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Get ready to rumble, Chicago

Tuesday, Jan 31, 2012

* The Chicago Teachers Union has hired Delmarie Cobb to do PR work

(T)he CTU has hired veteran political consultant Delmarie Cobb, whose clients include Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown and City Council members Leslie Hairston (5th Ward) and Anthony Beale (9th).

Gadlin, the CTU spokeswoman, said union leaders hoped Cobb would help beef up the labor group’s public-relations efforts because they felt “outgunned” last year by Emanuel’s aggressive push for longer school hours.

* Cobb, you may recall, worked for former US Sen. Roland Burris. Her main job was to fend off attacks. She is a big believer in the best defense being a strong offense. But she can also be somewhat offensive at times. I did a roundup of some of her Burris quotes back in 2009

Now, Cobb says, Burris’ enemies are trying to bloody him up and weaken him with mounting legal bills.

“And then it won’t be called racism,” said Cobb. […]

Veteran political consultant Delmarie Cobb is a top adviser to Exhibit No. 1 of the old strain, Sen. Roland Burris. I visited her Bronzeville office last week during a pause in her winning battle to keep Burris in office.

“All of a sudden, we’re into this young thing, and anybody who’s been out here needs to be put out to pasture,” she vented. Cobb resents “that somebody would take this kind of knowledge and put it out to pasture.” […]

“They keep trotting out these marquee names to scare Roland,” said Delmarie Cobb, the senator’s media and political adviser, adding that some Democrats are out to “lynch” Burris and turn him into a “whipping boy.”

And then there was this gem

“In true David Axelrod style, all week, white progressive Democratic elected officials have called for Roland’s resignation - David Orr, Dan Hynes, Dick Durbin, Pat Quinn, and Alexi Giannoulias.”

The word “incendiary” springs to mind.

* But the CTU does have the mayor on the defensive at the moment

Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Monday declined to say whether it’s appropriate for faith-based groups that have become vocal public supporters of his controversial education agenda to receive millions of dollars in contracts from his administration.

Some organizations that were awarded grants to run after-school programs and to ensure children make it to and from school safely have come under scrutiny following complaints they paid people to testify in favor of Emanuel’s plans to lengthen the school day and close underperforming schools.

On Monday, the mayor was asked whether the intersection of contracts and political support amounted to a form of patronage. Emanuel did not directly answer the question. Instead, the mayor said he did not intend to take his “eye off the ball,” which he defined as transforming a system that locks kids in to failing schools.

“We cannot tolerate a status quo that locks kids in to the shortest year of any major city…” Emanuel said at an unrelated news conference. “Religious groups have a role to play beyond their congregation. They’re anchors in many communities. They are the thing that holds a community together. Can they play a role in safety and security? Yes.”

* That above story about Cobb’s hiring also included this

An exclusive interview with Emanuel highlights the 35-minute video produced by the Michigan-based Education Action Group Foundation and Fox News political analyst Juan Williams. Williams narrates the video, saying the teachers union is “radically politicized” and is “repeatedly providing terrible examples for Chicago’s school children.”

A spokeswoman for Emanuel said Monday the mayor did not share those views of the union, but CTU officials were irked by Emanuel’s more-measured comments in an interview with Williams. The mayor discusses the opposition he faced from the CTU to some of his education proposals, such as extending the length of the school day this year.

“Do I think the union leadership has been a problem in resisting? Absolutely,” Emanuel tells Williams. Emanuel also says: “I think the system was never designed to benefit the kids.” And he lauds teachers at the Noble Street charter network’s schools as being “on a mission” and “not just doing a job.”

* And this won’t go over well

Chicago Public Schools’ plan to build an elementary school on polluted property in the shadow of the Chicago Skyway and an expiring coal-fired power plant near the Indiana border is raising the ire of parents in the working-class East Side neighborhood.

CPS already has paid more than $3 million for about 2 acres near 104th Street and South Indianapolis Avenue, a triangular parcel near a heavily congested traffic corridor, train tracks and towering industrial plants.

Preliminary testing at the site, which had been home to a gas station and more recently a carwash, uncovered eight underground gasoline storage tanks, one known to be leaking, and unsafe levels of the chemical benzene in the soil. But an official with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency cautioned that the true extent of the contamination won’t be known until more testing is completed. […]

CPS bought an acre from a relative of Ed Vrdolyak, aka “Fast Eddie,” the former Southeast Side political heavyweight and longtime alderman who had a reputation for wheeling and dealing. Vrdolyak was released from prison in November after serving 10 months for his role in a $1.5 million Gold Coast real estate scheme.

* This is silly, however

Parents charged Wednesday that the opposition to a 7-1/2 hour school day touted by Mayor Rahm Emanuel is strong and growing, with more than 900 parents signing a new online petition against it.

900? That’s it?

* Related…

* Skinner North principal to release longer school day survey results: According to survey tallies provided by the principal, the number of parents who prefer the extended day increased from 36 percent to 52 percent, but fewer people responded to questions in January. More than 87 percent of parents participated in the survey in October, while only about 60 percent of school families answered questions in January.

* Brizard: Raising Dropout Age To 18 Is A ‘Wonderful Idea’

* Minister in ‘rent-a-protester’ flap offers to open his books

* Schools CEO: We’re too obsessed with selective enrollment

* Warren: Emanuel’s Longer School Day Logic

- Posted by Rich Miller        


16 Comments
  1. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jan 31, 12 @ 10:47 am:

    Forget about hiring Cobb. The biggest favor the CTU could do themselves would be firing Karen Lewis. That woman is quite possibly the least sympathetic public face possible for the union.


  2. - gg - Tuesday, Jan 31, 12 @ 11:09 am:

    My friend is a 42 year old CPS teacher with 8 years tenure. She took the job because it was available and the money was good. She is up at six and still working at 9pm. While in school she gets 20 minutes for lunch and bathroom.
    She is in one of the better schools pressure wise.
    She is quitting in June. She is already burnt out. Adding 90 minutes a day and taking away summer break is turning the school into a jail.


  3. - Fenestra - Tuesday, Jan 31, 12 @ 11:13 am:

    I sorta chuckled at the hindsight thought of Alexi Giannoulias calling for Roland Burris to resign….


  4. - Aaron - Tuesday, Jan 31, 12 @ 11:18 am:

    A Juan Williams documentary with credibility? Please. Anything to help get more seven figure contracts with his buddy Roger Ailes.

    http://www.vanityfair.com/business/2012/01/The-Story-of-Juan


  5. - cermak_rd - Tuesday, Jan 31, 12 @ 11:32 am:

    I hope these faith based groups are not proselytizing the pupils in their care after schools or during the safety walks. Ethics education is fine but keep sectarianism out of it.

    I also hope they are audited now and again. Many times faith based groups are held to a lower standard than secular groups are.


  6. - Shore - Tuesday, Jan 31, 12 @ 12:56 pm:

    Bill Parcells once said nothing good happens after midnight. I am not sure if you’re a democrat anything good happens by affiliating yourself with fox news. Maybe he’s trying to win over the 5 tea party members who live in chicago.

    If memory serves cobb was one of the few african americans in chicago who backed hillary over obama. She had a bit of a tiff with emil jones.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-XiC5YxLPk


  7. - WashingtonIrving - Tuesday, Jan 31, 12 @ 1:33 pm:

    Maybe if education wasn’t so politicized we could actually focus on education. The teacher’s union doesn’t care about the children. I understand that they represent the teacher’s as employees, that is fine. But let’s not pretend they have the children’s interest in mind.


  8. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Tuesday, Jan 31, 12 @ 1:45 pm:

    “Yeah, Rev. Watkins,its me…yeah um, this things just gotten too hot….we’re gonna have to throw you under the bus…….and back up over you………..hopefully only once……………we know you’re a team player, and we need you to take one for the team, but you know the team will take care of you.”


  9. - proud parent - Tuesday, Jan 31, 12 @ 2:04 pm:

    With all due respect Rich, the debate over the longer school day is not silly for us parents. Many CPS kids (mine included) spend up to an hour each way commuting to school. Add in sports and other activites, and you’re really looking at a 10 - 12 hr day, not 7.5. I’m not saying parent opinion on this is unanimous, but my kids have attended six different schools and the folks I know at all of them hate the idea. The 900 names on that petition will continue to grow.

    Whether it’s the longer day or school closings and turnarouds, what’s got parents really peaved is CPS/the mayor’s top down vision of “reform”–ideas that make for good campaign sound bites, but terrible school policy.


  10. - dupage dan - Tuesday, Jan 31, 12 @ 2:23 pm:

    proud parent,

    It is my understanding that CPS had the lowest number of classroom hours compared to most other districts in the country. Now, apparently, the number of classroom hours is about the same as those with the most hours. I have to wonder how those students in all those other districts manage where those in Chicago can’t. Just wonderin


  11. - Lester Holt's Mustache - Tuesday, Jan 31, 12 @ 2:38 pm:

    “I also hope they are audited now and again. Many times faith based groups are held to a lower standard than secular groups are.”

    They are? I would think they are held to higher standards, at least when it comes to being “audited”. Inform us if you have information to the contrary.


  12. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Jan 31, 12 @ 2:38 pm:

    –Parents charged Wednesday that the opposition to a 7-1/2 hour school day touted by Mayor Rahm Emanuel is strong and growing, with more than 900 parents signing a new online petition against it.–

    In other news, one billion parents across the planet signed an online petition to keep their kids in school all day long with short breaks allowed to pick up their rooms and cut the grass.

    Are we honestly to believe that parents think a 7.5 hour school day is too long? That parents don’t want their kids in school.

    In my life, some of the most difficult and frustrating problems have revolved around what to do for the kids when they’re not in school and both parents are still at work.


  13. - amalia - Tuesday, Jan 31, 12 @ 3:18 pm:

    The DC lens is most often very specific….African American issues as SHE sees them. here’s hoping the lens can be adjusted.


  14. - Cheryl44 - Tuesday, Jan 31, 12 @ 3:45 pm:

    ~I am not sure if you’re a democrat anything good happens by affiliating yourself with fox news. ~

    Yeah, well Emanuel is showing his true DINO colors.


  15. - mark walker - Tuesday, Jan 31, 12 @ 4:10 pm:

    CPS representation: from bad to worse.


  16. - Quill - Tuesday, Jan 31, 12 @ 6:54 pm:

    I have a dream…that one day, the CTU will stop burning its social capital of allies into piles of ash. CTU needs to find people who can help them forge alliances (that would not be Delmarie Cobb). The direct action/confrontation “expose the system” stuff is not working because it is being mishandled internally. Not everyone can do social justice work well. It’s horrible to watch it fail.


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