“By the way, I have a pet theory about Alberto Gonzales: I’ve always believed that the reason the President called Gonzales Fredo was that when they first met, Bush incorrectly believed that Gonzales’ first name was Alfredo, and Gonzales was too much of a toady to correct him. I meant to download that theory before it was too late, and the good news is, where this administration is concerned, it’s never going to be too late. It will live forever.”

-Nora Ephron

Once again the issue of retention.


Once again we revisit the issue of teacher retention. The NY Times has a story by education writer Sam Dillon.

While some school critics who blog continue to put their heads in the sand, among other places, arguing over whether thirty percent  or fifty percent of teachers are leaving the profession, the Times suggests that there is a flood of teachers leaving.

Dillon pins the problem to two things: Baby Boomer teachers hitting retirement age (Oh! That would be me!) and what Dillon calls “the stress of working in low performing schools.”

Talk about your euphemisms.

Would I be taking a risk in suggesting that the “stress of working in low performing schools,” is spelled N-C-L-B?

PS: Leo at Edwize makes a similar point.



“Yes the Democrats in Congress took advantage of a deeply unpopular lame duck president by caving into his every whim and agreeing to allow the attorney general to spy on Americans without a warrant.”

-Bill Maher

Blago’s line-item veto hits schools hard.


Blago takes his hatchet to school funding.

While the budget that came out of the legislature was terrible over all, the early hope was that at least schools came out with something.

The IEA said that they were glad there was more money going to education, although their campaign for a sustainable funding source and equity in funding failed to win the support of the hacks that sit in the house and senate chambers.

But it’s really worse than that now that Blago has wielded his axe.

Check out how the governor’s line-item veto goes after schools here. And the IEA’s analysis can be found here.

Three over coffee.


  • Dr. Homeslice isn’t from Illinois. But I won’t hold that against him. He’s starting up his strike watch and he’s added Rockford to the list, which is just up the road from Chicago. They’ve taken a strike authorization vote.
  • The NY Times is reporting on the controversy over a Hebrew-English charter school in Florida.

“Charter schools have greater autonomy than a school being run by the Board of Education,” said Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League. “Let’s give it a shot, but let’s watch it very, very carefully.”

I have an idea. Since anti-Arab groups forced out Debbie Almontaser as principal of the Arab-English New Visions school in New York, replaced  by an orthodox Jewish principal with no experience in Arab culture or language, why not hire Debbie as the principal at Ben Gamla in Hollywood, Florida? Let’s give it a shot.

  • IEA explains what now since Blago signed the budget.

Speaking up for my neighborhood.


I’ve lived in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago for 32 years. It’s a predominantly working-class Latino community and it’s home. My kids grew up here. It took me 15 years to buy a house here, but we own one now. Or the bank does. But you get the idea.

Two weeks ago I was at the Palmer Square Arts Fair, a local annual event. I was working the table for the Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail, a group and a project I’ve posted about before. Sitting at the table on a beautiful Saturday afternoon reminded me of what I love about the place: The old guys playing dominoes on card tables on the other side of the park, the smell of arroz con gandules made rich by its aromatic sofrito being sold from the food booth, the elote cart painted radiant blue, the young couples drinking beer at the stand sponsored by Dunlay’s. Megan, my table partner, brings back a mango on a stick, sliced like a golden flower and flavored with lime juice almost too juicy to eat.

Also that week the Chicago Reader, a weekly paper that long ago lost any reality of being “alternative,” did a first section feature on Logan Square. Articles on local architecture, politics, history and lists of restaurants and shops. It was kind of cool to have my neighborhood featured that way.

But this week’s Chicago Reader has a letter from Jesse Mumm, who is identified as “Anthropologist.” Jesse is indeed an anthropologist. But Jesse was a kid down the block, who was and still remains a good friend of my kids. So, I’ve known Jesse Mumm for most of his thirtyfive years.

Jesse’s letter brings a special insight that the Chicago Reader missed about Logan Square.

The articles got many things right, but they mostly missed the Latino community, who remain 65 percent of the people of Logan Square. That omission would be pretty unconscionable in Chinatown or Devon or Paseo Boricua, but gets a pass here because the real-estate boosters have done their work and sold us an image in which most of the neighbors cannot find themselves—except as backdrop. We are reading an imbalanced landscape, through the eyes of gentrification. The real one is much more interesting.

Thanks Jesse.

Winds. Rain. Power out. Trees down. School closed.


At 3:25 yesterday the storm hit with just a few minutes warning. We gathered the kids in the basement as the warning alarms went off. I manned the North door to let parents know that we weren’t releasing them until we got the all clear. Most were pleased we had a plan.

By 4:30 I was driving home, winding my way around downed trees and through intersections with no traffic lights.

There are two big trees on the parkway in front of my house. Both were standing when I got home. There was a big branch on the front gate.

There was no food in the house, so we waited for the second wave of storms to pass and then we went to the neighborhood place for sushi. We were not alone. The tables were full of other neighbors.

At 6:15 this morning, the phone rang. The automated message said there was no school today. I had left for school at six.