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Monday, September 30, 2019

ABC 7 Chicago: CPS students can begin applying to elementary, high schools for next year Monday

One of my own regrets from my time in the 8th grade is that I never got a real grasp of CPS' process as far as which schools I could attend and what programs they offer. Often I was dependent upon my parents or even my teacher. It seems like a nifty process students have to be able to chose where they can go to school.

Hopefully today's students take advantage and of course do their "due dilligence" on those schools and programs of their choice.


For pre-k programs

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Chicago Teachers authorize a strike

Sorry to have missed this from CapFax yesterday. The teacher's union authorized a strike in a vote that concluded late Thursday.

Of course in sharing this news, Rich Miller made sure to remind of us a state law that requires the Chicago Teachers Union getting 75% of all teachers to vote for a strike. He also notes that such a law didn't stop CTU in 2012 with 90% of teachers cast ballots. This time around it was 94% who cast ballots. Read about it at Capitol Fax.
I must also add as I blogged about during the past week the attention Chicago teachers have received from Democrat presidential candidates.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Sun-Times: Take the deal, CPS teachers. You’ve won

An editorial from the Sun-Times on Wednesday. I wonder what the results of that strike vote from CTU will be?
They should accept the latest contract offer from the Board of Education, a sweet deal that most Chicagoans would just love to get.

They should vote against authorizing a strike. Given our city’s dire financial condition, taxpayers wouldn’t rally around them.

And let’s not forget the 296,752 schoolchildren who’d be sitting at home learning nothing if the teachers walk out.

That’s a locked-in raise every year of 3% to 3.5%, more than what most workers are getting — if they’re getting raises at all.What employee, in any job, would turn down a 16% raise over five years?

Then add in the pay hikes to which teachers would be entitled based on seniority and level of education. With those “step” and “lane” raises, the average teacher would pull in almost $100,000 a year — up from about $79,000 now — by the end of the five-year contract.

But don’t stop there. Consider, as well, how little more teachers will be asked to contribute to their health care. Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s negotiating team is asking CTU members to pay a modest 0.75% more over the entire five years.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Tribune: Bernie Sanders, John Cusack rally with Chicago teachers as strike vote begins

As it was noted the luminaries spoke at a Chicago's Teacher's Union rally I must have misunderstood something:
The 25,000-member CTU embarked Tuesday on a three-day strike vote, which, if the measure passes, will empower the union’s House of Delegates to set a walkout date as early as Oct. 7. SEIU Local 73, the union for the 7,000 support employees, has already authorized a strike, which could occur as soon as Oct. 17.
Meanwhile, here's what happened as strike voting started:
The Chicago Teachers Union brought some celebrity backing to its push for a new contract Tuesday evening, with actor John Cusack rallying with teachers before the evening’s headliner — Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders — called for big raises for local public school educators.

“There has never been a better champion for unions than Bernie Sanders,” Cusack said to cheers from a throng of teachers and other local labor group members gathered at headquarters of the CTU on the first day of its vote to authorize a teachers strike.

When the Vermont senator later took the stage, he thanked the teachers union for “becoming the conscience of the United States of America."

“What we are seeing is teachers standing up and fighting for justice," Sanders said. “... Every problem in society — hunger, domestic violence, poverty — it walks into your doors, doesn’t it? You see it every day and at a time when we, in the wealthiest country in the history of the world, have the highest rate of childhood poverty of almost any major country on earth.
Sanders underscored some of the CTU’s specific demands, calling on the city to “negotiate a contract that substantially reduces class sizes” and to “substantially increase the pay and benefits for the teachers in Chicago and the support staff in Chicago,” as well as address the shortages of nurses and librarians.

Earlier at the rally, CTU President Jesse Sharkey called out Mayor Lori Lightfoot, saying she hasn’t offered staffing levels that would ensure librarians, nurses or social workers in schools on a daily basis.

But again Tuesday, the mayor pointed to a city proposal that offers teachers base pay raises of 16% over five years. She also said new positions being sought by the union are “baked ... into the budget for this year.”

At the rally, Sanders also spoke of working people not being able to afford child care and plugged his proposal for free college tuition. After he said, “Let me tell you something else that we’re going to do,” an audience member called out, “Beat Trump!” At that, Sanders laughed while those in the crowd cheered and rose to their feet.
Sanders had already shone a spotlight on the labor strife in Chicago Public Schools, tweeting his support earlier this month for the CTU and another group of workers also poised for a possible walkout, including bus and special education aides, custodians and security officers. Leading up to Sanders’ Chicago appearance, two other presidential contenders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden, made similar statements of support for Chicago educators.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Chicago teachers could vote to strike today

Now the CTU facing that decision once more, with members to start voting Tuesday on whether their leaders can call a strike. If 75% say yes, the 800-member House of Delegates will gain the power to set a strike date. The union must give at least 10 days’ notice, so the soonest educators could go on strike is Oct. 7.

The teachers’ vote comes as their support staff counterparts in Service Employees International Union Local 73 are also moving toward a strike, which could occur as early as Oct. 17. And on Monday, educators at Passages Charter School took a strike authorization vote, in the same calendar year of three other Chicago charter school strikes.

Educators and paraprofessionals have taken up each other’s causes and shown up for each other’s news conferences, in turns pressuring the district to reduce class sizes, add staff, increase pay and benefits, and improve working conditions. That unity will be on display Tuesday, when Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders is to appear at a joint rally.
I wrote this post in the morning so if there is an update I'll either update this post or share in another tomorrow at the same time.

It's interesting to note how Democrat 2020 hopefuls for President are taking an interest in this strike. Also noted in this article is how the optics seemed to have supported CTU as seeing the best interest in their schools and students. Could we see similar optics if the teachers strike this year?

RELATED: #TBT Teacher's strikes

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Fatal shooting in Roseland on Saturday

[VIDEO] This incident took place in a store. Two are dead including the victim who had a conceal carry permit and one of the robbers. However another person in this store survives and police are looking for the other robber.

This took place in Roseland near 112th & Michigan Ave.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Former CPS school to be adapted into a community center

I posted a quick blurb at The Sixth Ward about a community center to be located in a former CPS school named for an illustrious late president of the prestigious Morehouse College. It's a shame that the school had been closed since 2013, but it's great that it had found a reuse as a community center in Englewood.

As so far there have been no further updates that I know of with regards to the now closed Shedd School, I've always maintained this as one idea to reuse that property. Of course, it has to be reused with the right team to execute their plan. Here's hoping there are some updates as far as what's next for the former "John G. Shedd Public School".
Time for an updated pic of Shedd School

Thursday, September 19, 2019

#TBT Teacher's strikes

I'm sharing two videos of past actions that involves Chicago's teachers. We can start with September 2012 with the Teacher's strike. I recorded this on my iPhone back then when the teachers were marching in downtown Chicago. I was probably walking along Jackson Boulevard near LaSalle Street back then.

I wrote for the YouTube description that I had no real idea how to use the camera on my phone so this video does have "vertical video syndrome" [VIDEO]

This other video also shot on my iPhone took place in spring 2016 and was on Michigan Avenue south of 95th Street. These demonstrators were just leaving nearby Harlan High School. While the 2012 strike seems to identify as major combatants then Mayor Rahm Emanuel and then CTU President Karen Lewis, these demonstrators were railing against then IL Governor Bruce Rauner. I'm sure in 2018 they got their wish and Rauner after one ineffective term was bounced right out of the governor's mansion in Springfield, Illinois. [VIDEO]
I really wanted to share with you the hilarious Vertical Video Syndrome as hilarious as it was the first time I saw it. It was made more hilarious with the "muppets" 😛

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Drama teacher charged with sexual assault of student

[VIDEO] I'm not going to say too much or editorial a lot about this. What's mentioned in the above report from CBS 2 states what I wanted to say he was a husband and father who is charged with sexually abusing one of his students. Now he has his mugshot in a TV report, online and perhaps even on a newspaper since I really first heard about this from the Sun-Times.

Regardless, another sexual abuse allegation out of a CPS school. CPS already has to face a number of issues and now they have to face sexual abuse allegations.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Amazon's hiring in Chicago

Amazon Jobs
We get a quick blurb from Chicago Tonight
Amazon is roughly doubling the number of employees in its Chicago Loop office, adding 400 new jobs and 70,000 square feet of new space. But these aren’t warehouse jobs we’re talking about – they’re new hires that will work in fields including cloud computing, advertising and business development.

There are currently more than 400 people working in Amazon’s Chicago office at 227 W. Monroe St. supporting the company’s web services, advertising, transportation and operations units.

The new Chicago jobs are among more than 30,000 positions Amazon is working to fill nationwide.
Get your resumes ready and brush up on your skills. 

Monday, September 16, 2019

Tribune: As Chicago teacher contract issues remain unsettled, CPS and CTU ramp up rhetoric looking for a deal

I've been keeping an eye on this for quite a while. Hopefully there won't be a strike this year:
Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s top negotiator has sent the Chicago Teachers Union a letter accusing the group of not responding to key proposals and asking that they reach a deal in the next two weeks.

The union fired back Sunday when Vice President Stacy Davis Gates criticized the letter, calling it disingenuous and accusing Chicago Public Schools officials of “being absolutely dishonest.”

Lightfoot first offered to raise teacher pay by 14 percent over five years, then increased the offer to 16 percent, but the union wants a deal with contract language addressing school staffing concerns.

Earlier this month, the union announced that its House of Delegates agreed to set dates for a strike authorization vote. Union members will vote Sept. 24-26 on whether to walk off the job.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Today's Chicago Football Classic

[VIDEO] I wanted to do a more extensive post on the Chicago Football Classic that takes place today at Soldier Field. According to the clock for the official website by the time I post this it will be at least one hour (kickoff 3:30 P.M.) before today's game. This year is between Virginia's Hampton University & D.C.'s Howard University.

Over the years this classic is played is often between two of this nation's Historically Black College's such as Morehouse College, Clark Atlanta University, Jackson State University (alma mater of the late Walter Payton), Alcorn State University, Mississippi Valley State University, Grambling University, etc. Often there will be a college fair for high school seniors before this event.

I would like to update you on the game when I find out about the results.

Friday, September 13, 2019

CPS employee on paid suspension as school district continues investigation

[VIDEO] This story is semi-related to this morning's post. Although in this case the allegations against Dan Williams more or less involves physical contact due to a scuffle at an elementary school as opposed to any sexual assault allegations that have been plaguing the school district in general which was mentioned in this CBS 2 report.

As we should take allegations of any misconduct especially involving students very seriously there should be "due process" for the accused. For Mr. Williams as another agency separate from CPS had investigated and essentially cleared him of any wrongdoing, CPS continues to keep him on a paid suspension.

The operative question here is what is taking CPS' office of inspector general so long to investigate cases like Williams? Meanwhile in his case he gets to play with his dog on a Chicago beach while getting paid as he hopes to return to work.

Sun-Times:CPS’ handling of sexual abuse cases ‘tragic and inexcusable,’ feds say in ordering major overhaul

Something I've been keeping an eye on since last year. Of all the issues facing CPS, this is the most troubling one that needs to be addressed.
Chicago Public Schools has agreed to a “substantial overhaul” of how it handles sexual violence cases after a federal investigation found “glaring and heartbreaking” problems.

Federal officials at the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights called its investigation of CPS the largest of its kind in department history.

The situation “is one of the worst that we have seen in the elementary, secondary school context,” Kenneth Marcus, the department’s Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights. “The findings were deeply disturbing. The incidents that formed the basis of OCR’s investigation are tragic and inexcusable, so too was CPS’ response to the incidents.”

“These were tragic incidents in which some students did not receive the comprehensive support they deserved,” CPS CEO Janice Jackson acknowledged Thursday morning in an email to parents, vowing to correct the district’s mistakes. “As a district, we have been working to ensure no student ever goes through that again.”

The legally binding agreement between the Department of Education and CPS includes federal monitoring of the district’s changes for three years, and possible withholding of federal funding if the district doesn’t adequately follow through with the plan.

“We’re not talking about minor tweaks to policy,” Marcus said in a conference call with reporters. “We’re talking about a substantial overhaul.”
This is one of those posts that's too important to wait until the afternoon! 

Monday, September 9, 2019

NFL footballs are made in Chicago

I can't believe the NFL have started their 100th season and at least in Chicago the season started with a Thursday night loss to the Chicago Bears' longtime rivals the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field. However, did you know the manufacture of NFL footballs have a Chicago connection.

Read about it at NBCChicago. Wilson Sporting Goods is based in Chicago though footballs are actually made at a factory in Ohio. Another Chicago company Horween Leather Co. produced the leather for the footballs. Both companies relationship with the NFL dates back to the founding of the league and is owed to the late former owner of the Bears, George Halas.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

WBEZ: Teens Say Free CTA Rides On First Day Of School Are Not Enough

Usually on the first day of school students and their parents will ride CTA for free. Some students say this still isn't enough.
Students say it’s helpful, but they want the offer year round.

“I think students should get free rides because I don’t really know how you will expect youth who are focusing on their education and career to have constant money,” said Jennifer Nava, a senior at Kelly High School in the Brighton Park neighborhood on the Southwest Side.

It’s a big ask in a city dealing with a huge financial deficit. Just last week, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the city faces a projected $838 million budget shortfall next year.

Still Jennifer, an outspoken teenager who keeps close tabs on city affairs, wants to remind Lightfoot that she promised to make transportation more affordable for students during her campaign.

“If time is not now, then when?” Jennifer said.
How about this, create a U-Pass program for K-12 students especially designed for those students who must depend on public transit. If there isn't enough money to allow free rides for CPS students year round then do what the city's universities have done, require activity fees. Probably not a popular solution, however, as stated in the article the reduced fares for K-12 students add up.

Friday, September 6, 2019

16,000 homeless CPS students

That is a sad statistic and helps me recognize the many issues that CPS students bring with them to class. I can imagine there are those who are embarrassed by their circumstances, however, all they have to do is reach out.

From today's Tribune:
Students in temporary living situations rarely self-identify, according to advocates. Lockett, now 22, said he didn’t like his classmates and teachers to know he was homeless. But his situation is hardly unique.

More than 16,450 Chicago Public Schools students didn’t have a permanent home during the 2018-19 school year, according to numbers released Thursday by the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. Most were in temporary living situations, meaning they stayed in shelters, motels, cars or, in about 90% of the cases, “doubled up” with others, according to the coalition. Doubling up doesn’t generally meet the federal government’s definition of homelessness, so people in those situations don’t qualify for federal programs for those without homes.

About half of the city’s homeless students were in 10 of the city’s 50 wards, according to the coalition’s data. At least 865 were believed to be living in Ald. Walter Burnett’s 27th Ward. Burnett spoke at a homeless coalition news conference Thursday at City Hall to plug a proposed increase to the real estate transfer tax on properties worth more than $1 million to address the situation.

“We need to put the people first," Burnett said. “We need to help the needy and not the greedy.”

The advocates’ proposed 1.2 percentage point increase could generate about $150 million that could be used to reduce homelessness. The coalition said that’s 10 times as much funding as what’s already dedicated to the issue.

During her campaign, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she supported an additional tax on expensive property sales to direct more money to homelessness. But she has also said City Hall is on a different timeline than the homeless coalition. And she’s also suggested raising the transfer tax to help fill this year’s budget hole.

The coalition wants a referendum on the tax increase on the March ballot.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Sun-Times: Chicago teachers set date for strike authorization vote

I still hope there is no strike but this is what the Sun-Times says:
The Chicago Teachers Union has set a date when members will take a strike vote, moving the city’s teachers another step closer to a potential work stoppage.

The unanimous vote taken at the CTU’s house of delegates meeting Wednesday evening sets the table for a Sept. 26 vote which will decide whether members authorize the union to strike.

The earliest the union would go on strike is Oct. 7.

The Chicago Teachers Union has set a date when members will take a strike vote, moving the city’s teachers another step closer to a potential work stoppage.

The unanimous vote taken at the CTU’s house of delegates meeting Wednesday evening sets the table for a Sept. 26 vote which will decide whether members authorize the union to strike.

The earliest the union would go on strike is Oct. 7.
Here's hoping for a good conclusion when both sides return to the bargaining table on Thursday (today?).

Open House 34th District Office #twill

If you live in the 34th state house district, you can visit the open house for the 34th District Office located at 113 E. 95th Street, Suite A on Saturday, September 7, 2019 from 12:00 Noon to 4:00 PM.

Want to learn more about state Rep. Nick Smith visit his website at

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

CPS CEO aims to do better for Black and brown boys
Another thing in this new school year to watch out for. How to improve academic performance for boys in CPS schools:
“I’m not satisfied,” Jackson said of the district’s performance. “I like the incremental growth, but we need to see exponential growth, particularly among our African-American male and Latino male students, if we’re going to meet the goals we’ve outlined in our vision.”

Her comments followed a stirring 20-minute speech Thursday afternoon to a gathering of business and civic leaders organized by the City Club of Chicago. In the speech, Jackson highlighted district investments in new programs and curriculum at neighborhood schools, a renewed focus on early career and college credentials, commitments to hiring more school support staff, and universal Pre-K expansion as ways to “level the playing field.”

Asked after the speech about the specific approaches the district is taking to close racial and gender disparities in graduation rates, Jackson said new attention to what students are being taught would be key. 

“I think in order to get to the 90 percent graduation rate that we’ve outlined in our vision, we have to have strong curriculum and academic programs in our schools, which is why we’re making a commitment around more IB and STEM programs, and a quality curriculum in every school,” she said. “I think by coupling the social emotional support with academic support, we’re going to get there.”
RELATED: Does public education ruin Black boys?

Mr. Beat compares St. Louis & Chicago

[VIDEO] Mr. Beat produced this video comparing Chicago with St. Louis, Missouri. The man who narrates this video is actually a middle school social studies teacher. It would've been cool to have these vids on hand back in the 7th grade (or perhaps earlier).

Geography was one of those subjects I familiarized myself with years ago. It helped that I began to familiarize myself with a Rand McNally Road Atlas. To see different places and their geological features has been fascinating. To see different cities and how people live their lives there has been fascinating.

It's fascinating to see the differences between two large cities (one considerably larger than the other) in the midwest and merely hours a part. BTW, I've never been to St. Louis though I can't want to show you one site that one must visit when going...

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

WBEZ: 5 Things To Watch In Chicago Public Schools This Year

As we start a new school year for CPS students some things worth watching with our public schools this year. One main thing is whether or not there could be a teacher's strike this year. Another thing is the decreasing enrollment of CPS students. Finally, it seems to be an important issue every year which is the CPS budget.

As always we wish CPS students a very successful school year.