Archive for the ‘Current Events’ category

A note about the 2014 campaigns…

September 25, 2013

dear candidates dan, bill, kirk and bruce–

i will not remain silent any more.  

check it out… 

chris robling – Monday, Sep 23, 13 @ 3:21 pm:

what i see (above at the Capitol Fax post) is pretty tired, shop-worn and inadequate. it will bring defeat, just ask our last gubernatorial “campaign manager.”

what we need is a new balance, in which no single republican is asked to retreat on any given issue, but all republicans determine that winning — on our terms, on our issues — is more important than their pet issue leading the party parade.

we must stop spending into our first bankruptcy since 1842.

we must stop taxing our way to a smaller economy with fewer jobs, less growth, dwindling income, net dis-investment and de-population.

we must halt wasting precious dollars in efforts to serve democrat constituencies at the expense of public goods, and leaving would-be beneficiaries unhelped.

we must regulate to welcome businesses as partners in creating the new illinois, not to punish them as adversaries available for contributions and taxes.

we must appeal to folks in every neighborhood of illinois, from golconda to galena and lawndale to lawrenceville with a message of hope and determination to explode madigan’s boot of oppression, and to return to them their rightful future — as illinoisans — of prosperity and security.

if someone thinks this agenda makes its adherent a rino, then i am happy to debate them any time.

if we do it like we have, we will lose.

if we hedge and muffle, shuffle and mumble, as at least three of our four candidates are doing right now, then we appear tepid imitators of the big brother oppressors. we will lose.

people want a champion whose leadership is rooted in identity with their problems and lived reality.

p.s. all lt. gov. candidates should dedicate their campaigns to abolishing the wasteful and unnecessary office and all its wasteful and unnecessary spending.

cheers, c

Salaries, Ratios and Results at RB

April 1, 2013

Much criticism of Riverside-Brookfield High School’s leadership relies on assertions of lost quality of academic achievement.  “These class size raises are hard to bear and really make education at RB worse…” is one quote from a poster.  But a straightforward review of official sources reveals that RB’s academic achievements were halting and discontinuous, particularly when the board has considered raises for members of the Riverside Brookfield Education Association, until the last four years, when progress has been measured and steady, even after “class size” grew.

For instance, no RB class ACT composite score between 2002 and 2008  equaled, let alone exceeded, the 2000-2001 composite score of 22.8 (2002 = 21.6; 2003, 21.7; 2004, 22; 2005, 22.4; 2006, 22.3; 2007, 22.5; and 2008, 22.5).

By 2007-2008, two of five scores (English, Math, Reading, Science Reasoning and Composite) were higher than those of 2000-2001.  English and Reading both reached 23.3, from 2001 bases of 22.2 and 23.0, respectively.  But Math and Science Reasoning both fell, Math to 21.9 from 22.6, and Science Reasoning to 22.0 from 22.7.

In fact, of the 35 individual scores that followed 2001 (five scores per year for the seven-year period) only five exceeded their 2001 value.  Those were the 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008 English scores, and the 2008 Reading score.  Each of the 30 other scores were less than the 2001 result for their particular area.  That means all of the scores in Math, Science Reasoning, and Composite, and all but one Reading score, were below their respective 2001 outcome.

By 2008, the four-year upturn in English and the improved Reading score were not enough to pull the composite above that of the class of 2001.  What slight improvement RB’s Composite saw came almost exclusively from English results, until 2008.  Source: Table 9, “High School Profile Report,” page 7 in “Riverside Brookfield High School District 208 Testing Report, 2007-2008 School Year.”

To focus on the decision-making period that led to the three-year, ten-percent raises per year, so-called “catch-up contract,” which took effect on July 1, 2005, the 2003-2004 results, which were available in the run-up to signing the new contract, are particularly illuminating.

As RB’s board considered granting three years of ten percent raises in the spring of 2005, the 2004 results underperformed those of 2001 across the board.

English, Math, Reading, Science Reasoning and Composite all fell from the 2001 levels.  English fell to 21.7 (2004) from 22.2 (2001), Math to 21.6 from 22.6, Reading to 22.4 from 23.0, Science Reasoning to 21.6 from 22.7 and Composite to 22, down from 22.8.

Similarly, the run-up to the current contract (July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2013) took place in view of the 2007 results.  English was in the third year of a rise, at 23.1 from 22.2 in 2001.  But it stood alone as an increasing value.  Math was 21.8, down from 22.6 in 2001, Reading, 22.4, down from 23.0, Science Reasoning 22.4, down from 22.7, and Composite was 22.5, still down from 22.8.  Source: Table 9, “High School Profile Report,” page 7 in “Riverside Brookfield High School District 208 Testing Report, 2007-2008 School Year.”

Throughout this period RB’s “Average Teacher Salary” grew to more than 151 percent of the state “Average Teacher Salary” in 2012, from more than 138 percent in 2001:

Year State average RB average $ Difference % difference
2001 $47,929 $66,186 $18,257 38.1
2002 49,702 68,342 18,640 37.5
2003 51,672 69,864 18,192 35.2
2004 54,446 70,538 16,092 29.56
2005 55,558 75,545 19,987 35.97
2006 56,685 76,490 19,805 34.94
2007 58,275 79,110 20,835 35.75
2008 60,871 83,745 22,874 37.58
2009 61,402 86,442 25,040 40.78
2010 63,296 90,120 26,824 42.38
2011 64,978 95,138 30,160 46.42
2012 66,614 101,014 34,400 51.64

Source:  Illinois State Board of Education, Illinois School Report Cards, Riverside Brookfield Twp HS, Riverside Brookfield Twp SD 208, 2001-2012, “Teacher/Administrator Salaries (Full-Time Equivalents)”

In the period of the latest contract ACT scores have risen consistently.  English rose to 23.7 (2012, the latest year for which data is available) from 23.5 (2009), Math to 23.7 from 22.4, Reading to 23.5 from 22.7, and Science to 23.2 from 22.5.  RB’s ACT Composite in 2012 was 23.6, up from 22.9 in 2009.

The student-teacher ratio increased to 23.2 in 2012 from 21.5 in 2009, or to 121 percent of the state ratio (19.2) from 112 percent of the 2009 state ratio (also 19.2).

The 2011 RB ratio was 21.3, meaning its rise to 23.3 in the 2011-2012 school year accompanied ACT score increases to 23.7 from 23.4 in English, to 23.4 from 23.2 in Math, to 23.5 from 22.9 in Reading, to 23.2 from 23.0 in Science and to 23.6 from 23.3 for the RB Composite.

Thus, as Average Teacher Salaries increased to 151.6 percent of the state average in 2012 from 141 percent in 2009, and student-teacher ratios increased to 121 percent of the state ratio from 112 percent, RB saw the Composite ACT rise three percent, less than a one percent increase in English, a 4.5% increase in Math, a 3.5% increase in Reading and a three percent increase in Science.

Because overall achievement – as indicated by the ACT scores — continued on its pre-existing course between 2009 and 2012, it is reasonable to conclude economies enacted after July 1, 2011 have not materially diminished attainments — at least as reflected by this data.

(None of this is to suggest either that correlation equals causation, or that descriptive results equal inferential trends.)

The truth about new goals, and $67 million

February 26, 2013

At tonight’s board meeting, fascinating steps.

First, Tonight was a final reading of the district goals and priorities.  All of the critics who decry lack of vision, while yearning for a vision that was defined by overspending, allowing an indicted drug dealer onto campus, campaigning from the school for the biggest tax hike in history and an uncertified superintendent, have consistently missed the slow, thoughtful, deliberate, ongoing refinement of the goals and priorities.

Maybe they didn’t miss it — maybe they simply left it out since it would have disproven their thesis. Kind of like saying you are a 501c(3), but filing for seven years as something else, and then, when called on it, acting like lying to the IRS and donors is no big deal.

Anyway,drafting and deliberations have been going on for months.  Tonight, Dr. Skinkis said it took longer than he expected, but he felt it was worth it.  One reason it took so long?  The last board left nothing.  For all of the incessant whining out there, most of it coming from one relative of a former board member, the simple fact is the old board never took the time to get this down and build consensus for the list.

The new list is tough — and will mean a lot of professional educator time working through plans and tactics.  Who knows, it might also give shape to the community’s position in contract talks with the teachers this spring.  But the board is now just one vote away (at the March meeting) from a goals list that will set priorities through the school and the budget.  It is all new, a product of a board challenge to Dr. Skinkis and Principal Bylsma.  All seven board members deserve praise for bringing this about.

Then during a discussion with some very committed parents of RB tennis players, some truths about the $67 million construction project also came out:

1.  There are no new roofs on old portions of the building — only the new portions have new roofs.

Problem: In 2006, we were promised new roofs throughout.  What is worse: We now have to pay for new roofs.

2.  The athletic field, which made the soccer lines almost impossible to see, will need replacing about 2016.

Problem: We will have to pay for that.

3.  For $67 million, we did not get new tennis courts, our courts are in disrepair

Problem:  The tennis parents are concerned that the courts may be unsafe and injury-producing.

4. Nor did we get a refurbished football stadium.

Problem: We are now roping off areas in which people may not sit.

These came out as the board was conveying to the tennis parents why even a comparatively small request now generates considerable complexity.  It was at about 8:50 p.m., if you watch the thursday evening replay.

These complement the other problems with the project, which have been documented elsewhere on this blog, and are yet another peak at the iceberg of incompetence known as the construction project.  The current board, all seven of them, are to be commended for bearing this unnecessary burden, left by the Tim-Joanne-Larry-Jack crew, and sorting all of the steps necessary to get the work done that was necessary then — and now, despite us being out $67 million.

Please, if you supported the referendum, know that these failures were covered up at the time (some of us were already calling for an audit then), and that cynical ploy was: “Get their money now for the teachers’ salaries, and we’ll get it later for the projects ignored by the $67 million.”  Since at least two, and i think three, of the candidates this year supported the referendum, we can show them again how we really feel about the bad old days — and the folks who are leading us to a better tomorrow.

P.S. For more info on RB’s roofs, go here and scroll down:  Or, go to the comment, below.  Thanks, c

Questions for D96 Candidates

February 25, 2013

For the heck of it, and expecting no replies, here are my questions for all candidates:

1.  What are your take-aways from the Lieggi Scandal ?  Specifically, if you are elected what steps will you take to prevent another such mess ?  Please be specific.

2.  If elected, you will soon have a new superintendent.  Acknowledging you are just one vote, and the Board must act as a whole, what five priorities would you yourself personally present to the new superintendent ?

3.  Which curricular attainment areas, if any, of D96 are, in your opinion, not what / where they should be ?  Why ?  As a board member, what will you do about these ?

4.  Questions have been raised (please see, up this thread) about the Board’s direction and oversight of the $18 million renovation.  What is your reaction to the price, direction, oversight, transparency and FOIA compliance issues raised therein ?

5.  D96 has decidedly “Taxed to the Max,” building up reserves at one point of $43 million.  Some say we borrowed $10 million we did not need so we could keep “Taxing to the Max,” and are now stuck paying $325,000/year in interest, which is a good four teachers/year.  Will you support the “Tax to the Max” policy or oppose it ?

6.  Parents of special needs children have banded together to advocate for greater sensitivity / responsiveness from D96.  What statement do you make to these parents, and the community at large, about D96 and special needs ?

7.  At least since the founding of Network 96 there has been an organized or a visible expression of parental disappointment with how D96 treats parents.  [I myself said at the new superintendent public input session that since 2001, my experience has been that D96 treats parents as “witless interlopers,” with all attendant disrespect and derision.]  Does any of this resonate with you, or not ?  In your view, how should D96 treat parents ?  If elected, how will you work to bring that about ?

8.  The President in the State of the Union address said his administration will challenge U.S. high schools to “better equip graduates for the demands of a high tech economy.”  In your view, how does that national priority translate to the D96 curriculum?  Are you satisfied that our D96/D208 curricula mesh enough to take kids as far as they can go in their 12 (or 13) years in the two systems ?

9.  While, statistically, American suburban elementary schools are one of the safest environments on earth, the multiple victim public shooting by a deranged individual in Newtown, Connecticut has raised security questions for all in elementary education.  Are you satisfied with current security at D96 ?  If not, what steps might you support to strengthen security ?   

10.  What D96 policy, program or practice not yet mentioned, if any, strikes you as needing a new look and possible change ?  Please be specific.

Digital Age Ballot Integrity and Security

February 24, 2013

In the above-linked story there is a fascinating report on what sounds like programmed-bots trying to gain access to absentee ballots in Miami last year.  The sleuthing necessary to make cases in situations like these is digital, and potentially very complex. Vote fraud is a permanent concern in democracies, like burglary, battery or embezzlement.  That means prevention techniques and detection tactics must also be permanent, and commitments by law enforcement must reflect the seriousness of the alleged underlying offense.  Very well written article by the Herald’s Patricia Mazzei.

Stop Jerry Clarke’s Latest Fiasco

February 23, 2013

Jerry Clarke is nursing a grudge because he blames his loss to Rodney Davis on Pat Brady.

This has as much to do with the gay rights bill, which I oppose, as the Man in the Moon.

Pat Brady is the most effective chairman we have has since Harold Byron Smith, and in some ways I think he has surpassed Mr. Smith’s impressive achievements. This attempted putsch, which I believe will be put down, is utterly unworthy of any party that wants to compete for the Governorship in 2014.

Our fellow Illinoisans are jobless to an almost unprecedented degree. Families fear for their ability to afford college, let alone retirement. Their state government betrays instead of serves them. Corruption reigns in the fetid dung heap of Springfield where cynical devotion to the Third House of Illinois Government, AFSCME, eclipses any effort at reform.  Democrats run amuck, unchecked, untethered and uncaring for the suffering they inflict on the beleaguered taxpaying families of the Prairie State.  It is a cruel game where insiders win and regular folks pay.

All who think, in view of this, pursuing a retrograde “gotcha” orbit, gets us closer to winning in 21 short months, should take a long, hard look at what is really happening, and what is really at stake, here.

If they say, “but Pat said something no Republican should say,” then my reply is, all who have not committed an error, get to the front of the line.

Jerry Clarke?  He drove Bill Brady, and all of us, into the ditch we now occupy.

Jim?  He is a friend I admire, but he flew over Soldier Field in a campaign ad against illegal immigration that made us out to be racists.

“But Pat deviated from the orthodoxy, he has to go,” they say.

Yes, he did, and I wish he had not done so for this bill.  But, if we start expelling all who deviate or have deviated, then we will be even less able to help our fellow Illinoisans recover their incomes, futures and hopes for their kids than we are today.  And today, please recall, we are super minorities in both houses — because when we needed Jerry Clarke to know how to run Bill Brady’s gubernatorial campaign in 2010, he hid under his campaign manager desk, afraid to contest the collars and Cook County — the largest source of votes in our beloved, open, flat and welcoming state.

How did that happen?  Funny you should ask.  Jerry Clarke, self-regarding Illinois Republican State Central Committeeman, cynically violated the orthodoxy when he hired the Democrat, Skinny Sheehan, to run Bill Brady’s campaign in Cook County.

That’s right, Jerry Clarke gave Republican donor contributions — your money — to a made member of the Chicago Democrat Machine make deals with his Democrat buddies so Bill would be Governor and Jerry could be a big shot.

And then, Jerry was so benighted, he actually expected the Democrats to fall in line for his thirty pieces of silver.  JERRY WAS FAMOUSLY SURPRISED ON ELECTION NIGHT !  He didn’t hear Judge Schmale say, “You will get nothing, and you will like it.”  Friends, that’s Jerry’s brand of leadership.

It’s about as “Republican” as George Ryan stopping the Willis investigation.  But Jerry did it, betraying every one of us, as did Ryan, and all of our donors, because he dumbly thought it would make him the next Bill Cellini in Springfield.

But he bounced back, last year, when Jerry and his longtime booster, former Congressman Tim Johnson, cooked up Tim’s “Oh, I forgot to retire” plan.  Jerry was poised to erase the blots in his copy book and become a congressman.  Hey, it’s not Bill Cellini, but it will do for now, right?

Frankly, we ought to be organizing a Parade down State Street for Pat Brady, since he had the outstanding sense to keep this reprobate out of the Illinois U.S. House delegation, and instead backed a Republican of whom we will be proud for years to come.

And we ought to be sitting in judgment as to why a bumble-brain would-be Cellini-esque wheeler-dealer like Jerry is even on our Sate Central Committee.  Jerry knows all of this, better than you and better than me.  And that is why he has signed the state central committee letter, pompously intoning noble motives for his grubby little payback play.

If you love Pat Quinn as Governor, and if you really love the map Pat Quinn signed into law, and if your heart bursts with joy to know the contributions of faithful Republicans were funnelled to the Chicago machine to make Bill Brady win, then thank Jerry this morning and follow Jerry wherever he leads.  And you know what Jerry’s 2013 fiasco is all about.

I have seen Jerry’s work, I am living in its result.  Pat Brady is ready to lead us past Jerry’s mistakes to Gubernatorial victory in 2014 — even when we disagree.  That is why I am proudly backing the best chairman we have seen in 20 years, the gentleman from St. Charles, Patrick M. Brady.

Please Read Steven Battersby’s Landmark Letter to the Editor

February 20, 2013

“District 96 should accept responsibility”

One of the most distressing aspects of the Lieggi Scandal has been the Board’s equanimity about ruining Susan Battersby’s teaching career.  She now works in a warehouse, I am told.  I have never met her.  It is an outrage, but the Board could not appear to care less.  I believe Ms. Battersby should be vindicated, and, as has been said by many, Lieggi dumped.  Please take a look at Mr. Battersby’s — her father — thoughts in the letter linked above, and evaluate the performance of the folks who brought this on.  Not their staff, not their top staffer, the superintendent, but they themselves personally.  The staff is the Board’s responsibility, just like this painful mess.