On the 14th day, religious leaders make their appeal and Claypool does what we predicted he would do.

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This morning many of Chicago’s religious leaders will make an appeal to the Mayor on behalf the #FightForDyett hunger strikers.

Mayor Rahm, who often tries to portray himself as God, will not be impressed.

Rev. Robert Jones, currently in the 14th day of a hunger strike, will be joined by various faith leaders, including Rabbi Brant Rosen, Rev. CJ Hawking and others in a direct moral appeal for fairness, democracy and education justice. The clergy will represent various faiths.

If you have not done so, read brother Mike’s post from Friday where he discusses the lies and “let-them-eat-cake” attitude of this morally corrupt administration.

While the courageous hunger strikers continue their action, and men and women of faith make their appeal to the morally bankrupt leader of the city, his newly appointed CEO of the public schools does exactly what we all said he would do two weeks ago.

He painted the office.

First thing: Kudos to my bro for his prognostication.

Two weeks ago he predicted that the new CEO at CPS, Forrest Claypool, would hand out banker boxes to the Byrd-Bennett crew and show them the door.

Some cynics might claim that this was an easy prediction since the new boss will always bring in his own people after firing the old ones.

Not all will be smart enough to claim it as a budget cut to be used in contract negotiations with the teachers union.

I compared this to a new principal in a school. The first thing he or she does is paint the office.

Is Claypool getting rid of those jobs? Not likely.

Changing job titles? Probably.

My old board changed the assistant superintendent for curriculum to the director of student learning.

A budget cut?

Nah.

Last month he claimed to cut a million bucks by firing a bunch of senior bureaucrats.

This week the board approved nearly a million bucks for a bunch of new bureaucrats with new job titles.

Just as I predicted.

Doug Kucia, who was Claypool’s chief of staff at the CTA, takes on the same role at CPS for $175,000 a year. Andrell Holloway, a CTA auditor, was made chief internal auditor for $191,000.

All of Claypool’s boys were hired with the usual unanimous votes of the board.

Oh wait. There was one no vote for one bureaucrat.

Some of my union friends complained about Randi Weingarten when she showed up last week in Chicago to support the #FightForDyett hunger strikers. “She allows no democracy in her own union.”

True.

But I thought she was great.

I have no shortage of issues with Randi Weingarten. And AFT needs more democracy. But the AFT is a bastion of democracy compared to Chicago and the CPS board of education.

The appointments were not on the board’s public agenda.

There was no debate.

And only one appointment received  one no vote when the rebellious Jesse Ruiz voted what the Sun-Times called a “rare dissent.”

Ruiz voted no to hiring Ronald DeNard, Claypool’s chosen $225,000-a-year senior vice president of operations. DeNard was chief financial officer with Claypool at the Chicago Transit Authority.

DeNard lives in Flossmoor, which violates CPS residency rules.

Seriously? C’mon. Those rules only apply to teachers.

Administrators simply get a residency waiver.

That’s how they handled Tim Cawley, the chief administrative officer. He lives in Winnetka.

Residency waivers for bureaucrats.

For teachers and #FightForDyett hunger strikers.

Let them eat cake.

Rahm has gone from the F word to the B word.

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Ben Joravsky is right, of course.

My guess is that somewhere in the back of their minds Rahm and Rauner and Walker have concluded it’s easier to fight a union of women than it is to take on a union of men.

You could say that Rahm started out as mayor screaming the F word at CTU President Karen Lewis. This time in these negotiations he is adding the B word. Teacher pension threats and underfunding at both the city and state level have always have their greatest impact on women. In the city, a huge percentage of retired teachers are African American women.

Teacher contracts and teacher pensions are women’s issues.

Teacher pension rights are women’s rights.

Not only women. But a significant number.

Before I retired I worked as a K-5 art teacher in Park Ridge District 64. The high school district that included Maine South was a separate district with a separate union local, separate school board, separate collective bargaining agreement with a separate salary schedule.

When we sat down to bargain with our board the first thing we would do is draw up a list of comparable districts to compare salaries.

The board always fought us on including the high school districts.

Maine South’s salary schedule was much higher than ours.

Same town. Same tax base.

More male employees in the high school district.

Rahm’s response to the Chicago Teachers Union’s  one year CBA offer is “F*#k you B#*%H.”

Same as its ever been.

The continuing CPS relationship with UNO charters and the Rev. Michael Garanzini.

Loyola University President Rev. Michael J. Garanzini, who is stepping down June 30 to become the university's chancellor, talks with the Chicago Sun-Times about his 14-year tenure as president at the North Side school on April 2, 2015. | Ashlee Rezin/for Sun-Times Media

Retired CEO and President of Loyola Rev. Michael Garanzini. 

When Mayor Rahm announced his new CPS board members I immediately focused on Mark Furlong, retired CEO of BMO Harris Bank.

At the time he was on the board of LEAP, a tech organization with CPS contracts.

It sounded like a rerun of exiting CPS board member Deborah Quazzo.

The CPS propaganda office quickly announced that Furlong had pre-resigned – I just made that word up – from LEAP the previous Friday.

But also on the list of four new members was the Rev. Michael Garanzini, former CEO and President of Loyola University.

I didn’t spend a lot of time looking into the Reverend.

But the CTU did.

The Rev. Michael Garanzini, former president and CEO of Loyola University, replaces Henry Bienen, former president of Northwestern University. Garanzini is often heralded for improving Loyola’s fiscal outlook, yet he accomplished this by pushing costs onto students and squeezing full-time faculty out of positions. During his tenure, tuition increased 73 percent at the school and the use of part-time and contingent teaching faculty more than tripled. Garanzini’s leadership is in line with those of his peers who have collectively helped foster today’s crisis in higher education.

And this:

Garanzini also has strong connections to the Cristo Rey and UNO networks of charter schools, which will be providing Arrupe College—Loyola’s new two-year college—with the majority of its students.

So, this morning’s Sun-Times story by Dan Mihalopoulos makes more sense.

Under interim Chicago Public Schools CEO Jesse Ruiz, CPS is pushing behind the scenes for the scandal-plagued United Neighborhood Organization to have a continued role in running the 16-school charter network it created.

You would think that CPS would try and put some distance between themselves and the scandal ridden UNO and the UNO charter network.

What with federal investigations.

And splits between UNO and its charter organization.

In his letter to Ruiz, Rodriguez said the charter operator intends to “continue with the transition of services as planned, and UCSN is prepared to take the necessary steps to bring this process to a final conclusion.”

Sources close to the negotiations said Ruiz has pushed for UNO to get a one-year extension to its deal with the charter network, which provides much of the community group’s revenues.

Perhaps there was a good word put in for UNO from Father Garanzini?

Things that should be in the spotlight that are more important that LeBron James’ penis.

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I have written a blog post title guaranteed to get a lot of hits due to search referrals.

I was surprised to see a reference to  Lebron’s schmeckel in a headline in this morning’s Sun-Times:

LeBron James’ penis remains in spotlight during Game 5 of the NBA Finals.

Not for me.

I got home from my birthday dinner at a new neighborhood seafood place in time for the fourth quarter, and Step Curry’s shooting was much more impressive to me. As was LeBron’s triple double.

But it made me start thinking of what should be in the spotlight and isn’t.

What will happen to Sarah Karp’s story on Rahm juking graduation rates? Karp is the great investigative journalist who just moved from Catalyst to the Better Government Association.

How long will the spotlight be on that?

Karp says, among other things, that CPS has been counting girls who drop out due to pregnancy not as drop outs but as “transfers to motherhood.”

Scandals involving Rahm seem to have short shelf-lives.

Like whatever happened to the FOIA request for emails between Rahm and Chicago billionaire Michael Sacks?

It came out that Rahm and Sacks were meeting almost daily and that there were 1500 emails between them discussing public policy.

Also prior to the election there was talk of an SEC investigation into kickbacks to the Emanuel campaign and Bruce Rauner’s campaign from those doing pension business with the city and state.

What happened to that?

Just prior to the election Rahm’s people promised that the email correspondence between Rahm and his closest financial advisor would be released in 77 hours.

Why 77? Because that would put it after the election.

They have never been released.

Oh. Here is something needing a spotlight:

Whatever happened to the federal investigation of corruption in UNO charter schools?

And how long will this grand jury be meeting on the Barbara Byrd-Bennett SUPES scandal?

Until we forget and the spotlight goes elsewhere.

So many things that need a spotlight.

Leave LeBron’s penis alone.

#BlackTeachersMatter. U.S. Judge Milton Shadur calls CPS response to teachers discrimination lawsuit, “totally irresponsible.”

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Judge Milton Shadur.

In 2011 the Chicago school board carried out large-scale layoffs of teachers and paraprofessionals.

African American board employees bore the brunt of the layoffs just as the board’s closing of neighborhood public schools two years ago mainly impacted African American communities.

As a result of the layoffs in 2011 the Chicago Teachers Union and three impacted teachers filed suit.

As I understand it, a law suit like this has three components.  First, the plaintiffs must show that they represent a class of people by a preponderance of the evidence. They were not just individual victims. It was not a coincidence that they were mostly African American. The judge is asked to certify that it is a class action before the case can move on to trial and a ruling of damages.

On Friday, Senior U.S. Judge Milton Shadur ruled in favor of the CTU and the three teachers.

However Judge Shadur didn’t just rule in the plaintiff’s favor.

The Judge was scathing in his rebuke of the CPS board.

“What does Board say on the critical issue of disparate impact in this critical case? Here are Amended Complaint 7 and 8 and Board’s “responses”:

7. In June, 2011, the Board terminated the employment of 931 classroom teachers through a round of layoffs. 480 of these teachers were tenured. African Americans made up 42% of the tenure teachers terminated, although constituting less than 29% of all CPS tenured teachers.

ANSWER: The Board denies the allegations of paragraph 7.

8. Defendant’s pattern and practice of targeting schools with high African American teaching populations for layoffs has a disparate impact on African American tenured teachers and staff.

ANSWER: The Board denies the allegations of paragraph 8 and further states that the Board does not “target” schools, or any demographic of teachers or staff, for layoffs under any circumstance.

And that’s it — the sum total of Board’s purported input on the subject of disparate impact, which is of course the essential linchpin for class certification purposes. Board has said not a word, then or since then, about the claimed basis for its unsupported ipse dixit “denial.”

In candor, that is totally irresponsible. This action has been pending for just short of 2-1/2 years: Plaintiffs filed their initial Complaint on December 26, 2012, and Board has known from day one about plaintiffs’ disparate impact contention and about the asserted numbers upon which those contentions rely.”

Judge Shadur’s ruling and order then proceeded through each requirement for certification as a class and sided with the teachers on each one.

He concluded:

Board’s only challenge to certification under Rule 23(b)(3) is its broken-record-type reassertion that individual principals fired plaintiffs, so that common questions do not predominate on that skewed premise. And that means Board has simply failed to raise any substantial challenge at all to plaintiffs’ arguments.

The case now will proceed to trial and damages.

2015.5.22 Memo Order Granting Class Cert

Troy LaRaviere: Corrupt public servants. SUPES and Barbara Byrd-Bennett.

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– From Troy LaRaviere’s blog. Troy is a principal at Blaine elementary school in Chicago.

An Invitation

In July of 2013–along with hundreds of principals across Chicago–I received an email with the subject, “Leadership Launch with Dr. Barbara Byrd-Bennett.”  The email implored principals to join Byrd-Bennett “for the comprehensive launch of the Chicago Executive Leadership Academy (CELA).” CELA was the title given to the series of professional development workshops organized by SUPES Academy under their $20+ million no-bid contract with Chicago Public Schools (CPS); a contract that is now under federal investigation. The launch was a huge event, staged at the UIC Forum. It was advertised as an “invite only” affair for which we had to reserve a ticketed seat (see mine above).

The Boiling Point

As expected, the event did not open up with any discussion of the SUPES training. Instead we got what we had come to expect at the start of every principals meeting: talk of an impending budget apocalypse that can only be solved by CPS defaulting on its obligation to provide a secure retirement for its teachers.

The meeting opened up with CPS board member and former school principal, Dr. Mahalia Hines.  I’d heard her twice before; her primary function seems to be to tell stories that convince her listeners that Rahm Emanuel actually cares about south and west side children from low-income households.  However, during the CELA launch, her comments were aimed at preparing principals for budget austerity.  During her talk, she mentioned a couple principals who had written grants and gotten external funding.  She praised these principals efforts because, in her words, “You can’t rely on the board to get funding for your schools.”  Yes. She actually said those exact words. Having succeeded in convincing many of the best principals in the room to consider looking for more secure employment in the suburbs, she then introduced Barbara Byrd-Bennett who continued the austerity theme with empty corporate speak about principals “leveraging partnerships” to get free or low-cost services for our students.

“Did she really just say that?” I thought.

Read the entire post here.

Excuse me if I am more than a bit suspicious of Rahm’s graduation rate claims.

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In tonight’s final mayoral debate Rahm will once again claim he is responsible for an 85% CPS high school graduation rate.

I’m suspicious.

Nursing a bad head cold I tried wrapping that head around the numbers reported in the story from Catalyst and WBEZ’s Becky Vevea.

Now my head hurts worse than ever.

If I were to ask you how you would calculate a high school graduation rate – assuming you don’t work for Rahm or CPS – what would you do?

You probably would do what I would do. l would count the number of incoming freshman and then count them again four years later. I would subtract the second number from the first, and divide to get a percentage.

Not at CPS.

They take the number of incoming freshman at a Chicago public high school and count them as graduating no matter where they graduate from.

Half of CPS high school freshmen at half of Chicago’s public hight schools graduated from a different school then where they first enrolled.

Kenwood Academy is a good example of how students move throughout the system. In 2009, 439 freshman walked through the doors of the school. Sixty-six left the city or moved out of state, leaving 393 still enrolled. Over five years, 54 dropped out and 317 graduated. CPS divides 317 by 393 for an official graduation rate of 85 percent.

But beneath those numbers, WBEZ and Catalyst found additional movement. Not all 317 graduated at Kenwood; 276 from the original freshman class did, while 12 finished at other CPS schools and 29 earned their diploma at alternative schools. Kenwood also helped other schools’ graduation rates by enrolling and graduating 30 students who initially enrolled as freshmen at other schools.

Is this playing fast and loose with the numbers?

It reminds me of CPD crime statistics.

A crime committed on the expressway isn’t counted.

I suspect that if the police find a dead body near the city limits. they probably push to to Maywood.

But seriously.

Charter schools, which were not required to provide information to CPS number crunchers before, now must report graduation rates, according the the WBEZ and Catalyst report.

And there the numbers get even goofier.

A student enrolling in Noble Street Charter and leaves after freshman year to graduate from a regular CPS high school is credited with graduating from Noble Street.

Noble schools struggle to keep freshmen, but only one campus, Rowe-Clark, lost more than half of the Class of 2013. Twenty of the city’s neighborhood high schools struggle the most, holding on to fewer than 35 percent of the original freshmen. All are on the South and West sides.

Among charters, Urban Prep’s two campuses do the worst. Chief Academic Officer Lionel Allen said the data “unfairly paints a very dismal picture of the work (they’re) doing at Urban Prep.”

Why is that an unfairly painted picture?

Allen “said it’s important to note that Urban Prep serves primarily African American males.”

So, if charter schools are unfairly pictured for failing to graduate African American males, why is that unfair to the charter school?

The point here is that tonight when Rahm brags graduation rates we should realize he is playing a counting game.

Chicago’s city and school leaders have a long history of playing counting games.

After all, elections themselves have been won and lost by who is being counted and who is doing the counting.

In 2014 CPS suspended a third of our African American male students. Rahm owns it.

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Thirty-three percent of African-American boys in CPS high schools were suspended in 2013-14 — versus 6 percent of white and Asian boys.

Twenty-four percent of students with disabilities in CPS faced suspension and 27 percent for students with the lowest test scores, compared with 7 percent for those with the highest scores.

Sixty percent of the suspensions in CPS were due to breaking school rules – not for violence or criminal behavior.

This is the data that comes from the report on CPS discipline from the University of Chicago’s Consortium on Chicago School Research.

While CPS was forced to cut back out-of-school suspensions when earlier numbers exposed similar bias, the numbers suggest that not much has changed.

Out-of-school suspensions have been replaced by other measures that keep students out of classrooms.

A far better measure of student learning or performance in school than a PARCC test is the data that they are kept out of the classroom by biased school discipline practices.

CPS leaders continue with policies that force the most needy students out of the classroom while doing nothing to address the underlying issues and conflicts that give rise to the suspensions.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants to paint a glowing picture of his governance of CPS and mayoral control.

He wants to own it.

He owns this too.

 

Opt-out parents. Don’t be bullied by the Illinois State Board of Education.

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I ran into Raise Your Hand’s Wendy Katten at an event this weekend.

She was hoppin’ mad.

The Illinois State Board of Education has been sending letters out to parents. They are acting like school-yard bullies, threatening parents by saying it is against federal law to opt out of PARCC and claiming local schools will lose funding if the do.

These are all lies, of course.

Threatening CPS with a loss of funding seems to be working.

Chicago Public Schools officials are reconsidering their snub of a new, mandatory state exam after being threatened with potentially crippling financial sanctions.

CPS testing administrators received a memo earlier this month telling them to complete security and planning procedures to administer the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers exam in reading and math early next month.

“The status of testing in CPS is still being discussed,” the memo read. “In the interim, all schools should prepare logistically, in the event they will administer.”

CPS in January said it would give the PARCC test to students at just 66 of its more than 600 schools, citing a lack of technology needed to administer the computer-driven exam — though schools have the option to give a paper and pencil test.

The memo went out not long after a Jan. 30 letter from state education officials to districts statewide warned federal money for impoverished schools as well as other funding would be withheld from districts that refused to administer the test. In the worst-case scenario, those sanctions could cost the already financially strapped CPS more than $1 billion.

The letter, from state schools Superintendent Christopher Koch and the Rev. James Meeks, chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education, also warned that if CPS or any other district doesn’t test students, Illinois as a whole could be at risk of losing federal funds for schools, affecting districts across the state.

But Wendy Katten wants to get the word out that parents absolutely have the right to opt out of this stupid test.

Support newly elected State Representative Will Guzzardi’s bill, sponsored in the Senate by William Delgado. This will strengthen the hand of parents and clarify any confusion about our rights.

The bill is HB0306.

As of now it has two House co-sponsors. Call your Illinois House representative and tell them you want them to co-sponsor HB0306. Don’t ask. Tell them.

Cassie Creswell of More Than a Score provides you info on how to opt out here in a previous post.

Persepolis, Barbara-Byrd Bennett and Becky Carroll, Rahm’s Liar-in-chief.

Ben Joravsky’s Reader article reminds us of the story of CPS banning Persepolis, the award-winning graphic novel by Marjane Satrapi.

Persepolis is a masterpiece of art and story-telling about a young girl growing up in revolutionary Iran.

On the evening of March 14, 2013 I received an instant message from a teacher at Lane Tech High School in Chicago. The teacher wrote that CPS officials were rounding up copies of Persepolis at Lane. It had been removed from the LRC. Teachers were told to turn in classroom copies. Any student who had checked it out of the library was ordered to return it. The IM was followed up with a copy of a memo from Lane Principal Christopher Dignam.

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Within 2 hours, my post had over 1,000 visits. By morning it was world-wide.

Only Tribune columnist Eric Zorn, whose own daughter went to Lane and who had come home and told him about it, didn’t think it was a big deal.

Joravsky’s Reader article is a must-read. It traces what happened within CPS that led to the PR fiasco that made Chicago look like some back-water town in Sam Brownback’s Kansas.

It also resulted in selling out every copy of Persepolis in every bookstore in Chicago.

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Barbara Byrd-Bennett, CPS CEO and Becky Carroll, then the CPS press shill, are key players in this story.

We are weeks away from the primary election. Early voting has already begun.

I voted Monday for Chuy. But anyone but Rahm will do. Polls show him stuck at around 40% for the past three weeks in spite of spending millions of dollars.

He needs 50%+1 to avoid a run-off.

And I also voted for an elected school board.

In the mayoral debates, Rahm has been asked about whether he will keep Barbara Byrd-Bennett as CPS CEO. He says he is proud of her appointment.

Then there is liar-in-chief Becky Carroll.

Since the fiasco at CPS, she has been put in charge of Chicago Forward, the PAC established by Rahm to defeat members of the Progressive Caucus and any progressive aldermanic challengers to his council toadies.

It doesn’t seem as if Carroll is doing any better at her new job and then she did as CPS press flack.

As an example, she is running someone named Elise Doody-Jones, who lives in Alderman Joe Moreno’s First Ward, to run against respected Progressive Caucus member Scott Waguespack in the 32 Ward.

Even the Sun-Times couldn’t believe that and endorsed Waguespack.

Persepolis is a great graphic novel.

The Rahm administration can take its name from another great novel. A Confederacy of Dunces.