David Brooks, Common Core Circus Performer

Ken Previti:

David Brooks is paid to preach the neo-con, neo-liberal gospel of the venerable corporate giants who own the NYT and hundreds of other media outlets that used to have greater autonomy. Those antonymous days are over. The Brooks parroting of a CCSS press release is strong evidence that aside from a few crumbs thrown our way to demonstrate the “fair and balanced” view of the NYT, their heyday as journalism is over.

Originally posted on deutsch29:

Why newspapers hire individuals to regularly offer the public unsubstantiated opinions baffles me. I am a researcher. Unless my posts are grounded in my personal experience, I offer my readers links to document my position on matters about which I write.

David Brooks is an opinion writer. He publishes his opinions regularly in the New York Times (NYT) and has done so since 2003.

Brooks is not a teacher. He has no firsthand experience with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Nevertheless, Brooks has an opinion on the matter, and the NYT has published his opinion because, well, the NYT publishes Brooks’ opinions.

Brooks supports CCSS. That is his opinion.

Allow me to present another opinion: that of the “lead architect” of CCSS, David Coleman. Coleman is quoted here from his presentation, Bringing the Common Core to Life:

Do you know the two most popular forms of writing…

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Book Review of Laurel M. Sturt’s memoir, Davonte’s Inferno

In comparison to Davonte’s Inferno by Laurel M. Sturt… Well, there is no comparison to this brilliantly descriptive memoir of the reality of public schools in New York. It stands by itself, and therefore needs to be read widely by teachers, parents and those who are interested and involved in public education today.

Davonte Inferno AThe subtitle, Ten Years in the New York Public School Gulag, tells in advance that this is no defense of the status quo. Further into the book, Sturt reveals the abuses inflicted by the insane levels of so-called education reform and the high stakes testing spawned by corporate investors in the Education Industrial Complex and the political toadies whose campaign funds are fed by the same corporate investors. It is important to note that the story is told from a unique perspective and in memoir form; this is what makes it both brilliant and unique.

Politicians and investment profiteers come in for the same close inspection and blame sharing as the administrative mercenaries, the jaded teachers, the dysfunctional parents, the societal ills, and the students who ill serve their own interests.

This is not a book for the faint of heart; also the viewers of Mayberry or Welcome Back Kotter re-runs should avoid this book. Neither is the book a reality TV program in print. It is a first person account by an intelligent and perceptive writer of the reality she experienced in the schools that give public education its bad name.

Sturt pulls no punches, nor does she create a one-size-fits-all utopian solution. Davonte’s Inferno deserves to be on America’s required reading list.

WARNING: Davonte’s Inferno is very difficult to put down. Read it at your own risk.

The book can be found in libraries or purchased at Amazon HERE.

The Facebook page is HERE.


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Teacher Pensions: Illinois Democrats and Florida Tea Party Republicans are Twins

Ken Previti:

Fifteen months later, the twins are still pretending to be two separate parties, with two separate education agendas, with two separate sets of ideologies, and two separate political platforms. Twin toadies to corporate entities have a tendency to lie like this.

Originally posted on Reclaim Reform:

State pension plans differ widely, especially teacher pension plans. The attack on state pension plans is the same because the big money behind the power politics wants it to be.

money grabbed 2

Illinois Democrats and Florida Tea Party Republicans are twins – not identical twins, but twins nonetheless. Neither is trustworthy or completely honest. Pension reform?

Florida: “Legislative presiding officers told journalists Wednesday a fundamental shift in the Florida Retirement System — making new public employees join 401(k)-style investment plans rather than the traditional ‘defined benefit’ pension system — is the only way to avoid obligating future lawmakers to impose massive tax increases on state residents.”
“If you wait until you’re a 45 or 50 percent pension fund, like Illinois or California, you can’t afford to transition into a defined contribution because you’ve got to continue that scheme going to fund the broken model.”
Read the full article HERE.

In Illinois…

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Why bother teaching music in public schools?

Ken Previti:

Turn up your speakers and open everyone’s eyes.

Originally posted on Reclaim Reform:

Why bother teaching music in public schools?


The answer is in the question. Music.

Watch this for a full explanation.

You knew this before the question was asked. If you didn’t remember it, you do now.

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Teacher Wage Theft

Diane Ravitch interrupted me to exclaim, “It’s plain THEFT!”

Ravitch angerAs we spoke briefly before she made Sunday’s keynote presentation at this year’s Network for Public Education National Conference at the University of Texas in Austin in March, I was very surprised by the spontaneous, harsh verbal emphasis of her tone of voice and the noticeable anger displayed on her brow and in her eyes. She had already assured me that she would include teacher pensions as an issue in her address. Since her address had so many other specific topics, I knew that this inclusion crowded an already crowded set of agenda topics.

View her entire address HERE. View her entire interview with Bill Moyers HERE.

Since I had been talking with her about some specifics of pension raids against both active and retired teachers, it was this straightforward focus that gave me assurance that we were all in this together.

“It’s plain THEFT!”

In state after state active teachers were being forced by legislatures to increase the amount of money teachers are paying from each paycheck into their pension systems. At the same time the same legislators were saying that pension systems cannot and will not exist in the future. Therefore, legislators are forcing teachers to “save” money while promising them they will never get it back later. This is plain WAGE THEFT.

In state after state dual systems or choice systems force teachers to pay into 401k programs approved by legislators. These 401k programs make upfront profits (fees, handling costs, service charges, or premiums paid for by the teacher and/or employer) from this mandatory savings system while openly stating that the 401k programs will lose money at various times. Do the math. WAGE THEFT.

Retired teachers who contracted for lower immediate wages while earning deferred compensation (pensions) are now being told that states have not paid what they were contracted to pay by law into the systems, therefore the state will punish the teachers they stole from by refusing to pay the agreed upon amounts. The legislative thieves punish the retired teacher victims. Legislatively condoned WAGE THEFT.

Diane Ravitch, I and hundreds of thousands of active and retired teachers have every right to be angry.

WAGE THEFT, as an ongoing activity perpetrated by the our own elected government officials who have made themselves immune from arrest and imprisonment, is outrageous behavior. The money received by these same legislators via election campaign contributions comes in part from many fund managers, bond sellers, corporations and organizations who profit from pension raiding. This used to be called plain corruption.

What must we do about it? Demand that unions take it to court. Begin our own class action suits. Find lawyers who will help introduce suits against the states guilty of WAGE THEFT.

IMG_20140302_105219aDisclosure: I retired from teaching in Illinois after paying 9.4% of my total income into a very successful pension system that has been looted for years by legislators. I collect my deferred compensation, pension, from Illinois as I live in Florida. Democratic controlled Illinois and Republican controlled Florida are doing the same WAGE THEFT with local variations and amounts to give the illusion that collusion is not occurring. However, most states are engaged in this corporate attack on teachers, teacher incomes and retired teacher incomes.

NOTE: Illinois retirees were not allowed to pay their teaching income into Social Security or Medicare. Their pensions are their income from which they must also pay for state contracted healthcare insurance. Some paid as much as $1,200 per month for healthcare for themselves and their spouses. Also, both the present Illinois governor, Pat Quinn (D), and his opponent in the next election, Bruce Rauner (R), support the corporate endorsed teacher pension raids – WAGE THEFT.


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IEA/NEA replay: Don’t throw away your vote. Choose the lesser of two evils?

This past weekend the Illinois Education Association Representative Assembly performed its meet-and-greet of the two opposing gubernatorial candidates. President Klickna and others decided to continue this event in spite of 2014 reality. Both candidates are anti-teacher, anti-public school, anti-pension, anti-union, pro-high stakes testing, pro-corporate charter, pro-corporate-tax cuts. pro-public-education cuts, etc. Clones in everything but political brand name.

It is important to keep in mind that this is not a Democrat versus Republican issue. To call the event a debate would be like calling a Kabuki Theater performance a potato. It was a performance – no more, no less.

What happened?

Gov. Pat Quinn (D), who gleefully signed the teacher cutting pension cutting bill (SB1) and chose teacher hating Paul Vallas (Read HERE.) as his running mate, portrayed himself as the opposite of what he has done and is doing.

Bruce Rauner (R), who is the billionaire claiming to be far right of the Tea Party and who chose the totally inexperienced and unqualified Palin sound-alike Evelyn Sanguinetti (Read HERE via Fred Klonsky.) as his running mate, spoke all the same sound bites that Paul Ryan likes to repeat.

Why were the candidates there? The IEA leadership did not want its members to throw away their votes.

Because the present and past IEA presidents for the past few decades have not created, sought or supported a pro-public education, pro-teacher, pro-pension candidate, IEA members have been told to choose the lesser of two evils.

Don’t throw away your vote.
Choose the lesser of two evils.

Even Homer Simpson knows that we shouldn’t throw away your vote. Or does he?
Take 19 seconds to find out.



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IEA/NEA RA and email: Bizarre Cognitive Dissonance

IEA/NEA RA and email: Bizarre Cognitive Dissonance.
This is NOT a joke or satirical essay, although I sincerely wish it was.

IEA RA Quinn Klickna Rauner

Today, Illinois Education Association President Cinda Klickna hosted a Representative Assembly (IEA/NEA RA) presentation/debate between the two Illinois gubernatorial candidates at 2:00 pm Central Standard Time.

Gov. Pat Quinn (D) and Bruce Rauner (R) are both anti-teacher, anti-union, anti-pension, pro-charter, pro-school closing, pro-high stakes testing candidates who openly state their identical agendas.

What happened at the debate? What is IEA leaderships response to the event? What message has been sent out to active and retired teachers regarding the IEA’s position?

The sole correspondence I have received is this email with a 6:17 pm time stamp.

IEA email

This is bizarre by any standards. The auto-email list of Spring Savings certificates for Kohl’s, Target, Sears, etc. arrived. Yes, there are rewards for being a dues paying member of IEA – special savings for teacher union members only.

To say that this is poor timing is obvious. It’s the silence, the absence of any commentary about the debate that is painful.

We want real leadership. We want to be informed and not merely propagandized by election year TV ads and sound bites delivered by the candidates’ campaign managers and billionaire financiers.

Why are teachers in despair over IEA leadership? Who is watching the store? Who has our backs?

What the hell is going on?


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IEA/NEA Representative Assemby: Meet and Greet – Attila the Hun and Genghis Kahn

Incredibly, the two gubernatorial candidates, Pat Quinn and Bruce Rauner, are both scheduled to appear before the IEA RA (Illinois Education Association Representative Assembly) on April 11. Read/view HERE.

Both Quinn and Rauner will be gloating. The IEA has not created, searched for, discovered or supported a truly pro-teacher candidate for well over a few decades. After listening politely, IEA members will again be faced with IEA “leadership” asking for the support and votes for the lesser of two evils. (This assures that evil will win, continue and worsen with each election.) It’s like endorsing either Attila the Hun or Genghis Kahn.

Actually, a puppet comparison is more appropriate: the Puppet Theater of the Absurd.

puppets2Gov. Pat Quinn (D) sought out the biggest public school destroyer of them all as his running mate, Paul Vallas. Vallas doesn’t believe teachers should work more than ten years in order to avoid paying for health care and retirement benefits. Read HERE.

Billionaire Bruce Rauner (R) found a Sarah Palin sound-alike who is also similar in appearance, Evelyn Sanguinetti. Watch and listen how she blatantly blames all teachers in teacher unions as failures (2:25) and talks about nasty spending, taxes, pensions and big government. She says that she needs to cut those things based the fact that she and Rauner have no actual knowledge or experience with any of those things – “Neither one of us has been in Springfield.” (See 2:50). View via Fred Klonsky’s blog  HERE.

Hopefully, the IEA representatives will all be brandishing pitchforks as these puppets recite their corporate takeover of public schools and public services. Whichever pair of candidates nominally takes public office, the actual winner will be the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago, ALEC and the billionaire investors who are members.


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Paul Vallas stops ripping off taxpayer money as he collects six-figures of Illinois political insider money and runs for the #2 spot on the gubernatorial slate of public education destroyers

Paul Vallas intends on saving taxpayers money by closing schools, firing teachers, stealing pension funds, etc. as he continues to rip-off indirect tax money for himself – legally, kinda -sorta.

Vallas Quinn2

Because Connecticut dumped him, Vallas returns to the scene of his previous crimes, Illinois.

(This is NOT about Democrats versus Republicans. This is about the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago’s billionaires and multimillionaires, ALEC and corruption.)

Vallas will immediately be collecting some serious cash – a “six-figure job as a financial consultant” from a political insider as he establishes residency in Illinois in order to be Gov. Pat Quinn’s running mate in the November election. Where does this salary come from?

Vallas began his position with DSI Civic, an affiliate of Chicago-based Development Specialists Inc., on April 1, said DSI CEO and President Bill Brandt, who serves as the chair of the Illinois Finance Authority – an unpaid post he was appointed to by Quinn. Brandt donated $100,000 in December to Quinn’s re-election effort.” Read the entire Tribune article HERE.

Vallas - Duncan CPSThis six figure allowance doesn’t even take into consideration his income from his personal private education consulting firm which has collected its money from education funds in Haiti, Chicago, Philadelphia, Connecticut, New Orleans and other parts of Louisiana. Save tax money? His life has been dedicated to saving tax money in his own pockets while sharing it with his cronies in the public-private-partnerships still referred to as privatizers and private investors in hedge funds and other Corporate Education Reform Industries.

As the undisputed champion of school closings, teacher firings and pension pillaging, Vallas openly stated his sociopathic prejudices as long as four years ago.

“I don’t want the majority of (educators) to work more than 10 years. The cost of sustaining those individuals becomes so enormous. Between retirement and health care and things like that, it means that you are constantly increasing class sizes and cutting programs in order to sustain the cost of a veteran workforce.” Read the full BBC report HERE.

New Orleans and Louisiana are getting stuck for $1.5 BILLION in penalties for Vallas’ past actions. Of course he doesn’t want to use school money for qualified, veteran teachers because that might actually serve the needs of school children rather than add to his own pocketbook. Read Jonathan Pelto’s well documented inside coverage HERE.

Vallas has damaged school systems so badly that even the Supreme Court of Connecticut declared that he is “legally unqualified” to be a school superintendent anywhere in the state.

Of course the fact that in addition to making over half a million dollars from the Connecticut he also milked it for thousands more until March 31 when Illinois could pay him as of April 1. Vallas was forced to STOP ripping off taxpayer money in Connecticut – temporarily.

Vallas was a prior declared Republican candidate for President of the Cook County Board in Illinois; now he runs for the Democratic position as lieutenant governor. Yes, he is a true corporate toady that goes where the tax money flows to himself. Read HERE and HERE and HERE.

It’s chicanery like this that makes people realize that the coming gubernatorial election is a mockery of the electoral process a farce with evil consequences. Vallas and Quinn are running against a billionaire, Tea Party affiliated, ALEC worshiping, self-declared enemy of all public schools and teachers candidate, Bruce Rauner.

To make this snake pit of political corruption, public pillage and teacher devastation even more devious, the politico-connection guy in Illinois who is paying Vallas during his campaigning time stint, has this to say.

This is a pure business decision designed to make me money, and I plan on having him do precisely that,’ Brandt said. ‘I don’t wish Mr. Quinn ill, but it might be better for me if Paul didn’t get elected, I could use his expertise around here.’” Read HERE.

Now THAT is bizarre!


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CORRECTION – TODAY: House and Senate approve NON-TEACHER pension pillage in Illinois – as campaign contributors are awarded tax monies

Originally posted on Reclaim Reform:

I apologize for my error.
Read the Tribune article HERE and Karen Lewis’ statement HERE.


In spite of state and federal constitutional protections, active teachers will pay more into their pension funds (going from 9.4% of gross income to 11.4%) they are assured will not be there for them when they retire. Retired teachers will also be pillaged in the latest Corporate Education Reform attacks against scapegoated teachers and all things related to public schools.

Tax breaks IllinoisChicago teachers are the target as the teachers in the rest of Illinois were targeted a few short weeks ago.

THERE ARE NO PARTY POLITICS INVOLVED. This ALEC driven, Tea Party plan was introduced by Chicago Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel and passed by the supermajority Democrats under Illinois Speaker of the House Mike Madigan and supermajority…

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