Teacher Feeds Children in Ferguson: Be proud for her and all of us who meet the needs of students every day.

Julianna Mendelsohn is a teacher. She meets the needs of students; that’s what teachers do.

She just made every teacher in America proud to be a teacher. We all need to honor her.

As a public school teacher, my first thought is always about the children involved in any tragic situation like this,” she writes. “When I found out school had been canceled for several days as a result of the civil unrest, I immediately became worried for the students in households with food instability. Many children in the US eat their only meals of the day, breakfast and lunch, at school. With school out, kids are undoubtedly going hungry.”


Julianna is from Raleigh, North Carolina. She knows that all the children in school are our children. The children in Ferguson are our children with their own needs. Our children need many things, and nutritious food is at the top of the list. Julianna’s efforts have raised over $125,000 to feed our children during this crisis.

How can we honor Julianna while meeting the needs of our children? Contribute to the St. Louis Area Food Bank HERE.

What if the children in Ferguson have all of their problems, including food “insecurity,” solved overnight? Then the money will feed our other children.

On the food bank site, let’s honor Julia in the manner that teachers honor each other. Support what she is doing. HERE.

Thank you, Julianna.



By the way, this is what it means to be “just a teacher.”

This also shows the insanity of evaluating teachers on the basis of arbitrary bubble test results.



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When illusion becomes delusion, children and their schools fail, teachers are fired…

When illusion becomes delusion, children and their schools fail, teachers are fired, and poverty is treated as a crime.

Name one failing school in an affluent community. One. In all of America.

New Trier

The propaganda about failing schools being due to bad teachers is promoted by the vast power, wealth and influence of wealthy (not merely affluent) Corporate Education Reform organizations and foundations via corporate owned media.

American schools, removing scores from poverty afflicted communities, are among the best in the world. American education is NOT failing. (All schools in all countries need, of course, to continue efforts to improve and update. This is not the issue.)

The surge of propaganda claiming that those who fail (children, schools, teachers, etc.) are “undeserving” is blatant illusion.

America has the recurring cruel habit of punishing the poor for being poor.

In 1936 a famous French writer, Vladimir Pozner, wrote about his visit to America in the depths of the Great Depression.

“The News of Englewood reports that a hundred poor families of this rich Jersey City suburb eat straight from the trash cans, concluding: ‘This is a state of affairs that must be rectified at once, a state of affairs that any red-blooded citizen will want to put a stop to, even if it costs him his bottom dollar. The necessary amount must be raised immediately to build a waste incinerator that will put an end to these revolting practices.'”
– The Disunited States by V. Pozner recently published by the Seven Stories Press

In 2007 and again in 2011 the tents of homeless people, many of whom were veterans and children, were slashed by city officials and employees to cure the “blight” in St Petersburg, FL. The cut-up debris was dragged away to dumps. The homeless no longer had any way to protect themselves from the burning sun, biting insects, beating rain, and the wandering creatures of the night such as racoons, snakes, rats and opossums. In 2013 the same thing happened in Nashville, TN. In 2014 Pensacola, FL made it illegal for homeless people to cover themselves with blankets in public.

These homeless children and other poor children go to public schools when they can. Teachers do their best to teach them. The children, schools and teachers are declared undeserving failures.

Corporate Education Reform investors and propagandists continue the illusion. People who believe them suffer from the delusion.

Making poverty a crime is truly a crime against humanity.


By the way, here are some “feel good” illusions many of us sincerely wish to believe.

“Hard work will make people rich and famous.” (Every migrant farm-worker picking tomatoes would be rich and famous.)
“You can be whatever you want to be.” (Could you play professional basketball?)
“Don’t associate with those who make you feel down.” (If your mom is burned in a serious auto accident, disassociate yourself from her.)
“Get a job to escape poverty.” (Tell this to Walmart employees!)
“Every child should go to college.” (No explanation necessary.)
“Every child can read.” (This is one more reason why politicians who recite this should be removed from office.)
“Laughter is the best medicine.” (Tell this to anyone with an infection.)
The list goes on.

Paul Thomas in his superb blog explains that Education as the Great Equalizer is a Deforming Myth – Not a Reality. This is needs to be read by all who realize that the illusions and delusions we are swamped with are destructive.



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Officer Friendly and public trust were the 2nd and 3rd casualties

How many millions of dollars have been wasted with Officer Friendly assuring school children that he or she was there to serve and protect?

Ferguson Police

Has Ferguson made Officer Friendly yet another extinct species?

Assault vehicles, full battle gear, and various bombs used by a suburban police department against its own citizens protesting the slaughter of an unarmed 18 year old is overkill. Officer Friendly and public trust were the second and third casualties in this carnage.



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THE COMBINE: Coming to YOUR state… or is it already there?

Who is responsible for the dismantling of public education, the closing of schools, the extremely expensive and useless high stakes tests and programs, and the dissolution of a truly competent workforce of career educators?



John Kass, one of the Chicago Tribune’s right-wing columnists, named it that over a decade ago, and, yes, it includes Democrats, Republicans and Tea Party politicos.
“‘What do you call that Illinois political class that’s not committed to any party, they simply want to make money off the taxpayers?’ Fitzgerald said. ‘You know what to call them.’

‘The Illinois Combine,’ Fitzgerald said. ‘The bipartisan Illinois political combine. And all these guys being mentioned, they’re part of it.’
Oh, yeah. The Combine.”

Harper’s Index for August 2014 states: “Portion of people living in Illinois who say they would move elsewhere if they could: 1/2″

The proportion of ex-teachers who would say this is undoubtedly much higher.

[Disclosure: I am not now, nor have I ever been, a right-wing-nut or a Tea Partier. Even though they too oppose Common Core, most do not believe in public, "Guvmint-run," schools and teacher due process - which is all tenure means for K-12 teachers in America. I refuse to be part of any group that wishes to annihilate public schools, me or my colleagues.]

“The Combine never shows Illinois taxpayers any mercy. Think of the pension bills coming our way. Dem and Republican bosses received the political benefit. They leveraged government to gorge on deals. And now we’re faced with the bill. Time and time again, the Combine slaps us in the mouth.”

Combine 2
“Under Cellini, Thompson etc., the state Republicans argued that conservatives were wacky and divisive. The Democrats rolled those public pension deals, with Republican help, and the unfunded pension liability is what, $85 billion?”
John Kass’ Facebook page.

Back in 2010 the Furthermore blog spelled it out for us all.It is not easy to grasp what the term ‘The Combine’ really entails. It is certainly not the same as one-party control of a state that tends to lead to abuse and corruption (recent examples of which are available from both the Democrats in Massachusetts and the Republicans in Alaska).
Both the Democrats and Republicans are guilty in Illinois. It is no surprise that three of our last 5 former governors were either convicted of felonies or currently are under indictment (Blago).

And, the culture of ideological and political corruption runs deep in the veins of both parties in Illinois. If the Gubernatorial and Senatorial primary races showed anything…, it was ‘Bidness as uzual’ in Illinois.”

But, is reporter John Kass “Combinized” himself? The Chicago Reader demonstrates in a compromising video the exchange of gifts between Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Kass. Reader reporter Michael Miner adds to the argument. In addition to the Illinois combine and journalists with their noses deep in the establishment butt crack, Kass likes to assail the ‘Chicago way.’ ‘Once there were old bosses. Now there are new bosses,’ Kass wrote ten months ago.”

Greedy teachers? Underfunding which really means legislative fraud and theft?

Experienced, highly qualified teachers are flowing out of our public schools. Their wages have been robbed by mandated pension and 401K payments that they are promised will not be there when they need them. Retired teachers are lied to about why the state cannot afford to continue paying what they are owed as earned compensation. Politicos are shoveling vast sums of money to multinational corporations and their billionaire investors while sucking up contributions to their re-election campaigns and Super PACs.

Wisconsin, New York, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Florida, Connecticut, New Jersey… The list goes on and on and…

I personally prefer to call the corrupt political class DemoCRAPublicans. More refined people call that group of cronies Corporatists. But, blunt, broad-shouldered Chicago calls it THE COMBINE.



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HEADLINE: Medicare Advantage Plans Exaggerate Members’ Diseases to Make More Money

Teachers and other retired public employees, you are being defrauded of your money and earned compensation. How do Medicare Advantage Plans code for additional cash for themselves?

In addition to our government giving private Medicare Advantage Plans a better deal to allow them to make more money, the plans are openly overbilling and overcharging for services. They are gaming the system unless new governmental policy changes are implemented. This is a license to steal until legislators change the system.

What was done to the plans hoisted upon retired teachers by the Illinois overseers of their health plan coverage?

Medicare Advantage Plan Scam

Imagine having a healthcare plan shoved at you with a take-it-or-leave-it clause. You were sent the information in early to mid November, and you had to say yes-or-no by December 13. Also, even though other plans go from January to December, because of the lateness of this healthcare coverage offer, your plan would begin in February.

Most importantly, a short outline of the actual plan suddenly became available, and a fuller explanation of coverage was given a little later, but additional details were not available until well after you had agreed to it. Even then, not all details were revealed.

In addition: “Something as simple as enrolling in your favorite pharmacy’s prescription savings plan could enroll you in a Medicare Part D plan, thereby causing your TRAIL coverage to terminate.”
The Illinois Department of Central Management Services

That’s right, if you save money by using Walgreen’s or CVS’ pharmacy prescription plans, the plan cuts you out of the entire coverage and thrusts you into a different plan. Of course, you were not notified about this until after the plan was in effect.

Then, in July, you are told that the plan you agreed to is changing its Catastrophic Coverage. Try to figure out the legalese babble explaining this catastrophic-coverage-speak.

Remember that this healthcare coverage costs you lots of money taken directly from your monthly paycheck – for your premium. It also costs you an additional out-of-pocket deductible and out-of-pocket co-pays. This is not charity from the state’s taxpayers.

Who did this to retired teachers? The State of Illinois. The same legislators that were angry with retired teachers for threatening to take the state to court for passing a bill that was blatantly in violation of the protections of their pensions as spelled out in the Illinois constitution.

(The retired and active teachers did take it to court citing that many of the pension cutting legislators who voted for the bill agreed that the bill was indeed unconstitutional. Even the President of the Illinois Senate, John Cullerton, stated this during a recorded interview.)

A new federal study shows that many Medicare Advantage health plans routinely overbill the government for treating elderly patients — and have gotten away with doing it for years.”
The Center for Public integrity

“Despite its broad implications for Medicare spending, the study by HHS researchers Richard Kronick and W. Pete Welch has attracted scant notice in Washington. It was quietly posted late last month on an online research site run by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, part of HHS.”
- Kaiser Health News

The increase in relative MA scores appears to largely reflect changes in diagnostic coding, not real increases in the morbidity of MA enrollees… Given the continuous relative increase in the average MA risk score, further policy changes will likely be necessary.”
- Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services



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CCSS, Ferguson, murder, and undeserving children

What lesson is being taught to all of us by the abusive treatment and slaughter of young, black males in various locations across the nation?

Suburban Ferguson is the latest site of slaughter and police-state overreaction when “order” is disrupted after a police performed murder. Michael Brown is dead; he was murdered.

College ready

By now we must realize that for over a decade corporate education reform has demeaned children who are not college bound for whatever reason. As a matter of fact, even if the child is college bound, he or she may remain within a social profile marked as a failure. Poverty, race, gender, social status and other factors are cited as data for failures.

The failures of No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and all brands of Common Core State Standards compliant high stakes tests are children.

Children labeled as failures presently seem to others as undeserving; they may even seem undeserving to themselves.

The cause and effect inferences of these highly profitable tests are unfounded and often deadly. No sane scientist would ever consider the raw data showing statistical correlation to be cause and effect without careful deliberation of all the defined factors. The education of a child is much more complex than anything CCSS is capable of measuring. It is important to keep in mind that CCSSO licenses all of its content for private profit.

The social condemnation of undeserving failures, our real-life children saddled with labels, has complex and horrific consequences. Stigmatizing “the undeserving” based on data driven categorization (profiling) leads to destruction.


The truth is, these tests were designed to create a narrative of failure… It is no surprise that the results mirror the struggles and deep flaws in our society… The focus is on unproven standards and the tests that supposedly measure our student’s competency — written by the very people who profit from their use.”
- Julie Cavanaugh in the New York Daily News.

“Parents should take heart in knowing that the ‘college readiness’ proficiency scores have no connection with reality.”
Carol Burris, principal of South Side High School on Long Island in the Wall Street Journal.

As a public elementary school teacher in New York City, I see firsthand how kindergarten has become first grade. I am a huge proponent of preschool but not for the purpose of preparing kids for an unnaturally “rigorous” kindergarten experience so that they can meet the needs of the Common Core, as demonstrated by its developmentally inappropriate and uninspiring testing program… We all know that children develop at different rates, however the First Five Years Fund’s report fails to acknowledge our multiple intelligences. There is no mention of the whole child.”
– From Katie Lapham‘s Critical Classrooms’ blog.



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A vivid symbol of all that is wrong with state government: Hint – It’s not about the teachers

The following is a letter from a dear friend who chooses to remain anonymous. She tells about the State of Illinois Building as a symbol of its government today.
(Yes, many states are suffering under the same situation.)

Quinn Rauner

The two name calling gubernatorial candidates refuse to address the actual workings of the government. Gov. Pat “Quinnochio” Quinn (D) and “Bruce the Billionaire” Rauner (R), who keeps his money in the Cayman Islands rather than pay his own taxes, are not about to make any positive moves to repair the state or the State of Illinois Building.

They are both devoted to cutting public services and the pensions of greedy teachers and other public employees which will have little if any positive economic impact on the state’s massive debt problem. At the same time, they both promise to cut taxes for corporations and the mega-wealthy.

Thpmpson center

The James R. Thompson Center (JRTC) in Chicago, where I worked for 21+ years, has always been a disgrace, in that it was built without regard to how it was to be used by various state agencies (hearings and other work were routinely interrupted by noon time loud entertainment in the lower level), without regard to easy maintenance or security (elevator parts came from a German company, which became defunct early on). Another political deal, aptly named after Big Jim.


 My memories of it include the large barrels put out after a heavy rain to catch leaking water, a lack of security in this office building (a few state employees were accosted, one struck, by members of the homeless public in the atrium or lower level food court), human feces on the floor in the food court, the fact that it has been the internal “jumping off” point on the top floor for several individuals who decided to end their lives in a dramatic way. Ever hear the sound of a head cracking on the hard basement floor?

 I am so glad to be away from that depressing, dirty place, its infested building where the washrooms were so dirty that one Director ordered that the bathrooms be cleaned twice daily.

It is a vivid symbol of all that is wrong with Illinois government.

Greg Hinz in “Quinn, Rauner unite on one thing: silence over condition of Thompson Center” in Crain’s Chicago Business gives further details about a major infestation of bedbugs, rotted carpeting held together with duct tape, rotted ceilings and walls, etc.


The State of Illinois is being bled to death; teacher pensions have nothing to do with it, nor do public schools or teacher unions.


[My Note: The State of Illinois Building, built in 1985, was renamed the James R. Thompson Center in 1993 after the still living today (78 year old) ex-Gov. James Thompson (R) who was never jailed and whose law firm and lobbying business still thrive. His law firm defended, free of charge, ex-Gov. George Ryan (R), who was jailed on all 18 counts of racketeering, fraud, etc, while Ryan was Secretary of State under Gov. Thompson (R).]



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Pretty Campbell Brown and Her Ugly, Misguided Anti-Due-Process Crusade

Ken Previti:

Don’t miss a word of this highly revealing essay.
Mercedes Schneider, education researcher extraordinaire, diligently investigates Campbell Brown. Who is Campbell Brown? Follow the money? What and who are behind her latest efforts to destroy due process for qualified, experienced teachers?

Originally posted on deutsch29:

Over the past several weeks, I have read only a little on the situation of former CNN news anchor Campbell Brown’s sudden interest in forming a nonprofit in order to advance a lawsuit in New York purportedly to “save” public school students of the (surely) inept teachers currently protected behind “tenure” (i.e., due process rights).

I’ll admit, I have only been on the fringes of the affair that is New York’s “Brown vs. Board of Education” (I had to go there, what with hedge-funded nonprofits advancing their takeover of public education as a “civil rights” issue). However, with my second book written and off to the publisher, I am now ready to turn my research and writing attention to this Campbell Brown and her crusade to demolish teacher due process.

Brown has not bothered to demonstrate how, exactly, removal of the due process that promotes job security for good teachers…

View original 2,129 more words

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Connect the Dots: Whoopi, Ari and Rahm Emanuel, Destruction of Public Education, Ending Tenure

UPDATE: Whoopi Goldberg’s attack on due process (tenure) for teachers.

Her attacks on teacher tenure cannot be as innocent or uninformed when seen with links to her personal and business associates.

Here are the dots; let’s connect them.

  • Whoopi >
  • Ari Emanuel >
  • Rahm Emanuel >
  • Destruction of public education >
  • End of TENURE


(There are links to view as source material.)

I was naive to think that Whoopi simply misunderstood the concept of tenure. Tenure for ALL K-12 public school teachers was and is “due process” protection.

In many states, teachers are protected from being fired on a whim or an unproven allegation. Teachers who advocate for children’s rights, such as expensive testing, accommodations and remedial teaching for the treatment of dyslexia or other learning difficulties, are often targeted as “problem” teachers.

Now I see that Whoopi’s agent is in effect Rahm Emanuel’s brother, Ari (who has a controlling interest in William Morris Agency – the prominent power player in Hollywood). Ari Emanuel philanthropically (financially) supports education programs that mix tax-advantaged foundation money and public funds. He and his agency have also been embroiled in many controversies of various sorts. Money and power play into all of these entanglements.

As most people know, Ari’s brother Rahm is crushing public education, teachers, and TENURE in Chicago. Since the glut of school closings began, thousands of poor Chicago children are “unaccounted for” students who are being ignored and “overlooked.” Most of those lost children, many of whom are homeless, have no neighborhood school to attend, and they often are not allowed to even sign-up for the charter schools that have replaced their public schools.

Whoopi is intelligent and street-smart.


How could she not realize that only teachers with the security of due process (tenure) can dare to fight the “system” for these at-risk students, students who are today suffering from dyslexia and other learning difficulties just as she did over 40 years ago when she dropped out of school?

I detect the familiar stench of corrupt politics and profiteers – and the people who serve their interests one way or another. (“My mother was a teacher” doesn’t exonerate anybody for anything.)

I have always admired Whoopi – I want very much to be wrong about this. However, her TV network that presents education news which is funded with a generous grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation stinks.

Ari, his brother Rahm, and all of their charter school-owning investor cronies stink.

All of their anti-teacher, anti-union, and anti-tenure connections stink.

People who scapegoat and demonize teachers stink.

Stench. The stench of corruption.

Whoopi does not appear as innocent and misinformed as I originally chose to believe earlier. Her position as a very loud and somewhat credible voice on an extremely popular TV program targeted at moms is an abuse when she chooses to scapegoat teachers.

Tenure for teachers is a necessity for the good of our children, our qualified and experienced teachers, and our nation.



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Kill the teachers or the state will bleed to death? – Propaganda 101

The assault on active and retired teachers extends to threatening them all. No joke. No satire. Pure threat via lies and propaganda in a major media outlet.

Teachers in all of Illinois are threatened today with this article and topic, purportedly about electing the next governor and the tough decision about taking money from greedy teachers for the good of the state.

“No pension reform? Then no funding increase.”

Great title, if you believe illogical logic.

The humble reporter for the Sun-Times article is merely trying to satisfy his boss. “My editor is a grumpy sort who doesn’t want me to speculate in print about how each [gubernatorial] candidate would answer such a question, at least not with imagined quotes.”

R Eden Martin a

Who is this humble reporter? The very wealthy (way beyond affluent) member of the Board of Directors of the Chicago Board of Options Exchange and a recent President of the Commercial Club of Chicago as well as a Director of Aon Corporation, a British multinational corporation.

Eden Martin, humble reporter, is actually R. Eden Martin, super-wealthy multinational corporate investor and propagandist.

Beware. After saying he is not to speculate in print about how candidates would answer, he proceeds to speculate in print how candidates would answer.

Not many people realize that the state legislature is required by law to fund, as earned compensation, teacher pensions. The pensions are further protected by the Illinois constitution. State legislators have intentionally not fully funded pensions, preferring to use the money for pet projects that profit political cronies and campaign contributors. Legislators don’t want to be considered the thieves that they are, so the procedure is euphemistically called underfunding. This type of theft became so popular that R. Eden Martin and his cohorts have encouraged legislators to shift money in order to put the money elsewhere into more “worthy” areas. This used to be called misappropriation of funds. Now, it is called saving the state.

Now that we understand what a written pension funding guarantee is worth, let’s read what R. Eden Martin has to say in his guise as humble reporter Eden Martin.

“The unions will have succeeded not only in knocking out (temporarily?) the reforms, but also in knocking out the funding guarantee in the reform bill. So state employees will actually be worse off.”

State employees will be worse off because they won’t have the written funding guarantee that has been ignored for decades? R. Eden Martin is spouting illogical logic.

C’mon, R. Eden. Where’s the threat?

“There won’t be enough real estate agents to show the newly listed homes in Chicago or the suburbs, and we’ll need fleets of moving vans to get folks to their new places in Florida, Texas and Tennessee.”

Fortunately, all the folks who live in the rest of the state outside of the metro-Chicago area will have nothing to worry about? That sounds rather snobbish, R. Eden. Since the City of Chicago has a separate teacher pension fund totally outside his topic, this makes even less sense. R. Eden is assuming that no one will notice, and his grumpy editor will give it a pass.

Move to Texas for a job? Has R. Eden ever examined salaries in Texas? Salaries in Florida and Tennessee are about as poor.

R.Eden Martin must have some form of personal financial gain in mind if he fronts for the aforementioned corporation and organization. What could his solution for this legislative created crisis be? What should the next governor do?

“Outsource a lot more functions to third-party contractors. And while we are at it, revisit Speaker Madigan’s idea of gradually shifting part of the responsibility for K-12 teachers pensions back to local school boards.”

Thank you, R. Eden Martin. Perhaps some of your third-party contractors and managers can get their hands on the money legally owed to active and retired teachers – money that greedy teachers would have received for making home payments or rent or car payments or medical costs or food or expenses to raise their own families and other frivolous things.

But, what will happen if we don’t follow R. Eden’s folksy advice?

What must the next governor promise to say and do?

“I can’t promise that I’ll win this fight. But I promise to do everything within my power as governor to keep Illinois from bleeding to death.”

Bleeding to death?

Bleeding to death?

Well, R. Eden, someone is certainly trying to bleed Illinois, and it sure isn’t greedy teachers.



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