Posts Tagged ‘Rahm’

Rahm’s Race to the Bottom

Saturday, March 23rd, 2013


Now what’s Rahm up to?

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

Barack Obama


These two sentences from President Obama’s speech at Hyde Park Career Academy have me scratching my head:

“(I)f you’re willing to play a role in a child’s education, then we’ll help you reform your schools. We want to seed more and more partnerships of the kind that Rahm is trying to set up.”

What was he talking about? Any ideas?


General Assembly rolling over for Rahm

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Despite the lack of public support for the move, the state Senate and House have each passed somewhat different versions of Mayor Emanuel’s school sledgehammer bill. It seems that he will be allowed to close as many as 100 schools in 2013 with little time for discussion and no time for adequate planning. Catalyst has a detailed report here about what happened today.

Thanks, state elected officials, for being so careful with our children.

Curtis Black posted a strong indictment of CPS’s poor management, and called the mayor’s proposal a “political ploy.”

If “chaotic, disorganized closings are such a bad idea,” as Emanuel said in backing the idea, why demand yet one more round of them before you agree to stop, she asks at PURE’s blog.  “It sounds as if the mayor is saying, ‘I promise to stop beating you after I get in this last round of punches.’” She points out that parents have heard promises of community engagement time after time, and that the argument that school closings are necessary to close the district’s budget gap don’t measure up to reality (as Sarah Karp has detailed in Catalyst). Byrd-Bennett’s insistence that the closing of 100 or so schools has nothing to do with the plan to open 60 new charters also strains credulity.

Thanks to Mike Klonsky for his shout-out, too.

Both the Tribune and the Sun-Times came out against the proposal. The Sun-Times reported that the 5-year “moratorium” on closings wouldn’t keep them from other interventions:

Julie Woestehoff of Parents United for Responsible Education said a “turnaround’’ has the same affect of a “closure” on adults in a school. “This seems to be more evidence to suggest that this is a phony moratorium,’’ Woestehoff said. “It’s a moratorium whose details are TBA. “How can people sign on to support something when the details seem to change from hour to hour? It sounds like a moratorium of convenience and nothing that can be trusted or supported by Chicago parents.’’

The S-T further reported that the first three hearings before BBB’s panel will be in churches, moderated by pastors with ties to Mayor Rahm. This way, they won’t have to actually PAY people to come out on their side. They will simply count on the pastors to bring out their congregations.

Done deal.


Real parent involvement not bought at Walgreen’s (memories of Field School)

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

Parents protest Walgreens' opposition to fair school funding (1993)

So, Rahm Emanuel went swimming at his health club recently and got a great idea – give parents a $25 gift card from Walgreen’s and solve the parent involvement problem! (I guess the pool had already given him enough great ideas for solving Chicago’s homicide epidemic.)

He took this great idea to my old neighborhood school, Eugene Field Elementary, and, with Walgreen’s CEO Greg Wasson, announced that parents at 70 schools with low parental involvement would receive cards loaded with 25,000 “customer loyalty” points (worth $25).

“This is a way, in my view, of incentivizing responsible parenting,” said Rahm.

Right. Because parents have no real incentive for supporting their children’s education.

Setting the press conference at Field brought back some powerful memories, going back 25 years (wow, really?) when our two sons attended the school.

I remember being elected to the first local school council at Field. At the first meeting, we elected the top vote-getter as our chairperson. His daughter’s teacher stood up in the meeting and threatened him in front of the principal and the entire audience. Shortly after that, his daughter decided to transfer to another school, so the father lost his eligibility to be an LSC member.  All of this was done with full knowledge of the district. That was how CPS “incentivized” parent involvement at Field.

I remember when the Field teachers, with the blessing of the principal, came out in force to a PTA meeting and voted themselves in to all the PTA officers’ positions, effectively shutting parents out of any role in the parent-teacher organization. That was how CPS “incentivized” parent involvement at Field.

The LSC got rid of that principal, and hired a new one. She seemed great for a while, but then lots of bad advice from upper management led her to hide in her office and, among other things, deny the offer my husband and I made to run a Great Books program in the school. She actually wrote us a letter saying that the school had “enough volunteers.” CPS officials saw nothing wrong with this letter. That was how they “incentivized” parent involvement at Field.

Eventually the LSC found a better principal fit with Rachel Resnick – and I have no idea how things are for parents under the current principal. Apparently not good enough.

But my perspective at PURE allows me to continue to see how CPS and the mayor “incentivize” parent involvement around the city:

  • CPS allows principals to break federal parent involvement rules by refusing to allow PURE parent workshops to take place, even though the NCLB parent advisory committees have voted to have the workshops.
  • CPS encourages principals to waste hundreds of thousands of parent involvement dollars every year by sending school staff and a few parents to out-of-state conferences (airfare, hotel, meals and stipends included in the cost) while parents at home gain nothing.
  • CPS’s Office of LSC Relations continues to blacklist PURE from LSC training even though LSC members prefer independent training over CPS’s cursory bullet-point sessions.
  • Rahm’s cronies in the foundation and corporate giving world continue to blacklist independent LSC/parent support groups like PURE and Designs for Change, a situation which one of the late Don Moore’s children suggested contributed to his early death.
  • Rahm and his cronies ignore and disrespect elected, parent-run local school councils while pushing education privatizers’ phony “parent empowerment” programs like school choice and the parent trigger.

PURE’s response to Walgreen’s and other corporate sponsors of phony parent empowerment has always been, “Start by paying your fair share of school funding” so that Illinois moves from the bottom of the heap in per-capita school funding. Then we can talk about your gift cards and your swimming pool brainstorms.


“Give it a rest, Rahm”: Great Sun-Times letter by PURE member

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

Yesterday’s Sun-Times carried this to-the-point letter from PURE member and active mom Linda Hudson:

Dear Mr. Mayor: It is far too early to be campaigning for re-election. Stop the commercials and radio ads already. Tell your rich hedge-fund friends to use the money spent on these misleading commercials to help the children of Chicago. You know, those kids whose parents can’t afford the Lab School. Show the children of Chicago you truly have their best interest at heart by forging a relationship with the CTU and draw a line in the sand and play fair.

Linda Hudson, Avalon Park

Teachers may win more than better contract

Saturday, September 15th, 2012

The Sun-Times quotes me suggesting that the possibly-winding-up strike will have at least one positive outcome beyond whatever contractual benefits are won —  higher morale for teachers who have been under relentless attack from Hollywood, Bill Gates, Rahm, astroturfers, Republican candidates, etc:

“I think the children are going to benefit from teachers who are newly invigorated and excited about the work that they do. It’s not just that they have been able to come together as a profession; they’ve seen the outpouring of support from parents and students and other community members that I think has really lifted them up, and I think they’ll take that into the classroom when they come back.”

Fingers crossed.

Corp reform media blaming teachers, touting charters

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

The corporate reform-backed media is  doing its “Education Nation” best to prop up Rahm Emanuel’s union busting efforts, with a lot of help from Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.

Parents Across America’s Leonie Haimson was put up against three white male corp reformers on CNBC yesterday. I know, not fair that the men were  so overmatched, but one of them still managed to suggest that the parents supporting the CTU are victims of Stockholm Syndrome (I’m now cursingoin Swedish…ooh – guess they’re right!).

ABC News (we watch broadcast news at my mom’s house) did a story claiming that Chicago charter schools (which are, you know, open now) are better than comparison schools.

Here’s what Sun-Times columnist Carol Marin quoted today from someone who actually knows the truth about Chicago’s charter schools:

“I ran the numbers when I was at CPS,” said Terry Mazany, former interim CPS superintendent and CEO of the Chicago Community Trust. “Charters, based on . . . being freed from restrictions of bureaucracy, should be knocking the socks off neighborhood schools. But they’re not. It’s a dead heat.”

Corp reformers can’t have it both ways.

If CPS schools are so awful, why  isn’t that the fault of mayoral control and Arne Duncan?


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About the PURE Thoughts blogger
Julie Woestehoff is PURE's executive director. Julie's work has earned her a Ford Foundation award and recognition as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.