WBEZ | teachers http://www.wbez.org/tags/teachers Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en What's Next for Public Unions? http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2016-01-13/whats-next-public-unions-114466 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/unions-Flickr-Center%20for%20American%20Progress.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 310px; float: right; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="Randi Weitgarten. (flickr/Center for American Progress)" />Union leaders representing some 10 million state government workers like police officers and teachers are no doubt a bit nervous these days with the U.S. Supreme Court likely to rule against public unions in a case brought by California teachers.</p><p>At issue is whether state government workers who choose not to join a union can nonetheless be required to pay a share of union dues to cover the cost of negotiating contracts.</p><p>So if the high court does rule in favor of the plaintiff, what will this mean going forward for those unions? President of American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten joins us shares her thoughts.</p></p> Wed, 13 Jan 2016 14:10:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2016-01-13/whats-next-public-unions-114466 StoryCorps Chicago: "Christmas for Me Has Always Been a Time of Great Loss--and Victory" http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/storycorps-chicago-christmas-me-has-always-been-time-great-loss-and-victory-114264 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/StoryCorps 151224 Steve Pemberton bh.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Christmas has always been an emotional time of year for Steve Pemberton. Pemberton is now a vice-president at Walgreens. But his early life was hard. When he was three years old, he was taken from his mother a few days before Christmas. He bounced from one foster home to the next.</p><p>Then at age five he moved in with a foster family, where he stayed for more than a decade. As he explains in this week&#39;s StoryCorps, though, when he was in high school, something happened a few days after Christmas that changed all that.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.storycorps.org"><em>StoryCorps&rsquo;</em></a> mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to share, record and preserve their stories. These excerpts, edited by WBEZ, present some of our favorites from the current visit, as well as from previous trips.</p></p> Wed, 23 Dec 2015 10:24:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/storycorps-chicago-christmas-me-has-always-been-time-great-loss-and-victory-114264 Does It Pay To Pay Teachers $100,000? http://www.wbez.org/news/does-it-pay-pay-teachers-100000-113905 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/100kteachers-rschuette-final-0cf41fe800556292024168ff9bfa10375d465f89-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="Once all but unattainable, a six-figure salary is a reality for a growing number of teachers." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/18/100kteachers-rschuette-final-0cf41fe800556292024168ff9bfa10375d465f89-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 464px; width: 620px;" title="Once all but unattainable, a six-figure salary is a reality for a growing number of teachers. (Ryan Schuette/NPR)" /></p><p>We&#39;re brought up to believe our teachers are modern-day saints. Just look at how we portray them in the movies and on TV. From&nbsp;<em>Dead Poets Society</em>&#39;s iconic Mr. Keating to resourceful LouAnne Johnson in&nbsp;<em>Dangerous Minds</em>, we reinforce time and again that teaching is a noble calling.</p><p>These teachers are heroes, we&#39;re told. It&#39;s hard to imagine them even thinking about money.</p><p>But their real-life counterparts aren&#39;t getting rich, either. The average pay for a teacher in the United States?&nbsp;<a href="https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d13/tables/dt13_211.60.asp">About $56,000</a>, usually higher in urban districts, lower in rural ones. Add the fact that salaries fell in recent years, and it&#39;s probably no surprise that more teachers are leaving the profession, with&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2015/08/19/432724094/teacher-shortage-or-teacher-pipeline-problem">fewer entering it</a>.</p><p>And yet, here and there, in a few places around the country, some teachers have attained what has long been considered a mark of success in this country: a six-figure salary.</p><div id="res456506598" previewtitle="Once all but unattainable, a six-figure salary is a reality for a growing number of teachers."><div><div><p>One place you can find them is Washington, D.C. After 14 years teaching in the nation&#39;s capital, Hope Harrod is closing in on that magic number.</p></div></div></div><p>&quot;I didn&#39;t expect to make the kind of money I&#39;m making now,&quot; she says.</p><p>Sure, $100,000 doesn&#39;t put you up there with hedge-fund managers. But it&#39;s still good money.</p><p>These days, paying teachers that much is &quot;unusual, but not rare,&quot; says Dick Startz, an economist with the University of California, Santa Barbara. And it&#39;s becoming less rare every day.</p><p>The teacher shortages and pipeline problems are leading some school districts back to the drawing board &mdash; or chalkboard, rather. And increasingly, one of the things on the table is higher pay &mdash; even six figures.</p><p>In most places, reaching that magic number still means getting there the old-fashioned way &mdash; with a master&#39;s degree and 10 or 20 years on the job. And in places like New York state, salaries are given a hefty boost simply because the cost of living is higher, too.</p><p>So what&#39;s new? A growing number of districts are looking to change that pay structure. The goal: Give teachers, even younger teachers, the chance to earn more. Reward them not for seniority or advanced degrees, but for how well they teach.</p><p>Startz called these strides a &quot;very small step&quot; in the right direction. &quot;If we want a large set of people to do a job relatively well, we have to pay them relatively well,&quot; he said.</p><p><strong>&#39;It&#39;s A Really Good Feeling&#39;</strong></p><p>Until a few years ago, Hope Harrod made better than the national average for a teacher, but nowhere near six figures. The 40-year-old educator, who teaches fourth- and fifth-graders at John Burroughs Elementary School in Washington, says that changed in 2010. That was the year Michelle Rhee, then the city&#39;s schools chancellor, upended teacher compensation in the nation&#39;s capital.</p><p>Rather than advance teachers solely on the basis of seniority or education, the city school system rewards performance, with an evaluation system that involves classroom observations, test scores and other criteria.</p><p>Now, Harrod earns a salary close to that $100,000 mark.</p><p>Not that she teaches for the money: &quot;I love watching kids move through their thinking,&quot; she told us. &quot;I love to hear them talk to each other about the ideas that they have.&quot;</p><p>Still, she says, recognition matters. &quot;I feel like I&#39;m very much in a system that&#39;s honoring me in a way that other systems don&#39;t honor other teachers,&quot; she said.</p><p>She doesn&#39;t use that salary to buy a Mercedes-Benz or a home near Embassy Row. Instead, she said, she uses it to put away money for savings and help give her dad a more comfortable retirement.</p><p>And, as with many other teachers, some of it goes right back into her job so that Harrod can help her students.</p><p>&quot;Now I can spend money on my classroom and do that without worrying about bills for the rest of my life,&quot; she added. &quot;It&#39;s a really good feeling.&quot;</p><p><strong>Where Other Teachers Can Make Six Figures</strong></p><p>This year, 765 teachers in the D.C. schools earned $100,000 or more, including bonuses. The salaries stem from a program called Impact Plus that Rhee negotiated with teachers&#39; unions.</p><p>Essentially, the contract was a trade: more money for important concessions. Teachers agreed to competitive performance evaluations and the loss of tenure protections in return for the chance to increase their base salaries and receive bonuses.</p><p>&quot;We were trying to do something that had never been done before,&quot; Rhee explained in a recent phone interview.</p><p>Half a decade later, more districts around the country are considering or adopting performance pay. In February, the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/education/report/2015/02/17/106584/do-more-add-more-earn-more/">identified 10 school districts</a>&nbsp;revising their pay schedules and boosting teacher pay.</p><p><strong>The Bigger Debate</strong></p><p>So, if the benefits of paying teachers more seem straightforward, why isn&#39;t the six-figure salary &mdash; the one that doesn&#39;t take three decades to earn &mdash; catching on in most other communities?</p><p>For one, the issue may be wading into performance pay, a sticky subject for those who feel evaluations could be unfair to teachers or make schools themselves more competitive.</p><p>Diane Ravitch, a New York University professor and longtime critic of Rhee and performance pay, said the trade-off simply isn&#39;t worth it for most districts.</p><p>&quot;Teachers always want more pay,&quot; she said, adding that she feels &quot;it&#39;s most important where kids are poorest and neediest.&quot;</p><p>Even Rhee cautions against a cookie-cutter approach. Not all school districts are created equal, she said, and officials need to conduct evaluations and consider issues of pay and performance carefully.</p><p>Higher pay isn&#39;t &quot;the end-all, be-all&quot; for teachers, Rhee said. &quot;But it is one way that makes them feel really good about the work they&#39;re doing and helps them feel valued.&quot;</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2015/11/19/455378792/does-it-pay-to-pay-teachers-100-000?ft=nprml&amp;f=455378792" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Thu, 19 Nov 2015 16:09:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/does-it-pay-pay-teachers-100000-113905 Behind the shortage of special ed teachers: long hours, crushing paperwork http://www.wbez.org/news/behind-shortage-special-ed-teachers-long-hours-crushing-paperwork-113694 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/LA Johnson.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res454059709" previewtitle="Man carrying huge stack of papers and papers strewn about"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Man carrying huge stack of papers and papers strewn about" src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/11/02/carrying-the-load_slide-4c5f7e939336b1ac122ceeb6dfc1163f26fb9e13-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 412px; width: 620px;" title="Man carrying huge stack of papers and papers strewn about. (LA Johnson/NPR)" /></div><div><div>There is a letter that school districts really don&#39;t like sending home to parents of special education students. Each state has a different version, but they begin with something like this:</div></div></div><p>&quot;Dear Parent, as of the date of this letter your child&#39;s teacher is not considered &#39;highly qualified.&#39; &quot; And then: &quot;This doesn&#39;t mean your child&#39;s teacher is not capable or effective. It means they haven&#39;t met the state standards for teaching in their subject.&quot;</p><div id="res454315237"><div><p>In any other subject, that&#39;s an annoying problem that suggests students may not be well served. In special education, it means the school district is breaking the law.</p></div></div><p>The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA, requires that every student have what&#39;s known as an IEP &mdash; Individualized Education Program. And almost always, those IEP&#39;s spell out that students &mdash; either some of the time or all of the time &mdash; must be taught by a teacher fully certified in special education.</p><p><strong>&#39;Under A Microscope&#39;</strong></p><p>And yet, around the country, that&#39;s exactly the category of teacher that&#39;s most in demand, as many states and districts are reporting severe shortages.</p><p>&quot;This crisis has been coming for a long time,&quot; says David Pennington, superintendent of Ponca City public schools in Oklahoma. Many teachers there are nearing retirement and he&#39;s not sure he can replace them.</p><p>&quot;Forget about replacing them with someone of the same quality,&quot; he says. &quot;I&#39;m just worried about replacing them. Period.&quot;</p><p>Pennington&#39;s rural district of 5,300 students northwest of Tulsa has been hit hard by the shortage. He says it&#39;s extremely difficult to persuade newer special education teachers to stay beyond two or three years.</p><p>&quot;The job is not what they thought it was going to be,&quot; Pennington explains. &quot;They feel like they&#39;re under a microscope all the time.&quot;</p><p>On top of the normal demands of teaching, special education teachers face additional pressures: feelings of isolation, fear of lawsuits and students who demand extra attention. Many are the only special-needs teacher in their grade or their school, or sometimes in the entire district.</p><p>And then, there&#39;s the seemingly endless paperwork.</p><p>&quot;It is not uncommon,&quot; Pennington says, &quot;for a special ed teacher to tell me, &#39;I did not get a degree in special ed to do paperwork, I got a degree to help kids.&#39; &quot;</p><p>The IDEA and the IEP require hours and hours of filling out forms and writing reports documenting each student&#39;s progress.</p><p>&quot;And when do teachers do that paperwork? Sometime during the hours of 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.,&quot; says Deborah Ziegler of the Council for Exceptional Children, a special education research and advocacy group. &quot;It&#39;s like having two full-time jobs.&quot;</p><p><strong>Solutions</strong></p><p>So what&#39;s the answer? Aggressive recruitment, says Trevor Greene. He&#39;s the human resources director of Highline Public Schools, a 19,000-student district south of Seattle.</p><p>&quot;Right now it&#39;s a buyers&#39; market,&quot; he says. &quot;Districts can&#39;t afford to wait around for the right candidate.&quot; And he&#39;s speaking from experience. When Greene started as HR director last July, he had 30 vacancies in special education to fill before school began in September.</p><p>&quot;It was pretty ominous at the beginning,&quot; he recalls.</p><p>Betty Olson is the special education administrator for the Boise public schools in Idaho, and she was also forced to hire a few general education teachers this year.Greene reached out on every teacher-recruitment platform he could find. He even tracked applicants down on LinkedIn.</p><p>Eventually, all 30 slots were filled.</p><p>Some were filled by teachers with full special-education credentials, and others were trained in general education subjects but were willing to make the switch. The district is working to get those teachers trained and certified &mdash; a situation that&#39;s steadily becoming common.</p><p>As the school year approached she was prepared to send some of her district specialists, former teachers who now train new teachers, back into the classroom to fill vacancies.</p><p>It didn&#39;t come to that. But she now has the challenge of helping a slew of new teachers adjust to the world of special education.</p><p>Olson is getting some help from Boise State University, which has created a new program designed to prepare teachers with little or no experience in special education. Candidates are put on a fast track to complete a master&#39;s degree, and they receive one-on-one support as they begin their new career.</p><p>Similar programs have popped up around the country. &quot;I&#39;m hopeful things will get better,&quot; Olson says.</p><p>Other administrators, like David Pennington from Oklahoma, are less optimistic.</p><p>He believes we&#39;re in for a rude awakening. He expects more and more teachers to look at all that responsibility, all that pressure, and conclude that it&#39;s not worth it.</p><p>And so, he wonders, &quot;What happens when it gets so bad that you literally cannot find anyone to be in charge of a classroom?&quot;</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2015/11/09/436588372/behind-the-shortage-of-special-ed-teachers-long-hours-crushing-paperwork?ft=nprml&amp;f=436588372" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Mon, 09 Nov 2015 10:32:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/behind-shortage-special-ed-teachers-long-hours-crushing-paperwork-113694 Hey new teachers, it's okay to cry in your car http://www.wbez.org/news/hey-new-teachers-its-okay-cry-your-car-113460 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/woman-crying_slide-ea85d5be0cf80c17f6e76b28495f3f0cb4b65a52-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res450700452" previewtitle="Close-up illustration of a woman crying in the rear-view mirror of her car"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Close-up illustration of a woman crying in the rear-view mirror of her car" src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/21/woman-crying_slide-ea85d5be0cf80c17f6e76b28495f3f0cb4b65a52-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="(LA Johnson/NPR)" /></div><div>Like many first-year teachers, Luisana Regidor has a lot on her mind. There are lesson plans to write and papers to grade as well as a dozen other things: evaluations, observations, fundraisers, class trips. It&#39;s overwhelming.</div></div><p>&quot;Last Wednesday, I left here and I got in my car and I just cried,&quot; says Regidor, who teaches U.S. history at Schurz High School in Chicago. &quot;Everything was hitting me at once.&quot;</p><p>Regidor, 31, says other teachers warned her that the first year could be rough, but in September she was full of ideas and energy.</p><p>&quot;Then, six weeks in, it happened,&quot; says Regidor. &quot;Last Wednesday, I definitely felt like I should probably throw in the towel and do something else.&quot;</p><p>Regidor isn&#39;t alone in that feeling or its timing.&nbsp;<a href="http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2015/2015337.pdf">One in 10</a>&nbsp;teachers will leave the classroom by the end of their first year, and teachers are particularly vulnerable in October and November.</p><p>Ellen Moir, CEO of the New Teacher Center, which runs mentor programs in roughly 200 districts nationwide, has decades of anecdotes to show that October hits hard. She even has a name for this time of year:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.newteachercenter.org/blog/phases-first-year-teaching">The Disillusionment Phase</a>.</p><p>&quot;As they get six or seven weeks into school, they realize how tough it is to be a really good teacher,&quot; says Moir. &quot;They need someone saying, &#39;You are not horrible. You are not a fraud.&#39; &quot;</p><p>First-year teachers who have someone they see as a mentor are&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gse.upenn.edu/pdf/rmi/RER_article.pdf">more likely</a>&nbsp;to stick it out. So, what about the new teachers who feel like they are out there on their own, with nothing more than a pat on the back and their own good intentions?</p><p>For them, veteran teacher Roxanna Elden has developed a free &quot;disillusionment power pack.&quot; After one week, more than 1,000 people have signed up to receive a month of motivating emails sent every few days from Elden, an English teacher at Hialeah High School near Miami who has been teaching for more than a decade.</p><p>Her goal: get new teachers to Thanksgiving break.</p><p>&quot;The aim is to say what I always wish someone had said to me in a meeting,&quot; says Elden, 36, who has also written an advice book for teachers called<em>&nbsp;See Me After Class.</em> She added that she hopes the emails, which allow teachers to write back, will create a safe place for those who might not have one.</p><p>&quot;Lots of jobs are hard,&quot; says Elden, &quot;but with teachers, it&#39;s like, &#39;Wow, I&#39;m hurting kids because I&#39;m as bad as I am.&#39; You have these exaggerated thoughts like, &#39;Well, what if I break my leg? I&#39;d get three weeks off.&#39; &quot;</p><p>The emails are a combination of personal stories and advice. One includes a photograph of a journal entry she wrote during her first year. Below it, Elden writes, &quot;The students from this class are in their 20&#39;s now. I&#39;m friends with many of them on Facebook, and they don&#39;t seem to have been permanently scarred by the mistakes.&quot;</p><p>Elden&#39;s worst day of her first fall in the classroom happened in late October. Her students were acting up, so she assigned them a long list of math problems even though she knew homework shouldn&#39;t be given as a punishment. Later she realized it was Halloween and that she had most likely only ruined the night for the kids who would do the homework &mdash; the ones who had been behaving anyway. It was the last straw: She broke down crying in her car.</p><p>Elden&#39;s emails alone might not make the difference if a teacher is seriously considering quitting. The more&nbsp;<a href="http://www.gse.upenn.edu/pdf/rmi/PDK-RMI-2012.pdf">comprehensive</a>&nbsp;a mentoring program, the more likely a new teacher is to stick around, says University of Pennsylvania professor Richard Ingersoll. But the emails might nudge a struggling teacher to seek more help elsewhere.</p><p>Back in Chicago, Regidor has been reaching out for support &mdash; to her mom, who is a principal at another school, and to the experienced teachers on her team.</p><p>&quot;I look at them, and I go, &#39;Oh, they&#39;re still here,&#39; &quot; Regidor says. Despite the tough days, she stresses that she loves her students, her school and her job.</p><p>&quot;You want to be that amazing teacher from Day 1, but you have to recognize it takes time,&quot; she says. &quot;It&#39;ll get better.&quot;</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2015/10/22/450575463/it-s-okay-to-cry-in-your-car-fighting-disillusionment-as-a-first-year-teacher?ft=nprml&amp;f=450575463" target="_blank"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Thu, 22 Oct 2015 09:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/hey-new-teachers-its-okay-cry-your-car-113460 McTeachers Nights at McDonald's draw criticism http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-10-14/mcteachers-nights-mcdonalds-draw-criticism-113337 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/mcteachers flickr Mike Mozart.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Wednesday morning more than 50 teachers groups signed a letter to McDonald&rsquo;s CEO Steve Easterbrook in protest of a McDonald&rsquo;s fundraising practice called McTeachers Nights.</p><p>WBEZ&rsquo;s <a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor">Monica Eng</a> explains what that is, and why so many people are up in arms.</p><p><em>Update: McDonald&#39;s provided the following statement: </em></p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;McTeacher&rsquo;s Nights are all about community, fun and fundraising. As parents and members of their communities, McDonald&rsquo;s franchisees and our corporate restaurants have long supported what matters most to them. McTeacher&rsquo;s Nights are one example. Teachers and parent teacher organizations have a choice in how they seek to raise additional funds, and for years they have told McDonald&rsquo;s and franchisees that, in addition to the extra financial support these events provide for their schools, they have a great time connecting with their students and neighbors.&rdquo;</p></blockquote></p> Wed, 14 Oct 2015 12:24:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-10-14/mcteachers-nights-mcdonalds-draw-criticism-113337 The Supreme Court's new term: here's what to watch http://www.wbez.org/news/supreme-courts-new-term-heres-what-watch-113172 <p><p style="text-align: justify;">The United States Supreme Court opens a new term Monday, and, as always, many of the most contentious issues facing the country &mdash; including abortion, birth control coverage, public employee unions, affirmative action in higher education, voter participation &mdash; are likely to be before the court.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">But there is a difference this term. Chief Justice John Roberts, despite his overall conservative record on the bench, has become a punching bag for candidates vying for the Republican presidential nomination.</p><p style="text-align: justify;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/first%20three.JPG" style="height: 749px; width: 250px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: right;" title="" />Presidential candidates have often criticized the court, pledging that they would appoint a different kind of justice. It&#39;s been more than a half century, though, since politicians have put a chief justice, by name, in the cross-hairs of criticism. What is puzzling about the Roberts critique is that the right hailed this George W. Bush appointee when he was named ten years ago, and Roberts has a consistently conservative record on most issues.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">He has voted with the court&#39;s conservatives to strike down most of the legal limits on campaign spending, opening election campaigns nationwide to a flood of new cash. He has consistently supported an individual&#39;s right to bear arms. He wrote the court&#39;s opinion in the 2013 case&nbsp;<em>Shelby County v. Holder</em>, which struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He has consistently opposed any sort of racial preferences. Last term, he wrote the leading dissent when the court struck down state laws banning same-sex marriage.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">On only one flashpoint subject has he parted ways with some or all or the court&#39;s most conservative members: Obamacare.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Yet, in the first two televised debates, Republican candidates took turns pummeling him, characterizing his nomination as a grave mistake, and suggesting that Roberts follows a political path rather than a legal one. If President George W. Bush had appointed someone more conservative than Roberts, said Sen. Ted Cruz, &quot;Obamacare would have been struck down three years ago, and the marriage laws of all fifty states would be on the books.&quot;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/last2.JPG" style="text-align: justify; float: right; height: 495px; width: 250px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="" /></p><p style="text-align: justify;">Never mind that Roberts actually dissented in the same-sex marriage case.&nbsp;Jeb Bush, whose brother appointed Roberts, was less strident, but suggested nonetheless that Roberts was a &quot;politically expedient&quot; choice because he was a conservative whom the Senate could confirm. And Gov. Mike Huckabee said that he would require anyone he appointed to oppose all abortions and to see religious freedom as the first of all rights.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Nobody thinks it will be easy for Chief Justice Roberts or the other justices to ignore such talk. But, the job of the chief justice is, among other things, to guard the independence of the judiciary and to preserve the court&#39;s institutional role as a dispassionate arbiter of the nation&#39;s laws and the Constitution.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Notwithstanding the critique in the GOP debates, the Roberts court is most often a conservative court. But it is closely divided, and last term, for the first time in a decade, the court&#39;s liberals prevailed in the majority of 5-to-4 rulings. They did that by picking off not just Roberts and Justice Kennedy on Obamacare, and Kennedy on same-sex marriage, but other conservative justices in other cases.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Most experts see those liberal victories, however, as a product of an idiosyncratic mix of cases. This term, the issues play much more to the strength of the court&#39;s conservatives. There are cases that could further cut back affirmative action in higher education, hobble or destroy public employee unions, and make it easier to limit voter participation in elections.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">There is a strong likelihood that the court will revisit the abortion question, as well as the issue of birth control coverage under Obamacare. &quot;The worry is, does what goes around come around,&quot; said Tom Goldstein, Supreme Court advocate and publisher of SCOTUSblog, &quot;and the writing on the wall sure seems to up there that has got the left scared &mdash; bejesus!&quot;</p><p style="text-align: justify;">The court, for instance, for the first time is being asked to determine the meaning of the one-person, one-vote principle in<em>&nbsp;Evenwel v. Abbott.</em> Does it mean that state legislative districts should have the same number of people, or the same number of eligible voters? Does the population count include children, non-citizen immigrants both in the country legally and illegally, and others like those with a criminal record who are thus ineligible to vote? Or does the population count include only those eligible to vote, or even just those registered to vote?</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Virtually all state and local governments currently draw districts based on total population. But if those challenging that practice prevail, it could dramatically shift political power away from districts with lots of children and immigrants, and it would likely give Republicans a big boost in state legislative elections.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Also likely to come before the court are election cases involving strict voter ID laws and other provisions that make it more difficult to vote.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">The union case,&nbsp;<em>Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association</em>, could also have huge political consequences by crippling public employee unions and possibly all unions. The case pits the practical needs of collective bargaining against the First Amendment. The nation&#39;s labor laws, as the court has interpreted them since 1977, have struck the balance this way. Once a majority of public employees vote to be represented by a union, those who choose not to join do not have to pay for the union&#39;s political activities, but they do have to pay for contract negotiations that they benefit from.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">In short, they must pay their so-called &quot;fair share.&quot; Otherwise they would become free riders on the backs of those who do pay. In two recent cases, four justices, and possibly five, have suggested that requiring such fair share payments violates the nonmembers&#39; free speech rights.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Waiting in the wings at the high court are two politically incendiary cases: one involving abortion, the other birth control under Obamacare. The abortion test case will likely come from Texas, where the Republican-controlled legislature enacted strict new regulations on abortion clinics, requiring them to make costly renovations, and limiting the ability of doctors to perform abortions. The state maintains that the new law was aimed at protecting the health and safety of women. Abortion providers, backed by major medical organizations, counter that the regulations are unnecessary and that the law is in fact aimed at making abortions difficult to obtain.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">The birth control case is a test of the Obamacare provision that exempts religious organizations from having to pay for birth control coverage in their health insurance plans. While churches, synagogues and the like are totally exempt, religiously affiliated organizations such as universities and hospitals are exempt only if they notify the federal government of their objections. That in turn triggers an independent mechanism to provide the coverage for those employees who want it. Some religious organizations contend that the notification requirement makes them complicit in facilitating birth control coverage and thus violates their religious principles.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/itsallpolitics/2015/10/05/445885201/the-supreme-courts-new-term-heres-what-to-watch?ft=nprml&amp;f=445885201" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Mon, 05 Oct 2015 09:47:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/supreme-courts-new-term-heres-what-watch-113172 StoryCorps: Bilingual pre-school teacher describes the state of education in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/storycorps-bilingual-pre-school-teacher-describes-state-education-chicago-111267 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/kksc.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>Iveth Romano teaches pre-school in Chicago and many of her students are bilingual. She came by the StoryCorps booth recently to speak with producer Katie Klocksin about the importance of supporting kids who are learning two languages.</p><p>&ldquo;Most of the parents don&rsquo;t speak English,&rdquo; Romano said. &ldquo;But most of our teachers who have a Bachelors&rsquo;, they are American, so they just speak English.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I remember once a girl she just peed her pants and started crying,&rdquo; she continued. &ldquo;I was in another classroom but I heard the girl say that she wanted to use the bathroom, in Spanish. But [none] of the teachers understood what she said. They (didn&rsquo;t) pay attention to her and she just peed on her pants and started crying and they gave her a timeout.&rdquo;</p><p>Romano says she has a lot of examples like that. She says she sees situations like that once per week or twice a week.</p><p>Romano pushes all her students to learn English and Spanish. In her classroom, they say their ABCs in both languages.</p><p>Sometimes, though, parents are oblivious to what&rsquo;s going on - good or bad - in the classroom.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s not because people are bad. Or they don&rsquo;t know how to say &lsquo;thank you.&rsquo; I think it&rsquo;s more that they&rsquo;re tired. Sometimes you don&rsquo;t really know what kind of job they have. Sometimes they have two different jobs in one day. So that [does] not make me feel bad that they don&rsquo;t say &lsquo;thank you.&rsquo; They don&rsquo;t say nothing. They just take the kid and leave. I understand. Sometimes they look really tired.&rdquo;</p><p>Teaching can be stressful, Klocksin said, but &ldquo;there&rsquo;s obviously a lot of rewards to it too. Why did you go into this?&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Cause my son is four years old,&rdquo; Romano said, &ldquo;And he used to attend a Head Start but I just moved him to a Catholic school because here in Chicago. The education in the public schools is really difficult in this moment.&rdquo;</p><p>Romano says two of the neighborhood public schools closed, so classrooms that used to have twenty kids are now thirty-five or forty kids.</p><p>Romano says her son is doing better now.</p><p>&ldquo;His behavior&rsquo;s completely different,&rdquo; Romano said. &ldquo;He looks more happy. He looks more confident.&rdquo;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/6250422&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="888px"></iframe></p></p> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 15:19:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/storycorps-bilingual-pre-school-teacher-describes-state-education-chicago-111267 Refugee youth services threatened http://www.wbez.org/news/refugee-youth-services-threatened-110656 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Refugee kids (1).JPG" alt="" /><p><p>As families prepare for a new school year, some of the most vulnerable kids and parents may have to go it alone. Refugee assistance programs in Illinois are set to lose a federal grant that helps K-12 students transition to life in the U.S., and that supports critical resources for teachers and refugee parents.</p><p>&ldquo;This program will pretty much shut down as of August 14 of 2014,&rdquo; said Melineh Kano, Executive Director of RefugeeONE, a refugee resettlement agency in Chicago. The organizations youth program provides after-school tutoring and social gatherings for roughly 250 refugee children every weekday during the school year, as well as weekend, in-home tutoring for refugee children who often come to the U.S. with little to no English skill, and often below grade level.</p><p>Additionally, the program&rsquo;s case workers are critical to enrolling children in schools when families first arrive, as many refugee parents are unable to fill out the paperwork themselves, and rarely understand what type of documentation they are required to bring to register their children.</p><p>&ldquo;Many of the parents that we are serving haven&rsquo;t really had the opportunity to deal with any formal school systems,&rdquo; explained Kano. &ldquo;So they depend on us to help them and orient them.&rdquo;</p><p>But this year, Kano and those who work with other refugee assistance programs in Illinois, are fretting over whether they&rsquo;ll have money to continue supporting kids and their families through the school year. The federal Office of Refugee Resettlement largely funds refugee services, and has recently warned assistance organizations that money is getting tight &mdash; because it also is responsible for the care and shelter of unaccompanied children who are caught illegally migrating to the U.S. The number of children detained since June of 2013 has surged, prompting the ORR to divert money that was earmarked for refugees to deal with the situation.</p><p>Since <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/feds-set-divert-refugee-funds-deal-unaccompanied-minors-110594">WBEZ last reported on this</a>, ORR has announced that it will restore funding to some core services. However, discretionary grants that pay for K-12 support, senior services and preventative health programs remain in jeopardy. In Illinois, youth services received $711,729 last fiscal year.</p><p>Kano said ORR money makes up about 80 percent of the budget for RefugeeONE&rsquo;s youth program. If that money is not renewed, she said she&rsquo;ll be left with less than one full-time employee to handle K-12 services. She said that means newly-arrived refugee families wouldn&rsquo;t receive the basic education that her organization promotes.</p><p>&ldquo;Something as simple as you have to dress your kids properly for school and you have to feed them breakfast before they go to school,&rdquo; she said, &ldquo;because otherwise the teacher is going to notice that your child is not well taken care of, and they might call the Department of Child and Family Services for neglect.&rdquo;</p><p>Kano said extreme examples like that are rare, but they could happen more often without the support and intervention of RefugeeONE&rsquo;s case workers. More common are everyday household issues that refugee parents run into, often because they don&rsquo;t know how to support their kids in a new environment.<br /><br />&ldquo;I had a problem with my son,&rdquo; said Amal Khalid, a refugee who arrived from Sudan with her three children last year. &ldquo;My son (didn&rsquo;t) listen to me, and he (didn&rsquo;t) do his homework, and everything. Just he want to sit and watch TV and playing.&rdquo;</p><p>Khalid said a staff member at RefugeeONE helped by making a schedule for her 8-year old son.</p><p>&ldquo;She said you give him this routine for everything,&rdquo; she explained. &ldquo;When he (wakes) up, (goes) to school and he (comes) back, eat, and like one hour for writing, reading. I can&rsquo;t do that by myself.&rdquo;</p><p>Khalid said her son&rsquo;s back on track now.</p><p>RefugeeONE&rsquo;s youth program also provides a critical, one-stop shop for many teachers who need help reaching students&rsquo; families.</p><p>&ldquo;If something arises throughout the year, that&rsquo;s my first contact, again mostly because of the language barrier,&rdquo; said Benjamin Meier, a math teacher at Roosevelt High school. The school has kids from more than 40 language backgrounds, including Arabic, Nepali, Amharic, Tigrinya, Karen, Zomi, Swahili, Dzongkha, and more.</p><p>Meier said RefugeeONE not only helps him communicate with parents, but also teaches parents how to get involved in their children&rsquo;s education.</p><p>&ldquo;A lot of the parents traditionally just defer to whatever the school says,&rdquo; he explained. &ldquo;We prefer more of a give-and-take.&rdquo;</p><p>Meier said RefugeeONE&rsquo;s youth program has been effective because it brings in families&rsquo; case workers to craft holistic approaches to children&rsquo;s success.</p><p>Kano said RefugeeONE will dip into its general funds to keep services going through September. But if federal funds aren&rsquo;t released by then, the organization is planning to discontinue its youth support in October.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 14 Aug 2014 11:25:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/refugee-youth-services-threatened-110656 Morning Shift: An American art form in Paris http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-05-05/morning-shift-american-art-form-paris-110133 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Jazz photo for 5-5 Flickr pedrosimoes7.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We mark Teacher Appreciate Week with NEA head Dennis Van Roekel. We take a look at the race for Congress in the 10th Congressional District which includes an attempt at a comeback. And, we celebrate jazz in Paris.&nbsp;</p><div class="storify"><iframe src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-an-american-art-form-in-paris/embed?header=false&border=false" width="100%" height=750 frameborder=no allowtransparency=true></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-an-american-art-form-in-paris.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-an-american-art-form-in-paris" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: An American art form in Paris" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Mon, 05 May 2014 10:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-05-05/morning-shift-american-art-form-paris-110133