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K-12 Blues
More Chaos at Chicago Public Schools

When Chicago parents got confirmation this morning that their children’s school was canceled for the day, some of them may have hoped it was an April Fools’ stunt by clever students. Alas, it wasn’t. Time magazine:

Thousands of Chicago teachers went on a one-day strike Friday to put pressure on the government to address insufficient public school funding.

According to the Washington Post, the strike, organized by the Chicago Teachers Union, comes during a nine-month budget standoff between Illinois’ Republican Governor and Democratic legislature, which has left public schools, universities and state scholarships floundering without adequate funding. Contract negotiations have also stalled between the union and public school system.

“It’s a shame that we’ve had to strike to make our voices heard,” union Vice President Jesse Sharkey said at a picket line at a local high school Friday morning, the Chicago Tribune wrote. “We must have revenue to fund our schools, and a broken state budget that shuts off vital social services to the people of Chicago is unacceptable.”

This last comment is telling, because it points to a structural problem that is contributing to this dysfunction (Chicago teachers have been threatening strikes regularly for the last several years): namely, that people who live outside of Chicago, and have no voice in how the Chicago schools are run, must be taxed in order to provide the money to run Chicago schools the way the Chicago city government—or, more accurately, the Chicago Teachers Union—thinks they should be run.

A big part of blue state politics is the effort to equalize school spending across districts; rich Illinois suburbs can afford better schools than poor towns and cities, so they are asked to send extra money to Springfield to subsidize underfunded schools in Chicago. And it’s not just Illinois—state Democratic parties across the country are eager to subsidize schools in poor places with money raised in rich ones. (Incidentally, this may be one reason Democrats are struggling at the state level).

There is nothing wrong with this arrangement in and of itself—money should be redirected to children from poor families. The problem is that there is no countervailing understanding that if Illinoisans at large are going to pay for Chicago’s schools, sooner or later taxpayers will want some say in how the schools are managed. (The available evidence suggests that they are not being managed well, to say the least). But when Springfield tries to impose cuts or reforms, as it is now, political interests in Chicago fight them tooth and nail.

For the Chicago Teachers Union, the ideal would be to have Springfield raise money from far outside of the city limits and redirect it to Chicago without any oversight. That way, local politicians can bribe them with out-of-town voter money to get their support in local politics. It’s nice work if you can get it—and in many places, public sector workers have had it and want to keep it.

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  • Blackbeard

    Who was it that said that socialism (or the blue model) works fine until you run out of other people’s money?

    • f1b0nacc1

      Maggie Thatcher

    • Albert8184

      Margaret Thatcher, and anybody at all who lived under socialism.

  • Pete

    The Democrats are political geniuses. They manage to keep two diametrically opposed groups such as the public school teachers unions and the blacks in their coalition.

    As I see it, the unions know exactly what they are doing while the blacks are hopelessly clueless.

    • Anthony
      • Andrew Allison

        Your first reference very convincingly makes the point that blacks are, in fact, clueless.

        • Anthony

          Andrew, you’re a racist so your inaccurate conclusion is expected.

          • Andrew Allison

            “What African Americans lost by aligning with the Democratic Party”
            Sub-head: “What African Americans lost by aligning with the Democratic Party.”
            “When Bill Clinton and the “New Democrats” emerged victorious in the 1990s, thanks in large part to 83 percent support from black voters in 1992 and 84 percent in 1996, they adopted policies, such as welfare reform (Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996) and a crime bill (Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994) that proved ruinous for many black Americans.”
            “Whoever wins the nomination will likely garner support from over 85 percent of black voters . . .”
            Obama got 94% and has set back race relations 50 years.

          • Anthony

            Let me may this real simple (as we are exchanging at cross purpose), my assertion is not hastily nor prematurely determined (and my response is certainly not in defense of any political focus you now ascribe as a point of interest) – I’ve had years of commentary to supplement the obvious.

            Now, Andrew, two points: 1) the recent commenter Jesse gave me an “aha” moment regarding much of this TAI commentary; 2) the ability to clearly recognize (without emotion or sentiment) and judge accurately the nature of a human as yourself is a prerequisite, learned and mastered by all champions world-wide. So, in this tete-a-tete as in many others let’s agree to disagree. Also for all intents and purposes Andrew, I’m done here!

          • Crusty Ole Fool

            Wow! That’s probably one of the most egotistical, arrogant posts I’ve seen in awhile.

          • Anthony

            People sometimes have gut feelings that can drive their reasoning. Moral reasoning is sometimes a post hoc fabrication. Since I can’t read minds, I rather draw no conclusion summarily based on fourteen words.

          • ByzantineGeneral

            Anthony is punching down to overawe an imagined “Gosh, you sure do talk pretty!” audience. Bloviating, and not well.

            What every fortune-teller knows: listen behind the words for the pretense, and invert it. The inept use of a large vocabulary limns insecurity rather than arrogance.

          • Albert8184

            Yeah. Your analysis of this guy is spot on.

          • Anthony

            There’s no analysis just internet (virtual) speculation.

          • Albert8184

            Yeah. He’s got you pegged. Lots of people here seem to feel the same way. Maybe you should listen.

          • Anthony

            You’re entitled to your opinion but it’s wrong. And I don’t conform to what (lots of people) crowd thinks. Advise, when given constructively always receptive too, but Albert8184 that has to be revealed. Thanks, for the thought.

          • Anthony

            Projection. Hopefully, there’s audience uplift in right place – no punching at all.

          • Fred

            That’s probably one of the most egotistical, arrogant posts I’ve seen in awhile

            Then you probably haven’t read many of Anthony’s comments. The smug, arrogant, egoism is bad enough, but he has absolutely nothing intellectually to back it up. I could stomach the smug arrogance (though it would still be annoying) if he ever had anything interesting or intelligent to say, but he never does.

          • Tom

            The fact that you regarded Jesse as anything but a seagull says more about you than the commentariat here.

          • Anthony

            Tom, the fact that you assume to selectively police comment that differs from your group think has always identified your pretense at balance; Jesse exhibited more frankness in one site visit than many fuming contributors (and think of me what you will).

          • Tom

            Anthony, your pretense to intellectual superiority has never sat well with me, and I have never pretended to be a “balanced,” at least not in a way that you would see as such; that you have stated that Jesse was “more frank” than the regular contributors here indicates that you’re blinded by your own high opinion of yourself.

          • Anthony

            Got it, Tom, but the pretense is yours (look in the mirror) One final note my good man: if you really want to open your mind, open your heart first (especially on Federalist site). Good luck Tom as life moves.

          • Tom

            What am I pretending to be, Anthony, since you know me better than I do, apparently?

          • Albert8184

            My guess is that his response will be a lot of self-projection.

          • Tom

            Well, it was a better answer than I anticipated, although it was something of a cop-out.

          • Anthony

            No cop out, legitimate and mature response.

          • Anthony

            No cop out, legitimate and mature response.

          • Anthony

            Tom, sorry for delay but initially I had chosen to not answer this query. Then I thought better because you may actually be asking in good faith. So here goes my unqualified attempt: I cannot respectfully answer Tom because I “don’t know you”. Virtually I have seen/read your brief comments and replies on web sites but I know nothing more of you and cannot presume to honestly answer your question..

            However, appreciating and understanding human nature as such I know suggesting an honest look in mirror will reveal “pretenses” only we who choose to face can acknowledge (a task I have struggled with my adult life). So, Tom, I am not qualified to answer your specific question but I will leave with a favorite of my late Grandmother (that she got from Emerson): “man does not live by bread alone, but by faith, by admiration and by sympathy.” By grace, I’m done here Tom.

      • Angel Martin

        from the City-Journal article:

        “New union contracts don’t even require a vote from state legislators; if they aren’t rejected within 30 days, they automatically go into effect. And a state law says that any union contract that conflicts with or contradicts state law takes precedence.”

        This is bizarre. Is this accurate ? I know that special interests often write bills and then have their legislative front men introduce them. But they at least have to convince the legislators to vote to pass the bill.

        In this case, Connecticut state employees get what they want automatically, and state law is automatically rewritten in their favour if needed.

        I think it is pretty clear that the priorities of the State of Connecticut are not services for low income people.

        • Anthony

          You’re on it! And if I remember correctly from the article, Connecticut state employees are doing reasonably well while all Connecticut residents help to pay the freight. I think article ended with “change won’t be easy” and that’s where we find ourselves in a lot of policy areas (Public Sector Unions negotiate with the politicians they help to elect).

    • PoohBear57

      What’s so difficult about that? Both these groups have been bought off by the Democratic Party’s largesse (otherwise known as bribery), using other people’s money. The problem is, other people’s money isn’t limitless; and when the other people finally rise up and refuse to pay, those groups who have been riding the gravy train all these years will find their journey’s end is the collapse and ruin of their corrupt and self-serving enterprise.
      As in California, the payers are leaving Chicago in droves. So the collapse has already begun, and it won’t be neat and pretty when the final implosion arrives. The rest of us can only hope the Democratic opportunists don’t take the rest of us down with them, tho it will be almost impossible to escape the general chaos when the formerly-bribed are faced with the end of their free lunch.
      For a foretaste of what will ensue, just take a look at the behavior of the people in the Wisconsin public employee union when Scott Walker suggested they pay a modest increase into their own pension and health care funds.

  • Jeremy Klein

    “[M]oney should be redirected to children from poor families”…Says who? I resent money being taken from my family to be given to someone else without my consent. If I want to help someone I want to do it voluntarily, not at gunpoint. Don’t think it’s at gunpoint? Try not paying your taxes for a while…

  • ByzantineGeneral

    money should be redirected to children from poor families.

    Let the words of D. Crockett mind us of the America that became great:

    “Mr. Speaker — I have as much respect for the memory of the deceased, and as much sympathy for the suffering of the living, if suffering there be, as any man in this House, but we must not permit our respect for the dead or our sympathy for a part of the living to lead us into an act of injustice to the balance of the living.

    “I will not go into an argument to prove that Congress has no power to appropriate this money as an act of charity. Every member upon this floor knows it. We have the right, as individuals, to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right to so appropriate a dollar of the public money.

    “Some eloquent appeals have been made to us upon the grounds that it is a debt due the deceased. Mr. Speaker, the deceased lived long after the close of the war; he was in office to the day of his death, and I have never heard that the government was in arrears to him. This government can owe no debts but for services rendered, and at a stipulated price. If it is a debt, how much is it? Has it been audited, and the amount due ascertained? If it is a debt, this is not the place to present it for payment, or to have its merits examined. If it is a debt, we owe more than we can ever hope to pay, for we owe the widow of every soldier who fought in the War of 1812 precisely the same amount.

    “There is a woman in my neighborhood, the widow of as gallant a man as ever shouldered a musket. He fell in battle. She is as good in every respect as this lady, and is as poor. She is earning her daily bread by her daily labor; and if I were to introduce a bill to appropriate five or ten thousand dollars for her benefit, I should be laughed at, and my bill would not get five votes in this House. There are thousands of widows in the country just such as the one I have spoken of, but we never hear of any of these large debts to them.

    “Sir, this is no debt. The government did not owe it to the deceased when he was alive; it could not contract it after he died. I do not wish to be rude, but I must be plain. Every man in this House knows it is not a debt. We cannot, without the grossest corruption, appropriate this money as the payment of a debt. We have not the semblance of authority to appropriate it as a charity.

    “Mr. Speaker, I have said we have

  • CapitalistRoader

    …rich Illinois suburbs can afford better schools than poor towns and cities, so they are asked to send extra money to Springfield to subsidize underfunded schools in Chicago.

    Just asked? So, they can decline w/o consequences?

  • Calvin Coolidge

    “There is nothing wrong with this arrangement in and of itself—money should be redirected to children from poor families. ”

    Isn’t this suppose to be a Conservative website? And they wonder why Trump is winning.

  • Calvin Coolidge

    Public education should be abolished. The States and Federal Government need to get out of the Education business. The education system is undermining my values. Why should anybody support these institutions? Without government involvement in education, education would be more innovative, more accessible, and more valued. If the federal government was directly involved with the phone, we would all be still using rotary dial land lines. This is why people are fed up with our Conservative intelligentsia. They don’t truly believe in FREE markets and freedom of association.

    • Johnathan Swift Jr.

      Agreed. It was all based the Prussian model, cannon fodder for the Army. Today, they want to start screwing up kids earlier and earlier, so that they produce a super race of compliant, though ever-complaining little socialists.

  • Ann in L.A.

    Cato studied the amount actually spent per pupil in various districts around the country back in 2000. They also showed that what districts report they spend and what they actually spend are not the same thing.

    The gap between what the City of Chicago district claimed that they spent, and what they actually spent was 38%, at an actual of $15,800/pupil. With 20 kids in a classroom, that means that in 2000, they spent $316,000 per classroom.

    More recently published numbers for CPS give $13,433/pupil in 2014. If we assume that they, like pretty much all districts, are under-reporting their spending, and assume just 25% under-count, that makes spending $16,700/pupil, or $334,000 per classroom. (If we assume they are still under-representing their spending by 38%, that comes to $18,500/pupil or over $370,000 classroom.)

    http://www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/they-spend-what-real-cost-public-schools

    A second Cato study looked at spending versus the NAEP test results (the NAEP has been given regularly for decades and amounts to the longest longitudinal educational study ever.) They showed that there is no correlation between spending and outcomes.

    http://www.cato.org/blog/new-naep-scores-extend-dismal-trend-us-education-productivity

    • Calvin Coolidge

      Did they take into account public infrastructure cost? Often, public education doesn’t include the cost of buildings. When those are factored in, we are really paying over 20k per student in most inner city school systems.

      • Johnathan Swift Jr.

        This is all quite true. The irony is that there is often an inverse relationship between spending and results. The districts, like those Garden State resorts like Camden and Newark spend $16,000 – $20,000 per student (based on what they admit spending) and the results are awful, abysmal, depressing. Many of the schools were built decades ago, so all that should be required is maintenance.

        • Ann in L.A.

          DC is the worst. They spend more than any other district and have abysmal results. Meanwhile, the dems do everything they can to minimize and eliminate vouchers and charters.

  • Calvin Coolidge

    “There is nothing wrong with this arrangement in and of itself—money should be redirected to children from poor families.”

    What??? Isn’t this supposed to be a Conservative Website? And we wonder why Trump is winning.

    • bannedforselfcensorship

      Is this a conservative website?

      p.s. Trump believes education is top 3 federal government task. I’m pretty sure he’d agree with the statement.

  • Rick Caird

    In almost every jurisdiction, strikes by public workers are illegal. The punishment should be the dissolution of the union and wholesale firing of the teachers who did not work.

  • curmudgeoninchief

    “There is nothing wrong with this arrangement in and of itself—money should be redirected to children from poor families.” Why, of course not. Of course there’s nothing wrong. How could any feeling person believe that there is.

    Except of course “no taxation without representation” and that quaint notion of personal accountability. School districts were formed so that a district could tax itself, usually via property taxes, and spend THAT money on its schools. School boards dealt with those schools only.

    With forty years of Democrat control of the school systems, we now have a system where EVERYBODY, no matter where situated is taxed to pay for “poor” schools, some of which schools are so heavily funded that they are spending $10,000 per pupil per year. Of course, most of that money does not end up in the classroom, but instead funds educator salaries and pensions.

    Once we get past the blind acceptance of phrases like “There is nothing wrong with this arrangement in and of itself” and recognize just how wrong it is, we can begin to heal.

    • Johnathan Swift Jr.

      Everything is now a Kelptocracy. Every government agency seems to be designed in order to fleece the taxpayer to prop up the stumbling, crumbling, corpulent, corrupt Blue Model.

  • Johnathan Swift Jr.

    Some random thoughts. I love the incredible assumption that everyone buys into the concept that they should want to redistribute their earnings to someone else, especially someone who is likely to be on public relief and have many more children than the person who is actually paying the freight. I guess you get what you pay for, so when you pay for irresponsibility and dependency and promiscuity, by God, you’ll have more of it. Go Blue! Go Blue!

    I’m sorry, but many Americans want their sky high property taxes to pay for their local schools, since they are on the hook paying for public education whether they have children or send their own to private schools or not. It’s ironic how people search out a neighborhood that has good schools because they are being extorted anyway, only to see much of their tax money diverted to spendthrift districts that have legions of highly-paid administrators with gold plated retirement packages.

    It’s amazing how the wonderful Blue Model manages again and again to produce these awful, almost unlivable cities, noisy, dirty, violent, crime ridden, with crumbling infrastructure that has gone untouched for decades, you know, garden spots like Newark aka “Bookerville,” Camden, Baltimore, New Orleans, Detroit, St. Louis, all of which conspire to drive out every decent employer, so that all that is left are city jobs or sweeping up at the local mini-mart (which is inevitably owned by immigrants not those entrepreneurial oh-so-blue residents) or work in a fried chicken base. Those wonderful blue policies always seem to erode their own tax base, so they have to go begging to the very same people who left thanks to their noxious dictates, hat in hand, without a pot to piss in.

    I manage travel a lot by automobile when I am back in the states and it is an eye-opener to actually spend time driving through places like Newark or Camden. They look more like Berlin or Hamburg after the RAF and the AAF got through with them than they do an American city of 1935, during even the depths of the Depression. Camden has staggering amounts of money for its public schools, way, way over the national average, on the order of $18,000 per student, yet the graduation rate is dismal and almost no one qualifies (even being spotted hundreds of points on their SATs) for a four year college. How is this possible because for decades the teacher’s unions have told us the equation is simple: More Funding = Better Schools = Better Results. Simple, right? Camden then should be turning out National Merit Scholars by the boatload with all the county, state and federal dough that is diverted to its stellar, world-class schools.

    There are many of us who do not believe in redistributionist schemes, who actually believe that education is something that families need to plan for and do on their own. One would think that before the wonderful concept of compulsory state education – modeled on the Prussian system which was intended to produce compliant cannon fodder – no one was educated. Education of course is a job for “experts,” you know the ones who consistently graduate in the lower part of their classes and then go on to indoctrinate everyone else’s children.

    I spend a lot of time reading about historical figures and it is simply stunning how many Americans of great accomplishment had very little formal schooling, in fact so many that one has to wonder whether they accomplished so much IN SPITE of their schooling, not because of it. No one would argue that there is value in formal education, especially in STEM subjects, but one had to wonder whether much of the educational system could be replaced with a much faster, more cost effective model. One of my own mentors, when I was a younger man in the 1970s, graduated from 8th grade and went to work in 1912, when only half of students even went to high school. And, he could function much better – reading, writing, math – than most high school graduates that I meet today, because standards have slipped so far. He went to work full time at thirteen.

    The other thing that is so fascinating is how the Catholic Schools across the nation seem to survive, even thrive on about $7,000 – $8,000 dollars per student, while the failing Chicago Public schools spend about $13,000 – $14,000 and some of the very worst public schools in Blue Model resorts like Bookerville (Newark), Camden and Baltimore spend $15,000 – $20,000.

    When one really considers it, education should be able to be done very inexpensively, as no one should care munch about what a classroom looks like as well as it is clean, well lit, warm in the winter and cool in the summer. So, you have a classroom, some books and a teacher and some insurance. If a grammar school teacher is paid say $125,000 a year – with salary, benefits and the retirement no one actually seems to be saving for – and teaches 5 classes with 30 students or 150 students a year at $13,000 a pop, that is $1,950,000 in gross income that is taken from the taxpayers. Even if you had one lazy administrator for each teacher, the amount of waste and corruption has to be staggering. Most of the schools themselves were constructed long ago, so now all they require is to be maintained properly and there should be millions and millions for that, but many of the schools are still falling down.

    The entire blue model with its insalubrious combination of debauched Democratic Party officials, feckless federal administrators, corrupt public employee unions and a largely dependent and disaffected electorate has produced places where one can drive though mile after mile of crumbling, abandoned homes, bulldozed wreckage and empty lots where thriving neighborhoods once stood. The Blue Model has been such an unmitigated disaster for so many American cities that, that, it’s almost as if it was by design, that the same people crying “racist” and “racism” at every opportunity have conspired to turn the cities into giant holding pens for poor, minority people, less they move to Marin or Atherton or Prince George County. If the leaders of big blue could wall them off, to trap the residents inside,
    they probably would. Who would have thought that Big Blue saw Blade Runner or Escape from New York as a prescription? Where is Snake Plisken when he is needed?

    • Albert8184

      Just think of the “blue model” as America’s Gulag Archipelago. A very fitting comparison, especially since the residents ARE trapped inside, in a different sort of way.

      • Johnathan Swift Jr.

        Yes, it is because they have in effect trapped people in the inner cities by design.

        The Democrats and their public employee unions and the permanent “government class” bureaucracy has,created a model that has though filth, violence and endless taxation pushed most of the large scale employers away, destroyed the educational system so that most of its “graduates” are virtually unemployable, glamorized low-life, ghetto culture (which was appropriated from poor Southern whites in the beginning) and portrayed it as authentically black, encouraged dependency and of course all the unemployed, unemployable people who are by design “disaffected” are then primed for gang membership, drug addiction, drug sales and provide “proof” that “America” is racist and doesn’t care. Wash, spin, rinse, spin, repeat.

        The thing that I find mind boggling is that everyone can’t see that even the stupidest public employee, the most backward teacher, the most feckless administrator, the most corrupt public official all have to see that the blue model has been failing for decades. Billions and billions of “Stimulus” bucks were poured into these same rat holes, most of it in a small number of zip codes. You can drive those streets and see no change, where do hundreds of millions of dollars disappear without anything to show for it in Baltimore, say? None of the trillions spent on poverty programs have had any lasting effect, ameliorating the conditions that trap so many people. It is clear that the Blue Model has failed and failed and failed. It is there for all to see, so we can only conclude that it is all by design, that the authors of the Blue Model are the real racists.

  • chicagoxile

    “The problem is that there is no countervailing understanding that if Illinoisans at large are going to pay for Chicago’s schools, sooner or later taxpayers will want some say in how the schools are managed.”

    You don’t seem to understand how “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need”” works.

  • Misanthrope

    The suburban backlash against the unholy alliance of democrats and PE unions has prompted democrats to use suburbanites’ tax dollars to pay to re-locate excess democrat voters to the suburbs. If you have 90% of the vote in area A, and 40% in area B, all you need to do is tax area B to pay for moving in10% of area A’s voters. Democrats end up controlling both A and B, without needing to gain a single vote.
    That’s exactly what’s behind the expansion of “public housing” into suburbia.

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