For some it’s a (rich man’s) hobby.


If you spend too much time reading the education think-tank blogs and web sites (and I admit that sometimes I do), you come to think there are alternate education universes.

There are those whose only qualification for sitting on these think-tanks’ boards of directors is that they are rich. Hedge fund managers and capital investment managers with too much time on their hands.

It’s kind of a hobby, you know what I mean. As if it were a choice between school reform or fantasy football.

And that doesn’t include those whose investments are schools, often urban schools, where you might be surprised to know big money can be made.

And then there are the teachers and the kids and the schools. These are the places where those who write the dry, no affect, passionless analysis never go. These think-tank bloggers, who add up the positives and negatives of federal laws as if they were dollar entries on a bookkeeper’s balance sheet, never actually see these places.

Places like Lockport in Chicago’s south suburbs.

Definitely two universes.

That didn’t look pretty.


Marilyn Stewart and the House of Delegates.

It’s not my contract. I haven’t seen it. I don’t get to vote on it. And I don’t have to work under its agreements.

But the members do.

Whatever happens, it wasn’t a pretty picture Friday night. It would be kind to say the vote was taken by the House of Delegates of the Chicago Teachers Union in an unusual sort of way. Even by the rough and tumble standards of Chicago elections.

Reported the Sun-Times:

CTU President Marilyn Stewart said she only called a yes vote –with members standing to signal support — because that’s all that the rules required. A follow-up “no” vote wasn’t called, she said, because the rules only call for a majority, and after the yes vote, some members already began leaving the hall.

Sure. OK.

Called a “sourpuss.” I’m shattered.


I know. This is a platypus. I couldn’t find a picture of a sourpuss.

Joe Williams from Democrats for Education Reform called me a sourpuss.

I’m shattered. But with the support of my family, I can put the pieces of my life back together.

So, in response, I would just like to say:

  • I know you are, but what am I?
  • Yo mama.
  • That’s not what your wife says.
  • No. You’re a sourpuss.
  • I may be a sourpuss, but you still said, “methinks.”
  • Na na na na na.


  • Oh yea. I’d rather be a sourpuss and be right than a big fat liar like you and be wrong.

Now that that’s over here’s what’s up with Joe and DFER.

What got them all riled up with the schoolyard name calling was my suggestion that there’s not one charter movement. There’s two.

They like the one that is aimed at undermining the public system and opposes teacher union organization.

I support the one that sees itself as supporting public school improvement and wants to collaborate with teachers and teacher unions in that effort.

They want a continuation of the Bush education policies, and want the Democrats to adopt those policies.

I think the Bush education policies have been a disaster for public education and am not interested in a Democratic Party that is Bush Lite or Bush Worse.

Look. I’m a teacher of kids who has had to work under these policies for the past seven years. Who wouldn’t be a little sour and grumpy?

Three over coffee.


I’m out here across the Big Lake for the last weekend of the summer. Although I’ve been back teaching for two weeks, this is really the end of it. We pack up the rental and head home for keeps on Monday. One last cup of coffee on the screen porch.

  • JD2718 ponders the relationship between a lengthening school year and a comparatively shrinking salary.
  • Condi is looking for a job and Stanford professors (she was formerly the provost at Stanford) don’t want one of the architects of the Iraq fiasco back on the faculty. Let me be clear. I think I can speak for the faculty at my school. We don’t want her either. I know that we’re a K-5 elementary. But we have ethical standards too.
  • Sports writer Dave Zirin writes from New Orleans:

I was in the Big Easy as an invited speaker at a conference of NOLA bloggers called Rising Tide II. In most cities, bloggers practice a peculiar virtual cannibalism, tearing each other apart for sport. But at Rising Tide, among people young and old, black and white, I saw my first glimpse of what can be termed blogger solidarity. It stemmed, as one told me, from “the necessity of coming together after Katrina.” They referred to each other in conversation by their blog names, more colorful than the mobsters in the film Goodfellas. There was Danger Blonde, MD Filter, my unflappable guide, Liprap, and Mom’n’em. (Mom’n’em is a man. The handle comes from a matriarchal New Orleans phrase. Instead of asking, “How’s the family?” You say, “How’s Mom’n’em?”)

A growing non-concensus on NCLB.


George Miller.

You have to figure that in the days since Congressman George Miller’s rough draft of a new NCLB, the best you can say is that there is no concensus on its future.

Those who have been predicting no changes and two more years of the present law are looking prescient.

In the story here, I had to laugh at the two national union responses:

Edward J. McElroy, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said, “This draft encourages a serious discussion of reauthorization.”

The National Education Association, the other national teachers union, which has been implacably critical of the law, said it would withhold comment on the draft until it finished polling its local delegates.

I got the e-mail. Sure. I’m writing my recommendations as soon as I finish this post. Not.

Some NCLB critics I’ve read seem to see Miller’s draft as a give-in to corporate and right-wing interests. I’m not so sure. I tend to see it as a signal of deep divisions over how to proceed. This results in a goulash proposal, a mess of contradictory and irreconcilable ideas, satisfying nobody. There is no national political consensus other then that the present law is a failure. No agreement on the fix. Shades of Iraq.

Andy’s friend, “Poor” Whitney.


Whitney Tilson.

Why do these guys always cry poverty? In response to Small Talk, Whitney says:

“Trying to make a killing in the charter school business”?! Yeah, that’s right, the charter school business is so profitable that I’m telling all my friends in the hedge fund business that they’re in the wrong business. My message: “If you really want to make a lot of money, start a charter school!” LOL!

There’s a start of a conversation you never hear in the teachers’ lounge: “As I was telling my friends in the hedge fund business…”

And besides, making money doesn’t seem to be Whitney’s problem.



A message from the Illinois Arts Alliance:

Dear Friend in the Arts,

We must act now to send a powerful message to Governor Rod Blagojevich, Senate President Emil Jones, House Speaker Michael Madigan, and other state lawmakers that the arts are not pork!

The Governor’s FY08 spending plan calls for a dramatic 35% cut (over $7 million) to the Illinois Arts Council (IAC) budget. This decrease in funding will undoubtedly have a devastating impact to the arts statewide and significantly reduce the funds available for IAC grant programs. Furthermore, the Governor completely eliminated the Arts and Foreign Language grant program through the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE).

This dangerous decision will have very negative implications for all the people of Illinois. Support from the Illinois Arts Council is crucial to the success of artists, arts organizations, and entities providing arts programming throughout the state. Strategic investments made by the Illinois Arts Council to community theaters, dance studios, schools, local festivals, libraries, museums, and park districts enhance our overall quality of life and have a significant impact on the economic health and vitality of the state – creating jobs, boosting tourism, and revitalizing downtowns.

The budget approved by the legislature on August 10, 2007 would have increased the Illinois Arts Council’s budget by $3.6 million from last year?s budget level and brought us very close to our goal: a budget of $24 million for the Illinois Arts Council, or $2 per person, per year in Illinois. The budget also would have increased the Arts and Foreign Language grant program at ISBE to over $6 million in FY08 to assist school districts in providing valuable arts and foreign language programming.

The Illinois Arts Alliance is moving forward with an aggressive campaign to restore full funding for the Illinois Arts Council and arts and foreign language education funding at the Illinois State Board of Education. We NEED your help now more than ever before!

Please tell Governor Blagojevich, senate and house leadership, and your state lawmakers TODAY how essential the arts are to you and your community.

We have made it extremely easy for you to effectively advocate for the arts. Here is what we are asking you to do:
1) Write two letters to lawmakers using the talking points provided in the links below:
a. One requesting that funding for the Illinois Arts Council be restored to $23.2 million as proposed by the General Assembly on August 10, 2007

b. The other urging lawmakers to restore funding to the Arts and Foreign Language grant program through the Illinois State Board of Education. Click

2) Make two phone calls to the numbers listed below expressing your concern with the proposed budget cuts to the arts and urging that funding be fully restored for the Illinois Arts Council and the Illinois State Board of Education?s Arts and Foreign Language grant program.

a) Ginger Ostro
Budget Director for Governors Office of Management and Budget 312-814-0023
b) Governor Rod Blagojevich 312-814-2121 (Chicago) OR 217-558-0880 (Springfield)
While the road ahead is rocky, together we can restore full funding for the arts in Illinois! Should you have any questions or concerns please contact me at 312-855-3105 ext 14 or email
Ra Joy
Executive Director
Illinois Arts Alliance