Trib Editorial Board Blows the Irony Meter Again on Financial Accountability

The institution that went into bankruptcy is very concerned about the sustainability of the CPS because it has to increase property taxes modestly.


They issue a series of questions that are mostly easy to answer and have been answered by anyone who bothers to look at actual data.


•Why are expenses rising as enrollment decreases?

It’s that thing that they teach in high school economics called inflation, but looking at the numbers it’s not hard to understand this.  Students leaving the CPS tend to be students who have fewer problems.  Limited english proficiency, students with IEPs, high poverty students, tend to not leave at the same rate as students without those challenges and thus, it’s more expensive to educate them because they need individualized attention.  The rate of LEP is nearly twice that of the state depending on the year and poverty rate is just about twice the state average.  So add to this the need to deal with these students in smaller class size settings and yet the CPS has more students on average per classroom than the state.

Making all of this more difficult is that personnel costs and especially health care are increasing faster than the rate of inflation and you end up with avery modest enrollment increases leading to higher costs per student.

One of the things to keep in mind, the CPS keeps pretty close to state averages on expenditures except for students services which is higher because of the types of students overrepresented in the CPS as mentioned above.  Given that the instructional and overall spending isn’t that outrageous:


Chicago 2008-2009 7,690 12,880
State     2008-2009 6,483 11,197

That’s pretty good for a district with the sort of challenges CPS has.  All bureaucracies can be made more efficient, but the know nothings at the Trib Editorial Board would be well served to understand that education costs money.



Why hasn’t CPS controlled costs better by outsourcing more jobs, including central office jobs that could be more efficiently and economically run by outside contractors?

This is baffling and largely not consistent with evidence regarding the costs of outsourcing.  Central office jobs mostly maintaining programmatic support and monitoring.  Some aspects of schools might be served by some outside services, but those are essential to running an effective district.  Making broad claims about outsourcing is a meaningless trope that makes the great white guys feel smart, but has no meaning.

So CPS proposes a tax increase — and even more troubling, a raid on reserve funds. There are some efforts at discipline. CPS will deny teachers a scheduled 4 percent raise, cut scores of central office middle managers and streamline departments. It will slash many popular programs, including mentoring for at-risk students; bilingual education; literacy initiatives; extracurricular math, science and technology clubs; and other after-school programs.

Perhaps they need more revenue?  How long do you think you can run an effective organization without raises? Sustainability isn’t about cutting things when you are trying to reach students who are harder to educate than the average student.  These cuts are exactly what leads to a District like CPS offering fewer opportunities and attracting less qualified teachers and it happens where the students need those the most.

Alexi to Chair Illinois Community College Board



Quinn regularly plugs Illinois’ network of 48 community colleges — the country’s third-largest community college system. For every student at at a public four-year-college in Illinois, two attend a community college, Quinn notes.

Giannoulias, 35, served as state treasurer and narrowly lost a race for U.S. Senate last year to Republican Mark Kirk. Giannoulias ran just two percentage points behind his Democratic ticket-mate, Quinn.

Since losing, Giannoulias has been putting together a political science class he will teach at Northwestern University this fall called “Campaigning versus governing.” He said Tuesday he plans to announce next month a full-time job he’ll be taking.

The part-time post as chairman of the community colleges board is unpaid.

“I’m incredibly excited to help reform our community colleges here in Illinois,” Giannoulias said. “Putting Americans back to work is the single greatest challenge facing our country. A well-educated work force is crucial to that. This meshes my two passions: education and creating jobs.”

This and Sheila Simon’s efforts to visit all of the community colleges are a very good sign of an essential element of economic development being prioritiezed by Quinn.

Wait for it–the Tribune Ed Board wants a detailed accounting of each bureaucrat and how fast Alexi will fire them regardless of how clueless the Editorial Board is about the subject.

Community colleges several important functions.  They provide affordable education to students who can’t afford attending a full university and allows less mature students to remain at home while still making progress.  They provide a variety of programs that improve skills prepare those who won’t go on to a full BA/BS for skilled work.  They provide excellent places for students who need to rehabilitate their academic careers.

A higher profile chair can push these issues far more than the usual chairs who are competent professionals, but don’t have the same level of political access.


Wisconsin Drops Down to 1 Seat GOP Senate Advantage

Eric thinks it’s a victory for Walker because they didn’t kill the king.  The thing is, Walker isn’t a king, but a Governor and now he has to moderate because one Republican in the GOP Senate caucus isn’t extreme and is unlikely to pass more over the top legislation.
To add to this, Nate Silver has projected a toss up if Walker is recalled based on the turnout and results last night.

Walker is still vulnerable, more Senators can be recalled along with him in January.  Change is often slow and requires patience, but this is progress.  The worst of Walker’s agenda is stopped and he seems to be vulnerable for the spring.  Being a liberal often comes with the problem of assuming we’ll find a way to lose, but sometimes we do win and that usually comes from persistence and hard work.

And the Trib Continues to Give Valuable Space To Kass the Clown



But sometimes, when politicians would insist on releasing hot air at the wrong time, Papou Pete would become aggravated. And so, at these special moments, he had a favorite saying:

Af-TOS mee-lye, ke o GUY-thou-ros KLA-nee.

Loosely translated, it means:

“When he speaks, the donkey breaks wind.”

And so, as frightened Democrats tried to blame conservatives for Standard & Poor’s downgrading of America’s credit rating, I thought of my grandpa’s words.

You’d think a columnist would be required to read what the actual downgrade report said:

Republicans and Democrats have only been able to agree to relatively modest savings on
discretionary spending while delegating to the Select Committee decisions on
more comprehensive measures. It appears that for now, new revenues have
dropped down on the menu of policy options. In addition, the plan envisions
only minor policy changes on Medicare and little change in other entitlements,
the containment of which we and most other independent observers regard as key
to long-term fiscal sustainability.


Compared with previous projections, our revised base case scenario now
assumes that the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, due to expire by the end of 2012,
remain in place. We have changed our assumption on this because the majority
of Republicans in Congress continue to resist any measure that would raise
revenues, a position we believe Congress reinforced by passing the act. Key
macroeconomic assumptions in the base case scenario include trend real GDP

growth of 3% and consumer price inflation near 2% annually over the decade.
Our revised upside scenario–which, other things being equal, we view as
consistent with the outlook on the ‘AA+’ long-term rating being revised to
stable–retains these same macroeconomic assumptions. In addition, it
incorporates $950 billion of new revenues on the assumption that the 2001 and
2003 tax cuts for high earners lapse from 2013 onwards, as the Administration
is advocating. In this scenario, we project that the net general government
debt would rise from an estimated 74% of GDP by the end of 2011 to 77% in 2015
and to 78% by 2021

So revenue is included in the best case scenario and a reason why the downgrade was done by S & P was the inability to reach some sort of compromise that included revenue increases.
Who else would be at fault other than the Tea Party and their fantasies of rugged individualism?