Never Let A Crisis….

I do not like unions.  My first memory of them was my father returning from a trip where he had a unpleasant encounter.  He had a semi-trailer to unload and backed up to the loading dock, four guys were sitting around (one drinking a beer) and he asked for help unloading.  One stated, “we can’t, the guy who drives the fork-lift is out today”.  “Nobody else knows how to drive a fork-lift?”  “It’s not that, union rules don’t allow us to, he’s the only one allowed to drive the fork-lift!”  So my father and the guy he brought with him began unloading the truck by themselves.  No one objected to him driving the fork-lift.  This company he was delivering to later had two rounds of union disputes/strikes.  After the second, they closed the entire division, ending over one hundred jobs.

Growing up I also saw two of the large businesses in my home town close.  Again, union demands had pushed the company to a point they decided they could no longer stay profitable.  One moved to California (no, I can’t explain that) the other to Mexico.  I picture unions as passengers on a bus, first they get on happy to ride instead of walk, then they get to talking and decide they know better how/where the bus should go.  Did anyone force them to get on the bus?  Once on, they decide to gang up on the bus driver and dictate to him new rules, “we will stop at every gas station, some of us have bladder issues”.  And so the two-hour ride now takes five hours.  The bus driver was making four trips a day, now can only make two, one being very late with everyone unhappy.  And the he goes out of business.  Maybe it was a slow process, one rest stop became two, then four.  The point, the demands by the mob never stop.
Is there another side?  Sure, unions have done some good things.  I have never been in a coal mine but know a little history, where companies virtually enslaved people and worked them to death.  But does that really compare to a teacher sitting behind a desk five hours a day, with a lunch and other breaks during the day?  Writing with chalk or a dry-marker in a climate controlled room is a harsh environment requiring constant reforms?  I think the Obama administration drug out stopping the gulf oil spill.  They wanted the biggest environmental disaster possible.  They then used this disaster to end drilling in the gulf.  (Yes, existing wells still produce, but new drilling? to expensive, to many delays)  But that the Chicago method, pick your fights and win them no matter how!
I was surprised when Rahm Emanuel resigned and returned to Chicago.  But could see the strategy, make sure Obama’s voter base there stayed loyal.  And then just two weeks before the DNC convention I see the Chicago teachers were about to go on strike.  I thought, “gee Rahm, they’ve watched you & Obama drive for a while, looks like they think they want to spin the wheel a little”.  All summer they have failed to reach an agreement.   Just when Rahm must go help Obama, he gets his own taste of Chicago, pay up or we will cost you Illinois.  If Obama looses Chicago, he loses the state!  Do those teachers know how to play hardball or what?  I think Rahm is a slime-ball,  but the reforms he’s pushed are very reasonable.   Chicago has the shortest school day and one of the worst ratings of any school system in America.  Any way you want to grade them they would rate an F minus!  So Rahm tells them, five hours of classroom time is not enough, their response?  Pound sand!  And then the union members tearfully appear on camera saying they are fighting for whats best for the children.  (isn’t that what they claim on abortion, it’s for the children?

Chicago Mayor and former Obama administration official Rahm Emanuel addresses the first session of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, September 4, 2012. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi

Chicago Mayor and former Obama administration official Rahm Emanuel addresses the first session of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, September 4, 2012

CHICAGO (Reuters) – A bitter dispute between unionized public school teachers and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has residents of the third-largest U.S. city bracing for a possible teachers’ strike on Monday in a showdown over education reform that has national implications.

Nearly 30,000 public school teachers and support staff represented by the Chicago Teachers Union have vowed to walk off the job starting at 12:01 a.m. (0401 GMT) on Monday if an impasse in contract talks with the city is not broken.

Emanuel, a former White House chief of staff to President Barack Obama and a speaker at this week’s Democratic National Convention, has made reform of Chicago’s troubled public schools a top priority. Emanuel cut short his trip to the convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, to deal with the teacher crisis.

Earlier this year, he pushed through a longer school day, but the union is opposed to other proposed reforms, including tougher teacher evaluations tied to student test scores and giving principals wide latitude in hiring.

The union also wants more than the 8 percent pay raise over four years that Chicago is offering. The school district says it cannot afford concessions as it is running a large budget deficit and major credit rating agencies have downgraded its debt rating.

The threatened walkout, the first in Chicago in 25 years and one of the largest labor actions nationwide in recent years, comes at an awkward time for Emanuel’s former boss, President Barack Obama, who spent much of his adult life in Chicago and owns a house in the city.

Obama and his fellow Democrats facing voters on November 6 are counting on unions such as teachers to get out the vote around the country in a close election.

Chicago’s public school system, the third-largest in the country behind New York and Los Angeles, has more than 400,000 students enrolled.

Both sides in Chicago agree the city’s public schools need fixing. The city’s fourth-grade and eighth-grade students lag national averages in a key test of reading ability, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Until Emanuel forced through a longer school day, which began last week, Chicago elementary and middle school students received instruction for fewer hours a year than any of 30 major cities studied by the National Center on Time and Learning, an education reform group.


Emanuel, a tough negotiator called a bully by the teachers union, wants to close schools, expand non-union charter schools, and let corporations and philanthropies run some schools. He also wants principals to be able to hire whom they want, and he wants to use standardized test results to evaluate teachers.

The union wants to shrink class sizes and increase education funding. It is suspicious of efforts to erode job protections such as tenure, teacher autonomy and seniority. It believes charter schools – which are taxpayer-funded but not subject to all public school regulations – undermine public education.

“What Emanuel represents is a new breed of urban mayors, pushing for a whole system of school improvements … responding to public demand,” said Kenneth Wong, director of the Urban Education Policy Program at Brown University.

As the strike deadline approached, union president Karen Lewis told local radio on Friday she was heartened that a top school board official attended the talks on Thursday for the first time and seemed to understand the teachers’ concerns.(1)

Could there be division in the Democratic party?  Rahm’s policies seem more like a moderate Republican, spending cuts along with tax increases.  And there’s this movie we are not hearing about that was screened at both conventions.

Could it be A bi-partisan issue? ( Maybe Romney or Ryan will hit Chicago in support of Rahm? )  Or is reality just getting thru to a few?

The  screening of the education movement’s parent-trigger film Won’t Back  Down at the Democratic National Convention this week is causing  turmoil among Democrats. The movie, much like the documentary Waiting for  Superman, has prompted strong reactions from union leaders,  activists and teachers.

Most  Democrats view the public education system as the country’s great equalizer and  see movies like Won’t Back Down as anti-teacher, anti-union and as a  slick way to win people over to the side of those who want to privatize  education.

Therefore,  it came as no surprise to rank and file Democrats the movie received a warm  welcome when viewed and discussed at the Republican National Convention last  week. Republicans like Jeb Bush, Governor Rick Scott, Condoleezza Rice and a  host of others across the country are on board with reforms like charter schools  and vouchers.

But  unlike Tampa, the decision to show the movie in Charlotte was so controversial  it went all the way to the higher-ups in the Obama administration.  The  education issue has caused a rift between teachers unions who have been  steadfastly loyal to Democrat politicians, and those within the Party that say  they want more teacher accountability and school choice.

…the  request for a Charlotte screening went to the highest levels of the Obama  administration, which passed the decision off to the Democratic National  Committee, according to a source with knowledge of the chain of  events.

According  to this source, Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s close personal adviser, and David  Plouffe, his top political adviser, both saw the request but eventually handed  the decision over to the DNC’s political director, Patrick Gaspard, who raised  no objections.

Then there’s Randi Weingarten president of the American Federation of Teachers, who saw the movie in mid-August and surprisingly conceded unions had lost their edge when it comes to education.

We bear a lot of responsibility for this…We were focused — as unions are — on fairness and not as much on quality.

Weingarten’s own ties to the White House (her partner Hilary Rosen was a frequent WH visitor according to Michelle Malkin, meeting with Obama, Jarrett and Axelrod on separate occasions) may have been the reason for her statement.  If there’s trouble in paradise between traditional unions and the Chicagoans in DC, who Ok’d the movie’s premiere at the DNC, it would make sense Weingarten might go easy on the movie.

Ten days later, however, Weingarten changed her tune. The President of the second largest teachers union in the country wrote a letter to “interested parties” denouncing the movie. Weingarten accused the moviemakers of “using the most blatant stereotypes and caricatures I have ever seen” and “affixing blame on the wrong culprit: America’s teachers unions.”

What prompted Weingarten’s sudden reversal?  Is the Democratic Party showing signs of a complete ideological split: the new left on one side pushing charters, partnering with conservative billionaires and Hollywood to produce anti-union, anti-teacher movies; while on the other side stand the old union stalwarts who see reformers like Michelle Rhee and Kevin Johnson as entrepreneurial opportunists?

Rhee and husband Mayor Johnson who appeared at the RNC will also be at the DNC screening. Interestingly, Republicans Jeb Bush and Condoleezza Rice who attended the Tampa showing will not be in Charlotte.

Looks like the power shift within the Democratic Party is taking place before our very eyes.(2)

There are reports a strike may be avoided.(3)  From all I’ve read, the teachers unions have emptied the piggy bank.  With salaries, benefits and pension plans, the til is empty.  (Maybe they expect Obama to come thru with some emergency rescue?  Might have been what all the Chicago Olympic excitement was about, you can hide a lot of graft on those kind of cost overruns)  But for now, they can’t afford it, even with Rahm reducing their deficit spending from over $700 million to only $300 million a year.  Wonder where that might lead?  Isn’t there three major CA cities in some trouble?   Moody’s: More Calif. cities could go bankrupt  (yep, that’s it)

Stockton, Calif., in July became the largest American city ever to declare bankruptcy.

“To summarize, we expect … more bankruptcy filings and bond defaults among California cities reflecting the increased risk to bondholders as investors are asked to contribute to plans for closing budget gaps,” the report said.

I know what I would like to see happen in Chicago, privatize all the schools!  There are major cities that have private police, fire and ambulance services.  Why not do the same with schools?  The problem here is we’ve let public service, which has government protections, exploit laws written to protect workers in the private sector.  How would a private sector company deal with this constant push by unions?  The big car makers gave in and passed costs on to consumers until they could no longer compete with foreign car makers (building in the US).  Somebody needs to stand up to these unions and tell them NO!  You want to drive?  Buy your own damned bus and drive it wherever you want, ’cause we are out of here!  Oh look!  Somebody did!  No Union Please, We’re Wal-Mart(5)






article with school day length mentioned,

past article on unions,



  1. We passed 400 posts on the last article where things get slow, so needed a new page. It seems to me we have two events happening that would test any president. The Chicago teachers strike has to reflect on him personally as he has/is a champion of the unions, calls Chicago him home town and his chief of staff left his administration to become mayor.

    I have posted another page for the attacks on US embassies in Egypt and Libya.

    • …is a champion of the unions…

      I think Charlie would disagree on this characterization of Obama.

      • OK, I kinda expect that myself. What does Buck think? If Charlie throws that out, I’m going to be asking him how many times union leaders met with Obama. Did they have their own office at the WH?

        • I think Obama is more of a ‘friend’ of Unions than Romney is…but doubt that is saying all that much.

          As for the Chicago situation specifically, haven’t really been following along as of yet.

          • Years ago, a political analyst friend of mine told me that only Nixon could go to China and only Begin could sign the agreement with Sadat. His reasoning, a revelation to me at the time, was that only someone whose credentials are impeccable in opposition (communism/Anti-Zionism) could get away with it and not be considered a sell-out.

            This is why Obama and Emmanuel could be the kiss of death for unions. Scott Walker in Wisconsin and Christie in Jersey are considered to be the bogey man in dealings with Public Sector unions. If I were still a municipal union member in NY, I would be much more concerned about young Andrew Cuomo, my “friend” who just gave the unions Tier 6 which, for all intents and purposes in no retirement plan.

            • With Walkers successful reform, I can see the Chicago strike costing Obama Wisconsin. They didn’t like the union’s actions and demands there, the Chicago demands show what they are about, their own feathered nest, screw the kids….

          • HI Buck…totally disagree…Obama will go down in history as taking the biggest payoff from unions than any other President of this Nation. He is a bag man….as much as you do not want to hear it.

            • No colonel, he takes their money. he would, at the right time, have no problem selling them, out.

              Unions and black people are automatic votes for the Democrats. As has been said, Where else can they go? If you look at the history of the past fifty years and the great “successes” of the unions and blacks, you can easily see what I mean. I mean, want to talk about cool aid drinkers? Unions shrink, manufacturing disappears along with union jobs, Blacks fall farther and farther behind, unwed motherhood sweeps the black community, drugs and dealers run rampant, violence runs rampant, education is in the toilet and the democrats are the friends of unions/blacks?

              Frankly, the unions would probably do better if Henry Ford ran the country and the blacks, if the KKK had a resurgence. At least then, everyone would at least know who the enemy is.

              • Forgot, actually, he has sold the unions out. Not the UAW but the subsidiary unions who do parts for GM like Delco . How about what he has done for the United Mine Workers? Must be some unions in the petroleum business what’s he done for them?

      • charlieopera says:

        So far, Obama has been the biggest sell-out to unions (along with their leader, Trumpka) in this history of unions, but don’t let that stop you from calling him a socialist.

        Curious, though … demonizing workers seems to be the game these days … teachers making an average of $70K … imagine that? $70K a year … for teaching. Now imagine comparing that to CEO’s (talk about bailouts, LOI), making $20+ million in golden parachutes AFTER Bankrupting their companies (talk about poor performance) … I guess I “might” side with the anti-worker rhetoric if the teachers were ALL getting $20+ million for that F minus YOU assign them.

        Personally, i think they should make 6 figures … 🙂

        • Frankly, I like today’s “Daily News” article about the plumbers and steam fitters for the NY City Housing Authority picking up in excess of $ 100,000 (plus their $ 90,000 base) in overtime better . I think the teachers need a new PR firm. I assume there is a reason they turned down a 16% increase and based on my own Civil Service past, (like no contract for the previous four years) it may be legitimate. But… they sure don’t know how to sell it and look like greedy slime trying to defend it. .

        • Charlie,

          They have agreed on pay raises. The main issue now seems to be evaluation. The unions refuse to allow performance to be considered. 50% drop-out rate, 20% literacy rate, it’s a failed system that is using the power of a mob to stop any reform or progress.
          Money is taken by force from taxpayers and spent without their say. Teachers contribute three percent to their pensions, so 97% come from the taxpayers! The private companies, you have unlimited choices, you don’t have to buy from them. Your kid is not required to only shop at their stores. You don’t have to give them a red cent! If they make millions off of you and me, we choose to give them our money because we want their product or service. Maybe part of that is they fire workers that don’t perform!

          • charlieopera says:

            I’m not against evaluations … but taken by force? How about the money taken by force from us everyday for corporate welfare … or the defense industry? Please, give it up already.

            • “How about the money taken by force from us everyday for corporate welfare” Do you mean the tax breaks/ loopholes Romney wants to close and the Dem’s have fought tooth and nail? “or the defense industry?”I kinda agree with you on this. I would love to have a say in where my tax $$ is spent, ZERO would go to the Dept of Education, Energy, IRS, EPA, etc…BUT, they are against evaluations. You champion the unions & teachers and their biggest issue is “thou shalt not grade us & our teaching performance!”

              Teacher evaluations are where the board and the union are most strongly at odds. The board, supported by Chicago Mayor and former Obama White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, wants teachers’ job security tied to their students standardized test scores.

              But Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis opposes this move,, warning that it would cost 6,000 teachers their jobs. That figure is disputed by Emanuel and the board.

              Emanuel also wants students to spend more time in school. Until recently, Chicago’s school day was among the shortest in the nation, clocking in at a mere 5 hours and 45 minutes.

              Emanuel backed down from his proposed 7 and ½ hour school day, finally agreeing on 7 hours with the union. But that agreement is contingent on the approval of sufficiently high salary increases for teachers.

              Until the union and the school board finalize the details, the strike will keep the school day not only short, but nonexistent. Parents of the roughly 350,000 students enrolled in Chicago public schools must find places for them during the day, in a city plagued by crime.

              This is the worst thing for the kids, and the union is to blame, according to Joy Pullman, managing editor of School Reform News.

              “The Chicago union is displaying its true interests by leaving 350,000 kids to fend for themselves as union members cavort about the streets in displays of willful self-indulgence,” wrote Pullmann in an e-mail to The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Research has shown that, especially for poorly achieving districts like Chicago, extra instruction time is vital for children to succeed. The strike demonstrates that the union cares only for itself, not for children.”

              The Chicago public schools system is likely to be $1 billion in debt by 2014.

              Read more:

              • tax breaks/ loopholes Romney wants to close

                And which tax breaks/loopholes, specifically, does he want to close? Why do I have some strange feeling that this will not bode well for the middle class?

              • wants teachers’ job security tied to their students standardized test scores.

                I am all for evaluations, but is this really the metric we want to use to grade our teachers? Perhaps this is part of the reason the teachers’ unions are fighting this tooth and nail? Maybe if we were to come up with some other metric…but what do I know, crazy liberal that I am!?

              • Without knowing all the details-My gut reaction, to the idea of using the students test scores as the sole basis to keep or fire them-as a bad idea. I think using the scores as Part of the evaluation is reasonable but not as the only measure. But without the details-I don’t know whether they are talking about as a part of-or the only necessary component to fire.

                Personally, I think the biggest problem in the school systems, is lack of discipline. And it seems like they are taking away the schools ability to punish bad behavior and a teachers ability to control her classroom.

              • Metric…….huh……Take seniority and throw it away… means nothing. Having said that, there is only ONE way seniority should be a factor…..if there is to be a layoff and you compare two people side by side and they are both equal…..that is where I would let seniority be a 50% factor.

                Merit pay based on performance and throw away the clap trap of a “student” that is unteachable.

                Do not lower the litmus to make more people pass….raise the bar. Do not reward children for failing. Make all…………….ALL teachers master degree qualified in teaching and make them to be able to spell, make full sentences with verbs and subjects, and not drag their knuckles on the ground.

                Take teaching out of the public sector and privatize it. Voucher it on results in the classroom. You do not hire a teacher because they are Black or Hispanic or Asian or any other ethnicity…you hire them because they are qualified.

                You want to help teachers to teach? Let them teach…..we have lost the good teachers and are left with mainly teachers that do not care about much but a pay check.

  2. Chicago Teacher’s Strike Defines Election Issues
    By Matthew Holzmann

    Members of the Chicago Teacher’s Union have gone on strike, shutting down the third largest school district in the country with over 404,000 students now in disarray.

    Chicago’s teachers have the highest average salary in the country at $76,000/year and according to the Mayor’s office, the financial side of the $400 Million deal is done. 4%/year raises have been agreed to, taking them to $88,900/year by 2016.

    The Mayor’s office stated that:

    “The two remaining stumbling blocks involve re-hiring laid off teachers from schools that get shut down or shaken up and a new teacher evaluation process that the union says puts far too much weight on student test scores.”

    So while 404,000 students are missing school, the real issues are accountability and union job protection.

    Chicago is not really different from Wisconsin, but while it is only 90 miles away, it is a universe away in its political realities. The city has seen the same economic straits as most large cities in the country and yet at a time when everyone else is cutting back and trying to get by, the Chicago Teacher’s Union, who have already been financially sated, wants more control with less accountability.

    This crystallizes two of the major issues we face. The terrible state of our K-12 educational system and our out of control public sector unions.

    Chicago has a 50% drop out rate; better than Los Angeles at 70%, but still what should be an insult to every teacher in each district.

    Whether it is for gross misconduct by teachers or for regular evaluations and student testing, the union expects to remain unaccountable. In Chicago, standardized test results are destroyed almost immediately after the tests are scored. They have it down in Chicago. No Atlanta scandals there.

    And at a time when the average salary in Chicago is $47,000/year and the city is running massive deficits, the disparity between results, compensation, and accountability in the school district is growing even larger.

    The issue is national. In California, the unions own the state government as well as most of the largest cities. Across the country states and municipalities are running huge deficits and there is a massive pension crisis.

    And Chicago perfectly summarizes the issue. This was an insider deal to begin with and now the union is pressing its advantage. They play rough in Chicago. It’s not about the kids. It is about continuing to rob the taxpayers blind and give them as little as possible in return.

    It is interesting to note that back in the 1990’s our president was at the forefront of educational reform in Chicago and to note the lack of progress since. The Annenberg Challenge spent hundreds of millions of dollars and in the words of its own final report in 2003 achieved almost nothing.

    Mayor Richard M. Daly took control of the School District in 1995 and put Arne Duncan, now U.S. Secretary of Education in charge, to no effect.

    Read more:

  3. Buck says:
    September 12, 2012 at 10:44 am • Edit

    tax breaks/ loopholes Romney wants to close

    And which tax breaks/loopholes, specifically, does he want to close? Why do I have some strange feeling that this will not bode well for the middle class?

    Damn you Buck! Again I mostly agree with a lefty, too early in the morning for this to be happening…spilled coffee earlier… I think, like Obama and most of the breed, they make vague promises and come back latter and claim later details matched their earlier rhetoric,
    which means they can say nearly anything and claim it was true, no matter the outcome. I also think they mean loopholes such as those that allowed GE to have record profits and pay no taxes, or the ones Warren Buffet says allows him to pay less than his secretary. Don’t know on the middle class, from his speeches, it’s supposed to help the middle class that can’t afford the accountants to find loopholes. But for now, it’s all bulldookey thrown out to try and get elected.

    • And this is precisely why leadership demands some mention of specifics!

      You think Romney/Ryan mean the loopholes that allow GE to have record profits and pay no taxes? Do you really believe that? I’m not so certain; and let’s be honest, even if he did, this wouldn’t do much to resolve our current situation. How about the loopholes that allow Romney to treat his income as capital gains? You think Romney is going to make a principled stand against that one? Again, I’m not so certain…

      • Just A Citizen says:


        He has clearly stated that he wants to reduce the RATE and then cut loopholes so that the net effect is “neutral”.

        So what difference does it make “which” loopholes at this point. Congress will be the one that decides which if any loopholes are eliminated. As long as he works to make sure they are “neutral” then he has kept his promise.

        • It makes a huge difference which loopholes are cut. Leadership requires more than simply parroting some lofty goal and ducking any question as to how to attain that goal.

  4. Bring in replacement teachers, pull the offer and fire all of them. Problem solved 🙂

    • Hear, hear!

    • Usually when a city contracts with a private company to run their fire or police services, the private company hires most of the former city employee’s. The same police/fire personnel do the same job but are paid now by a private company that is bound by a contract with the city. The city will require the same standards be met and now can impose penalties for failure. The same would work with schools, mostly the same teachers doing the same job but held accountable. Parents and students also would be held accountable.

  5. 😐

  6. And it’s so easy to find replacement teachers on a whim. Why bother? Let them school at home and see what the consequences are 10-15 years from now. Simple answers for simple people? Makes you wonder …

    • How about you tell me what the consequences of homeschooling are , Charlie? Think hard. I have homeschooled my son, others on this site have been homeschooled. Colleges are saying that homeschooled kids come to college much better prepared than brick and mortar schooled kids, public or private. So lay it on me.

      • Anita, my love, take 2 seconds to think about what you’re saying. Seriously. Do you want kids schooled by parents who never finished their education? That’s what you be getting in many urban areas. Kids having kids, then home schooling them? Sure, it might work for some, (those with educations/sense of work ethic, etc.), but what about the rest? How about single parents working 2 jobs to make ends meet? Do we just go back to what America has traditionally done to disadvantaged? Let them rot? Seriously, think about the mess you’ll have in 10 years … and how that will impact society.

        • Versus what we are letting out of the schools now? The public schools have failed these kids over the years..producing a bunch of “entitled” kids and that is why we are in such a jam now. A parent’s number one job in life is to teach their children. Period.

          • Two things: 1) So you’re all for letting the “entitled” kids run wild? 2) Home schooling, I’d bet, probably leads to kids parroting their parents world views; conservative for conservatives and liberal for liberals. So, where’s the difference? At least in pubic schools, kids get a more broad worldview. Not every kid who graduates from a public school feels “entitled”. If you really believe that, you’re probably spending too much time on SUFA and not dealing with the real world. I say that with all due respect, Anita.

            • No offense taken. You”re starting with a mess so it’s hard to see the benefits. You pander to the lowest common denominator and assume that no one is able to pull themselves up the ladder. Give people credit or, if you will, start with the premise that it IS the parents job to teach their children. At this point it would do the parents much good to homeschool..that way they actually learn what they were supposed to learn years ago. Elementary and secondary education is not rocket science. You can’t knock it unless you’ve been there.

              • Oh, and another thing. Homeschooling doesn’t mean the parent must teach the child. There are homeschool groups as well. A trusted friend or relative can do the same thing a parent can do. So its still possible to homeschool even if the parent isn’t sure of him/herself or if it isn’t possible as in a single parent home. (which is no excuse either since homeschool can follow any time schedule necessary).

              • charlieopera says:

                I don’t knock it (all the time). I’m suspicious of it, but the premise that kids from broken homes, poverty can just “pull themselves up” because there are a handful of them who’ve done it (probably with a lot more help than we know), is not realistic … not at all. Millions fail under that guise while a few “make it” (the definition of which is vague at best). As to parents first responsibility being to their child(ren) … yeah, it’s a good start, but obviously it isn’t something that’s taken hold (ignorance/poverty–the two children in Dickens’ Christmas Carol) were used for a good reason. All I’m saying is it isn’t a simple answer and that all children, obviously cannot be home schooled (certainly not in these economic times.

              • Charlie, our parents were absorbed into this culture and they were educated. the question has to be why did it work then and is not working now. Solutions can only be determined when you discover the lowest common denominator.

                I point out that education in the US in the teens, twenties, thirties, forties and fifties was the envy of the world. We were actually much more diverse then than we are now and yet it worked.

                One must study and determine what is different and change that. I as a teacher, cannot make a child learn. I can encourage him, I can make learning interesting but, at 3PM, once he walks out the door, if education has no value in his life, ( I take that back and change it to “if education is perceived to have no value in his life”), all I have really done is babysit him for seven hours.

                Root causes my friend, root causes. I have my ideas on them you have to get there on your own by making two columns and listing what was happening THEN and what is different NOW. Not just in the 8AM to 3PM classroom either.

    • G Mornin Captain Canolli 🙂 I’m sure that there are ample teachers available who have been laid off by locations who are struggling with money. It’s been on the news frequently over the last 10 years or so. Of Course we could bus in those teachers from NYC who are in time out for being screw ups (but can’t be fired because of their union contract).

      For the sake of this discussion, I will agree that not to many teachers will want to pack up and move to Chicago, after all, who really wants to live in a liberal run crime infested war zone? On top of that, it’s vethe libbies have made it very hard to legally have a gun to protect oneself. Chicago has some of the countries most restictive gun laws, notice hhow that is wrokin out 🙄

  7. Class warfare in the classroom: A story of teaching and treachery in Obama/Romney America
    September 13, 2012
    By Greg Palast
    CHICAGO — In a public school with some of the poorest kids in Chicago, one English teacher who had been cemented into the school system for more than a decade and wouldn’t do a damn thing to lift test scores had an annual salary of nearly $70,000 a year. Under Chicago’s new rules, which holds teachers accountable and allows charter schools to compete, this seniority-bloated teacher was finally fired by her principal.

    In a nearby neighborhood, a charter school had complete freedom to hire. No teachers’ union interference. The school was able to bring in an innovative English teacher with advanced degrees and a national reputation in her field — for $29,000 a year less than was paid to the teacher fired by the public school.

    You’ve guessed it by now: It was the same teacher.

    It’s back-to-school time! Time for the editorialists and the Tea Party, the GOP and Barack Obama’s Education Secretary Arne Duncan to rip into the people who dare teach in public schools. And in Arne’s old stomping grounds, Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is stomping on the teachers, pushing them into the street.

    Let’s stop kidding ourselves. This is what Mitt Romney and Barack Obama and Arne Duncan and Paul Ryan have in mind when they promote charter schools and the right to fire teachers with tenure: Slash teachers’ salaries and bust their unions.

    They’ve almost stopped pretending, too. Both the right-wing nuts and the Obama administration laud the “progress” of New Orleans’ schools — a deeply sick joke. The poorest students who struggled most with standardized tests were sent into exile by Hurricane Katrina.

    One thing Democrat Emanuel and Republican Romney both demand of Chicago teachers is that their pay and their jobs depend on “standardized tests.” Yes, but whose standard?

    Here is an actual question from the standardized test given to third-graders in New York City by the nation’s biggest test-for-profit company: ” … Most young tennis stars learn the game from coaches at private clubs. In this sentence a private club is a _____.” Then you have some choices in which the right answer is “country club — place where people meet.”

    Not many of the people who “meet” at country clubs are from the South Side of Chicago — unless their parents are caddies. Yet teachers on the South Side whose students are puzzled by this question could lose their jobs or have their pay cut. Students on the lakefront Gold Coast all know that Mommy plays tennis at the country club on Wednesdays, so their teachers get a raise and their schools get high marks.

    You want to know what’s wrong with our schools? Benno Schmidt, CEO of the big Edison Schools teach-for-profit company is a greedy privateer. But he told me straight: Before Hurricane Katrina, his company would never go into New Orleans because Louisiana spent peanuts per child on education. He made it clear: You get what you pay for. Not what you test for.

    So the charter carpetbaggers slither in, cherry-pick the easy students, declare success. The tough cases and special ed kids are left in the public system so the charter schoolers and their champions can claim that public schools are failing.

    Here’s what the teacher who was terrible at $70,000 but brilliant at $41,000 told me: “They’re not doing this in white neighborhoods. And they want to get rid of the older, experienced teachers with seniority who cost more. Get rid of the teachers and, ultimately, get rid of the kids. And the charter school gets to pick the kids who get in.”

    It’s simple. When you look at the drop-out rates in New York (41 percent) and Chicago (44 percent), the solution offered is to pay teachers less. They punish those who dare to work in poor schools where kids struggle.

    It’s notable that, when he lived in Chicago, Barack Obama played basketball with city school chief Arne Duncan, but Mr. Obama sure as hell didn’t send his kids to Arne’s crappy public schools. Those are for po’ folk. His kids went to the tony University of Chicago Laboratory School in Hyde Park.

    Mr. Obama believes what Mr. Duncan and Mr. Romney believe: There’s no need for universal education and no need to spend money on it. Yes, they like to say that “children are our future.” But they mean children elsewhere are our future: the Chinese kids who will make the stuff we want and the children of India who will program it all for us. After all, how much education does some kid from Texas need to stack boxes from China in a Wal-Mart?

    Education is no longer about information and learning skills. It’s about “triage.” A few selected by standardized tests or privileged by birth will be anointed and permitted into the better and “gifted” schools.

    The chosen elite are still very much needed: to invest in India and Vietnam, to design new derivatives that can circumvent our laughable new banking laws and to maintain order among the restless millions of drop-outs squeezed out of the colon of our educational system.

    The Obama/Duncan/Emanuel plan creates Bantustans of nonchartered, cheaply run dumpster schools within the public system. But Mr. Romney and the GOP also would give every child a “choice” entirely outside of the public system by giving kids “vouchers.”

    Of course, such “vouchers” don’t vouch for much. Mr. Romney’s prep school alma mater, Cranbrook Academy, runs $34,025 a year, not counting the polo sticks and horses. Hyde Park Day School Chicago charges $35,900. The most generous voucher program is Washington D.C.’s, beloved of the GOP, which pays about $7,500. At Cranbrook, that would buy about two months of schooling. To give each kid a real choice, not just a coupon, would require a massive increase in spending per pupil. I didn’t see that in the Republican platform, did you?

    The experienced teacher in Chicago who took the pay cut was offered one consolation. She was told she could make up some of the pay loss by quitting the union and saving on union dues.

    So that’s the program. An educational Katrina: Squeeze the teachers until they strike, demolish their unions and drown the students.

    Chicago’s classroom war is class war by another name.

    Class dismissed.

    Greg Palast is the author of the new book “Book Billionaires and Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps”. Proceeds will go to the nonprofit Palast Investigative Fund for reporting on voter protection issues. For two decades, Mr. Palast was an investigator for Chicago-area unions, including the Chicago Teachers Union.

    • I saw this horribly misleading article in my local paper’s website (huge liberal bias).

      I might miss a few points but here goes:

      – The teacher that was fired and rehired by the charter school for less money. It said the teacher did nothing to raise test scores, and then implies that they had tenure.

      “Here’s what the teacher who was terrible at $70,000 but brilliant at $41,000 told me”

      So how does this author know this teacher is brilliant at their new job? (is he biased because he interviewed this deserving teacher?)

      Does the author say if the charter school is merit based pay or not? (NO)

      If the charter schools truly pick the students they let in then wouldn’t a merit based pay system be a lot easier to regain their salary because the students would be better and or try harder?

      – Standardized tests: The author criticizes these as a way to judge students and gives a sample question. When I read the question I had no idea what type of answer they were looking for. The author did not say if there were instructions at the beginning of the question set, did not say the other incorrect multiple choice answers to that question and implied that the question would utterly confuse a student while not noting if there were context clues that would make the answer actually obvious.

      The standardized tests not being an accurate representation to judge students sounds like a conservative point of view, yet he claims that the questions in standardized tests are designed to make the poor students fail, and that conservatives are behind it all. Again misleading.

      – Class warfare? If you want to talk about class warfare and the rich school districts tending to do better on standardized tests is fine, that is a worthy topic that can take pages to discuss, but by saying ”Benno Schmidt, CEO of the big Edison Schools teach-for-profit company is a greedy privateer” This is just a purposefully inflammatory progressive point of view that shows what the current “class warfare” actually is. My paraphrase “look at this evil man, a greedy CEO that is making too much money”

      Of course, such “vouchers” don’t vouch for much. Wait a second, you mean those vouchers can’t get you into a $30,000 plus school! Look at those evil rich people!

      – Race warfare? The Obama/Duncan/Emanuel plan creates Bantustans of nonchartered, cheaply run dumpster schools within the public system. I admit that I had to look up that word, it refers to an “African homeland” like what South Africa did during apartheid.

      Why didn’t the author just say that “they are tying to put ya’ll back in chains”

      For two decades, Mr. Palast was an investigator for Chicago-area unions, including the Chicago Teachers Union Ok, I get it now, he is a union guy defending the teachers not actually caring for the students.

  8. @ Buck…..hardly appropriate on here during this time but you hit something that I would like to discuss sometime…since you and I deal with this a lot……tax loopholes, abatement, dodge, or what ever you wish to call it.

    Question for you….you made a statement that it DOES matter which tax loopholes are closed……if they are all closed………why does it make a difference. If you allow any tax break, loophole, or what ever to remain….explain why one takes precedent over the other AND if one does take precedent over the other….how do you justify which one is good or bad?

    For example….why would a depreciation tax break for a company be any different than a marriage tax break for an individual. Both breaks are designed to increase income. So, in the grand scheme of things, why should there be ANY tax break anywhere?

    • Colonel,

      Loophole was probably the wrong term to use as it doesn’t necessarily include tax breaks, credits, etc. etc. etc.

      Now, Romney has never proposed eliminating all loopholes, breaks, credits, deductions. He has called for reducing rates and eliminating some loopholes, breaks, credits, deductions. So, I ask (as has been asked of his campaign ad nauseum now with no answer in sight), which loopholes, breaks, credits, deductions would he propose/support (or, alternatively, refuse to support) eliminating?

      For instance, the mortgage interest deduction. Would Romney support getting rid of this perk? Doing so would have disastrous effects on the economy as a whole and, specifically, on the middle class.

      This is why I say specifics are extremely important.

      • I would also like to know what Romney would eliminate and I would like to know what Obama wants to do….unfortunately, in our world today, we have lost all the statesmen/women and are left with rank politicians.

        But I would like to pick one item at a time for discussion and since you brought up the mortgage interest deduction, whether personal or business, where do you see the disastrous effects on the economy?

        (1) Would elimination of mortgage interest deductions stop people from buying homes? I think some would not buy but all in all I do not think that the majority would continue.

        (2) Would business stop purchasing property and buildings? I think not. Business will continue.

        (3) Would the purchasing power of the middle class be affected? I think not but I do think that the purchasing would be put into retrospect with spending….a personal balance sheet so to speak.

        (4) Would the housing market be affected? Of course, and for the better in my estimation. It would eliminate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac type of operations which should be eliminated. If a person buys a house on the basis of a mortgage interest rate deduction…to make the house float, then I submit that maybe that person should not buy a house until they can afford it.

        (5) Do mortgage interest rate deductions cause inflation? In my opinion, they do. Because of the deductions, I firmly believe that the prices of homes are inflated to make allowances for said deductions and an inducement for people to borrow beyond their means.

        Your thoughts?

        • 1) Yes
          2) No
          3) Yes
          4) Yes
          5) Yes and No

          Take away the mortgage interest deduction in its entirety and I believe there will be another housing market collapse.

          • Ok…let us look at the housing collapse……what would happen? People underwater losing their homes? Isn’t that called market adjustment? Isn’t a market adjustment what just happened? People got underwater because they made bad decisions (ARM loans and government mandates that forced this issue?) I do not know anyone at all that lost their home during this crises unless they were part of all this bundling that went on.

            Why do you think the majority of people would not buy homes? Why do you feel that? Some will, of course. But WHY would they? Because it suddenly becomes unaffordable? And if the answer is yes, it becomes unaffordable because the mortgage deduction actually is the cash flow item for the loan? Isn’t that the same as……….leverage? And if that is the case, doesn’t that put the home owner and the business owner in the same boat? Using leverage to finance their respective issues? And if either is taken away, then it has an impact…as it should. If you have to fully leverage something in order to own it….is that a wise business decision or is it an opportunity and, therefore a risk.

            If all the above is applicable, then perhaps a market adjustment is necessary.

  9. charlieopera says:

    @Stephen … Maybe, Stephen … maybe not. The world is a far different place today than it was in the 20’s, 30’s, etc. Far different. Distractions being one … but there are many. Comparing 1950’s to 2012 doesn’t work.

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