Monday, June 28, 2010

Help us! Which shingle color looks best?

We need help! Which shingle color looks best on our house? Look at the pictures below (click on picture to enlarge), choose your favorite, and then navigate up to just below the blog title and vote! (In case the picture and name of shingle type don't line up below, they are listed in the same order as the poll (and alphabetical order): 1. burnt sienna, 2. colonial slate, 3. cottage red, 4. hunter green, 5. terra cotta).

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Rank-and-file teachers win in Chicago

The most promising political news of the year has to be the victory in the Chicago Teachers Union of the Caucus of Rank-and-file Educators. This grouping was formed two years ago to contest the closing of Chicago neighborhood schools due to No Child Left Behind.

For anyone who has worked in an urban school, it is obvious that the NCLB-mandated tests are entirely unfair to schools with diverse school populations. I won't go into the details, except to say that I support accountability, and what we have with NCLB has nothing to do with accountability. The sad reality, though, is that the leadership of our teacher unions are retreating from the battle. Finally we have a union leadership willing to fight back, and do so by promoting democracy and grassroots mobilization of teachers and community members.

Right away, the CORE-led Chicago Teachers Union has a big battle ahead over layoffs. I couldn't believe that the Chicago Board of Education voted to layoff teachers, not by seniority, but by their evaluations! As if evaluations can be compared, and as if they are always to be trusted! While I have had good principals, I know teachers who have not. There goes our right to speak our minds and exercise professional judgment, when our future is held in one person's hands!

Blues festival trip 2010

Here are a few pictures of the Chicago Blues Festival, which I've attended now for the second year. I tend to like the acts during the day the best. The night brings some well-known people, and some tributes like the one this year to Hubert Sumlin, but I never have a chair and sitting in grass - with or without a towel - isn't that fun. This year, though, I got to see Jimmy Johnson in a performance at B.L.U.E.S bar on Halstead Street, and saw Mike Wheeler, an up-and-coming performer in Johnson's band.

The picture outside of the Chicago Museum of Art (where we saw the Matisse collection) is not of the blues festival, but shows the pride demonstrated in the city over the Blackhawk winning the Stanley Cup.