Friday, September 23, 2016

Note to some fellow lefties...


Students from Johnson C. Smith University at a rally for Hillary Clinton in Charlotte, North Carolina. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times        
Sorry to say, rapacious capitalism will still be here in November. Not only that, but I doubt it will ever be simply voted out. Even if a "socialist" like Bernie were to someday be elected (I wish). But maybe that's just old-school me.

Whatever the case, come the first of the year, either Hillary Clinton, or Donald Trump, will be our next president and Jill Stein and Gary Johnson will have taken their campaign funds and gone home, a la Ralph Nader and the rest of those perennial presidential spoiler candidates.

That's when the real movement for social justice, peace and racial equality needs to kick into gear again -- after the election, no matter who is elected.

NYT columnist Charles Blow, speaking to Morgan State Univ. students, tries to break through the reported millennial political malaise and encourage a large youth turnout for Clinton.
First — and this cannot be said enough — Clinton and Trump are not equally bad candidates. One is a conventional politician who has a long record of public service full of pros and cons. The other is a demagogic bigot with a puddle-deep understanding of national and international issues, who openly courts white nationalism, is hostile to women, Mexicans and Muslims, and is callously using black people as pawns in a Donnie-come-lately kinder-gentler campaign.
As an educator, I would also include Trump's pledge to do away with public education or what he calls, the "government monopoly" of public schools. And here I thought Trump loved to play Monopoly.

Blow continues...
That person will appoint someone to fill the current vacancy on the Supreme Court (assuming that the Senate doesn’t find religion and move on Merrick Garland before the new president takes office) and that person will also appoint federal judges to fill the 88 district court and court of appeals vacancies that now exist (there are 51 nominees pending for these seats).
And more...
You can’t have taken part in a march for Eric Garner, chanting “I can’t breathe,” and risk the ascendance of a man who has as one of his chief advisers Rudy Giuliani, the grandfather of the very “broken windows” policing strategy that sent officers after low-level offenders like Garner.
You can’t detest racial-dragnet-policy stop-and-frisk policing as not only morally abhorrent but thoroughly unconstitutional and risk the ascendance of a man who on Wednesday reportedly suggested that he would consider using stop-and-frisk more across the nation.
Makes sense. As Bernie Sanders himself said last week: “This is not the time for a protest vote.”

As one of the leaders of the "vote in the streets" 60's youth revolt and someone who has often cast protest votes or gone fishing on meaningless election days, I couldn't agree more.

TUNE IN TOMORROW 9 AM (CDT) TO LIVE FROM THE HEARTLAND

September 24, 2016 • 9-10 am CDT
The Live from the Heartland Show 

Standing Rock, Song & Good Food in School
   
    • Nick Estes, Mike Klonsky, Joel Frankel, Alexander DeSorbo-Quinn 

•  MIKE KLONSKY & NICK ESTES
       —Report from Standing Rock
  •  JOEL FRANKEL
       —Old Town School of Folk Music
• ALEXANDRA DESORBO-QUINN
      — Pilot Light: helping kids make healthier choices

  •  MARY MEYER
       —Rogers Park Food Co-op 
Join Michael James, Katy Hogan & Thom Clark this Saturday for a solid hour of conversation & entertainment with people doing good in the World. 

On wluw.org (worldwide!) and 88.7 fm, and now streaming live on The Live from the Heartland Show's Facebook 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Trib's latest anti-union editorial is laughable

The Tribune's wingnut editors are on a roll this week. They began with a call for a "schoolchildren's Bill of Rights" which had nothing to do with either children or rights, but was little more than a right-wing school  privatization manifesto. 

Now the Trib's editorial board, juiced up on  anti-union Trumpomania, has outdone its Mussolini-loving self with a new diatribe against the CTU. The union's crime?  Holding an open strike vote by its members.

This is actually the second strike vote the union has taken. Nearly 90% of all voting members voted in December to authorize a possible strike, but CPS contested the timing of that vote.

The Trib's screed, comparing the vote, mandated by a state law which the Trib supported, with elections in Iraq, Liberia and North Korea, is laughable. To put it bluntly, the Tribune has problems with elections, period.

Brother Fred notes:
 It was just a few years ago that Stand For Children’s Jonah Edelman, a guy who thought he was way too clever by half, got the Illinois legislature to pass a law requiring Chicago union teachers, and only Chicago union teachers, to vote by a 75% super majority in order to authorize a strike.
He told his friends that he had studied union strike authorization votes and that 75% was some kind of magic number. He was wrong in 2012 and he was wrong last year. He never understood that in a democratic union, you can’t short circuit democracy.
CTU's Jesse Sharkey responds:
The Chicago Tribune is comparing the CTU's strike vote to some of the most undemocratic regimes in the world. What I find enraging here is that the CTU is held to a ridiculously high standard for voting on a strike (75% of entire membership must vote in affirmative.) Think about that: an 80% yes vote on an 80% turnout would still fail. But the CTU is not credited for meeting a democratic standard which virtually no elected official could meet. We are condemned. The appointed Board of Ed is not compared to North Korea and castigated for stalling negotiations for 22 months while their unelected members slash public schools. The Tribune's attack on our vote-by-petition reveals how deeply they despise our power and voice.
Actually, while CPS is still run as a wing of City Hall, by an autocratic mayor and an un-elected school board, the CTU is probably the most democratically-run institution in this town.

On the brighter side, no teachers I know give a damn what the Tribune thinks about their elections.

Trib's latest anti-union editorial is laughable

The Tribune's wingnut editors are on a roll this week. They began began with a call for a "schoolchildren's Bill of Rights" which had nothing to do with either children or rights, but was little more than a right-wing school  privatization manifesto. 

Now the Trib's editorial board, juiced up on  anti-union Trumpomania, has outdone it's Mussolini-loving self with a new diatribe against the CTU. The union's crime?  Holding an open strike vote of its members.

This is actually the second strike vote the union has taken. Nearly 90% of all voting members voted in December to authorize a possible strike, but CPS contested the timing of that vote.

The Trib's screed, comparing the vote, mandated by a state law which the Trib supported, with elections in Iraq, Liberia and North Korea, is laughable. To put it bluntly, the Tribune has problems with elections, period.

Brother Fred notes:
 It was just a few years ago that Stand For Children’s Jonah Edelman, a guy who thought he was way too clever by half, got the Illinois legislature to pass a law requiring Chicago union teachers, and only Chicago union teachers, to vote by a 75% super majority in order to authorize a strike.
He told his friends that he had studied union strike authorization votes and that 75% was some kind of magic number. He was wrong in 2012 and he was wrong last year. He never understood that in a democratic union, you can’t short circuit democracy.
CTU's Jesse Sharkey responds:
The Chicago Tribune is comparing the CTU's strike vote to some of the most undemocratic regimes in the world. What I find enraging here is that the CTU is held to a ridiculously high standard for voting on a strike (75% of entire membership must vote in affirmative.) Think about that: an 80% yes vote on an 80% turnout would still fail. But the CTU is not credited for meeting a democratic standard which virtually no elected official could meet. We are condemned. The appointed Board of Ed is not compared to North Korea and castigated for stalling negotiations for 22 months while their unelected members slash public schools. The Tribune's attack on our vote-by-petition reveals how deeply they despise our power and voice.
Actually, while CPS is still run as a wing of City Hall, by an autocratic mayor and an un-elected school board, the CTU is probably the most democratically-run institution in this town.

On the brighter side, no teachers I know give a damn what the Tribune thinks about their elections.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Tribune's so-called 'Schoolchildren's Bill of Rights'

Created with consent of the governed.
Chicago Tribune editors are calling for a "Schoolchild's Bill of Rights." As anyone familiar with the Trib might guess, Sunday's editorial has little to do with schoolchildren or their rights--except, that is, for their right to have their schools closed or privatized and their teachers debased. 

The Trib's Bill of Rights includes not a single right for students, but instead includes things like:
  • Merit Pay for teachers, a oft-tried initiative which, according to researchers, produced no gains in measurable learning outcomes. 
  • Using student test scores to evaluate teachers. Already the law in IL. 
  • Widespread school "choice," the Trib's code word for school vouchers and privately-run charters. Trib editors write: "The public education industry should view ethnic, parochial or other private schools not as threats but as alternatives that enrich and diversify a community's educational offerings."
  • An end to collective bargaining, including the right to strike.
  • Parent Trigger Laws which enable a small and temporary group of parents to take over a school and hand it over to a private, for-profit company to operate. As you might expect, there's nothing about parents' right to opt-out of the plague of standardized testing.
  • Mass closing of  black and Latino neighborhood schools and leaving boarded-up buildings to further blight communities or sell them off to condo developers. Again, too late. They're already doing it. 
In other words, there's not much on this list that hasn't been going on for years in Chicago, without any positive results. 

Trib editors' ideal schools chief.
The only thing surprising here is the Trib editors' use of Bill of Rights lingo to promote their extreme right-wing reform agenda. Remember it was the same board members who, in a previous editorial, called for CPS to be taken over by an autocrat with "Mussolini-like powers" to execute and implement that agenda. 

I'm afraid that would leave Chicago kids with little more than Miranda Rights. 

A real student Bill of Rights might include items like:
  • The right to learn in a safe environment in a safe community.
  • The right to be well-fed, rested and clothed.
  • The right to opt-out of high-stakes, standardized testing.
  • The right to attend a racially desegregated public school.
  • The right to gender equality including freedom from LGBT discrimination.
  • The right to vote and have voice on important matters concerning school policy.
  • The right to think critically, free from censorship, locker searches and book banning.
  • The right to have a qualified, certified teacher in every classroom. 
  • The right to the same level of funding and resources as students in the wealthy suburbs. 
The list of student rights could and would be a lot longer, if students had any voice in compiling it. I'm quite sure that didn't happen over at the Tribune. 

Mussolini would never have approved. 

Monday, September 19, 2016

WEEKEND QUOTABLES

Malcolm Jenkins

Eagles' safety Malcolm Jenkins on tonight's team protest
 “Really it’s just to continue to push forward the conversation about social injustice, and that’s a range of things from police brutality to wages and job opportunities, education. There’s just a lot of things systematically that have been set up in this country since its inception that put minorities, especially African Americans, at a disadvantage when you talk about quality of life and actually growing in this country.” -- Washington Post
Pres. Obama
"My name may not be on the ballot, but our progress is on the ballot. Tolerance is on the ballot. Democracy is on the ballot. Justice is on the ballot. Good schools are on the ballot. Ending mass incarceration, that’s on the ballot right now.” -- Speech to Congressional Black Caucus
Leonard Peltier
Leonard Peltier
I call on all my supporters and allies to join the struggle at Standing Rock in the spirit of peaceful spiritual resistance and to work together to protect Unci Maka, Grandmother Earth. -- CounterPunch
Charles Blow
 Trump has claimed that Bill Ayers wrote the President’s acclaimed, best-selling memoir because surely this black man couldn’t have the talent to write the book. -- New York Times
Bernie Sanders
“So I would just simply say to the Millennials – to anybody else – look at the issues. Don’t get hung up on Trump’s kids, or whatever the story, the birther issue – stay focused on the issues of relevance to your life. I think Clinton is far and away the superior candidate.” -- Dead State
Kate Aronoff, ITT writing fellow
Between Trumka’s DAPL endorsement and the Fraternal Order of Police’s endorsement of Donald Trump for president, this week has shown a stark divide between parts of American labor and today’s social movements. -- In These Times

Friday, September 16, 2016

Right on, Rep. Will Guzzardi

Logan Squarist
After his stunning victory over his machine opponent, people (including me) warned him that he wouldn't be able to do too much as a freshman legislator. Boy were we wrong. Despite swimming with the sharks and battling our sociopath Gov. Rauner down in Springfield, Rep. Will Guzzardi has become a leader in the fight for public education and on other progressive initiatives. Among others, he's championed the cause for an elected school board and an end to Rahm Emanuel's autocratic rule over Chicago Public Schools.

Will's latest campaign is for free tuition at state schools for Illinois residents, paid for, in part with a "millionaire's surcharge".
Illinois Rep. Will Guzzardi (D) has posted a petition online to gather support for free tuition at state schools for Illinois residents. He announced a new coalition called Tuition Free Illinois, which he’s spearheading, to gather support for the effort. Tuition Free Illinois includes Chicago Votes, Chicago Student Action, Young Chicago Authors and College Democrats of Illinois.
“I suspect that this will be very difficult to pass in the current political climate,” Guzzardi writes in an email to LoganSquarist. “But we’re going to push, and we’re going to work to elect leaders who will support these kinds of bold progressive ideas.” -- Logan Squarist
Thanks Will. And keep on pushin'. We've got your back.

Check out Will's Facebook page and sign his petition here. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

AFT and OFT on Ohio’s $71 Million Charter School Grant

For Immediate Release
Sept. 14, 2016

Contact: Janet Bass 202-879-4554
jbass@aft.org  www.aft.org

WASHINGTON—Below are statements from the American Federation of Teachers and the Ohio Federation of Teachers on the U.S. Department of Education’s approval of Ohio’s $71 million charter school expansion grant. The federal government called the grant “high risk” because of questionable oversight, accountability and transparency of the state’s charter schools, and it included many accountability measures with the grant.

AFT President Randi Weingarten:  “Charter schools were supposed to be incubators of innovation and part of a larger public school system. Students attending charter schools should have similar opportunities and protections as students in traditional public schools, but due to mismanagement, fraud and waste in Ohio’s notoriously lax oversight system, too many students in Ohio do not. Charter schools should be held to the same accountability standards as other public schools for their academic, managerial and financial performance. While we wonder why the grant was given at all, given Ohio charter schools’ history of poor academic performance and assorted scandals, the grant’s restrictions are a vital step toward holding the state and its charter schools accountable to students, their families and taxpayers.”

Ohio Federation of Teachers President Melissa Cropper: “Ohio’s charter school system has produced an unending record of failed performance, suffered from an overall lack of meaningful state oversight and been party to numerous scandals, including a falsified application for this grant. This $71 million could be put to far better use—for example, by expanding community schools with wraparound services to address the nonacademic barriers that impact students’ ability to learn. These programs have been wildly successful where they are available for students in Ohio.”

###

Trump wants to abolish 'government schools'

Trump delivered his big ed policy speech at scandal-ridden for-profit Cleveland charter school.
“There is no failed policy more in need of urgent change than our government-run education monopoly.” -- Donald Trump
In last Thursday's big policy speech, Trump promised to do away with "government-run" public schools. That's what he and his basket of deplorable followers call public schools.

WaPo's Valerie Strauss points out that Trump is stealing former Florida governor Jeb Bush's rhetoric here. Bush often called public schools, “government-run monopolies run by unions.”

She adds: "Let’s ignore the irony of Trump using the same language as Bush, whom Trump mocked during the GOP primaries."

Here I can't resist mentioning  the especially close relationship Arne Duncan had with Jeb and other anti-govt, anti-union schoolers, like former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels. Glad he's gone. Or is he?

It's been a week and we're still waiting for a direct response to the Trump speech from Team Hillary. She needs to draw a clearer line, especially on charter expansion and teacher unions if she wants to rally her base and put Trump away.

See New York Times: Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton: Where They Stand on Education
and Mother Jones , "Will Hillary Clinton's Education Policy Break From Obama's in a Huge Way?" for more on this.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Here's just 5 day's worth of Chicago Trib's CPD headlines

Grand jury to look into possible cover-up by Chicago police in Laquan McDonald shooting
(9/12) A grand jury will be impaneled to investigate a possible cover-up by Chicago police in the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald at the request of a special prosecutor appointed in July to investigate the matter. Patricia Brown Holmes, the special prosecutor, said Monday she has enough evidence to...
 Lawsuit accuses Chicago cop of beating mentally disabled teen
(9/12) A veteran Chicago police officer has been accused in a federal lawsuit of beating a mentally disabled teen while off duty last year, sticking his gun in the young man's mouth and filing a false police report to cover it up. Both the Independent Police Review Authority, which investigates police...

4 officers hospitalized after Englewood crash
(9/11)Four Chicago police officers were hospitalized after a crash late Saturday in Englewood, police said. Just after 11:35 p.m., two squad cars crashed while attempting to curb a vehicle in the 5800 block of South Ashland Avenue. The officers were taken to area hospitals with injuries that police described...
Police open fire after witnessing fatal Humboldt Park shooting; 1 wounded
(9/10) It's uncommon for police officers to witness a killing, but Friday night, Chicago police say, gang unit officers watched a fatal shooting unfold on the streets of Humboldt Park. Before it was over, officers intervened and fired shots. A second person was injured by gunfire, possibly from police,...
Police chase death, wrongful conviction, cop overtime suits may cost city $2.7M
(9/9) Chicago taxpayers likely are on the hook for another $2.7 million in lawsuit costs after the City Council Finance Committee on Friday recommended paying out the cash to settle three cases. The largest — $1.375 million — would go to the estate of Eugene Ratliff, who was hit by...
Embattled Chicago cop: 'These are families, and I'm here to protect them'

(9/9) With his reputation on the line, embattled former Chicago police Cmdr. Glenn Evans took his case to the public Thursday, saying he can no longer stand by quietly as others "malign" him. Surrounded by supporters at a South Side church, Evans defended a reputation he says was marred by criminal charges...

 As Chicago killings surge, the unsolved cases pile up
(9/9) The killing was as brazen as it was brutal. Elliott Brown was fatally shot one afternoon in January on the Chicago Skyway when a gunman in a black SUV pulled up next to his BMW coupe and began firing. The 25-year-old Brown was pronounced dead at the scene, and his girlfriend was wounded, shot four...
One Chicago cop charged, another cleared in alleged brutality cases caught on video
(9/8) Chicago police were breaking up a loud West Side block party in July 2014 when cellphone video captured Officer Brett Kahn walking up to a partygoer and slamming him in the head while holding a collapsible metal baton. One year later, in the city's Brighton Park neighborhood...
Chicago cop charged with striking man in face with baton at 2014 block party
(9/8) Cook County prosecutors have brought felony charges against a Chicago police officer more than two years after he was captured on video striking a man with his service baton at a West Side block party. Brett Kahn, 31, an officer since August 2012, turned himself in Thursday morning to an investigator...
No charges against Chicago police in death of handcuffed suspect
(9/8) Cook County prosecutors have decided not to pursue criminal charges against Chicago police officers in the 2015 death of a handcuffed man during an arrest caught on police dashboard camera video. In making the announcement, State's Attorney Anita Alvarez said prosecutors would not be able "to prove...
Cases pushed back for cop accused of driving drunk in hit-and-run crash
(9/8) Both the discipline and criminal cases for a Lake County Sheriff's Department lieutenant charged with driving drunk after working security at the Gary Air Show this summer have been pushed until next month. Guy Mikulich was back in Lake County Superior Court Thursday morning, dressed in a suit,...
Third of police shootings started with foot chases, Tribune analysis finds
(9/7) Smith, a 45-year-old ex-Marine with a history of mental problems, walked away briskly, ignoring the officer's order to stop. In seconds, the chase was on...

WEEKEND QUOTABLES

Two members of the Standing Rock Sioux Indian tribe ride through the camp. The man on the left said, “We’re building our shelters for winter right now.” Photo by William Brangham
Member of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyata Tribe 
“Even if they’re just little infants, they’re gonna look back at pictures of this and remember: I was here, I was part of this.” -- BuzzFeed
David Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe
"My nation's history is at risk because the pipeline builders and the Army Corps failed to consult the tribe when planning the pipeline, and routed it through areas of cultural and historical significance, which will be destroyed." -- NPR
Solidarity
Union members oppose Dakota Access Pipeline 
"Union members understand that today the greatest threat to jobs, health and decent living standards is climate change. We support the National Day of Action on September 13th, and we urge President Obama to stop construction of this destructive pipeline and keep dangerous fossil fuels in the ground."  -- ATU Statement
Kelly Hayes
The old chant, “The whole world is watching!” seemed on the verge of accuracy in Standing Rock. And then came today’s ruling, with a federal judge finding against the Standing Rock Sioux, and declaring that construction of the pipeline could legally continue. -- Transformative Spaces
Connecticut Judge Thomas Moukawsher 
He found that the recent budget crisis “left rich schools robbing millions of dollars from poor schools” and left open the possibility that at any time funds could be moved “away from starving cities to rich suburbs for no good reason.” -- New York Times editorial