported choice schools but was bribed by the AFT to keep quiet. Bribed for $200,000.

Chavez. The guy who stood up to the goons of the agri-business giants and county sheriffs and anti-union thugs was bought for a couple of bucks.

And then he reaches for that old American racist argument. Rotherham says that those who have exposed him and the other school privateers for desecrating the names of Chavez and Dr. Martin Luther King by naming non-union schools after them, that somehow we believe :

Anglo teachers’ union professionals have more claim on the legacy and name of Cesar Chavez than, just for instance, the daughter of Mexican migrant workers.

If the guy ever came close to a teacher union member or a teacher union professional (let alone immigrant farmworkers) he would see:

1. That all teacher union members and professionals aren’t Anglo.
2. That we do have a claim on the legacy and name of Cesar Chavez.

He was a Union Man.


Leo Casey responds to Rotherham:

Over at Eduwonk, Andy Rotherham thinks it is “preposterous” to suggest that unions have more of “a claim” on the legacy of Cesar Chavez than an anti-union Chicana daughter of migrant workers. But this is precisely the sort of shallow identity politics that Chavez so strongly opposed — the notion that one’s ethnic identity, one’s parentage, is more important than one’s substantive politics and one’s actual work in the world. Chavez’s unambiguous stand on this question was exactly the point of the anecdote I cited in the original post. The notion that Chavez would lend his name to an enterprise that opposes the right of its employees to organize into an union and bargain collectively, whether those employees be farmworkers or teachers, is one that can only rest on a complete misunderstanding of his life’s work for justice for all working people. The argument that he would have foregone the core principles of that life’s work simply because opposition to them came from a Chicana is beyond incredulous. There are also a great many teacher unionists of Latin American descent, including notable AFT leaders, who would take considerable exception to the notion that the union to which they belong is an “Anglo” institution.
Further, the notion that Chavez was a man whose principles could be bought for any amount of money, much less for $200,000 a year of AFT support for the United Farmworkers, is completely scurrilous. He led a life of great sacrifice for La Causa. Union solidarity may be a foreign concept to some, but in the AFT, it is a principle we hold dear — and that it why we have supported the UFW and other unions, when we could. We are proud of our solidarity work. That the claim of Chavez’s silence for money comes in the form of a report of a rumor of a personal conversation — none of it in the slightest verifiable — says just about everything that needs to be said on the subject.

And at Small Talk, my brother’s blog where the issue was first exposed:

Remember, I raised the question of how a school named after the great union leader Chavez, could bar teachers from union membership, even fire teachers because they tried to unionize, as they did at Cesar Chavez Academy in Detroit. Leo Casey at Edwize along with my brother PREAPres, picked up the story and deepened it. This led Andrew Rotherham at Eduwonk to go ballistic.

“It’s preposterous,” sputtered Rotherham, that anyone would dare challenge a charter school’s anti-union policies, especially one where he sits on the board of directors. Rotherham even tried to paint Chavez himself as a sellout who, he claims, told a choice advocate back in 1979, that he secretly supported a policy, but was afraid to say so because “the American Federation of Teachers would cut off his $200,000 yearly subsidy.”

A Chicago Conversation with Steve Barr of Green Dot, the CTU and the IEA.


August 15th at 6:30 p.m.

Chicago Conversation with Steve Barr, CEO of Green Dot Public Schools


“If union bosses start patrolling their hallways, that’ll be the death knell of charters, as it has been for public schools.”
–Charter school advocate Clint Bolick

“We could have and probably should have organized the Green Dot schools…They started with one charter school, now have 10, and in short order they’ll have 20 schools in Los Angeles, with all the teachers paying dues to a different union. And that’s a problem.”
–UTLA President A.J. Duffy

Chicago charter school teachers are currently barred by law from joining the Chicago Teachers Union. Charter laws in many states also deny teachers collective bargaining rights. But in Los Angeles, maverick Steve Barr founded the Green Dot Public Schools, which currently operate 10 high-performing, unionized public charter high schools. They are about to start a new high school in N.Y. in partnership with teachers union president Randi Weingarten. Is Chicago next?

The Small Schools Workshop, in collaboration with National-Louis University, presents a panel discussion with Green Dot CEO Steve Barr and leaders from both the CTU and the IEA, to explore the future of charter schools and teacher unions in Chicago and other Illinois districts.

WHEN: Wednesday, August 15, 2007 6:30 – 8:30 pm

WHERE: National-Louis University downtown campus, 122 S. Michigan Avenue, 2nd floor Atrium

This event is free of charge and open to the public.
For additional information please call: 773-384-1030

Rotherham Watch


Rotherham Watch

Timing is everything Andy.

On today’s Eduwonk you post a snide one-liner dismissing a Thornburg Center article about how NCLB has had a negative impact on environmental education.

Global Warming: Relax, your carbon footprint is not the problem…it’s No Child Left Behind.

The silly (according to Rotherham) Thornburg Center post says:

School systems have shortened recess and physical education to meet the needs of NCLB.

There is no significant mention of environmental education in NCLB, the dominant policy shaping virtually all short and long term, local, state and federal education decisions. In fact, environmental education is not even organized under the U.S. Department of Education at the federal level.

Instead, the office of environmental education is part of the U.S. EPA. While the administration may have a new focus on science and NCLB, that focus is on global economic leadership and homeland security.

In fact, the crucial environmental issues facing our society are not even mentioned.

How ironic it is then that Sam Dillon in today’s NY Times reports on a study by the Center for Economic Policy that says (what!?) the very same thing:

The report, by the Center on Education Policy, a Washington group that studies the law’s implementation in school districts nationwide, said that about 44 percent of districts have cut time from one or more subjects or activities in elementary schools to extend time for longer daily math and reading lessons. Among the subjects or activities getting less attention since the law took effect in 2002 are science, social studies, art and music, gym, lunch and recess, the report said.

The report, based on a survey of nearly 350 of the nation’s 15,000 districts, said 62 percent of school districts had increased daily class time in reading and math since the law took effect.

Within a year of the law’s implementation, teachers and their associations were reporting that schools and districts were suggesting or requiring that they spend more time on reading and math to improve test scores, and that they cut back time spent on other disciplines.

So Andy, let me explain it to you. At the risk of being attacked as a post modernist by you again, our carbon footprint and what we teach our children can (what!? Get outta here!) be related.

Stuff I found while drinking my morning coffee.

24charter600.jpgÀnimo Inglewood, a Green Dot charter school.

Internet Filtering

If you have ever had your class doing internet research and the filter keeps jamming you up, you will resonate to Andy Carvin’s piece on his blog, Learning.now.

Green Dot on the front page of the NY Times

Ed bloggers have been talking about Green Dot and unions for months. The NY Times just noticed it.

And so has the anti-teacher union wing-nuts. The Fordham Foundation blogger and Darth Vadar of privatization, Checker Finn is concerned about the coziness between Barr and teacher unions.

Illinois to ban teacher strikes?

The Sun-Times reports that there is talk in Springfield (how do they have time? Shouldn’t they be working on school funding?) of legislation to outlaw teacher strikes. It is aimed at Chicago teachers who are in the middle of negotiations. But as bad as that is, only a fool would think it would stop there.

More on using union heroes’ names for union busting charter schools

My brother Mike’s Small Talk brought it up yesterday. I linked it to Rotherham Watch. Now Leo Casey follows up in a very personal post on Edwize. He writes:

There is an incredibly thin, transparent veneer to the right wing rhetoric in education which seizes the mantle of the civil rights movement. The notion that Chavez would have given a moment of his day, much less his good name, to an anti-union institution is shameless.

Southtown’s Kadner gets it right, again.


Daily Southtown’s Phil Kadner.

The Daily Southtown gets it right again. Compared to the Trib (is that really praise?) this guy understands school funding:

You would be hard pressed to find any elected official in Springfield who would tell you they would like to destroy the lives of thousands of children.

But that’s just what these people have done over the past 15 years.

In the meantime, people like the governor would tell you they’re opposed to an income tax hike because the working man is already carrying too much of a financial burden.

Well, one of the reasons working stiffs are carrying such a heavy financial burden is that they’re paying a higher property tax each year.

And the property tax keeps going up to support the schools because the leaders of this state, while fattening their own wallets and those of their friends in the business world, have refused to open the state purse strings to adequately fund the schools.

It’s truly amazing how much political juice the folks in Springfield have squeezed out of the education turnip.

Jones knows one thing for certain. If he passes a bill out of the Senate now, it will be dead on arrival in the House, where Madigan and Republicans can kill it.

And even if it passes out of the House, the governor has vowed to veto the bill.

Calling these people “useless” may be too kind.

They’ve done real harm to the children and taxpayers of this state.

Tribune on school funding: Don’t need it.

You might think that the difference between today’s Tribune front page and its editorial page is an example of bi-polar disorder, except it would be an affront to people with bi-polar disorder.

The headline above the fold: Critical Mass for Budget.

“Schools first in line to feel logjam’s pain,” is the subhead.

As many as 141 districts across 31 mostly Downstate counties may not have enough cash and have to borrow money, costing them more, Koch said.

“If we don’t have a full budget, a school budget or a monthly extension by that time, the first place you’ll feel it will be in the school system,” said Rep. Frank Mautino (D-Spring Valley).

The Chicago Public Schools district is in labor negotiations, and the knowledge of how much money is available can be critical in contract talks with teachers

But turn to the editorial page and you leave the “good Trib” and find the “bad Trib.”

In the past six months, something quiet yet significant has happened in this state’s education debate. For the first time in memory, education and political leaders have started shifting away from the usual “more money” mantra and talking in a more sophisticated way about which strategies work best to improve student learning. How to spend money wisely. How to assure taxpayers of results in exchange for greater investment.

For the past six months the legislature has been shifting from the “more money mantra?”

Boy, I’ll say!