Chicago Union President Paid Price for Vallas 'Marriage'
- Subject: Chicago Union President Paid Price for Vallas 'Marriage'
- From: "George N. Schmidt" <Csubstance@AOL.COM>
- Date: Sun, 9 Sep 2001 10:10:18 EDT
- Reply-to: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
- Sender: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
In a message dated 9/7/01 7:06:41 PM, kscanty@PACBELL.NET writes:
<< George Schmidt would know better than I if
Vallas, the CEO, would have been fired had he not resigned. Unfortunately, I
think he felt compelled to resign because the test scores in some of the
"best" schools in Chicago either went down or did not show any improvement.
So his rise and fall was still based on test scores without any recognition
that it's not the scores, it's the tests themselves that are the problem.
But still the point is that the Mayor who appointed Vallas was not happy
with the "Chicago miracle!" >>
What happened is what was inevitable --
Vallas's lies hit up against regression to the median, more or less. Even
after using every trick in the book to goose up the test scores, by last
winter it was clear, even to our mayor, that they had flattened out. So last
winter our mayor held a "reading summit" (the main guru of which was Reid
Lyon) to hoist Chicago to what they all began calling "the next level."
Probably the funniest piece of the whole thing is that by the time Vallas
realized that his Lake Wobegon trick was going to go bust, he couldn't
retreat from it.
Why? Because he had gotten the mayor and the editors of the Chicago Tribune
to believe that a school system should bring every child to a point where all
are "at or above" what they called "grade level". They are still thundering
about the fact that "only one third of Chicago children" can read "at grade
level" and still twitch when I remind them that at best only half will wind
up doing that, since we're dealing with mathematical realities, not with
ballot boxes you can stuff and answer sheets you can change.
The joke is that Chicago was insisting that everyone must be above "average"
using the median as the definition of "grade level". Now they're in so deep
they can't get out (assuming that some of them realize what's happened. As we
pointed out in Substance -- March 2001 -- and at AERA, our mayor doesn't get
it. His explanation of "national norms" couldn't have been more classic if it
had been scripted by Saturday Night Live...).
By April, Vallas was being squeezed out. He was huffing and puffing (in
retrospect, it seems, to pocket as large an exit fee as possible). He is
goofy enough to have tried to say on, even after he insulted his boss. But
finally he bartered a "resignation" that gave him a big fancy send off by
Mayor Daley and a $175,000 a year consulting contract (so he can keep an
office at the school board building).
At present Vallas running for Governor of Illinois in a very crowded field,
pending the outcome of the Democratic Primary, which is in March. Between now
and then, every rock in his garden is going to be turned over, and every
slithering thing beneath held out for all to see.
So by early 2001, Mayor Daley was suspicious about the "miracle" he had first
proclaimed to the National Press Club in 1996 and which had gotten him
mention in the 1998 and 1999 State of the Union messages. But the threads
were still holding.
Everything sort of simmered between March and May, when the mayor faced some
number he could really understand. Then the teachers got to vote, and Daley
could read that like no book he'd every tried to digest after Oprah told him
it was nice.
The teachers were fed up with being pushed around by bullies, liars, and
incompetents. But they were also scared because they had seen what Vallas and
Daley had done to me and many others. They weren't yet ready to sign their
names to letters to the editor, but they were ready to show their displeasure
in a very American way -- at a secret ballot election.
As you remember (if you read Substance) we devoted considerable time, space,
and energy to the May 18 election in the Chicago Teachers Union.
All of the pundits said that the incumbents (Tom Reece and the "United
Progressive Caucus") were a shoo in. By the week before the vote, there were
some rumblings from reality that something was going on. Vallas had already
endorsed Reece. On May 17, the Chicago Sun-Times ordered the teachers to vote
That's what brought the vote up from the 54 percent for the opposition we
were seeing to the 57 percent that finally came in.
Once the CTU election story was announced, it was clear to Daley that
something big had gone wrong with his plans.
Tom Reece was Daley's boy. He was Vallas's buddy. Vallas endorsed Reece
wherever he could. The teachers all realized they were all in bed together.
(One of our most famous cartoons showed Daley as the priest, Reece as the
bride, and Vallas as the groom in their "marriage" which was the 1999 - 2003
So -- for the first time in union history -- the political machine had not
only suffered a defeat, but had been wiped out in a lopsided landslide (57
percent to 43 percent).
The teachers were voting against Vallas and "reform" as much as for Debbie
Lynch (the name she is using now) and the PACT caucus.
We helped by spending a great deal of time and money making sure every
teacher got copies of the April and May Substance in the mail.
Our thank you for that was to have the Chicago Sun-Times order, in an
editorial a week after the vote was announced, the new union president to
stay away from me.
But at that point, the political winds had blown, and Daley knew that Vallas
had become a major liability. By July 1, Chicago not only had a new union
president, but new school board president and new school system "CEO."
So the first politician to bleed for Chicago's lies was Tom Reece, who this
time last year was
a) President of the 34,000 member Chicago Teachers Union
b) President of the 80,000 member Illinois Federation of Teachers
c) A vice president of the American Federation of Teachers
Today he is none of the above, although we just confirmed that his "teacher"
pension is going to be $149,000 a year (thanks to all the perks and deals he
had going), so he won't suffer in his dotage.
By the way, if you read the official versions of this election now available
on line in the archives of the Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, and Catalyst, you
probably won't know what their reporters knew, but what their editors cut out
of the stories.
Between February and May, more than 100,000 copies of Substance arrived in
the mailboxes of every Chicago teacher. That was what swung the votes. Many
of them didn't even know who they were voting for, but they sure knew what
they were voting against. And our coverage made it possible for people to see
the faces of the candidates they were electing and become comfortable with
what, for Chicago, was a major change.
Try to find that little bit of history in the official archives.
One step at a time.
P.S. Those who have copies of the January - February 1999 Substance have
always been puzzled by the hysterical $1 million dollar lawsuit it generated.
Why would the city go so far to try and wipe out one little newspaper and one
voice among all those teachers? If you read page one of that newspaper
carefully, CASE is barely mentioned. What were doing at the time was
documenting the fact that the vote on the union contract had been fraudulent.
By suing us, Vallas and Daley derailed that survey and forced us to devote an
enormous amount of time and money (and, of course, my classroom teaching
career) to blocking their hysterical attack on us.
I've always been convinced the mayor approved that litigation because he
didn't want to risk that contract facing a second -- honest count -- vote of
the members of the Chicago Teachers Union. CASE was the pretext.
And the last thing any of them expected was that we would survive long enough
to get them all under oath one-by-one, like those famous scenes from "Z". But
that's happening right now. We've already deposed Phil Hansen and Carole
Perlman. Tuesday we do Joe Hahn, and Wednesday Paul Vallas. It's not a
question of which of them is lying, but who's going to stuck with the lies
when their version of musical chairs mendacity ends.
I'll have fun next year quoting Perlman and Hansen at professional
conferences where they were once big shots.
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