President Martyn Responds to (Negative Articles) in Crain’s and Sun-Times

In your email is an interesting response to this article in Crain’s and this article in the Sun-Times (also sent out over the Google list-serv on Sunday morning (thanks, Carrie!).

The response begins:


I wanted to share this message regarding some recent media coverage of City Colleges and am happy to help answer any further questions you may have.

City Colleges of Chicago has been the subject of some negative media coverage in recent days, and I want to provide context for these stories, which make false accusations, mischaracterize our record and do a disservice to the efforts of everyone at CCC to empower our students for success.

And it ends with this gem, a point with which I whole-heartedly agree (and which seems to be offered without irony):

When others paint a biased and incomplete portrait of all of our contributions, it is critical to state the facts clearly so that everyone at CCC and all of Chicago can continue to rightfully take pride in the great endeavor in which we are involved.

I’ll leave you to do your own analysis and evaluation of the response in relation to the original articles. My question is a different one–did all seven President’s send out the same response? Anybody out there know if the other President’s sent out the same text?

Big HWC News: President’s Office Now Hiring

Don has a new gig.

Congratulations to Don–it looks like a great fit.

And as for us, it’s on to our fourth president in five years; we’re going to need a bigger library if this keeps up!

UPDATE: More from around the web…

~From the Burlington Free Press (with video)

~From Crain’s (with some oddly personal details)

~From a Champlain faculty member’s blog

~From the other coast (well, the AP, but picked up in San Fran)


More on the Strike

So, when will it end? What’s your guess? I pick Wednesday the 19th at 3pm. Price is right rules (closest to the actual date and time of the official announcement or official press release; but if you’re over, you’re out). Post your guess in the comments. You may receive some mints and a highlighter if I remember to deliver them.

Now, on to some of the news (I’m assuming that people are watching the Mainstream media coverage and don’t need to link to it here):


Notice that no one is pushing charter schools in wealthy communities because public schools there are thriving. In other words, the school district I grew up in is still a good school district — not because of unions or vouchers or high-stakes testing but because of taxes.

But in poor neighborhoods and inner cities across the United States, students are struggling because their communities are struggling — conditions only made worse by the recent recession. The teachers and teachers’ unions who work in these districts to try to help are part of the solution. Poverty, homelessness and the dramatic funding cuts to social services that help needy families, as well as the cuts to public education, are the problem. And we can’t expect teachers to do more and more when conservative austerity measures are giving poor kids and their schools less and less.

Teachers are advocates for their students. Teachers’ unions are advocates for teachers. And teachers know what makes schools work, but those who oppose teachers’ unions are plainly trying to undermine what has worked for generations in our education system and are using teachers as a scapegoat to do it.  The teachers on strike in Chicago are fighting for their students to get a quality education. I know my teachers would have been fighting, too, and I would have been right there with them, with admiration and gratitude.

Another Teacher’s Voice on Gaper’s Block (via Mike Klonsky’s blog):

Teachers in no way shape or form want to strike, we want to be working with and educating your children. The CTU, which represents and is elected by 26,000 educators across this city has had over 50 negotiation meetings with CPS since November 2011. In all of that time “CEO” Brizard has attended zero of those meetings, which means there was no one from CPS at the bargaining table with any educational experience.

So I ask, how do you bargain on what is best for students with people who have never taught students?

On Negotiating and negotiations, in general (in The New Republic):

But the more I think about what’s required to get to a serious negotiation, let alone to reach an agreement, the less enamored I am with the sort of approach to which Fisher devoted his life, the theory, jargon and modeling—let alone the whole academic programs that purport to teach conflict resolution or how to negotiate. Based on my experience, which I concede is limited to Arab-Israeli negotiations, I just don’t think they answer the mail about how and when negotiations can actually work.

That’s largely because real negotiations are often the very antithesis of thoughtful, systematic, rational and intellectually honest exercises. In fact, they’re driven and shaped by factors, such as luck, politics and personality, that are hard to quantify and more experiential than analytical.

A Philosopher’s View (from Hyde Park, vis a vis his blog, The Leiter Reports, with lots of good links):

There is only one problem confronting urban public schools, and it has nothing to do with the schools or the teachers, contrary to all the blather by idle-rich busybodies and the intellectually feeble politicans who do their bidding.  The primary problem with urban public schools is that they largely serve a population that lives under conditions of economic hardship, sometimes grotesque economic hardship, with all the attendant problems of poor nutrition, physical safety, availability of adult supervision after school, and suitable environments and incentives for school work.  That, of course, is why suburban public schools in affluent communities–with unionized teachers who are no different than those in the urban schools–always do better on measures of academic performance and outcomes.  If you don’t have to worry whether there will be food for dinner, or whether you will be mugged, or if anyone will be available to take care of you, or whether you’ll have a quiet place to work, it turns out to be easier to do well in school.  It’s got nothing to do with the teachers, and everything to do with the environment.  (Here and there, fabulous teaching makes a difference, but you can’t make policy around atypical cases.)

Another philosophical view in Dissent Magazine:

When Emanuel ran for mayor of Chicago, one of his announced political goals was to “reform” Chicago public schools. The system is the third largest in the country and has a high percentage of children from low-income families (80 percent of Chicago’s public school attendees qualify for free lunches). To understand what “reform” means to Emanuel, we should take the advice of Deep Throat regarding Watergate: “Follow the money.” It is a good guide to what Chicago is and is not doing for its school children.

On CPS CEO J.C. Brizard (last week before the strike):

ll the spin and votes of confidence aside, please don’t forget the reality of this thing: Mayor Rahm Emanuel is famous for saying that a crisis is a terrible thing to waste.

And he won’t waste this one, either. He will get rid of Brizard. It is written. But it will be done on the Rahmfather’s timetable, and only after he’s used him for whatever utility value remains.

One possible scenario: The teachers actually do go on strike, Brizard becomes the focus of all the bad news, parents who can’t find day care begin to get furious and he soaks up all the negativity.

Then the Rahmfather relieves him and steps in and makes a deal.

School chiefs, like police chiefs, are not mere administrators. In political terms they are human shields, buffers of skin and bone standing between the mayor and bad news. They’re grown-ups, so they know they are hired to be fired.

From Tribune Editors (on Brizard) last week before the strike:

The Tribune on Friday reported a stunner: Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard has gotten sharply critical reviews from the Board of Education and could be fired by Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Within hours, Emanuel denied he was about to push his schools CEO out the door.

Fred Klonsky’s Blog (featuring a response to a letter from a disgruntled parent):

Teachers in Chicago don’t make $76,000 dollars. Most make far less than that. You are confusing everyone making with averages. Sleeping during your math class was probably a mistake.

The union didn’t turn down a 16% pay raise. The offer was 3% the first year and 2% the second and third year. You add those up and get 16%? See? Sleeping during math? Not good. The reason the teachers are out is not because of the pay offer. Both sides agree that they are close on that point.

One issue that remains unresolved is this: If you are a teacher with a good evaluation and job performance review and your school closes through no fault of your own, you now have no right to a job in another Chicago school. Makes your “job-secure teacher” argument sound kind of stupid, doesn’t it?

The New York Times Editors are against it (but check out the comments–the readers seem to be in support):

Teachers’ strikes, because they hurt children and their families, are never a good idea. The strike that has roiled the civic climate in Chicago — and left 350,000 children without classes — seems particularly senseless because it is partly a product of a personality clash between the blunt mayor, Rahm Emanuel, and the tough Chicago Teachers Union president, Karen Lewis. Beyond that, the strike is based on union discontent with sensible policy changes — including the teacher evaluation system required by Illinois law — that are increasingly popular across the country and are unlikely to be rolled back, no matter how long the union stays out.

The Solidarity Campaign (Ways to Help):

Visibly and audibly support CTU by: 1) Talking with your friends, family and co-workers,

2) Downloading materials or picking them up from strike HQ and distributing them,

3) Wearing our t-shirt or other red clothing in solidarity. You can also use a red ribbon to tie around your neighborhood or clothing. (Our shirts can be bought at strike HQ, our events, or you can place a minimum order of 24 at $11.50 each union-made, union-printed CTSC shirts by contacting American Campaigns Co. at  (773) 261-6800  or email Gigi

4) Put a CTU support sign in your window/yard. Distribute signs to coffee shops, work places, other public spots.

5) Host a meeting at your home or school to help your friends, family and neighbors understand what’s really at stake and brainstorm ways we can all make a difference at this critical time. Contact and Parents4Teachers will help facilitate the meeting and make a presentation.

6) Get creative and get the word out!

Add links to interesting stuff you’ve read (for either side) in the comments!

Beware of Educators Bearing Laptops?

Here’s a rather bizzare story from Pennsylvania about an FBI investigation of a high school administration. Apparently, the school loaned laptops to students, and then, when they didn’t get some of them back, turned on the camera installed in the lap top to “see where it was.”

Lots of interesting issues here related to privacy, responsibility (of both authority and citizens), unforeseen consequences, and the public good, but more than anything, it reminded me of Virgil’s Aeneid and gave me an excuse to poke around in it again:

Then Laocoön rushes down eagerly from the heights
of the citadel, to confront them all, a large crowd with him,
and shouts from far off: ‘O unhappy citizens, what madness?
Do you think the enemy’s sailed away? Or do you think
any Greek gift’s free of treachery? Is that Ulysses’s reputation?
Either there are Greeks in hiding, concealed by the wood,
or it’s been built as a machine to use against our walls,
or spy on our homes, or fall on the city from above,
or it hides some other trick: Trojans, don’t trust this horse.
Whatever it is, I’m afraid of Greeks even those bearing gifts.’

Virgil (translated by Kline, A.S.). The Aeneid: Book II.