Get sick, get well
Hang around a ink well
Ring bell, hard to tell
If anything is goin' to sell
-- Bob Dylan

Saturday, August 30, 2014

State Supreme Court to hear case of fired N.O. teachers after Katrina

State Supreme Court will hear the case of 7,000 teachers wrongly fired after Hurricane Katrina. 
"Katrina accomplished in a day ... what Louisiana school reformers couldn't do after years of trying". -- American Enterprise Institute. 
When Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast exactly nine years ago, New Orleans school chief Paul Vallas saw the disaster as an opportunity to carry out his long-standing mission by replacing New Orleans' public schools with privately-run, union-free charter schools. He was brought in on the wake of  the firing of 7,500 teachers and other school employees -- most of them African-American -- and the crushing of United Teachers of New Orleans (UTNO), once Louisiana's largest labor union and its first racially integrated teachers' union and to deliver a crushing blow to the United Teachers of New Orleans (UTNO), once Louisiana's largest labor union and its first racially integrated teachers' union. Vallas takes credit for installing the largest privately managed charter system in the nation.

His "grand experiment in urban education for the nation" worked, at least up until now and is seen by corporate reformers as a model for urban districts from Detroit to Chicago. The so-called Recovery School District (RSD)  has become the first district in the nation to do away completely with traditional public schools, replacing most of its older, veteran teaching force with younger, whiter 5-week wonders from TFA.

But a class-action lawsuit could finally bring some justice for the fired teachers. The case will be heard by the State Supreme Court on Thursday, Sept. 4th,  following lower court decisions that held the employees were wrongfully terminated. Teachers and their lawyers are expecting a positive decision.

Quinn chose Vallas as his running mate leaving thousands of IL teachers asking, why?

HE'S BACK...Now Vallas, the master of disaster and the king of school privatization, is gone from N.O., leaving behind a trail of lost, costly court cases and shattered public school systems from Haiti to Chile, from Philly to Bridgeport, CN. For some reason angry teachers will never understand, IL Gov. Pat Quinn has chosen teachers-union-buster Vallas as his Democratic Party running mate in his upcoming election against right-wing Republican billionaire Bruce Rauner. Good luck on that one, Governor.

Cross-posted at Mike Klonsky's SmallTalk Blog

Thursday, August 28, 2014


Chris Kershner, vice president of public policy and economic development for the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce
“The business community is the consumer of the educational product. Students are the educational product. They are going through the education system so that they can be an attractive product for business to consume and hire as a workforce in the future.” -- Valerie Strauss in WaPo
Former CPS Liar-in-Chief Becky Carroll now heads up Rahm Emanuel's Super PAC
“This questionnaire will allow us to better understand where aldermanic candidates stand and help us to both plan our strategies well in advance of the election and be more nimble as races tighten up. We want to be well ahead of the curve so, as dynamics change ward by ward, we can be more flexible in directing our resources. That’s why we’re starting so early.” -- Sun-Times
JP Morgan’s “point person” in Detroit, Aaron Seybert  
“The working theory at up to the executive suite, is that spending $100 million in America’s most famously bankrupt city is a good investment. Good for Detroit, yes, but also good for JPMorgan. Best case, good for America.” -- NPQ
Frackers backing Rauner

Nelson Wood, a Mount Vernon-based oil producer who co-hosted the fundraiser, said his colleagues are tired of being idle.
“We just think Bruce Rauner will be the better choice. There’s a lot of consternation out there,” Wood said Wednesday. “The governor should have gotten this going a year ago." -- Capitol Fax

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

How Greasy Deasy Funneled $1 Billion to Pals at Pearson, Apple

Greasy Deasy

Howard Blume at the L.A. Times reports that L.A. Supt. John Deasy (the man from Gates) and his chief deputy "developed a special relationship" with executives from Pearson and Apple, the companies that won a billion-dollar technology contract. Blume says it raises new questions about the fairness of competition in the effort to provide a computer to every student in the nation's second-largest school system.

It looks like Deasy's then-Deputy Supt. Jaime Aquino did most of the dirty work, strategizing with higher-ups from Pearson, on how to ensure that it got the job by undercutting competitors in the bidding process..
"I believe we would have to make sure that your bid is the lowest one," wrote Aquino, who was an executive with a Pearson affiliate before joining L.A. Unified.
 "Understand your points and we need to work together on this quickly," Deasy wrote. "I want to not loose [sic] an amazing opportunity and fully recognize our current limits."
Conspiracy? Price fixing? Bribery? Sounds like a case for the federales. Where are you feds?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Corporate reform strategies not working say U.C. prof

NY Times
U.C. Berkeley Prof. David Kirp, writes in the New York Times, Teaching is Not a Business, that corporate reform is not working.
TODAY’S education reformers believe that schools are broken and that business can supply the remedy. Some place their faith in the idea of competition. Others embrace disruptive innovation, mainly through online learning. Both camps share the belief that the solution resides in the impersonal, whether it’s the invisible hand of the market or the transformative power of technology.
Neither strategy has lived up to its hype, and with good reason. It’s impossible to improve education by doing an end run around inherently complicated and messy human relationships. 
More Kirp:
 Charter schools have been promoted as improving education by creating competition. But charter students do about the same, over all, as their public school counterparts, and the worst charters, like the online K-12 schools that have proliferated in several states, don’t deserve to be called schools. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Rhee finds her true calling at Scotts Miracle-Gro, killing many birds with one stone.

Michelle Rhee has decided to make a new start. After formally changing her last name to Johnson (she's married to Sacramento Mayor and former NBA star Kevin Johnson), Rhee has announced her departure from StudentsFirst for Scotts Miracle-Gro. It looks like the hedge-fund school reformers and power philanthropists are growing tired of Rhee and have decided to pass the union-busting torch on to Campbell Brown.

Although she will stay on the board of SF, Rhee appears to have given up on the potential of the organization she founded. The organization has also just pulled out of five states, including Florida where Rhee served as chief education adviser to Tea Party Gov. Rick Scott. Perhaps the corporate reformer who Salon writer Jeff Bryant calls "education's Ann Coulter" now has her sights set on becoming the new Queen of Fertilizer.
Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. has named the controversial former head of Washington, D.C., schools to its board of directors. Michelle Johnson, formerly Michelle Rhee, will serve on two of the Scotts board’s six committees – innovation and marketing, and compensation and organization, the Marysville lawn and garden company said Monday. -- Columbus Business First
IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT MANURE...Something you should know about Rhee's new company. The Ohio-based fertilizer and pesticides company is notorious for contributing to soil decay and water pollution. Think Toledo and Lake Erie. The company has only recently agreed to remove dangerous water pollutant, phosphorus from the Turf Builder line. But, as recent reports on Toledo's water problem shows, it's too little, too late.

The company has also violated US federal environmental laws by manufacturing and selling poisoned birdseed. The company entered guilty pleas to all charges in U.S. District Court in 2012.
According to court documents, Scotts Miracle-Gro was warned about the toxicity of these chemicals by two employees. One employee, a pesticide chemist, approached management about these dangers in the summer of 2007, whilst the other employee, an ornithologist, notified management in the autumn of that same year. The Scotts Miracle-Gro company ignored these warnings and continued to produce and distribute their poisoned birdseed products for at least another six months... According to court documents, Scotts Miracle-Gro sold more than 73 million packages of these poisoned bird foods nationwide to an unsuspecting public for a period of more than two years. Only 2 million of those 73 million units could be recalled.  -- The Guardian
In a separate civil agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Scotts agreed to pay more than $6 million in penalties and spend $2 million on environmental projects under a settlement that resolves additional civil pesticide violations . The violations include distributing or selling unregistered, canceled or misbranded pesticides, including products with inadequate warnings or cautions. This is the largest civil settlement under FIFRA to date. -- U.S. Justice Dept.
Given Rhee's test-cheating experience as D.C. schools chancellor, should make her a perfect addition to the Miracle-Gro brand.  

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Rahm's Walgreen cronies now say they're not moving HQ to Switzerland after all

Wesson oils Rahm

INVERSION -- Rahm's union-hating pals and campaign funders at Walgreen's now say they won't re-incorporate in Switzerland as planned. The re-incorporation — in which a company’s headquarters relocates overseas for tax purposes — is called a corporate inversion
With political pressure mounting from the White House down, Walgreen Co. is poised to announce Wednesday that it will keep its corporate headquarters in north suburban Deerfield...Last month, Obama called companies that re-incorporate overseas to avoid taxes “corporate deserters.”
It seems like Walgreen CEO Greg Wasson likes to pop into Chicago every once in a while to help Rahm push one or another of his hare-brained corporate school-reform schemes in exchange for more tax breaks. Remember when Rahm cooked up this one  (while swimming) with Wasson to offer CPS parents gift cards loaded with 25,000 ”customer loyalty” points (worth $25) for attending report card pick up?

Also remember back in 2011 when the mayor and Wasson announced their “Chicago Hometown Investment Initiative” where Walgreen would supposedly provide hundreds of new jobs in exchange for $47 million in state tax credits and grants.