Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Congressman Jack Kimble on Empowering Parents Through Quality Charter Schools Act

Earlier today, I came off the campaign trail to sign important providing education choice for millions of parents across the country.  Charter schools are the wave of the future in this country by providing the selectivity of private schools, but doing it at tax payer expense.  Charter schools are freed up of the bureaucratic nightmare of environmental and fiscal regulation and aren't required to grant their teachers due process as a result fully 17% of charter schools perform better than public schools and some of them have become multi-million job creators.

One of the greatest things about charter school supporters like hedge fund operator Whitney Tilson is that they don't limit their contributions to one political party.  It's not unusual to be at a pro-charter cocktail party and find liberals like Jared Polis socializing with strict conservatives like myself.   It's this spirit of putting children first across party boundaries is one of the reasons that this bill had such huge bipartisan support.  Of course, a lot of wining and dining on vintage wine and one and a half pound lobsters stuffed with one pound lobsters didn't hurt.

Charters have been under an increasing microscope lately after test scores in Chicago and Los Angeles both showed them as doing considerably worse than the neighborhood schools so hopefully this extra cash will help them to put the nasty press behind them.  Above all, this act was for the kids.  It isn't so much choosing a better alternative as much as it is providing a choice and isn't that really what we all want.  While charters will take money away from neighborhood schools, that may enable 20 or even 25% of charter schools to start outperforming neighborhood students and isn't that something we can all get behind, even if we're not getting a large check to cover our campaign expenses?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The New Target for Greedy Teachers? Baseball

The teachers of Chicago have it pretty easy.   They have those luxurious Summers off for their European vacations, they're done with work by 3:00, and they have the relatively easy job of educating and monitoring 35 children at a time.  Unfortunately, in Chicago this year, it is going down as the year of the greedy teacher.

With a new go get 'em mayor in office who isn't going to waste his time in office getting along with people, the Chicago Teachers Union has been up in arms.  Recently, the President of the Teachers Union was so rude during discussions with the mayor had no choice but to get in her face and drop a coupe of f-bombs on her.  It's no wonder that Alderman Ed Burke is so embarrassed by the Chicago Teachers Union.

The latest target of the Chicago Teachers Union is the Chicago Cubs, whose owners find themselves with a dilapidated old ballpark called Wrigley Field.  I don't know a lot about baseball, but I do know fans aren't going to pay good money to sit in an old eye sore of a ballpark and if fans won't go out to see ballgames, then bars and restaurants in the area around Wrigley will resemble a ghost town, and the Cubs will move to another city like Indianapolis or Charlotte.  If the city of Chicago doesn't step up this could happen as soon as next season.  It seems unreasonable to expect the billionaire Ricketts Family that owns the Cubs and their ballpark to be expected to pay for such a large burden themselves.

What the Cubs are asking for is $200 million to rehabilitate the stadium and to make it  a place worthy of stars like Alfonso Soriano and Kerry Wood to call home.  Unfortunately, the greedy teachers also want money.  First, they want the 4% raise that the city agreed to pay them in their current contract which would cost the city abut $70 million.    The city has said that it expects teachers to work about 300 extra hours next year and it would like them to start working 90 minutes longer this year.  In exchange for working 300 extra hours, the city would be willing to give them $1200, but the greedy teachers won't budge.  They want to be made more and they want to actually get to have a say in how the extra time is used.

What the teachers don't realize is with the money it would cost the city just to pay the teachers $20 an hour for the extra 300 hours would be enough to put a dome over Wrigley Field and probably with enough change left over to honor former Cub greats like Rick Reuschel and Steve Swisher with their own statues.  Rahm Emanuel put it best when he said that for too long, the children of this city have gotten the shaft.  Long time failure cannot be rewarded when there are important civic concerns like the Cubs in need of money. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Meet Tim Graye--Our Newest Transformation Academy Associate

It was 2008 and I was vaulting through the air in the middle of my back flip at the Nationals.   I realized at that very moment how fortunate I was to be part of a dynasty.  At Hawaii Pacific, we didn't just win cheerleading championships, we revolutionized cheerleading at the college level.

I just joined another team that I believe will revolutionize education.  That team is Last Stand for Children First and they've already been doing some great work.  I know, because I spent two years as a teaching fellow where I taught high school chemistry and was head cheerleading coach in the Chicago Public Schools. 

I look at my role with LS4C as still being a cheerleader.   No matter what we get accused of or the disagreements we might have individually with our organization, it's important that remain overwhelmingly positive.  This is a long hard struggle that we face as education change agents and the only way to excel is to keep a positive attitude.  Who better to do that, then a former college cheerleader.  At nearly 26 years old, I am the second oldest person in our entire office and even though I'm new, I'm sort of the old man around here, but it's important this this reform be led by people of all ages under 35.

In Chicago, I've had the chance to see the greedy face of the teachers union and it saddened me.   Just this year, they turned down a raise of 2% this school year to teach only 29% more hours.   This extra time is necessary.  Chicago already has scandalously short school hours and the city is adding a new core standards test that will have to be administered 4 times this year.  The schools will never have time for the increased testing, yet alone the increased test preparation time until we lengthen the school day.

Give me an E
Give me a D
Give me an R
Give me an E
Give me an F
Give me an O
Give me an R
Give me an M
What does it spell Ed Reform...and it's about time.