Monday, October 30, 2006

What The Hell???

Someone over at Russo's Blog (click here) forgot their valium tonight.

I post their comment here because I just can't let this pass:

It is also important to note that some LSC members are felons and therefor (sic) need to be fingerprinted. A real problem with LSCs--they can be felons and tell schools what is best for the children, until it is discovered that they are a felon. Some former members of the old Englewood LSC were good for this--recruiting gang members and having the GDs run the school. Just another worry for the prinincipal, teachers and parents.
Is there anyone out there who can say that the GD's ran the LSC at Englewood? This is absurd...Isn't it?


The next LSC meeting at Lincoln Park is November 8th - Wednesday - 5:30 a.m.

Students and staff plan to return to find out if the LSC has taken any position on the restricted Library services and especially the "cut" of a long time Librarian, Union Delegate, Service Learning Coach and LSC teacher rep.

Any concerned CPS or community members are encouraged to attend and show suppurt against the arbitrary and retaliatory actions of the principal, Bessie Karvelas.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


Teachers who criticize each other....Divided unions in a time of peril....Media who can't wait to sing the praises of charter schools/end of tenure/unions are the problem (pick your meta sized story line) and we are sniping at each other?

We need to speak with one voice. A voice that extols the hard work we do every day and demands, not asks, demands our remuneration for the sacrifices we have made lo' these many years.

I say to the Illinois Democratic Party that once Nov. 7 has come and gone, Democrats will retain power at the city, county and state level. We Will Come Calling.

We want major reform in school funding. Major reform that allows charters to be unionized. Major reform on issues that affect the very lives of the students we serve. We want full funding for special education (nah, make that 150% funding of what we ask for).

No more education on the cheap or political fear of raising taxes. We supported you, now it is time to pony up.

If you can't/won't do this, then follow the advice from the photo above. And maybe, in the mean time, you can stop calling yourselves Democrats as well.

Lead, Follow, Or Get Out Of The Way.

To all Illinois Democrats, it now time to pony up the cash and pass the legislation.

And to all of those in our union who would divide us from this mission, I advise you to read that poster above again. No matter who wins this coming spring, the CTU will speak with one voice. And we will get the needed reforms passed. Enough is enough.

(P.S. Hat tip to Firedoglake for the cool graphic.)

Friday, October 27, 2006

Pension Election

Today, I found out that the person in charge of the pension election at my school was absent and did not make arrangements for voting. As a result, no one at the school was able to vote. When I called CTU, they said that he had called them earlier in the week to say no one would be in charge of the voting. They said there was nothing they could do and would just note it as a "problem". I was wondering if this was a common problem and if the response I got was correct?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Hello again everybody

I took a little break for a variety of reasons, but I'm back with my usual mix of sarcasm and cynicism. Tomorrow I review the new Chicago Union Teacher. How many pictures of Marilyn this time?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Is It Something In The Water?

My students today blamed Lake Michigan, but seriously, why do students who are demographically identical to students in other areas of the country perform so poorly here in Chicago?

Illinois' poor and black students score worse than most minority students nationally, a study shows, offering a rare glimpse of how Illinois' minority students stack up.

Only 8 percent of black fourth-graders are proficient in reading, ranking Illinois 35th out of 41 states that test a large enough group of black students. Only 9 percent of poor eighth-graders are proficient in math, ranking the state 37th out of 50, the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation found after analyzing the 2005 National Assessment of Educational Progress.

"Illinois lines up abysmally," said Michael Petrilli, Fordham vice president.
Full Sun-times story here.

Check out comments at Russo's 299 blog here.

Your thoughts?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

4-year Teachers Contract Approved

Full story is here.

Here is a snippet from the Tribune:

OLYMPIA FIELDS -- Rich Township High School District 227 officials this week unanimously approved a 4-year contract with the district's teachers that will pay an average 4 percent annual increase....

..."It was amicable and done very professionally," said school board President Betty Owens. "Each side respected the other, and we were able to talk through issues on both sides of the aisle."

The contract also calls for adding another HMO option, Blue Advantage, which is part of Blue Cross/Blue Shield. The district also opted to "unbundle" its PPO and HMO insurance choices, making each plan self-supporting. Deductibles will double under the plan. (emphasis mine - Ed.)
OK, here goes. This looks very similar to the contract CTU negotiated when Lynch and PACT were in charge. 4% raise a year for 4 years. Individual costs for medical coverage go up (but they did not double under Lynch's negotiation).

This is what I keep hearing from so many CPS teachers. They voted for UPC because Lynch got a bad contract and medical went up (but, once again I say, it did not double). These same people seem to forget that UPC had run the union for 30+ years and the contracts negotiated under Reese had increases in medical and 1 or 2% raises, and those raises were not every year. That was the extent of the UPC expertise. Small raises or none at all. In the middle of the go-go 90's, when the economy was exploding, Reese and UPC delivered the weakest contract in CTU history.

Lynch came to town and what do you know, in the middle of a recession CPS coughs up a contract with a 4% increase every year for 4 years.

Compare what Rich Township High School District 227 got and what Detroit got (see my earlier posts on Detroit here).

What do you think will happen to us this June when the contract expires? Will we get another 4% a year for 4 years or will CPS offer us what Detroit teachers were offered from their district (5.5% wage cut and a 20% rise in insurance co-pays)?

Anyone who follows the news of how teacher contracts are being negotiated should know that what Lynch got us 4 years ago was a great deal. No one should trust UPC to get us anything even close to what she accomplished. After all, UPC are the same people who negotiate in secret with CPS to change the contract and make union members file freedom of information act petitions to get access to the documents. That tells you everything you need to know.

What do you think?

God Bless the AFL-CIO

Go team, go! The following is from yahoo news, full story here.

AFL-CIO files complaint on supervisors
By WILL LESTER, Associated Press Writer Sun Oct 22, 8:50 AM ET

WASHINGTON - Organized labor is filing an international protest about a federal decision redefining which workers are supervisors exempt from legal protection to join unions.

The AFL-CIO, a federation of about 50 labor unions with 9 million members, said it would file a complaint Monday with the International Labor Organization of theUnited Nations about a decision this month by the National Labor Relations Board.

The decision, covering a series of cases known as the Kentucky River cases, involved the role of a supervisor.

The board ruled that nurses who regularly run shifts at health care facilities should be considered supervisors and exempt from federal protections that cover union membership. The decision potentially has major implications for workers in other fields.

"This will demonstrate how far outside the mainstream of accepted international law the U.S. is moving," said Craig Becker, a legal counsel to the AFL-CIO.

I hope this works. I would hate to see a curriculum coordinator "defined" out of the union.

For more background, read my post about this here.

The Ratings (Rantings) On LPHS Principal

I have always had mixed opinions of the site Rate My Teacher, but after the happenings at LPHS I thought what could it hurt to take a look.

Here are the cummulative ratings from Rate My Teacher for Principal Karvelas:

Bessie Karvelas
# of Ratings: 32
Popularity Total: 0
Overall Quality: 1.3
Averages are based on a maximum score of 5

Here are comments from students about Principal Karvelas:

10-21-06: "This is the number one school in the state named by Newsweek, number 30 in the country and in the top 5% in the world and this is our principal. I wish I didn't enroll in Lincoln Park."

10-21-06: "i agree, LP is going to hell in a handbasket."

10-18-06: "this woman has created big brother syndrome in LPHS. no one challenges the great karvalas. why do you think all those teachers got axed? they challenged her and maybe humilated her. LPHS=Big Brother."

1-15-06: "can you explain to me how someone so oblivious gets to be an administrator? i mean shes nice if you talk to her, but shes just so...dumb. we're arent 5 years old thank you..."

11-25-05: "cant run school cant tell where money is supposed to go and jipped the perfroming arts."
Comments? Anyone from LPHS out there?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Sorry that took so long, but on with the show. I have edited down the 1 hour+ LSC meeting into about 5 really great videos. They will be posted ASAP.

The best moments from that meeting will not be seen here, as they were student comments and I do not feel comfortable posting them. Even though it was a public meeting, I do not have any release forms for the students of LPHS and I do not think it appropriate to post those. Anyone who was there knows that the passion and sincerity that the students of LPHS shared with the LSC that night were far more powerful than anything the adults had to say.

That said, there were many good comments made the adults in attendance.

On an earlier post I replied to a comment (see original comments here) by saying: "Leadership inspires. It gets people to give more than they thought they could. If you worked at LPHS, would you be more inspired or less inspired by what happened there?"

I stand by that and present to you the comments of an LPHS history teacher.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

LPHS Meeting a Blow-Out!

I will post more on this soon, including video.

For now, all I can say is how humbling it was.

It seems cliche to say that teachers influence students, but Ms. Eshoo's record of achievement and inspiration is, well, humbling.

Consider this an open thread to discuss what happened at LPHS tonight.

Video will be up sometime tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

LPHS Meeting

See you at the Lincoln Park LSC meeting: Thursday 10/12 @ 5:30.

Monday, October 09, 2006


Russo's District 299 blog posted 3 articles recently published about school funding. Much attention paid to the fact the both Daley and Jackson, Jr. were working together to get the state to move on education funding reform.

You can view the original post here.

I read the headlines and a few comments, but somehow I keep coming back to the same question:


I will ask the question once more.


We have Democratic control of the offices of Governor, House and Senate, County and the largest city in the state.

If the Democratic party of Illinois can't get this job done, then what good are they?
Education funding in Illinois is a national joke, a disgrace.

If Daley and Jackson, Jr. can get together on this, then what is stopping the party from making this a signature issue?

Are they really that incapable of governing?

Good Lord, can we just stop making this an annual NPR story or a biannual investigative series in Catalyst and get the changes made that need to be made?

Is their no one out there who can help get this deal done?

I'm sick of this annual/biannual discussion.

I'm talking to you Rod Blagojevich, Richard Daley, Lisa Madigan, Michael Madigan, Jesse White, Emil Jones, and every other Democrat who plays a role in Illinois governance.

What are you waiting for? Bush and the Republicans are at 33%. The last Senator we elected (a "D" if you forgot) won 70 to 30 percent. A state wide vote.

Are you afraid people won't support education reform? What is it that is holding you back from acting on a tidal wave of Democratic support, state wide? Your own lack of leadership? Good grief, get off the dime.






Nothing in Democratic Politics Could Happen Without Unions.

Literally nothing in Democratic politics could happen without unions.

A wonderful post at Firedoglake.

Labor provides the money for campaigns, the reliable volunteers who show up rain or shine. Labor helps with field, GOTV, and media. It's not just that labor provides a lot of help, it's that labor provides help reliably, cycle after cycle. Unions don't get bored with politics, they don't decide that politics doesn't matter, and union members show up and vote in primaries up and down the ticket.

They invest long-term in voter registration programs, they build infrastructure that the party committees have traditionally scoffed at, and they have been an immense force in progressive politics for a hundred years, holding politicians accountable for their choices in office...
Read the whole thing here.

See you Tuesday. Comments?

And you Mr. Mayor? No need for union suppoprt anymore? In Chicago?

Saturday, October 07, 2006

What's Up At Lincoln Park?

UPDATE: I have heard from Ms. Eshoo and I have been asked to correct a few things that I received in the email below.

I have been authorized to say that Eshoo lost her job, but Karvelas lost all credibility - staff and students don't buy her the hiding behind the "budget cut" reason. (A good school leader would protect good people).

Here is the (edited for accuracy) text of an email I received today:

You may have heard that Lincoln Park HS Delegate Bernie Eshoo's position was cut last week. After 17 years of superior ratings, Bernie was escorted out of school.

"Save Mrs. Eshoo" signs, posters and tee-shirts are appearing around the school. Later last week the principal, feeling heat from staff and students, went on the intercom explaining to 2000+ people why she had to let her go! There will be an LSC meeting this Thursday, 10/10 at LPHS Room 103. The question period will begin at 5:30 p.m.
Why don't we show up at this LSC meeting to support Bernie?

She needs to know we are behind her 100% and the administration needs to know that they cannot get away with retaliating against union members for fighting for their rights and the rights of their members.

Hope to see you there:

October 10 @ 5:30 p.m. @ Lincoln Park HS, Room 103

Correct date for the Lincoln Park LSC meeting:
Thursday 10/12 @ 5:30
Sorry for the confusion.

Your thoughts?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Andy Stern Comes To Chicago

Andy Stern, President of the SEIU and author of the new book "A Country That Works", will be be at a book signing/reading at 437 N. Rush Street on October 10th at 7:30 pm.

For more info, click here.

Be there or be square labor union apple-cart upsetters.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Colbert Report On The NLRB Decision

What do you think?

How will the Mayor and CPS respond? If Daley tries to capitalize on this, it will forever end his family's legacy of working with unions and instead indelibly label him a corporation hack. Even from me, a green bungalow owner, I could never forgive Daley if he tried to use this to hurt the CTU or any other union in this city (are you listening CTA...Police...Fire...?)

Workers LOSE BIG Under Labor Board Ruling

Found this post over at DailyKos and it is just too good to not cross-post over here. Here are some selected tidbits. Please click here to read the whole thing.

In one of the most sweeping rulings on union membership in more than 50 years, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) today redefined and expanded the definition of "supervisor," potentially taking away the federally protected freedom to form a union from 8 million workers.

Under federal labor law, supervisors are barred from forming unions.

The board's new definition essentially enables employers to make a supervisor out of any worker who has the authority to assign or direct another and uses independent judgment. Amazingly, the board also ruled that a worker can be classified as a supervisor if he or she spends as little as 10 percent to 15 percent of his or her time overseeing the work of others. The board issed the ruling Sept. 29, but did not release it until today.

In their dissent, Democratic NLRB members Wilma Liebman and Dennis Walsh said today's decision:

...threatens to create a new class of workers under federal labor law; workers who have neither the genuine prerogatives of management, nor the statutory rights of ordinary employees....[M]ost professionals have some supervisory responsibilities in the sense of directing another's work--the lawyer his secretary, the teacher his teacher's aide, the doctor his nurses, the registered nurse her nurse's aid and so on.
Liebman and Walsh wrote that most professionals and other workers could fall under the new definition of supervisor, "who by 2012 could number almost 34 million, accounting for 23.3 percent of the workforce."

Oakwood claimed charge nurses at Heritage Hospital occasionally perform work that involves being a "lead person" or supervising other workers--although they have no authority to hire or fire or discipline the workers.
I read this and thought...curriculum coordinators, reading coaches, department chairs, the list goes on and on. They have no power to hire, fire, or discipline, but could now be "defined" out of the union.

This could be devasting in terms of union membership and, by implication of a reduction in numbers of members, CTU's clout in terms of politics and contract negotiations.

I know that many of our community have recently discussed the impact of charters on union membership. How will we respond to this decision and, god forbid, what if CPS tries to "define" out hundreds of members?

Is anyone at the Merchandise Mart doing working on this?

UPDATE: Check this out over at Firedoglake.

2nd UPDATE: Check out the MyDD post here.
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