McHenry Community High School teachers are out.

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Teachers who are members of the McHenry Community High School Education Association are on strike over issues of contract language, salary, insurance, retirement, tuition reimbursement, athletics stipends, co-curricular stipends, summer school costs, sick days, and more.

ABC is reporting:

Teachers in northwest suburban McHenry are on strike in School District 156. Classes were canceled for 2,650 students at McHenry High School’s east and west campuses on Thursday.

All extracurricular activities were also canceled.

“We are wanting to make sure that we can retain our teachers. We have 20-percent of our teachers have four or fewer years of experience and we want to keep those teachers in our district before they go on to another district that will compensate them better and give them better benefits,” Heidie Dunn, teachers union, said.

Contract negotiations, which began in March, between the teachers union and district officials broke off around 1 a.m. Thursday. Teachers have been working without a contract since it expired in June.

The MCHSEA website is here.

Strike headquarters is located at 4117 Shamrock Lane in McHenry, Illinois.

Please go to the Facebook page and give your support.

East St. Louis teachers walk out.


-By Sharon Crockett. Sharon is President of the East St. Louis Federation of Teachers, IFT, AFT.

Let’s be clear, this crisis will be settled at the bargaining table and the Superintendent needs to sit back down with us and reach a fair compromise.

The district is insisting on proposals that would decrease the pay of new teachers and staff over their entire career. Their demand would double the amount of time it would take for a new teacher to receive the same amount of pay included in the last contract.

The district can’t afford to take another step backwards. The administrations unnecessary demands will only make it harder to bring quality teachers and staff to district 189.

The district can afford to accept our proposal and invest in teachers and staff. At the end of Fiscal year 2014, the district had a $25 million surplus. The district’s fund balances have increased each year for the past 5 years. Just last year, the district had an extra $6 million they put in the bank. All of these figures can be verified by documents the district filed with the Illinois State Board of Education.

Our contract proposal would expire in 2018, less than 3 years from now. There is no long term commitment for the district and we believe it will be in even better financial shape than it is today.

We don’t want to strike, but we will have no choice if the administration continues to make unreasonable demands. We are available to negotiate at any time.

– The East St. Louis Federation of Teachers, Local 1220, represents approximately 400 teachers and staff in district 189. The district has approximately 6000 preK-12 students and 11 school buildings. Local 1220 is part of the Illinois Federation of Teachers.

New rule.


As always, racist, sexist or homophobic comments will not be posted.

I have allowed for anonymous comments, although I understand why other sites do not.

Other annoying and offensive comments might make their way through if I believe they make for a good foil. Many do. Although there are limits.

But from now on, if your anonymous comment doesn’t contain an email address (which on wordpress only I see and is not included when I post it), it will be trashed.

My edTPA Twitter exchange.


In August I posted a lot about edTPA.

edTPA is the teacher certification assessment and evaluation procedure developed out of Stanford and implemented by the private for-profit education monopoly, Pearson.

While groups like Teach for America attempt to do away with any standards for teaching, edTPA and Pearson are the flip side of the same coin. They want to standardize teaching training, assessment and evaluation. And make some money at the same time.

Teachers, like students, are not widgets. Teaching, like learning, resists standardization.

States like Illinois are handing over teacher certification to the private profit-based Pearson. Illinois has removed the evaluation of student teaching from the cooperating mentor teacher. Videos of classroom practice are graded by an evaluator far removed from the actual classroom who is paid $75 an hour assigning points based on a rubric developed by Stanford. And the student teacher is charged a hefty fee.

I blog.  I’m not big on Twitter.

My blog posts are automatically posted to Twitter and I’ll post some tweets during the day. But it’s not really my main social media thing.

I do follow some folks and enjoy reading the 140 character messages. Like this one.

However I don’t normally get into heated Twitter exchanges.

John Seelke was the exception.

John works at the University of Maryland and does student placement for those going into teaching secondary mathematics.

They use edTPA at the University of Maryland and John is a big edTPA proponent.

He Tweeted me all summer.

Badgered me, actually.

Then he went away.

Until yesterday.

John “forgot” to link to the study he wanted me to read.


Then John figured out how to paste a link to the study and evaluation of edTPA into a Twitter post.

The study was done by Stanford and Pearson. It was a self-evaluation:

The Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning and Equity (SCALE), the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (AACTE) and Evaluation Systems group of Pearson are pleased to release the 2014 Administrative Report.

I pointed this out to John.


Bev Johns: CPS deserves a failing grade for special education.

Kristine Maylee from CTU speaks out against special ed cuts at a rally held across from the CPS loop office on August 26, 2015. (Photo by Max Herman)

Kristine Mayle from CTU speaks out against special ed cuts at a rally held across from the CPS loop office on August 26, 2015. (Photo by Max Herman, Catalyst)

– Bev Johns. Bev is a Special Education advocate and activist. She writes frequently for us.

CPS deserves a failing grade for special education.

In addition to saving money, there is the long-term push to abolish special ed almost completely. CPS’s stated goal is to place every child in the regular ed class (rather than the Least Restrictive Environment for an INDIVIDUAL child along the REQUIRED Continuum of Alternative Placements).

Some schools are using Response to Intervention (RTI), now oftencalled MTSS -Multi-Tiered System of Support, INSTEAD of special ed as students and their parents have NO legal rights under RTI.

So CPS is trying to do the absolute minimum required by IDEA, each child’s IEP, and State regulations and sometimes trying to avoid even those minimums.

Special education is all about meeting the individualized needs of ONE student, not trying to do the absolute minimum to meet the narrowest possible interpretation of Federal and State law and regulation.

CPS is NOT even doing the absolute minimum required.

Although it was required to be in place 5 years ago, CPS has absolutely no rule on Work Load for Special Educators (Section 226.735 of the State regs: “In order to provide students with IEPs the free, appropriate education to which they are entitled, each entity subject to this Part shall adopt a plan specifying limits on the work load of its special educators so that all services required required under students’ IEPs, as well as all needed ancillary and support services, can be provided at the requisite level of intensity.”)

CPS says it is increasing special education class size because its class sizes were smaller than “state standards.” Those state numbers are only a starting point: the absolute maximum numbers of students that can be in a class.

In fact the State regs further restrict special ed class size in three ways:

(1) “[These numbers] notwithstanding, class size shall be limited according to the needs of the students for individualized instruction and services.”

(2) “In the formation of special education classes, consideration shall be given to the age of the students, the nature and severity of their disabilities, the educational needs of the students”

(3) “The maximum class sizes….shall, if necessary, be further restricted at the local level to account for the activities and services in which the affected educators participate in order to provide students with IEPs the free, appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment to which they are entitled.”

Certainly CPS must provide what is written in a student’s IEP, but an IEP cannot cover everything a child needs.

That is why we have Federal and State regulations.

Mark Brown in the Chicago Sun-Times says one goal is to “move more special ed students into regular classrooms.”

The goal of special ed law and regulations is a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) for an INDIVIDUAL student along the required Continuum of Alternative Placements.

Where a student is educated is the last decision that the IEP Team (consisting of a student’s parents/guardians, teachers, related services personnel, person who can commit services, and sometimes the student) makes.

No administrator, no school board, no informal school policy can overrule that IEP Team decision.

CPS CEO Forrest Claypool says he will strictly follow special education law and regs “as well as best practices.”

If he truly means to do that, he has a very long way to go.

#NoEarlyEndorsement. Hillary and the NEA. What’s the deal?


What do teachers and public schools get in return from our union endorsements?

– My column from In These Times:

With just a few days before the a meeting of the National Education Association’s (NEA) board of directors in Washington DC, what seemed like a sure thing several weeks ago now seems a little less certain.

The plan was for the leaders of the largest teachers union in the country to vote for an early endorsement of Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party nomination. With the backing of NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia, the endorsement should have been a breeze.

As Annie Karni reported in Politico has reported,

Top brass of the 3 million-strong National Education Association, the country’s largest union, are recommending an endorsement of Hillary Clinton, according to an email obtained by POLITICO—a move that has many state leaders and rank-and-file members planning to protest the early endorsement.

The email, sent from the union’s campaign office, states that the NEA PAC, the union’s political arm, is planning to hold an upcoming vote ’recommending Hillary Clinton for the presidential primary.

I don’t know what, if anything, has been asked for in return for the Clinton endorsement. But we can look back to past recent endorsements for a bit of instruction. Those endorsements show us that despite the fact that a union’s main job is bargaining, political horse-trading has frequently been a weakness of the NEA.

If the NEA board of directors follows instructions, it would be the second national teachers union to endorse Clinton. The earlier American Federation of Teachers endorsement was met with criticism by many progressives among their ranks and by those AFT members “feeling the Bern.”

But Weingarten controls her union’s endorsement procedures even more tightly than Eskelsen Garcia controls the NEA. Given the close relationship between Weingarten and Clinton (Weingarten sits on the board of the pro-Clinton PAC Priorities USA), there was zero chance the AFT would choose not to endorse her.

Clinton does have many supporters among the rank and file of the NEA. Yet there were plenty of Bernie buttons at the NEA convention in Orlando last July. And the past week has witnessed a growing revolt within the union against an early endorsement.

Read the entire column here.

Tim Meegan: Teaching Civics and fighting for democracy in Chicago.


-By Tim Meegan. Tim is a National Board Certified Teacher at Chicago’s Roosevelt High School. He narrowly lost in a 2015 race for 33rd Ward alderman against the Democratic Machine’s candidate, Deb Mell.

This morning I got an email from a Roosevelt graduate.  She’s a freshman at Monmouth College.  She writes:

Good Morning Mr. Meegan

Just wanted to let you know that a lot that I was taught in your AP Human Geo class has been very helpful here. Thanks for being an awesome teacher.

I hope everything is going well!!


Unfortunately due to budget cuts I no longer teach this class.  It’s been cut, one more in a long line of electives and AP classes.   At Roosevelt we are trapped in a vice grip, fighting to attract students while the curriculum is narrowed.  Starving schools are working harder and the test is the whip. 

So now I’m teaching Civics, which is fitting since I lost to Deb Mell and have some experience in Chicago style democracy.  I’m a big fan of democracy.  It’s messy and expensive, but it reflects the will of the people…usually.  In the last election cycle I learned that sometimes people power beats money power.  Rahm learned it too. That’s why he opposes an elected school board.

Recently the Tribune published commentary from Peter Cunningham entitled “Chicago, be Wary of an Elected School Board.”  This, from the newspaper that wishes for hurricanes and Mussolini-like powers for the CPS CEO.  I’ll leave it to someone else to pick apart his paper thin argument.  I have lessons to plan, and Civics is all about democracy. 

In order to teach democracy you have to go back to the founders, and of course you have to incorporate Common Core.  The standards tell you students should examine primary sources and make them relevant to their lives.  When planning I couldn’t help but notice how relevant some of the material is to the question of an elected board. An end to mayoral control will be better for us all.  In “Common Sense” Thomas Paine addresses the point:

“In England a king hath little more to do than to make war and give away places; which in plain terms, is to impoverish the nation and set it together by the ears. A pretty business indeed for a man to be allowed eight hundred thousand sterling a year for, and worshipped into the bargain! Of more worth is one honest man to society and in the sight of God, than all the crowned ruffians that ever lived.”

On mayoral control of CPS he might say:

“In Chicago the mayor has little more to do than to close schools and privatize everything; which in plain terms is to impoverish the city and turn it upside down.  How fortunate is Rahm to be a millionaire and have an ironclad pension and be thanked for his service!  Of more worth is one honest man to our city and in the sight of God, than all the appointed officials that ever lived.”

Consider John Locke.  He believed all people had natural, inalienable rights to life, liberty, and property.  The government’s job was to protect those rights, and if it did not the people had the right to rebel.

What might John Locke say about democracy for the Board of Education?

“Whenever the Board of Education endeavor to take away, and privatize the schools of the people, or reduce the schools to servitude under arbitrary test scores, the Board put themselves into a state of war with the schools, who therefore are absolved from obedience to the Board.  Whenever the Board of Education breaks this fundamental rule of mankind; whether through fear, ignorance, or corruption, take away, and hand over our schools to any appointed power over our futures, freedoms, and the public trust; By this breach of trust they forfeit the power we have put into their hands, for the improvement of public schools, and it becomes our right for the people to democratically elect the Board of Education.”

Duncan, Mazany, JC, BBB, Ruiz, Claypool.  Would there really be more instability with an elected board?  Could there possibly be more corruption?  Would teachers be working without a contract right now?  Wouldn’t an elected board be a better steward of taxpayer dollars in this financial crisis?  How would “Mussolini-like powers” improve the situation?

Would parents have to hunger strike over a month in order to have a say in what their neighborhood school looks like? 

In the 33rd ward, 89.79% voted Yes to an elected school board.  Even in my ward, that’s a majority.  We, the people of Chicago, have the inalienable right to elect our school Board.  And we have the inalienable right to rebel if we can’t.  Don’t believe me?  Just ask Mussolini.  Whatever became of him anyway?

Will the NEA pull the trigger for a Hillary endorsement too soon?


Sanders was introduced by Obama advisor David Axelrod at the University of Chicago yesterday.

What NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia wants is an endorsement of Hillary Clinton this coming weekend.

What are we getting in exchange if Hillary gets our endorsement?

Probably more of the same centrist Democratic Party corporate education policies that we have seen the last eight years.

Lily’s main argument is Hillary’s electability. But that is coming more into question in the days leading up to the NEA board of directors meeting in DC.

Polls show Sanders within seven points of the tanking Hillary campaign.

And I have to wonder if former Obama advisor David Axelrod’s effusive introduction of Bernie Sanders to a University of Chicago crowd doesn’t reflect less than effusive support or confidence in the inevitability of Hillary by Obama’s folks.

Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders was met with open arms at the University of Chicago on Monday.

David Axelrod, director of the school’s Institute of Politics and President Barack Obama’s former political adviser, who reels in trending politicians to speak at the school, introduced his guest: “We have never had a president named Bernie Sanders. Ladies and gentlemen, Bernie Sanders.”

At least three NEA state affiliates have called for #NoEarlyEndorsement.

They include New Hampshire, Massachusetts and New Jersey. New Jersey is the largest fundraiser for the NEA PAC of any state affiliate.

One can understand why Sanders supporters oppose an early endorsement of Hillary.

And then there are those of us who see this as one more example of top-down decision making that so often characterizes our NEA and IEA.

I received this comment from a reader.

I wrote to President Klickna through the IEA website my same concern of an early endorsement. Linda Rice wrote back “NEA makes no recommendation prior to the primary and affiliates are always consulted. I will pass your concerns on to our Government Relations Dept.”

We don’t do it but when we do do it we consult, but we’re not doing it, but we’re planning on doing it this weekend.


Even Hillary supporters should be asking how it helps teachers and public education to endorse a candidate so early without demanding anything in return.


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