Illinois schools sue Rauner over failure to provide adequate school funding.


If your child is in second grade she will be handed a diploma and graduate from high school before the goal of adequate school funding in the state is achieved, even following the passage of this year’s school funding bill

Dusty Rhodes of Illinois Public Radio reports:

A group of school superintendents is suing Gov. Bruce Rauner and the State of Illinois seeking more than $7 billion for schools.

Last August, Illinois adopted a new school funding plan. It’s called the “evidence-based model” because it’s calculated using dozens of metrics to determine how much money each district needs to provide kids with a good education. The State Board of Education, known as ISBE, says the total cost would be $7.2 billion. Lawmakers planned to get to that number over time, by appropriating around $350 million per year over the next decade.

But Dan Cox, superintendent of Staunton District 6, says schools that have been starved for cash for years want it now.

“We’re seeking a judgment of $7.2 billion in [fiscal year 20] 19 … to reflect the amount ISBE has always said is the amount required by Article X of the constitution,” Cox says. “We can’t wait for the General Assembly at some future date to appropriate these funds.”

The 22 schools districts are represented by Chicago attorney Thomas Geoghegan.

Geohegan says he believes the suit will remind legislators that school funding has to be priority.

I had plenty of concerns about the school funding bill, even though I encouraged lawmakers to approve it over Rauner’s veto.

Like the superintendents, I felt the length of time to achieve adequacy was simply too long.

While some applauded the inclusion of an evidence-based model and said it represented a significant breakthrough, I had my doubts. While it provides concrete evidence showing the difference between actual spending and adequate spending, few districts in the state approach adequate spending even after the bill was passed.

The bill’s sponsors such as Senator Daniel Biss and Senator Andy Manar claimed it addressed equity by shifting some dollars to poorer districts in the state. Without significantly more new dollars, I am skeptical that you can have real equity without state-wide adequate education funding.

Ten years to wait for adequacy.

If it is your second grade daughter, ten years is all she has left in school.

Study: 2013 School closings hurt Chicago’s children. But CPS CEO Janice Jackson says she will not be deterred from closing schools.

Photo credit: Fred Klonsky. May 2013.

Previous research warned Rahm and CPS that closings would hurt Chicago’s students.

Parents and teachers said the same thing.

Thousands marched in the streets in opposition to Rahm’s plan to shutter 300 and then finally 50 schools.

But Rahm and CPS would not be deterred.

Five years later a ground-breaking study by the University of Chicago’s Consortium on School Research again said what we all knew.

Jesse Sharkey, vice president of the Chicago Teachers Union said the report validates that the closures were marred by chaos, a desperate lack of resources, lost libraries and labs, grief, trauma, damaging disruption, and a profound disrespect for the needs of low-income black students and the educators who teach them.

WBEZ’s Sarah Karp:

Interviews (by the researchers) paint a damning picture of a chaotic process where even fundamental tasks were flubbed as CPS rushed to close and merge schools in just three months. CPS voted to close the schools in late May, 2013. Principals and staff told researchers that textbooks and instructional materials were lost in the move. And, when staff arrived in August to open the school year, some of the receiving schools were unclean and upgrades were unfinished.

“Ultimately, teachers and staff in the six schools interpreted these losses as a sign that the district did not respect staff or care about the students in these schools. As one teacher explained, ‘CPS doesn’t care. They just don’t care, and it shows,’” according to the report.

As for the technology and new programming, staff appreciated the investment, but many of the schools were not able to sustain them because of budget cuts. Schools got new iPads, which were a hit with students and staff, but there was little training on how to use them for instructional purposes.

The year after the merger, teachers also reported a spike in “conflict and disorder,” and students said there was more bullying and fights. Over time, it lessened but did not return to the levels before the the closing, according to the study.  

It was not just staff and students from closed schools that were affected. The study found that students in the receiving schools also suffered. More than expected transferred out of the receiving schools in the year of the school mergers.

Lesson learned?

Not a chance.

The latest CPS CEO, Janice Jackson, called what happened “unacceptable.”

But said the outcome will not deter her from closing schools in the future.

Defending stupid. It’s not even better than nothing.

This is the defense of a bad idea. It is the perfect metaphor for corporate school reform.

No actual defense is provided.

“Make students take tests all the time.”

But there’s no evidence that it improves teaching and learning.

“Better idea? I’m all ears.”

“Replace public schools with charter schools.”

But there’s no evidence that it improves teaching and learning.

“Better idea? I’m all ears.”

And now there’s this:

Basically Cunningham and Duncan want to close schools to prevent gun violence.

But there is no evidence to support this.

“Better idea. I’m all ears.”

It’s not even better than nothing.


Parents keep the kids home to protest gun violence? These school reformers should just keep their brilliant ideas to themselves for a while. Their record isn’t good.

Screen Shot 2018-05-21 at 7.45.24 AM

School reformers Arne Duncan and Peter Cunningham have a new idea.

Lord, help us.

They have launched a Twitter campaign for parents to keep their kids out of  schools to protest gun violence. Most of America’s students are in public schools.

American gun violence is far to common. Guns are way too available. Politicians are too timid and afraid of the NRA.

Cunningham and Duncan’s Twitter plan is not as stupid as the conclusion that gun violence in schools is the result of too many doors.

But it is close.

For many Chicago young people, their public school is among the safest places Chicago parents can send their children each day.

But more to the point, those like Cunningham and Duncan have a dismal history in proposing ideas for public school parents and  as public policy for others to follow.

Carol Burris does an excellent job in laying out their sordid history of failed policy ideas in her recent Washington Post column hosted by Valerie Strauss.

This is not the first time Cunningham and Duncan have targeted public schools with proposals that are not in the interest of parents or students.

I recall Duncan’s praise for Hurrican Katrina when it wiped out New Orlean’s public schools.

Carol Burris:

Then there’s Peter Cunnigham, who is executive director of Education Post, a reform website/news agency that has received millions in funding from the Gates foundation. Prior to EdPost, he worked for Duncan when Duncan led the Chicago public school district. He later moved with Duncan to the Obama administration.

Cunningham tells us not to blame any of the reforms he and his team of bloggers espouse.  In 2016, he told us what we need is “more rigor” and higher standards when twelfth-grade NAEP scores came out. On April 20, 2018, like Duncan, Cunningham blamed politics — specifically unions and local boards of education — for the lackluster NAEP scores.

Yet just 10 days later, Education Post attributed the rise of Florida scores to the very same policies that Cunningham tells us not to blame for the drops and stalls in other states.

I don’t know what the solution to gun violence is. It seems as if most of the current laws being proposed are too weak, even as the NRA opposes them.

That Cunningham and Duncan (who never sent his own kids to Chicago public schools in the first place) should call for targeting schools is not surprising.

They both have made careers of it.

Sunday, bloody Sunday.


The week’s drawings.MILWAUKEENCVIETNAM:GAZAJackson StateTlatelolco


This week’s Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers with guest Nathan Ryan of the Grassroots Collaborative.



This week’s Tweets.


Blog posts.

Is the Obama Presidential Center a land grab?

I paid into Social Security for 18 years and today they just handed me a bill for $59 a month.

It was 1968. I was twenty and to my knowledge I had only met three Muslims. And only one was an American.

Can I get a witness? Illinois has not paid the teacher retirement health system in 17 months. $10 million short a month.

What’s THIS? Illinois hasn’t paid its health care bill for retired teachers in 17 months. Rauner wants the payments to stop entirely.

Just like our teacher pension, retirees paid what we owed for health care and the state didn’t. But Governor Rauner got what he wanted.

Trump, Pruitt and the EPA. There’s killer asbestos loose on north Michigan Avenue.

More on state payments to TRIP.

IEA takes credit for TRIP payment and credits bipartisanship and their seat at the table. Baloney.

Illinois State Comptroller Susana Mendoza’s office responds to my concerns about retired teacher health payments.

Illinois State Comptroller Susana Mendoza’s office responds to my concerns about retired teacher health payments.

Abdon Pallasch. Director of Communications. Illinois Comptroller’s office.


We can agree on the cause of the delayed payments to the Teacher Health Insurance Security Fund and many other deserving funds around the state: Governor Rauner’s manufactured budget crisis. The most prominent voice exposing Governor Rauner’s attacks on worthy institutions around the state belongs to Comptroller Susana Mendoza.

The state of Illinois continues to deal with a fiscal crisis that resulted from the lack of a complete budget for two years, during which the estimated backlog of bills had more than tripled by the end of FY 2017 and reached an all-time high of $16.7 billion later in the year. The passage of the fiscal year 2018 budget did not mean an immediate reversal of the damage that was done from the budget impasse.

On a daily basis, the Office of the Comptroller continues to triage outstanding vouchers and transfers given limited resources in the state treasury. Throughout fiscal year 2018, despite facing substantial backlogs, we continue to make critical payments for pension contributions to the Teachers’ Retirement System and grant payments to K-12 schools, including funds through the Evidence-Based Funding formula. The office also paid the second quarter mandated categorical grants in April – several months earlier than the previous fiscal year. In addition to these payments, our office has been able to make $36.5 million in transfers to the Teacher Health Insurance Security Fund.

Benefitting from additional receipts coming into the state treasury in the spring, and after seeing some stabilization in the state’s finances, the Office of the Comptroller provided $18.3 million to the Teacher Health Insurance Security Fund in March from the General Revenue Fund, and two additional monthly transfers, each at $9.1 million, were processed in April and May. It is our understanding that other deposits into the fund are made on an ongoing basis and that services to members have not been disrupted.

The Office is working with limited state resources to address more than $2.1 billion in fund transfers that are still pending, while facing an estimated $7.3 billion bill backlog today. The decision to release these payments, and future payments, is solely dependent on the availability of state funds. It should be noted that the Office has even older transfer requests from fiscal year 2016 that we are working to address. The Office will continue to inform the Teachers’ Retirement System and Central Management Services on the ongoing condition of state finances and further provide the status of pending transfers.

All required payments owed to the Teacher Health Insurance Security Fund will be paid. We are hopeful that the Legislature will insist, once again, that having a complete 12-month budget for fiscal year 2019 is essential for the state of Illinois. Once the Office reviews a final fiscal year 2019 budget, we will be better able to develop a path to make the payments owed by the state.

Abdon Pallasch

Dir. of Communications

Office of the Comptroller

IEA takes credit for TRIP payment and credits bipartisanship and their seat at the table. Baloney.

The Illinois Education Association took full credit for a payment to the Teacher Health Insurance System (THIS) and to the Teacher Retirement Insurance Program (TRIP) following the reveal by the Illinois Retired Teachers Association (IRTA) and by this and other pension bloggers that no state contribution has been made since January of 2017. At the time of the recent payment retirees were owed nearly $140 million. The unpaid debt is now larger in spite of the back payment.

Prior to today, no mention of the shortfall had been reported by the IEA or the Illinois Federation of Teachers to its active or retired members.

Meanwhile I received a call from Comptroller Mendoza’s office that  payments of $18 million in March; $9 million in April and another $9 million this month were just made.

Those payments are credited to unpaid bills for January through March of 2017. That means the state is still 19 months behind in its payments to THIS and TRIP

In the IEA statement, no mention is made of Governor Rauner’s unconstitutional attempt to cut the state subsidy to TRIP and no mention of the continuing financial crisis the state faces because of Rauner’s policies. There is no mention of other dependent groups that remain unfunded as a result of the Governor forcing Comptroller Mendoza to engage in what her office calls “triage.”

They suggest that the payments were made because of their “great working relationship” with Comptroller Mendoza, as if the Comptroller can make money magically appear.


Here is the IEA’s message.

Comptroller Mendoza reports $36.5 million transferred to TRIP/TRAIL
Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza clearly understands the importance of the TRIP/TRAIL health insurance program to the members of the IEA and told IEA President Kathi Griffin on Friday that $36.5 million was recently transferred to TRIP/TRAIL because she wanted to protect the retirement security of retired educators. The IEA and the comptroller’s staff have a great working relationship and this was a sign of the strength of that relationship.Delayed TRIP/TRAIL payments
The issue of delayed state payments to TRIP/TRAIL has raised the concerns of some retired members. Despite the delay, IEA members participating in TRIP/TRAIL have not experienced any problems with their health insurance coverage. The IEA continues to work to make certain that the retiree health insurance program receives every penny it is owed by the state. This is a huge issue for the IEA since our members, active and retired, continue to pay every penny they owe to maintain the stability of the program. President Griffin was in direct communication on Thursday with Comptroller Mendoza to convey the concerns of the IEA and to work through the issue to be certain that TRIP/TRAIL receives all of the state funding that has been appropriated to it for the benefit of retired teachers.Funding for the Teachers’ Retirement Insurance Program (TRIP/TRAIL) remains IEA priority
The IEA has been working to ensure that TRIP/TRAIL continues to receive full funding from the state. On Thursday, President Griffin met with Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) and Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) to stress the importance of funding the insurance program for our retired members. The IEA is uniquely positioned at the Statehouse because of the strong bipartisan relationships it has built on both sides of the aisle through both the Government Relations Department staff and through the activism of its members. This positioning allows the IEA to talk directly to leaders in both political parties. President Griffin’s message was clear – the $120 million owed to TRIP/TRAIL in the upcoming fiscal year must be funded. TRIP/TRAIL receives funding from four sources: active teachers, school districts, the state and retiree insurance premiums.

As the legislative session nears its end, the IEA is committed to keeping members apprised of issues that will impact them and the students they educate.



Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers. Episode 67. The Grassroots Collaborative’s Nathan Ryan.

We invited Grassroots Collaborative’s Nathan Ryan to the show to talk about the Amazon deal.

And we did talk about it. But a comment Nathan made about the struggle around the Obama Presidential Center was also true about Amazon.

“People want the Obama Library in Chicago. They also want to be able to afford to live near it.”

Even if Rahm doesn’t get Amazon’s HQ2, he has let it be known that the city has a big for sale sign up to any corporations who want to deal.

I thought back to when Daley wanted the Olympics here.

It didn’t happen and we are better for that.

Jeff Bezos can walk.

The cost of him coming is too high.

The podcast is here.