Saturday, September 28, 2013

9-28-13 Fred Klonsky | Daily posts from a retired public school teacher who is just looking at the data.

Fred Klonsky | Daily posts from a retired public school teacher who is just looking at the data.:

Will there be two anti-public employee pension Democrats running against each other in the general election?
In the Democratic primary, Pat Squeezy Quinn appears to be the last one standing. LIsa Madigan quit. Bill Daley quit. And Kwame Raoul decided to wait for another day. The only primary race for Illinois Governor will be on the Republican side. Many pundits (and you know how smart they are) are giving Chicago (or Wilmette) millionaire Bruce Rauner the edge. If Rauner should pull out a win in the Re

Saturday coffee.
  With my new hearing aids.  My t-shirt reads Keep Retirement Weird. It’s a play off of the Keep Austin Weird and Keep Portland Weird t-shirts that have become popular. Retirement is weird. Not in a bad way. It just keeps presenting surprises. A few years before I retired I found my hearing was getting bad. In the art room I had to walk right up to my students if I wanted to know what they were a

Pensions and the bigger picture.
  Graphic: Rolling Stone Magazine. How Wall Street Robs Public Workers. Thanks Rose. Rose is the latest person to send this blog a link to Matt Taibbi’s Rolling Stone piece on the looting of America’s pensions. Our state pension is threatened by (at least) three sources. The attack by the state’s (mainly Democratic Party) politicians. They are ready to violate contractual and constitutional prot
It’s for the kids? Child molester and pornographer is a Rahm and Duncan political appointee.
  llinois Department of Corrections mugshot of Jesus Alanis, 42, of Chicago, a former City Hall and Chicago Public Schools employee convicted in a child-sex case and sentenced to 20 years in prison (Chicago Sun-Times). Another day. Another UNO-City Hall scandal. The Sun-Times reports that Jesus Alanis is headed for Stateville Penetentiary. Arrested in 2012, he was just convicted of child molestat
Glen Brown: A commitment to uphold the constitution and a commitment to violate it.
Teacher/poet/musician Glen Brown: A Commitment to Uphold the Illinois State Constitution: “Cook County Circuit Court Judge Neil Cohen ruled that Quinn’s action violated the state constitution. The judge ordered Illinois’ comptroller to pay legislators’ salaries along with interest on the two months of pay they missed” (Reuters, September 26). A Commitment to Violate the Illinois State Constitut
A TRS member tries to get answers about his pension.
Ask TRS Communications Director Dave Urbanek about a report in the Sun-Times that Cabrera Capital and Martin Cabrera made $2 million in commissions from TRS and you a boiler-plate email response and a hostile challenge on the phone. Cabrera recently resigned from UNO, a major charter operator in Chicago. UNO has been the center of financial scandals. “Where are you going with this,” he demanded to

SEP 26

Jon Bauman answers my TRS question. That wasn’t so hard. Was it?
Jon Bauman is the former Executive Director of the Illiniois Teacher Retirement System. Fred, Cabrera started doing work with TRS money managers on my watch so I’ll answer your question directly. He walked in the front door, set up meetings to get acquainted with TRS and did all the heavy lifting with the managers to get the brokerage business. No Eddie Burke calls ever. He is an incredibly hard
Bruce Rauner also made some big bucks managing my pension fund. But don’t ask questions.
Isn’t it amazing that a guy like Bruce Rauner, Rahm’s best buddy and the guy who attacks teachers unions as if it is a blood sport, has made lots of bucks off of teacher pensions. Reported Crain’s last April: Mr. Rauner, a millionaire who retired as GTCR chairman last year in anticipation of a run for the state’s top office, led a firm with more than $10 billion under management largely from publi
The in box. Nekritz says COLAs are the target.
  Representative Elaine Nekritz. WIUS 91.9 Nerkitz is the House Democrats’ point person on pensions, and a leader of the so-called “conference committee” charged with finding a compromise. The bipartisan, bicameral panel was formed after a disagreement between the House and Senate this spring over the best way to reduce the state’s pension costs ended in a stalemate. Illinois has yet to find a wa
Cabrera Capital and TRS.
Just a quick update. When we are told that TRS did not contract with Cabrera Capital as a broker, that is technically true. Portfolio managers contract with the brokers. TRS publishes here all their contracted portfolio managers. And also here is the list of brokers. It seems to me that this is a case of parsing words. To say that TRS does not contract with Cabrera Capital is true. Although they a
Asking a question about my pension.
Reading a story in the Chicago Sun-Times by staff reporter Dan Mihalopoulos about some sleazy connections between Martin Cabrera and alderman Fast Eddy Burke, Valor Realty and some other old Blagojevich pals, I came across this sentence: Between 2003 and 2012, the Teachers’ Retirement System of Illinois, the pension fund for suburban and downstate teachers, paid Cabrera’s firm nearly $2 million in

SEP 25

Jan Schakowsky told Rahm, “Don’t close the schools. Fill them up.”
  I have already told the story of how when I retired a year ago June there was no chapter of IEA Retired in the Region I retired from. Six months ago a small group of us began working to change that situation. This afternoon, 50 retired teachers filled the banquet room of a Skokie restaurant and declared our existence. We invited our local Congresswoman to meet with us and she did, delaying a fl
Charter pension cheats face fines. If they are caught.
With all that is wrong with the growth of charter schools in Chicago, add this: They cheat on their payments to the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund. The practice is so consistent and widely practiced that the Illinois legislature was forced to pass specific legislation that increased the fines of the charter schools that fail to pay what they owe. The scandal-ridden (and I’ll be reporting more on t

SEP 24

The in box. Voters support teacher pensions. By a mile.
IEA Website: A survey of Illinois voters shows that, by a margin of 2-1, the people who will be casting ballots in the November 2014 election believe that teachers and college faculty should receive the pensions they were promised despite state deficits. That’s one of the findings in a new public opinion survey conducted on behalf of the Illinois Education Association (IEA), the state’s largest u
Ten minute drawing. Karl Marx explains his plays.
  Klick image to enlarge.
Pension bombing bill. Illinois Democrats will own it.
Democrat State Senator Kwame Raoul chairs the joint pension committee. It appears that if there is going to be a bill coming from the Gang of Ten joint committee on pensions, it will be wholly owned by the legislature’s Democrats. I received this communication from the Illinois Retired Teachers Association this morning. Many rumors have been bantered about in the recent weeks concerning pension r
The impact of lifting special education caps on Illinois classrooms.
Last Thursday the ISBE was to consider doing away with the current cap on the number of special eduction students that could be enrolled in a regular education classroom. This was not a vote on inclusion, which I zealously support. In spite of testimony from administrators that lifting the cap would provide flexibility, many of us suspected that cost-saving was the driver. In any case, over 5,000
The impact on classrooms if special education class size limits are removed.
Last Thursday the ISBE was to consider doing away with caps on the number of special eduction students that could be enrolled in a regular education classroom. This was not a vote on inclusion, which I zealously support. In spite of testimony from administrators that lifting the cap would provide flexibility, many of us suspected that cost-saving was the driver. In any case, over 5,000 teachers a

SEP 23

It pays for the Sun-Times to beat up on Rahm.
I often complain about today lazy Chicago reporters who never let a good scandal go reported. I long for the old days when Chicago’s investigative reporters investigated like dogs on a bone. They bore no resemblance to the Eric Zorn’s of the Chicago press corp. Remember Zorn’s own kid was at Lane when the Persepolis banning went down. The kid went home and told him about it and Eric went to bed.
Life in Rahm’s Chicago. No art.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Kate Bolduc 773-454-5015 CHICAGO, September 23, 2013 – As Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Public Schools announced $24 million in capital projects to build or renovate schools, neighborhood schools in Chicago began their fifth week of school in desperate need of operating funds to pay for textbooks and teachers. In a survey by the Common Sense
The in box. IEA Retired Chair Janet Kilgus on the petition for a graduated progressive income tax in Illinois.
The IEA in coalition with other unions, faith-based and non-profit organizations, as well as small business owners are engaging in a petition drive to demand a fair tax system.  As you are aware, Illinois has a revenue problem; and the only truly effective way to remedy this problem is to amend the Constitution to allow for a graduated income tax.  The first step to getting this amendment in fr
What’s behind door number one? Police powers and our state pension
Question: What scares many teachers about the Democratic leaders attempts to diminish or impair our pensions in spite of the pension protection clause of the Illinois Constitution? Answer: The Illinois Supreme Court may buy into the theory that the state is in such dire financial straits that the constitutional protection and a contractual promise can be abrogated by the state using its right of
Thinking about learning styles.
  Third grade mask-making. I once had a fifth grade student who was, let us say, not fully engaged in the activities I had provided in the art room. He goofed around a lot. One day, following a request to settle down, he turned to me and said, “Mr. K. Your teaching is not really differentiated to meet my personal learning style.” Who had this kid been talking to? Probably my Assistant Superintend

SEP 22

Sunday reads.
On the road to Three Oaks, Michigan for dinner last night. Rahm announces “rapid-fire” construction plans. If I were Rahm, I’d pick another term. Millions spent on “differentiated instruction” professional development and changes in teacher evaluations. And there’s nothing data driven about it. I’m surprised that these dumb assholes ever heard of Ralph Ellison. While teacher retirees in Illinois

SEP 21

Saturday coffee across the Big Lake.
Anne and I try to spend some time on the southwest coast of Michigan this time of year. It’s no longer Summer. Not quite Fall. This year we have rented a sweet house for a few days a few miles from Three Oaks and a few miles from Lake Michigan. We’re surrounded on three sides by farms and on one side by the Galien River. The current is fast and brown due to recent heavy rains. Hard to believe tha