Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Students Deserve 100% from CTU

Many teachers last week rejoiced that with 91% of the teachers in the Chicago Teachers Union voting, they authorized a strike 98% to 2%.   We at Last Stand for Children First recognize that this was an important showing of unity by the teachers, but we also do not believe that our students should have to settle for 98%.   We are asking the CTU to redo the election and make it unanimous.  If 100% of the teachers vote for a strike, they have our blessing.  If not, we must demand that they reconsider their vote.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Beware of Parents Across America

Parents Across America was at it again today.   They have taken the time to warn people of the dangers of seeing the new Parent Trigger movie Won't Back Down.   Apparently, their big objection to the movie stems from a viewpoint that a movie based on a true story needs to be 100% truthful, but if that was the case would we ever have learned how Jon Bon Jovi cracked the Nazi codes in World War II if it wasn't for U-571 or would we have learned how Civil War veterans banded together to save the South in Birth of a Nation.

Parents Across America wants to hold this movie to a ridiculous degree of truthfulness.   According to Parents Across America co-founder Leonie Haimson, “The movie is supposedly based on a process called the ‘parent trigger,’ which purports to empower parents. But actually, the ‘parent trigger’ has a track record of 100 percent failure, and has pitted parents against parents and torn apart school communities at the two schools where it has been tried,”

You know what Leonie, Star Wars probably didn't happen either and The Avengers was also made up, but the point is they could have happened.  A movie doesn't have to be true, it just has to be mostly true. 

Mostly true is good enough for most movie audiences.  As Pocahontas sang in the Disney movie, the truth lies "just beyond the river bend."   In the actual true story behind Won't Back Down it was actually not a crusading mom, as the PAA blog says, "it was orchestrated not by parents but by an outside organization: Parent Revolution, founded by charter school operator Steve Barr and funded by wealthy foundations."  I would say the question isn't why the movie feels the need to portray wealthy hedge fund managers as a struggling single mom, but why American can't accept wealthy hedge fund managers as the real heroes of the education reform movement.

From people like myself and Whitney Tilson to Chicago's Billion Dollar Septet Board of Education, the wealthy are the real heroes behind education reform and the quicker the American public gets around to realizing it, the quicker we can begin eroding those barriers that make it difficult to do really great things for your children.  Parents Across America should be ashamed of their anti-wealth bias.

Monday, June 11, 2012

CPS Mommy Urges Teachers Not to Strike

Today, the Chicago Teachers Union announced that in their strike authorization vote, 98% of the teachers voting and 2% voted against.  This number is out of about 91% of the teachers voting.  You know who else used to get vote results like this?  Sadam Hussein.  I'm just saying, it wasn't until he was overthrown that we learned that the people in Iraq weren't really 100% behind Hussein either.

This strike vote is clearly against the spirit of SB7 -- a law carefully crafted by lobbyists, hedge fund managers, politicians, and other education experts to take away strike votes from the Chicago Teachers Union.  There are a lot of angry people who invested a lot of money in taking away strike rights from the Chicago Teachers Union.

I am not one of these angry people.  I love, love, l-u-v teachers.   In fact, I am in the process of making 26,000 friendship bracelets that I will soon give out to the members of the Chicago Teachers Union signifying that we are all BFFs.  That is how much I love the teachers of Chicago.  I am simply a CPS mommy or at least I hope to be when I have children and move to Chicago. 

What the Chicago Public School teachers don't realize is that they have now given CTU leadership such as recording secretary Michael Brunson the ability to use a strike vote as leverage during contract negotiations.  This leverage could very well lead to a strike.   I am sure teachers didn't realize this.  After all, if they're so smart, why are they teaching?

The vote count was coordinated by financial secretary Kristine Mayle, but what do we really know about Kristine?   As seen in this photograph, Kristine is very short and much closer to the tables where votes are counted than other taller union workers.  In fact, the ABC camera person could barely get 1/4 of Kristine's face in the picture.  It would be very easy for someone of Kristine's stature to reach down and tamper with ballots before a taller person would even realize anything had gone awry.  I don't know who the ministers supervising the count were, but things like Roman Collars and monk's robes obscure the vision and make it very difficult to spot chicanery.

The teachers have allowed Karen Lewis, Jesse Sharkey, Kristine, and Michael to whip them into a frenzy.  They are obviously not thinking clearly or they wouldn't have voted for the strike.   As parents or hopefully future parents we need to set them straight.   Surely, a strike vote like this is too important to leave to 75% or 90% of the teachers.   Shouldn't a strike authorization vote require 100% of the teachers to vote for it?  We need both sides at the table.  If you think so too, we ask you to  text the letters D-O-O-V-E-R to 3-1-1 to let the mayor know that you believe the Chicago Teacher's Union should have to redo the vote. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Secret to Effective Teaching - Galvanic Response Bracelets

Diane Ravitch recently broke the story of the Gates Foundation awarding grants to both Clemson University and The National Center on Time and Learning for a combined 1.2 million dollars to study the use of Galvanic Response Skin bracelets to determine student engagement.   This high tech bling measures emotional arousal via skin conductance, a form of electrodermal activity that grows higher during states such as excitement, attention or anxiety and lower during states such as boredom or relaxation.

I am happy to report than working in conjunction with Tyrell Corporation, we have developed a prototype bracelet for students and teachers to be used in trials during the 2013-2014 school year.   The bracelets will also be fitted with electric fence technology to end the problem of students ditching once and for all.
We have long believed at Last Stand for Children that education must be an exciting process for students.  A relaxed student is a student that is not performing at their highest level.  We can use smart technology to find out which teachers are best able to keep students excited, agitated, and anxious throughout a full class period. 

Future enhancements are planned for the bracelet to emit a brief electric shock to return a distracted student's attention to class as well as an attachment to allow the device to release a steady dose of Ritalin throughout the school day for students suffering from ADD or ADHD.   The future of education is here today and if we have the courage to grasp it, we will finally give our students the education they deserve.


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Message to Chicago Teachers from JC on the Strike Vote

Dear Teacher,

Earlier this evening, I emailed you requesting that you reconsider voting yes in the strike authorization vote in our schools beginning Wednesday, June 6.  I have it on very good authority that many of you did not heed my missive and in fact some of you have even taken to openly mocking it on forums and on Facebook.  I am asking you again to reconsider and this time the gloves are off.

I told you already about SB7.   This legislation was carefully crafted by very wealthy people both inside and out of the state to crush your union and take away your ability to strike.  Frankly, we never even thought there was an outside chance that you could hit 50% in a strike vote.  You may have seen the Jonah Edelman video going around where he explains the thinking behind the law.   You are upsetting a lot of plans and we are not amused.   Grow up and wait for the fact finder to rule on the small number of points he can rule on.

As you know, CPS and CTU are in the middle of the collective bargaining process established in SB7 and just because we've been at it since November without progress doesn't mean results aren't right around the corner.  For one thing, I haven't attended a single negotiation session yet.  When I show up there with my top secret offer, the union will be very pleasantly surprised.  When we offered a 2% raise, we really meant a 20% raise.  When we said we would absolutely not budge on things like class size, we really meant, "We welcome negotiations that will help all the city's children."  Of course, you won't know that if you go out on strike.  Will you?  If you vote for a strike you're disrespecting the process.  Believe me, if there's one thing we know about it's disrespect.

CTU continues to grossly distort our positions:

CPS is not changing its class size policy and has told CTU this repeatedly.  We are simply taking any class size protections from the contract, but come on this is JC.  You know you can trust us.
CPS has enhanced staffing levels by maintaining quota positions and giving schools an additional $130 million in discretionary funding that can be used for additional staff positions if your schools doesn't need books, or paper, or toilet paper.
CPS has offered teachers significantly more professional development time for both elementary and high school teachers by allowing teachers to stay after school until late in the evening or come into work on Saturday.

Third, Miss Lewis and Mister Sharkey have expressed interest in taking the strike vote now because teachers will be on vacation over Summer and it will be difficult to negotiate over the Fuller School Day after it has already begun.  Seriously?  You can't vote over Summer because you want to take your kids to the Dells?   Isn't it time that the children of Chicago didn't get the shaft while you got a trip down a fancy water slide?  Also, wouldn't it be made in the Fall when all teachers can make an informed decision including the 5,000 or so just hired teachers completely new to the system and lacking tenure protection?

I am confident that CPS and CTU will reach an agreement that is fair to its members, students and taxpayers. My team and I are committed to that. I was a teacher, my wife was a teacher, both my parents were teachers, I have friends who were teachers, I had a former teacher squeegee my car today and Common's mom was a teacher. We not only respect and support the work that you do, but believe very strongly that you deserve a raise.  All that talk about you not deserving a raise when we took the 4% from you last year---that was Rahm's idea.  I had nothing to do with it.   Authorizing a strike will likely derail that process, not aid it.  Then you might have to take a pay cut and while I would continue to support you, my heart just wouldn't be in it.
For more information on the intent behind SB7, watch this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kog8g9sTDSo.
Start thinking about the kids, you selfish jerks.


Monday, June 4, 2012

CTU Respect Yourself

I've been so upset about the Chicago Teachers Union strike authorization this week, but I haven't been able to figure out why.  Sure I care about the students who will be left without a school to go to and the hardship these families face, but I realized what the answer was when I head CPS' CEO Jean Claude Brizard tell reporters, "What are they voting on? You’re asking educated professionals to decide something that they don’t know what they’re deciding on. That is disingenuous and disrespectful of teachers."

That's the problem!  Since the Chicago Teachers Union is made up of teachers obviously, the problem is that these teachers don't even respect themselves enough to wait until the Summer to take their strike vote.  Sure they'll say things like the fact finder can't even consider some of the issues most important to them like class size and a better school or they'll say a 2% raise is so insulting, there is no point in waiting.  However, the problem is teachers simply lack self-respect.

Fortunately, philanthropists like myself the Crowns, The Pritzkers love and care about this damned teachers union.  We care about it too much to let a bunch of teachers wreck it, like they already did to the schools care about so much.  It is time we took back the Chicago Teachers Union once and for all from the teachers that are destroying it all in the name of a contract.   I looked up what the ten steps for an intervention were at www.drugintervention.org and I think it's definitely time for an intervention:

Drug Intervention Step #1: Don't Rescue the Addict
Friends and family members can attempt to protect an addict from the consequences of his behavior by making excuses about his addiction or getting him out of trouble.  We can't afford to do this with the teachers.  If they wanted a fair contract, they should have become consultants.

Drug Intervention Step #2: Don't Become an Enabler
Family members should be careful not to reward the addict by paying his bills, bailing him out of jail, letting him stay for free or ignoring his behavior. In other words, giving them a raise will hurt and will not help their self respect.

Drug Intervention Step #3: Find the Right Time
We've been telling them to wait for Summer to take a vote.

Drug Intervention Step #4: Find Strength in Numbers
Stand for Children has a couple hundred members and I think there's about a half dozen college students in Democrats for Education Reform.  I think we can scrounge up 150 or so.   We need more of you to help us stand up to these teachers and make them confront their problem.

Drug Intervention Step #5: Be Honest
No problem here.  Our school board is really good at this whole honesty thing.

Drug Intervention Step #6: State the Consequences
Tell the addict that until he gets help, you will leave him to the consequences of his behavior and will no longer bail him out. Make it clear that you are not trying to punish the addict, but protect yourself from the harmful effects of his addiction.  In education we call this accountability.  Again, we're very good at punishment.

Drug Intervention Step #7: Listen
During your drug addiction intervention, the addict might ask questions regarding potential treatment. Listen! These questions are a sign that he is reaching for help. OK, not a strength.  Brizard hasn't even shown up at a negotiation meeting yet, but we can always hire people to listen.

Drug Intervention Step #8: Be Prepared
We didn't prepare because somebody assured us they couldn't get a 75% strike vote.  Thanks a lot Jonah.

Drug Intervention Step #9: Don't Give Up
If the addict refuses help, don't give up. Be supportive and don't enable or allow his behavior. Listen whenever you can and be ready to help the addict into therapy when he is ready. It'd be a lot easier to just fire them.

Drug Intervention Step #10: Find a Good Rehab Center
Treatment Referral will help you find a center that effectively treats alcohol, drug and substance abuse beyond the initial cleansing of the system, addressing the behavioral and thinking patterns that directly contribute to the individual's disease. I would think returning to the classroom would be best.

It's just like Bruce Willis says in that song he wrote all those years ago, "If you don't give a damn about yourself than nobody else is going to give a damn about you."

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sinister Teachers Union Treachery in Chicago

In its long history, the Chicago Teachers Union has done some pretty horrible thing, but the rally that they had on May 23rd may take the cake.   You know who else had rallies?   Nazis had rallies.   Looking at Chicago lawyer Matt Farmer tear into the children of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Hyatt Heiress Penny Pritzker in the above video simply because their parents want better for them than for the rest of the city of Chicago was disgusting.   Who is this lawyer to tell these parents, that their children should have to go to school with poor children or that poor children could even appreciate the fine arts, technology, and small class sizes so prevalent at elite schools.

The rally itself was unique.  By this video, I judged that there must have been at least 200 people there and possible as many as 1000.  The thing that stands out is that they are all wearing red shirts.  Do you know who else all wore the same colored shirts?  Nazis all wore the same colored shirts.  In the video, you can see how the teachers intimidated parents, nurses, and even cops into supporting them.  This rally is only the first step as the CTU races head long into a strike vote on this Wednesday.   The teachers seem unwilling to accept a 2% pay increase for working only 20% more time.   They also have taken offense to the notion of having 55 students in a classroom.   They're lucky to have jobs.  

Now, at the beginning of the video is a clip of Jonah Edelman.  I feel so sorry for Jonah right now.  Stand for Children does much of the same work that Last Stand for Children First does.  Stand spent good money buying state legislators to get through a law called SB7, which allowed the Chicago Public Schools to refuse to negotiate with teachers on most issues having to do with the quality of the school day.  They covered their butts by requiring a 75% strike vote by the teachers.  How was he to know they could actually get it?  It seems to me if you spend good money on a whole branch of government, they should pass another law to protect your investment as a sort of a warranty. 

Chicago's elite are hurt the most by this turmoil.  You just wish these lazy teachers cared as much about the children of the city as heiresses and hedge fund managers do.  Heiress Susan Crown, whose family has given more than $580,000 to Stand for Children, blamed teachers union for the mess. "I don't think the unions speak to the highest common denominators anymore," said Crown, who has started her own foundation focused on digital learning. "They speak to some of the lowest." 

I can confirm just what she said.  I observed a so called 5th grade math class in a Chicago Public School last month and the whole time the teacher was talking about finding the lowest common denominator.  She kept having her children find the lowest common denominator and not once did she tell her students to find the highest common denominator.  In this way, she was already indoctrinating her children for a future teacher's strike.  You know who else indoctrinated children?  Do I really have to say it?