Saturday, December 17, 2005

District 300 March 21st building and education referendums

This post will be used to post information about the District 300 March 21st referenda. New information about the referenda will be added to this post in the form of comments. We encourage both sides to respond. We will remove offensive comments and foul language.

The article below appeared in the December 16, 2005 edition of the Northwest Herald. CRAFT finds it offensive that the school district appears to be using these children as political pawns. Are we to believe that these children on their own initiative understand and support the full ramifications of these referenda without independent research into school finances, contracts, audits, tax codes, etc? Or have they been coopted to serve a selfish political agenda? There are school boards and professional auditors who do not understand the effects of referenda. We would like to know how many of these children are related to teachers or District employees. How will these activities affect their academic life?

Will District 300 and the NWH give equal time to students and groups that oppose these referenda? Would such a group even dare expose itself in the recrimination culture of our pulic schools? "Student groups" are using taxpayer facilities to promote the referenda. Can students who oppose the referenda have equal time and facility use? Let us hope these children will seek answers from those who do not have a direct benefit from the passage of this referenda. We wish these students good luck in getting responsible answers. We found it odd that their goal is to pass the referendum before getting the information they need. They should decide that once they get their questions answered.

D-300 high-schoolers launch campaign on questions

[published on Fri, Dec 16, 2005]

ALGONQUIN – A growing group of District 300 high-schoolers has a New Year's resolution: Get voters to approve referendums this spring. The first chapter of their mission is under way, to understand the facts – about population growth, property taxes, district finances, and the No Child Left Behind Act.
The first chapter of their mission is under way, to understand the facts – about population growth, property taxes, district finances, and the No Child Left Behind Act.

To view the rest of the article click here

Thursday, December 15, 2005


The post below is from a CRAFT supporter in Mundelein. Well done Bill Zettler. We need more people like you willing to put strong pieces like this out there for the public to read.


Bill Clinton once told us it depended upon what the meaning of “is” is.

For Illinois citizens it depends upon what the meaning of “education” is.

Lets see if we know what the meaning of “education” is in Illinois.

We know that “education” means pensions of up to$186,000 per year for members of the Teachers Retirement System.

We know “education” means 6 figure salaries for over 5,000 public school employees.

We know “education” means over $10 million in political donations to Illinois politicians of both parties by various Teacher Union organizations since 2000.

In Mundelein “education” means a school district job for one board member, a school contract for the spouse of another board member and the purchase of a public golf course for school expansion when less expensive property is available right across the street. In Carpentersville “education” means 10% per year salary increases for teachers at District 300 at the same time they are asking for more money for the Education Fund.

We know “education” means a 9- month work year and “you can’t fire me” tenure for teachers.

In Illinois “education” means teachers can’t be fired but they can go on strike.

That tells us what “education” is; lets see what “education” isn’t.

“Education” is not vouchers for poor parents so they can decide where their kids should go to school. Fifty years ago blacks were not allowed to eat in certain restaurants, drink from certain fountains or sit in front of the bus. Today they are still not allowed to choose where their children go to school. Jim Crow is alive and well in Illinois.

“Education” does not mean tax credits for dedicated parents who home school. They pay taxes for other kids to go to school but not for their own.

And in a recent article in the Daily Herald, the United Way is asking for donations for school supplies for homeless children so we know for sure the $20 billion Illinois spends on “education” each year does not mean pencils, crayons, tablets, backpacks or scissors for the poorest of the poor.

The Illinois constitution guarantees members of the TRS their $186,000/yr pensions but does not guarantee all children adequate school supplies. Doesn’t that seem backwards to you? Shouldn’t the word “education” consider children before teachers?

So remember when teacher union officials and politicians talk about what “education” is, they do not mean what you think “education” is or should be. And as long as they are in charge of defining what ‘education” is Illinois taxpayers will pay more and Illinois children will receive less.

Bill Zettler

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

What Teachers Do

The below Letters to the Editor appeared in the Northwest Herald. The first is Jim Peschke's parody to a pro-education establishment's LTE. The letter from Brian Schweitzer appears to be another version of one promoted by the education establishment posted on Mike Davitt website.

What teachers do

[published on Wed, Dec 14, 2005]

To the Editor:

Re: Nov. 24 letter, "What teachers make."

At a five-star dinner party, one woman, a chief executive officer, wondered how a teacher could afford $200 per plate. She decided to confront this contradiction to the "underpaid teacher" myth.

She argued, "What's a kid going to learn from someone who thinks a six-figure salary for nine months work is 'underpaid'?" To stress the point, she said to another guest: "You're a teacher, Susan. Be honest, what do you make?" (Looking for income.)

Susan, an unusually frank teacher, asked "You want to know what we make?"

"We make parents work harder than they ever thought they could. We make one-income households become two-income households to pay ever-increasing taxes for schools.

"We make kids wonder why they should bother with homework. We make kids who can't read at age 16 feel like they've won the Congressional Medal of Honor because self-esteem is more important than learning fundamentals.

"We make bad teachers earn more than good teachers. We make legislators pass laws to strengthen our education monopoly. We make Illinois bankrupt with a Ponzi-retirement scheme.

"We make friendly neighbors into enemies by running tax increase referendums every few months.

"We make the elderly choose between food and medicine because they can no longer afford both.

"We make America less competitive in the Information Age."

Susan paused, then continued: "You want to know what we make? We make ourselves out to be secular saints using silly stories like Brian Schweitzer's. We make our union bosses richer. What do you make?"

The chief executive officer replied: "We make medicine to save the lives of millions. If we take public money without delivering results, I can go to jail. What happens to you?"

Susan replied: "Nothing. I have tenure."

Jim Peschke


What do teachers make?

What do teachers make?

Some dinner guests were sitting around a table discussing life. One woman, a chief executive officer, decided to explain the problem with education.

She argued, "What's a kid going to learn from someone who decided that the best option in life for a profession was to be involved in education?"

To stress her point she said to another guest, "You're a teacher, Susan. Be honest. What do you make?" (Looking for a dollar amount)

Susan replied: "Do you want to know what we make?

"We make children work harder than they ever thought they could. We make a kid that earned a C-plus and worked real hard to achieve that C-plus, feel like they had just won the Congressional Medal of Honor.

"You want to know what we make?

"We make kids wonder. We make them question. We make them say 'please' and 'thank you.'

"We make them so they can write properly. We make them work on taking care of their bodies. We make them read so they can comprehend the words. We make them show all of their work in math and perfect their final drafts for English.

"We make them understand that if you use your brain, follow your heart, and if someone ever tries to judge you by what you make, you must pay no attention because they didn't learn."

Susan paused and then continued: "You want to know what we make? We make a difference! What do you make?"

Any person who is involved in education, at all levels, makes every profession possible.

Congratulations to any person involved in education; you make it all possible.

Brian Schweitzer


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Time to quit hiding costs of tenure

Scott Reeder's series for the Small Newspaper Group
concluded last week with a good editorial, however we disagree changing from property tax to income tax. All
the articles can be reached by clicking on the title above.

An editorial: Time to quit hiding costs of tenure

Small Newspaper Group

Twenty years after the Illinois Legislature tried to
bring greater accountability into the classroom by
making it easier to fire bad teachers, Scott Reeder of
The Small Newspaper Group Springfield bureau launched
an investigation to determine the effectiveness of
those reforms.

The results of the investigation, one of the largest
in the company’s history, are startling.

Despite denials from the state’s two major teacher
unions, the data indicates that tenure has evolved
into near total job protection that mocks the goal of
accountability. The greatest abuses of this system are
often in the poorest school districts.

As part of this six-month investigation, Reeder:

-- Filed about 1,500 Freedom of Information Act
requests with various governmental entities.

-- Achieved a 100 percent response rate when seeking
data from each of Illinois’ 876 school districts.

-- Reviewed every case of a tenured educator facing
dismissal during the past 18 years.

-- Conducted one of the largest media document reviews
in the history of Cook County courts, according to
Linda Cuellar a spokeswoman for the circuit clerk.

-- Interviewed hundreds of educators, union officials
and experts.

What to do now

Students suffer when the teacher is incompetent. The
result is a disaster when the jobs of tomorrow require
higher skills than ever.

Good teachers suffer as they watch helplessly as the
standards of their profession are pulled down. They
are unfairly tarnished with the brush of mediocrity.
To add insult to injury, terrible teachers are paid
$50,000 or more to go away, while the best teachers
rarely get a bonus or premium pay based on merit. We
should have the courage to honor and reward the best
teachers. Their contributions are beyond measure, but
we must try anyway.

The taxpayers suffer by paying hundreds of thousands
of dollars in legal fees in cases to produce verdicts
that defy common sense.

For everybody’s sake, Illinois needs to bring real
accountability to the system.

A few suggestions:

-- It shouldn’t take a reporter six months to get this
kind of information. It should be collected by the
state and offered to the public as an accountability
report card each year.

-- Illinois should follow Iowa’s lead in outlawing
secret deals with bad teachers. Sunlight is a great

-- Long term teachers who are incompetent should
receive severance pay reflecting their seniority,
along with professional outplacement help. This is
better than keeping them in the system, where the
damage they cause to students lasts for years after
the student has left that classroom.

-- Some teachers have students who come badly prepared
and motivated. What counts is not the starting point,
but the progress made during the year. That can be
measured and rewarded.

-- Voucher systems, allowing students to choose among
public schools, would install a spirit of healthy
competition that would wake up the school boards.

-- But the greatest reform would be a grand trade.
Financing schools with property taxes, started when
only the rich owned real estate, is wrong, resulting
in huge disparities among school districts in the
state. Illinois should replace the property tax with
an equivalent income tax, in return for real
accountability for performance. The system we have is
a sham and a disgrace..

Now that the costs of tenure are no longer hidden, we
can do no less.

Monday, December 12, 2005

The city of Duluth, Minnesota made a "doleful discovery"

As you may know we have hundreds of people on our CRAFT email list sending us great information. The letter below came from our friend Herm. I know that District 50's teachers contract call for medical insurance payments for our retired employees. On top of their outrageous pensions (don't forget to check out for their new pension calculator) it is hard to see why taxpayers are willing to give more to such a mismanaged and corrupt form of government in any community. We must no longer listen to teachers and administrators whine about their low pay because those retiring today are more than likely to earn millions in retirement at the same time you will be paying for their health insurance. Teachers and school boards have no qualms about using your children as political pawns while refusing to take responsibility for actually educating our children just to get more money with no regard to the financial crisis they are creating. Again thanks Herm.

*** The city of Duluth, Minnesota made a "doleful discovery" recently,
reports the New York Times. Apparently, the town had been promising
lifetime health care to all of the town's retired workers, their spouses
and their children up to 26.

Unfortunately, no one ever stopped to figure out how much that would cost
- until a few years ago. After months of data collecting, an actuary
finally came up with an estimate of how much it would cost to provide free
lifetime health care to this group.

The total bill? About $178 million, more than double the city's operating

"Duluth's doleful discovery is about to be repeated across the country,
continues the Times article. "Thousands of government bodies, including
states, cities, towns, school districts and water authorities, are in for
the same kind of shock in the next year or so. For years, governments have
been promising generous medical benefits to millions of schoolteachers,
firefighters and other employees when they retire, yet experts say that
virtually none of these governments have kept track of the mounting price
tag. The usual practice is to budget for health care a year at a time, and
to leave the rest for the future.

"Off the government balance sheets - out of sight and out of mind - those
obligations have been ballooning as health care costs have spiraled and as
the baby-boom generation has approached retirement. And now the accounting
rulemaker for the public sector, the Governmental Accounting Standards
Board, says it is time for every government to do what Duluth has done: to
come to grips with the total value of its promises, and to report it to
their taxpayers and bondholders."

More tomorrow.

In the meantime, you can check out our special report that details what
will happen after the "Boomer Bomb" is dropped. Find out how here:

Duluth: Ground Zero of the Fiscal Firestorm Ahead?

Sunday, December 11, 2005


We must look at our education system and our legislators for creating this problem. The current system and tenure does not allow us to hire the teachers and people we need to get the job of educating all of our children to their maximum potential. If teaching is so important why can't we get rid of incompentent teachers and administrators and hire the people who can do the job right. The security of tenure only helps teachers and does nothing to properly educate our children. The below article appeard in the Decembler 11, 2005 Chicago Tribune. Thanks to Pete Speers for the heads up on this article.

World is caught between old skills and high-tech needs

Unfortunate convergence of economic factors points to a shortfall in trained employees

By Edward E. Gordon, author of "The 2010 Meltdown: Solving the Impending Jobs Crisis"
Published December 11, 2005, Chicago Tribune

A unique combination of events--the accelerated rise of advanced technologies, globalization after the fall of communism, the 1990s stock-market bubble and its collapse, and a massive number of people retiring--have combined to produce a potential 2010 workforce meltdown.

The 79 million Baby Boomers who are running the world's industrial economies will retire between 2010 and 2025. A smaller Generation X, with 40 million people and fewer entry-level "smart" workers, will take over.

A great mismatch of too many low-skilled workers and too many high-skill jobs is set to reach stellar heights. As these high-skill jobs go unfilled, American businesses will search the world in vain for more highly skilled, job-ready workers.

According to several studies, between 2010 and 2020 the U.S., Europe, Japan, China and India will face a shortfall of between 32 million to 39 million well-educated, technically specialized "smart people." The current business strategies of outsourcing these high-skill jobs or using H-1B temporary visas to import the workers won't work anymore. Millions of lower-skilled Americans, or people educated for careers that aren't growing or are obsolete, will sit on the economic sidelines, either unemployed or condemned to a future of low wages.

A technology paradox for the U.S. industrial and manufacturing sectors that have laid off millions of low-skilled workers is that they cannot find enough people to fill growing numbers of advanced technology jobs.

A 2002 Hudson Institute study found that 60 percent of all the jobs being created require skills that only 20 percent of U.S. workers possess. For example, in November 2004, Pennsylvania reported that nearly 350,000 workers were unemployed. At the same time, 24 percent of businesses told the state they couldn't find enough qualified workers.

Between 2000 and 2005, 200,000 manufacturing jobs disappeared from Illinois. Some of these were high-pay, high-skill jobs that went elsewhere to find the workers companies can't find here. These 2010 meltdown issues do not bode well for the long-term economic development of Illinois. We need to face the facts that in contemporary America there are just too many people trained for the wrong jobs and not enough people preparing for the jobs we are creating.

The career aspirations of much of the population in the U.S. are at serious odds with the increasingly high-tech needs of the economy. Unless this culture lag is resolved in a timely way, a growing labor market imbalance will have serious economic consequences. The high standards of American life are built on a complex technological and physical infrastructure that everyone takes for granted. Its maintenance is central to the prosperity of our economy. Many areas of industry and service within our economy are involved, with health care, manufacturing, information technology and the skilled trades constituting particularly critical sectors.

Yet as the Commission on the Future of the U.S. Aerospace Industry has stated, "The nation's apathy toward developing a scientifically and technologically trained workforce is the equivalent of intellectual and industrial disarmament ... and is a direct threat to our nation's capability to continue as a world leader."

According to Rick Stephens, senior vice president of human resources at Boeing Corp., "The shrinkage of a U.S. technically able workforce is the greatest threat to our national security."

Many Americans already are responding to the 2010 challenge. Intel, Microsoft, IBM and others are investing more than $50 billion each year in worker retraining and student career-education programs.

Many communities have organized a variety of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), such as Bridge to Careers of Santa Ana, Calif., the Philadelphia Academies Inc. or the Tulsa Technology Center. These intermediary agencies help bridge the chasm that separates the business and labor markets from education and career preparation.

The NGOs seek to retrain adult workers through a variety of education and skills programs attuned to the needs of local labor markets. They also strive to reinvent an outmoded educational system that traditionally has sorted students into two groups: "the best and the brightest" going to college and the others who won't.

These NGO alternatives place all students in local liberal arts/career academies that prepare everyone for post-secondary education. The major objective is that most students will complete a post-secondary, two- or four-year degree or an occupational program certificate.

NGOs can facilitate a 21st Century career culture that better prepares students and adults for the careers of a technologically driven, globally competitive society. Chicago's Renaissance 2010 Program is focused on developing 100 special academies. But Chicago has 600 public schools. Will it take an entire generation to reinvent education in Chicago? Do we have the time?

America needs to embark on a new era of reconstruction to avoid a 2010 meltdown. The future depends on our individual and collective will to make the necessary culture changes now for a new America and a new Illinois.


Edward E. Gordon is the author of "The 2010 Meltdown: Solving the Impending Jobs Crisis." He also serves on the Chicago Workforce Board and the Education Workforce Committee of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce.