Saturday, May 30, 2015

Last Call

By Stephen Wilson

(Moscow, Russia) - Spring isn't just smelt from the fragrant blossoming trees. It is heard in the shy and awkward laughter of teenage school children gathering, singing and at times dancing around the streets of Moscow. For over the past few days I have been witnessing an almost euphoric mood of high expectations of a long exciting future ahead sustained by the thought that just after this celebration, school students must still sit exams. Among those students I noticed that some of them still dawned school uniforms that date back over 60 years. Some female students are still wearing that traditional brown uniform, with an outer white flock, as well as those prominent hair ribbons which startle foreign visitors. Their uniforms are draped with the red golden waist ribbon which symbolizes their final day at school. Among all this
lively gaiety can be heard the haunting ring of the last bell!

While walking around Moscow I accidentally bumped into some students I had taught, aged from 14-15. They were not
celebrating 'the last call,' but success in some Latin exams. "We have just sat and passed our last exam in Latin! We are so relieved ... We all did well. All of us got fives," said a beaming 15-year-old student who adores reading history books. All of them were feasting on an outdoor table at a Macdonald's restaurant in Prospect Mir. The students attend one of the few gymnasiums in Moscow which offers students a deep grounding in Latin and Greek. Such a school is reminiscent of an old public school in Britain which once commonly prevailed at the turn of the 19th century. I wondered if I was looking at budding historians or diplomats.

In other parts of the city I was confronted yet again by a person waving a placard with 'Free smile and hug.'

Since the person was not a girl, I declined. The man impotently attempted to block the way of an alluring
woman who managed to deftly draft around him.


What, then, is this custom named 'The Last Call'? I have witnessed this event a couple of times. This is a unique custom, practiced in Russia in many, but not all schools. It is quite original! On the last day of school, children gather in the school playground to sing songs, recite poems and make farewell speeches. But the crown of this event is when the oldest student of the school chivalrously carries on his shoulders the youngest  pupil who rings a bell. A more later
addition is that each pupil sends off a balloon with a secret wish.

The custom arose soon after the Great Patriotic War when an injured soldier returned to assume the post of head master at school number 182 (currently number 1388), in 1947. The soldier, Gregory Leonidovich Assev, organised the first 'Last Call' on 25 May 1948. This teacher is fondly remembered by his surviving school students. '

'He was not only a war hero but a man with a great vision.' This was an amazing man.

'He had been under whistling bullets all through the war, suffered from concussion and limped around school. He was very strict but we loved and respected him. He was a very authoritative figure and used it for good effect. He taught us Russian and literature. He was a great organiser! ... He arranged for the creation of labour camps and that we exercise before lessons ... Gregory Leonidovich decided to
arrange the celebration to honour the end of the school year.'

People liked this idea and now is is difficult to imagine how this all began from one school,' said former pupil Valery Lintinsky.


Asked 'What new customs might surface along with 'The Last Call,' one girl, Yula, stated, 'We don't have to change anything. It is all brilliant! The dancing! The songs! What could be more wonderful?'

Another pupil Artem stated, 'The school should be handed over to all the school graduates!' 

One 12-year-old student, Sonya, stated, 'Yes, my school celebrates 'The last call' and we are usually asked to visit the school hall but I have never witnessed this in person.'

Svetlana Wilson, a 54 year old artist, stated her school never had this custom. However, she thoughtfully suggested, 'The Last Call should be held not before the final exams but after it. I mean how can pupils truly relax at a celebration organised the day before exams?  Their minds are on exams and not having a good time!'

Indeed, many school students gathered to celebrate for a few hours and then dashed home to bury themselves in studies. They face taking tense exams which might decide their future fate. Taking the Unitary State exam is no casual affair. It has been rendered highly problematic by growing corruption which pervades the very entrance process.

Fair exams have been tarnished by revelations of cheating, favouritism and nepotism which allows some of the richest and untalented school students to enter Moscow State University. Now students of Russian Literature are obliged to write a composition on questions such as, 'Is it better to love than be loved?' or 'The man who says war is not a bad thing knows nothing about war? ' What criteria is to be used to assess those compositions has not been made wholly explicit!

So entering university has become more problematic. The quota of freely available places has been cut and now approximately two thirds of places at universities are paid! The old free system of further education no longer exists if it ever did! Some 'students' are too idle to even pick up a book. Instead, they just purchase a diploma. In fact, experts state that as many as 20% of diplomas in circulation are fake. So 20% of 'graduates' have never even sat or passed exams. Even the dissertations of some leading Russian politicians are thought to be plagarised.

Many of those long term questions were not on the minds of those school students. For now, at least for an hour or two, they were wallowing in the lavish sunshine which shined like a good omen.

They seemed freshly young, carefree and glowing with optimism.

They had three months of freedom and a long leisurely idyllic
summer spent in one of the Moscow parks, the dacha or abroad. (At least some students) could be forgiven for believing paradise was knocking at the door before the looming storm. Where are those students going?, and what will become of them? This is anyone's guess. However, somewhere, someone is remorselessly ringing a bell in a school. Maybe this bell will drive away and deter evil spirits for a time. In any case, students in the park ought to knock on wood!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Sub Rights

Non-tenure and Sub Teacher Rights!
By Jan Peczkis

Veteran teacher and sub Jan Peczkis.
I am a displaced CPS teacher and current CPS sub. I would like to be a member of the CTU, but cannot afford the dues. I would like to see CTU dues pro-rated to $5/day per actual day subbed. Thus, the dues per pay period would range from zero to $50. To avoid losing the support of subs who don't want to be members of the CTU in any case, subs should retain the option of non-membership.

I have been told that this takes a CTU Constitutional Amendment for this to happen, and that the first step is to get a petition going. Please send me the paperwork so that I can get started.

Proposed Rights of Displaced Teachers in the New Contract (2015-2019?)

17-Year CPS Teaching Veteran - Older, “Unemployable” Displaced Teacher


I am a 60 year-old displaced teacher, who had taught as an FTB, in the same position, with an excellent rating, from 1997 to 2006. In or about 2003, I was made into a PAT, and then was displaced in 2006 when the funding ran out for my discretionary science position. Since then, I have been a substitute teacher, unable to be hired for a regular CPS teaching position because “I make too much.” 


The old FTB (Full-Time Basis) system made sense for up to a year of work to fill-in for an absent teacher, and no more. Instead, the FTB became a means for CPS to get around granting tenure. The FTBs effectively became a permanent underclass of tenure-less teachers, with tenure granted only at the whim of the principal, and then with total disregard for excellent teaching and years of service.

Worse yet, the contract of about 2003, while thankfully abolishing the FTB, did not, as should have, grandfathered years-experienced FTBs into tenure. Instead, the FTBs had to “start all over” as PATs, deprived not only of tenure but also stripped of all previous seniority. This was grossly unfair, and to this day I cannot imagine how the CTU agreed to such an arrangement. What’s the point of having a union if something like this is allowed to happen, and, worse yet, is allowed to stand?

Common-sense unionism dictates that any layoffs deemed necessary should have been conducted according to reverse seniority. The utter disregard for seniority rights in the contract of about 2003, correctly or incorrectly blamed on Deborah Lynch, was unconscionable. The passage of time does not make this injustice go away. While the clock cannot be turned back to a previous contract, the situation has for years cried for effective remediation, and the ensuing contract should finally correct this situation.

A labor attorney whom I consulted told me of what he called a stinking Supreme Court decision that allows employers to pass over higher-paid candidates in favor of lower-paid ones. This allows employers to discriminate against older workers, specifically displaced older teacher such as myself. Because CPS is “off the hook” legally, it is all the more reason that the CTU should finally and aggressively remediate this gross injustice through collective bargaining. 

CTU policies should not create a rift between tenured and untenured teachers, or between old and young teachers. For this reason, I simultaneously include a proposal, below, for upholding younger teachers. 

Proposed Remedy 1: Bestowing of Confiscated Tenure

All displaced teachers that are former FTBs, with four or more years of 
uninterrupted CPS full-time teaching, and with an excellent or superior rating, as of 2003, should automatically be granted tenure at the start of the 2015-1019 contract.

Furthermore, these newly-tenured teachers should be treated identically to all the other displaced tenured teachers in the Teacher Pool.

Furthermore, CPS should be required to rehire all these so-defined displaced tenured teachers before it hires any non-tenured or new teachers.

Furthermore, the status of tenure should be permanent status for displaced teachers, and not be something that disappears with time. Nor should there be any such thing as “Honorable Terminations” for such tenured teachers that are not rehired in a short time.

Alternatively, the “50% rule” for CPS hiring of tenured teachers should be 
extended to ALL so-defined tenured teachers, and not only tenured teachers displaced in the most recent year. 

All seniority that existed up to the point of displacement should likewise be 

Proposed Remedy 2: Pay Cuts By Long-Displaced Teachers

We are in an employer’s market—very much so. CPS has no incentive to hire older, higher-paid teachers, and probably never will.  I would rather be employed at $40,000 a year than unemployed at $60,000 a year or perpetually underemployed (as a substitute teacher) at $18,000 a year. For this reason, older displaced teachers (say, displaced more than 5 years ago) should be allowed to take a pay cut in order to make them once again employable with CPS as regular teachers.   

I have been told that, were displaced older teachers allowed to take a pay cut, it would depress the pay scales. If true, I fail to see why a current high-paid teacher, who has had the fortune of not being displaced, should now make even more money while I, and other good teachers who lost their jobs through no fault of their own, are and remain perpetually unemployable as regular teachers with CPS. 

Proposed Remedy 3: “Super Substitutes” 

All currently-recognized displaced tenured teachers, and displaced teachers that are former FTBs (again, with four or more years of uninterrupted CPS full-time teaching, and with an excellent or superior rating, as of 2003), should be made into “super substitute” teachers that make at least $300/day. (The present system, which makes displaced tenured teachers into cadre substitute teachers, is inadequate, owing to the huge pay differential between regular and substitute teachers.)

Furthermore, CPS should be required to use the services of all these “super substitutes” before it uses any regular substitute teachers. 

Furthermore, and in order to prevent CPS from trying to fire these “super 
substitutes” in order to save money, the rates of firing of “super substitutes” and regular substitutes shall not differ by more than 5%. In addition, substitute teachers, of all sorts, shall be protected from arbitrary termination by CPS through the proposed policies outlined by me in SubRightsPeczkis.doc.

For New Teachers:

The constant turnover of newer teachers is a problem. New teachers should be tenured after only one year of probation, not three or four. In addition, CPS should be allowed to deny tenure to no more than 30% of first-year teachers each school year. This would end the revolving door by preventing CPS from constantly getting rid of about-to-be tenured teachers in favor of still-cheaper, brand-new teachers. This proposal would also alleviate the depressed-wage problem, described earlier, by raising the average wage of the CPS teacher. 

Other Matters:

Substitute teachers are often not paid in a timely matter, and subs have to waste time calling schools to get payroll corrections made. Filing nonpayment grievances with the CTU is cumbersome because it takes months for resolution. 

CPS has no incentive to get payrolls correct because there are no consequences for their omissions. Therefore, I propose that CPS be required to pay a fine of $20, per each day unpaid wage and per delinquent pay period, to the substitute teacher. 

The new contract should strictly abolish all the creative CPS methods for getting rid of teachers. This includes “re-definition” of teacher positions.

CTU dues for substitute teachers should be pro-rated to $5/day of actual 
substitute teaching.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Protest Against Charter

Northside Community Unites against relocation of Noble Charter High School as Unnecessary and Counterproductive to Neighborhood HS Resurgence Effort
Aldermen, Principals, LSCs, Parents and Community Members Join Forces to Stop Relocation
Chicago – Principals, elected officials and hundreds of parents and community members are uniting in an effort to put a stop to the proposed relocation of Noble Academy to 640 W. Irving Park Road from it’s current downtown location.The group will convene at 3:50 p.m. on Thursday, May 21st at CPS Board headquarters, 42 W. Madison, where a community hearing is scheduled to discuss the relocation.
“Opening a charter or any high school in our respective communities will undermine the efforts that are currently underway and the momentum we have gained in our neighborhood high schools through the hard work and dedication of our staff and our communities,” said Susan Lofton, principal of Senn High School. “Relocating or opening a new school will be a detrimental diversion of needed resources away from our existing schools.”
The groups have urged the Board of Education and Mayor Emanuel to oppose the move of this school to the proposed location based on the following facts:

·       The proposed school could siphon millions from Amundsen, Lake View, Sullivan, Uplift and Senn high schools

·       46th Ward Alderman, James Cappleman opposes locating the school in his ward. Many aldermen in the surrounding area have also publicly opposed this move.

·       The move has not been approved by the BOE. However, Noble is ALREADY ADVERTISING the location and soliciting neighborhood students.

·       Existing neighborhood high schools are not over-enrolled and have capacity to educate all of the students from their feeder schools.  There is NO DEMAND for additional high school seats in this area.

·       The move will undermine the momentum of the GrowCommunity effort, an initiative directed by Alderman O’Connor, Pawar and Tunney in partnership with the Urban Education Institute, the University of Chicago and Mayor Emanuel.
Despite less than seven days notice to the community of the proposed move and the hearing, the news has struck outrage among community members, who have mobilized a broad and growing opposition campaign in just a few days. In addition to aldermanic support, and a letter signed by all neighboring high school principals in opposition to this move, resolutions and written opposition letters have been passed by numerous Local School Councils including:  Amundsen HS, Lakeview HS, Senn HS, Sullivan HS, Uplift HS, Blaine, Coonley, Waters, Nettelhorst, Ravenswood, Jordan, Boone, Kilmer, New Field, McPherson (additional schools scheduled to vote on resolutions this week). In addition, a call in and e-mail campaign have been launched this week.
Jeff Jenkins, parent from Coonley School said, “Our communities are committed to the growth and success of our existing public schools, andwe thought our mayor and the board of education were equally committed.  Yet, our district’s billion dollar deficit and the fact that there is no over-crowding issues at our high schools, this plan makes no sense.”
Noble HS also has a proposal for Rogers Park for 2016 and the community is concerned about the ongoing impact that charter expansion will have on existing neighborhood high schools.
Contact:         If you plan to attend this event or have any questions, please contact Amy Smolensky, 312-485-0053

Columbia Protest!

Paying More, Getting Less: 
Columbia College Chicago
by Labor Beat

A coalition of faculty and students at Columbia College Chicago picked May 1, 2015 to hold a sidewalk protest plus sit-in at the office of Dr. Kwang-Wu Kim, President and CEO of the school. Their complaints have been piling up for some time, and, unfortunately, have a lot in common with those from many college and university campuses in the U.S. Columbia College Chicago, situated on Michigan Avenue across the street from Grant Park, emphasizes arts and media education.

P-FAC, the union representing the part-time faculty at Columbia College, have organized together with the students to form the coalition #SaveColumbia. It is calling, among other things, for an end to six-figure salaries for administrators, for freezing tuition at the rate from the year a student entered, for transparent budget and good faith bargaining with United Staff of Columbia College. On the day of the protest and sit-in, P-FAC department representatives voted unanimously to initiate a vote of no confidence against Columbia College President Kim and Provost Wearden.

Interviewed are: Sarah Schlieder (student); Jude Valentin (student); Diana Vallera (President of P-FAC, the part-time faculty union at Columbia College Chicago); Victoria Shannon (adjunct faculty); Michael K. Paxton (adjunct faculty); Reginald Wilson (adjunct faculty).

Valentin commented about the large "Industry-Leading Faculty" window posters that are prominent to viewers on Michigan Avenue. "When I came here for orientation I thought, 'oh, that's so cool'. But now at the end of my freshman year I'm like 'this is really sad'. Because 'Industry-Leading Faculty' it is but it's not the truth. The truth is that [they who have] the potential to be great in teaching us, in teaching us what we need to know in order to go out in the world, are being shafted. They're being shafted, their classes are being cut, and kids who need their classes to graduate aren't being able to have those classes. And that's not fair."

Following informational picketing in front of the Michigan Ave. campus, a group of students and teachers rode the elevator to the 5th Floor of the main building, where President Kim's office is located. Hoping to have a discussion with the president, they were instead locked out from even talking to his receptionist. 

"They've limiting the number of people who are up on the 5th floor", P-FAC President Vallera explained while in phone conversation with the outside. "They've locked us out. We can't even go into the office area to ask to meet with the president. And students right now are trapped in the staircase, and they've locked the elevators so nobody else can go on the 5th floor. So everyone should be pretty outraged because this is the message of silence to our demands from Dr. Kim, not a conversation."

Later in the day, we learned from #SaveColumbia what happened to President Kim: "Kim just left just now. He was here the whole time. Ignored us. Well." Also can be viewed at:

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Saturday, May 23, 2015

Urban Prep Anti-Union

Charter School Trying to Stop Union Drive

In February, teachers and staff at Chicago's Urban Prep Academies announced that they were forming a union. They stood up to improve teaching and learning conditions in their schools, and asked CEO Tim King to respect their decision and their dedication to the schools. 

At the time, Mayor Emanuel publicly expressed his support for these educators. Now, unfortunately, Urban Prep administrators are responding by requiring teachers and staff to listen to anti-union speeches, cutting into valuable work time. One speech made misleading claims about the union that the teachers and staff seek to join, Chicago ACTS. These speeches aim to sow fear and misunderstanding about how unions work. 

Until educators vote on June 3 in the union election, they may continue to be bombarded by administrators' claims that having a union could result in worse teaching conditions and that a union would not be true to the mission of Urban Prep's mission that these educators take very seriously and would use their union to uphold. 

The teachers and staff have discovered how much their administration spends on consultants, lobbyists, and outside events, while seeing the challenge of meeting their students needs despite continued turnover of staff each year. The teachers and staff at Urban Prep are dedicated to their school's long-term success and are organizing to bring greater accountability and stability to their schools and their students. 

Public schools like Urban Prep should remain neutral when educators seek to form a union. Mayor Rahm Emanuel should live up to his pledge of support for teachers at charter schools, by telling Tim King to respect the educators at Urban Prep and to stop using anti-union messages to discourage them in their upcoming election. 

That's why I signed a petition to Rahm Emanuel, Tim King, Lionel Allen, Mary Pattillo, Joseph McCoy, Kurt Summers, Kendrick Ashton, Oscar Johnson, Darryl Cobb, Stephanie Neely, and Alex DuBuclet, which says: 

"Show us that you support and respect the teachers and staff at Urban Prep who are organizing a union. Stop Urban Prep's waste of time and resources on anti-union efforts to discourage educators from unionizing. Show teachers the same dedication they show for their schools. Stay neutral as they vote on a union." 

Will you sign the petition too? Click here to add your name: 


Teachers Burn Ratings!

APS teachers burn their evaluations in protest

Linnea Montoya, a kindergarten teacher at Montezuma Elementary, drops her teacher evaluation into a wastebasket with other burning evaluations in front of APS headquarters Wednesday afternoon. "It insulted my fellow teachers who mentored me and scored lower," Montoya says. (Marla Brose/Albuquerque Journal)
Linnea Montoya, a kindergarten teacher at Montezuma Elementary, drops her teacher evaluation into a wastebasket with other burning evaluations in front of APS headquarters Wednesday afternoon. "It insulted my fellow teachers who mentored me and scored lower," Montoya says. (Marla Brose/Albuquerque Journal)
More than three dozen Albuquerque school teachers, including many who have just been rated “highly effective” by the New Mexico Public Education Department, burned their teacher evaluations in front of the Albuquerque Public Schools headquarters Wednesday to protest what many called the inherent “unfairness” of the process.
Courtney Hinman ignited the blaze by taking a lighter to his “effective” evaluation. He was quickly followed by a “minimally effective” special education teacher from Albuquerque High School, then by a “highly effective” teacher from Monte Vista Elementary School.
Wally Walstrom, also of Monte Vista Elementary, told the crowd of 60 or 70 people that his “highly effective” rating was “meaningless,” before tossing it into the fire.
One after another, teachers used the words “meaningless” and “unfair” to describe the evaluations and the process used to arrive at those judgments.
One teacher said she was judged “highly effective,” but a colleague who uses many of the same teaching techniques was found to be “minimally effective.”
Another teacher said the majority of his autistic, special-needs students failed the SBA – a mandatory assessment test – yet he was judged “highly effective.”
“How can that be?” he asked as he dropped his evaluation into the fire.
Student progress is one of the biggest factors used to evaluate teachers.
New Mexico Education Secretary Hanna Skandera launched the new evaluation system in 2012 by administrative rule. It ties student test scores to teacher ratings, which remains a source of controversy between the department and teacher unions. Skandera’s office could not be reached for comment late Wednesday.
Teachers leveled one complaint after another about the testing and evaluation processes:
  • An English teacher said he was judged on student progress – in algebra and geometry.
  • Another said she had taught a mere two months, yet was evaluated as if she had been in the classroom for an entire school year.
  • Several said their scores were lowered only because they were sick and stayed away from school.
  • One woman said parents routinely say she’s the best teacher their children have ever had, yet she was rated “minimally effective.”
  • An Atrisco Heritage teacher said most of the math teachers there had been judged “minimally effective.”
  • And a teacher of gifted children who routinely scored at the top in assessment testing asked, “How could they advance?” before tossing his “highly effective” evaluation into the blaze.
Several people assembled outside the building carried placards opposing student testing and the policies of Gov. Susana Martinez and Skandera.
One, with fangs added to photos of the two women, carried the message: “Collectively sucking the life out of education since 2010.”
Others, however, were less inflammatory. “D.A.R.E. to resist PARCC,” read one, referring to the much-maligned Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers standardized tests introduced in New Mexico this year.
Later, many of the teachers carried their protest inside to the APS Board of Education meeting.
Robert Foyer, who teaches math at Highland High School, told board members that his special education math students are competent at the second- to seventh-grade levels. Yet the exam he must give is for 11th-graders and is not tailored to students with disabilities.
The tests “intimidate and embarrass” students who already have low self-esteem, he said.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

CTU Diss

CTU Disses Teacher Activists on South & North Sides
By Jim Vail

CTU delegate Ed Hershey ran for alderman
but was not recognized for this by the CTU. 
When it comes to politics, we all want to win.

The Chicago Teachers Union has been spinning the PR wheels furiously after nemesis Rahm Emanuel was re-elected mayor last month.

CTU President Karen Lewis said after the recent local elections, "We have changed the political climate."

According to the CTU, the positive outcome was that a number of new progressive aldermen were elected, the current progressive aldermen retained their seats and Rahm had to campaign another six weeks in an historic mayoral run-off election.

The biggest news of course was Susan Sadlowski Garza making history by being the first CTU member elected to the Chicago City Council as alderman on the far south side.

This is what was written then on the CTU news blog:

"Garza was one of three CTU members who ran for alderman in the 2015 Municipal Election, joining Tim Meegan in the 33rd Ward, and Tara Stamps in the 37th Ward.

Well, this is simply not true. Lindbloom delegate and Core activist Ed Hershey ran and was endorsed by the CTU for alderman in the Pilsen/ Chinatown district. He was endorsed by the delegates, not the political action committee, probably because they didn't think he could win.

Then there was another teacher and Core activist Tammy Vinson who fought hard to be elected alderman on the southside by was another victim of dirty politics and was unceremoniously thrown off the ballot.

CTU member Tammy Vinson ran for alderman but
was also not recognized by the latest CTU blast.

Not to mention CTU member Diane Daleiden ran one hell of a campaign against machine mummy Pat O'Connor.

I understand the CTU wants to go with a winner who will represent our interests in the political field. But completing ignoring the other valiant teachers who made the sacrifice to run for office after president Karen Lewis implored members to run is simply crass. 

CTU would do well to issue a follow up on its blog and congratulate all the members who ran for office.

If it's only about winners and losers in the political field, we have a real bleak future ahead of us.


Susan Sadlowski Garza Makes History as First CTU Member Elected to Chicago City Council

CHICAGO—The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) today congratulates dedicated union member Susan Sadlowski Garza on her victory for alderman of Chicago’s 10thWard.  Garza, a CTU delegate and area vice president, defeated incumbent alderman John Pope by a margin of 20 votes in the April 7 run-off election. The Union is pleased to have one of its own joining an influx of new aldermen to help bring much needed change and an independent, progressive agenda to the Chicago City Council.
“We are absolutely thrilled that our sister Sue Sadlowski Garza is a new member of the Chicago City Council, which means she can be a watchdog for all citizens,” said CTU President Karen Lewis. “Sue is a warrior like no other, and a vibrant activist who has fiercely advocated for improving the quality of life on the far Southeast Side and who will bring the same passion to the City Council that she’s brought to our battles to preserve fairness and equity in public education.”
Garza is currently a counselor at Jane Addams Elementary and a 20-year veteran of Chicago Public Schools. The daughter of revered union leader Edward Sadlowski, she is a community activist and lifelong 10th Ward resident with an extensive record of public service.  Garza has worked with thousands of families throughout the 10th Ward to create award-winning after school programs such as “Safe-Kids” and “Bully Patrol,” and has been instrumental in the fight against air pollutants on the Southeast Side of Chicago.
Garza was one of three CTU members who ran for alderman in the 2015 Municipal Election, joining Tim Meegan in the 33rd Ward and Tara Stamps in the 37th Ward. Stamps, the daughter of late Chicago community activist Marion Stamps, pushed incumbent 37th Ward alderman Emma Mitts to a run-off in April, while Meegan narrowly missed that mark in the 33rd Ward, but has recently launched efforts to start a new independent political organization in the area.
For nearly a year, each of the CTU candidates and hundreds of community volunteers and fellow members have been circulating petitions and reaching out to thousands of Chicagoans on such issues as an elected school board, crime prevention, pension protection and raising the minimum wage.  The feedback they have received in the community has been tremendously supportive, as Chicagoans are voicing their desire for change on the 5th floor of City Hall and among the mayor’s rubber stamp City Council aldermen.
“All of our candidates are winners and hardworking leaders with a strong vision for the city and its future,” Lewis said. “They represent the strength of the CTU and we’re proud of them all.”

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Scottish Nationalists!


(Moscow, Russia) - 'A semiotic shift', 'an earthquake', and 'a senasation', is how many observers described the General Election results in Scotland. In deed, the results even surpassed the expectations of the Scottish nationalists themselves. For on 7th of May 2015, as many as 50% of Scots voted for the Scots Nationalists. 

             The Scottish National Party, took 56 of the 59 seats. They gained 50 more seats in what undoubtedly represents an unprecedented victory. It was a stunning humiliation for the complacent Labour politicians who have only been left with two seats!  This is a unique outcome because usually the nationalist share of the votes has hovered from around
32 to 38 % of the vote in recent years. At the referendum
on Independence held last year the Independence vote
climbed to approximately 45%.  Most voters were against
independence. But the latest General election results
indicate the question of independence has not gone away,
and, if anything, the question is becoming more, not less

             It was once thought that if Scotland obtained Devolution (limited authority where Scots have their own parliament and more control over domestic policies,) then the Scots would be appeased and calm down a little. A labour
politician, George Robertson, who once invited and hosted
President Putin in Scotland, once predicted that Devolution
would kill Scottish Nationalism stone dead. This now seems
like wishful thinking. The Historian Tom Devine more
accurately wondered if the genie of Scottish nationalism
had been let out of a bottle which could not be simply put
back. Nationalism, often retains a seductive appeal. It can deprive even the wisest person of his reason.


             Why are the Scots so dissatisfied with their influence over affairs? They have had  a new parliament since 1999, they have their own separate law, church and educational system from England. Some say, Scottish politicians run Westminister.

             Gordon Brown, a former prime-minister is Scottish and Cameron is a notorious Scottish surname!

             The reasons are clear. Scots, compared to the English, tend to be left of centre and cherish the principles of free education, free medical care and generous pensions. Many have been implacably opposed to the austerity policies of David Cameron who has cut welfare benefits. The labour opposition are viewed as 'red tories' who also support austerity as well as the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The new Conservative government have announced a 30 billion pound austerity package and 12 billion pound cuts in welfare! This represents a savage attack on the poor or 'Thatcherism without Thatcher. '

              The Scottish Nationalist Party opposes 'the pro-austerity consensus 'of the Liberal Democrats, Labour and Tories whose policies appear identical. Just as Americans find it difficult to discern the differences between Republicans
Democrats, then Scots can't spot the differences between
Labour and Tories. The labour party has become immersed
in ugly corruption scandals. Glasgow municipal politics is
pervaded by corruption on a scale comparable to Chicago.

              The British government have long lost their genius at using tactful compromise, consensus and an ability not to step too heavily on Scottish toes. For instance, Margaret Thatcher refused to even consider discussing, never mind granting a referendum on devolution. The more recent Tory
Government has also not been prepared to listen or           negotiate with the Scots as equal partners. Instead, they
continue to attempt to impose unpopular and antagonistic
austerity policies which strongly alienate most Scots. The
Tories have become so despised in Glasgow pubs that if
you mention you are a Tory to a drinker you can provoke his
or her wrath. I used to wind drinkers up as a joke until I
learnt better. It proved too dangerous!  However, the rise in Scottish nationalism may well be influenced by longer social trends which go back decades.


              One of the best and more perceptible accounts of why nationalism may be on the rise in Scotland is presented
by the historian T.M  Devine in his work, 'The Scottish
Nation', 1700- 2007). Devine suggests the following factors
which have been eroding a strong core British Identity;           Protestantism, which was once the ideology which cemented
the union, has been declining, the British empire has faded
away, Britain is now a second rate power, there has been
a decline in British authority and the Monarchy has been
held in less respect but there has also been an absence of
a clear external threat or enemy. It has become increasingly,
if not almost impossible, to persuade Scots that Russians
remain their enemies despite the war in Ukraine and attempts to foment such hostility from N.A.T.O. However, despite all those factors, Devine states, 'Mrs Thatcher has an infinitely greater claim to be the midwife of Scottish devolution than the factor of imperial decline'. Mrs Thatcher won the title hammer of the Scots', for closing down Scottish mines, shipyards and her unwanted experiment of the poll tax.

              Many Scots view the austerity policies of David Cameron as a continuation of Thatcherism for another five years.

              Politicians south of the border never seem to learn!
Another five years of austerity might well be enough to     finish off a Union which has lasted for just over 300 years.

              Given the examples of how Portugal broke from Spain, and Norway from Sweden, it is a miracle that the union between England and Scotland has endured. For the
Union to continue might require a further miracle. But asking
Scots to agree to austerity is like asking them to endure the unendurable !