Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Chicago's Very Own Magazine...Fra Noi

Thanks to Paul Basile for the great write-up in Chicago's 
 Fra Noi Magazine.


You can truly "Embrace your inner Italian" with this magazine - There's information on food, festivals, restaurants, shops, legends, other stories and much more!


And every Chicagoan likes to weigh in on who has the best Italian beef sandwich in town.  You can see this year's results in Fra Noi's October edition.







Sunday, September 25, 2011

I Smell a RA T!

A friend and colleague of mine wrote this article for Substance News (Click here for original article...) and it is a real eye- opener as to what is going on within the walls of CPS.   Management, with their 6 figure salaries, have nothing better to do than to "check up" on teachers on their first day of school. 

When one of these administrators came into my room the first day of school I commented that he must be coming in "just for fun" today...seeing as it is the first day and all.  I think I caught him off-guard because with an awkward smile his response was "it's always fun".  To which I replied "then come on in'.  As the students peered over to see who our visitor was, I told them that he's not here for them.  I told my students they can just ignore him and thankfully they did.  We went on with our lesson while I watched "this administrator" go around with his clipboard.  I hope he noted how "on task" the students were and how "engaged" they were especially with a "stranger" in the room and being their first day of school.  Chances are though, he was marking off how all my boxes weren't yet unpacked (even though they were just delivered to my room that morning) and that I didn't yet have my Quarterly Curriculum Map posted for all to see. Read on to see how else your money is being spent as a Chicago tax payer... 






Can you smell a RA T? Crazy evaluation requirements spurting out from new 'Network' offices... Evaluation Checklist — 'Lake Calumet/Far South Side Networks/Opening Schools Expectations/2011'




Straight out of the old Chicago Public Schools (CPS) non-negotiable playbook from the previously-named "Areas" preceded by CPS’s previous-to-that-named "Regions," a new accountability checklist has been generated by Harrison A. Peters, the new Chief Area Officer of the new Lake Calumet/Far South Side Network. Sorry, Peters is not the CAO, he's the COS (they call them "Chiefs of Schools" now).



Jean-Claude Brizard 'rebranded' the city's sub districts so quickly that the signage has fallen behind. Since mayoral control began, the sub districts have gone from being Regions to being Areas to being (now) "Networks" with no explanation as to the reasoning behind the changes, other than the need for constant corporate-style "rebranding." Substance photo by Susan Zupan.






The Lake Calumet/Far South Side "Network" is the sub-district on Chicago's far south side (that used to be the "Area" for the far south side, which before that was the "Region," which before that was the "District" — which we haven't had since mayoral control began in 1995).



The offices are located at 11424 S. Western Avenue. Principals in schools on the CPS Regular Attendance Track in the Lake Calumet/Far South Side Networks were given the checklists from the area/regional/network office. According to one website available (http://area24 chicago.org/), the new Network “serves” approximately 30 elementary schools (17 on the Regular Track and 13 on Track E) along with 10 high schools.



As a teacher working in one of the schools within this network, I had to sign that I received the checklist on the first day back (Wednesday, August 31). The sheet I was given had the word “RA T” spelled across it in large letters; the sheet was supposed to have the word DRAFT written across the body, but somehow the D and F were apparently lost in the copying process. (An attachment to this report is on file at Substance.)




The checklist is divided into two parts: one is labeled “School” (with an 18-item checklist), and the other is labeled “Teacher” (with a 24-item checklist).



The offices of the "Networks" of the Far South Side of Chicago at 114th and Western. CPS also doesn't return reporters' phone calls nor explain why corporate offices are necessary for "Networks" during supposedly hard times. Substance photo by Susan Zupan.





Schools and teachers are scored then evaluated for their opening day readiness with Yes or No checkmarks. Totals are tallied to determine where the school or teacher falls on a three-part, stoplight color scheme of Green, Yellow, and Red zones. Samples of the evaluation items include: for School #15 - “Norms of decency and modesty are posted”; and for Teacher #18 - “Border covers the full perimeter of the board” (referring to classroom bulletin boards). My school and the teachers in it (including me) were rated by a team of observers sent out to the school on the CPS Regular Track students’ opening day.



When this reporter called the area/region/network/collaborative office after school on the opening day for students in the Regular Track schools, September 6, 2011, no one could or would answer any questions or comment on the checklist. The person who answered the phone, with words identifying the new “Collaborative,” did not know to what I was referring. She connected me to Gail Gibson, who identified herself as the Executive Assistant, and who also appeared to not know to what I was referring. Ms. Gibson put me on hold to find someone who might possibly answer my questions.




Finally, Matthew Cheeseman, who identified himself as the Director of Curriculum and Instruction, told me that if I was a teacher with any questions, he would refer me to the school’s principal.



I had identified and named myself as a reporter for Substance, but while speaking I mentioned that I was a teacher as well. But since I identified myself as a reporter, Mr. Cheeseman


I was uncomfortable in the course of the brief, non-conversation with Mr. Cheeseman when he asked me how I liked my first day back at X School, naming my exact school. I told him that I had not given anyone the name of my school in the course of the phone call. That was the end of the phone call.



Below are some of the issues/questions that hopefully will be addressed by Mr. Peters, for a follow-up report here at Substance. (As of the date of this report, Mr. Peters has not been in touch with Substance.)


Issue 1: The time allotted for teachers to attend to the checklist depends entirely on principals.
Schools on the CPS Regular Track began the new school year with three employees-only attendance days (August 31, September 1, and September 2). The three days are regarded as “Teacher Institute Days.” The students on the Regular Track traditionally return on the day after Labor Day, this year being September 6, 2011. Teacher Institute Days are defined on the CPS calendar sheet as follows: “Teacher Institute Days are fully principal-directed.” What this means is that no official, specific time is allotted during the entire three days for “teacher-directed” activities, unless the principal directs it to be so. In other words, per CPS policy, teachers need not be given any time to actually work in their classrooms, for example, putting up bulletin boards. For these three days, principals are technically allowed to schedule such things as meetings, in-services, and workshops during that entire time. The Lake Calumet/Far South Side Network “RA T sheet” checklist also does not appear to take any of what follows into consideration.


Issue 2: Three days is not enough time, regardless. At the close of any school year, teachers are instructed to take down everything they had previously set-up in their classrooms and pack it all away. At the start of the new school year it takes more than three days to put a classroom back together, regardless of whether or not any given principal schedules time for such teacher-directed activity.


Issue 3: Different circumstances require more time for total classroom readiness.
More time is needed for a teacher to set-up his/her room if, for example, a teacher wishes to experiment with rearranging the room for the new school year. Other teachers have their rooms or positions changed within schools or move from one school to another for a myriad of reasons. To change positions means that teachers need to spend time reviewing the new curriculum and materials available as well as set up the room before the students arrive; the teacher might choose to prepare and be ready to teach versus prepare for a physical room inspection via a checklist. And new teachers have to start everything from scratch.


Issue 4: There are physical limitations.
To move physically within schools, teachers often have to understandably wait for their things to be moved to a new location by extremely busy janitors who at this time in the school year are moving desks, chairs, newly-arrived boxes of ordered books, workbooks, etc., in addition to their regular custodial duties, and with 200 less in their ranks at the present time due to CPS layoffs. If the room a teacher is entering was not prepared properly for closure at the end of the last school year, the teacher moving in first needs to take that stuff down and clean it all up before being able to set up his/her own classroom.

Issue 5: Does this evaluation have validity or reliability?
By using the new opening day “Expectations” checklist, the results from the new Lake Calumet/Far South Side Network might rank the most highly-rated teachers ready for opening day as being those who, as fate might have it, remained in the same rooms at the same grade level(s) who also left everything exactly as it was in their classrooms back in June. How can or should the rest of the teachers strive or plan for that in the next school year? Also, a quick glance at the checklist might induce severe…questioning as to whether or not the items have legitimate validity. Teacher item # 9: “All textbooks are neatly organized on shelves”? Shouldn’t the textbooks be in or on the students’ desks? And, what if a teacher prefers to put those bulletin board borders only on the top and bottom of his/her bulletin boards? That would in part judge the classroom as being not ready for teaching and learning? Mr. Peters appears to be holding schools and teachers accountable for obtaining his particular ideal of a perfect classroom setup as opposed to respecting teachers’ and schools’ professional judgment and discretion on such matters.


Issue 6: Is the CPS trying to institutionalize work for no pay?
Most of the highly-rated teachers according to the new Lake Calumet/Far South Side Network checklist might also be the ones who continue to work the most as volunteers within CPS. Cognizant of the all of the circumstances given above, some teachers enter the schools early, prior to the three Teacher Institute Days, prior to being paid as employees in the CPS system, in order to get a head-start on their classrooms. Once school starts for the students, many teachers and other employees regularly volunteer their time by arriving early or staying late, in what amounts to MANY EXTENDED HOURS WITHOUT PAY throughout the month of September, in order to finish setting things up. Those who “only” work the hours for which they are paid will be judged harshly by this checklist.



Issue 7: Is there a hidden agenda(s) at work?
With a new administration and a new mayor (in charge of the schools via mayoral-control), people out in the schools might be wondering who’s being targeted for what, and by and for whom. Due to the rearrangement of the city’s schools into different Networks, schools will now be judged differently within new peer groupings, being more or less successful or failing as before. For example, one school that might have been ranked 8th out of 10 schools in an old area boundary might now be ranked last of 15 schools in the new boundary. In other words, people might possibly be asking: Where are the powers-that-be trying to put new charter schools next? Another line of thinking pertains to the possible targeting of teachers to be fired. This kind of thinking demonstrates the level of demoralization in the neighborhood schools in Chicago, into which the children of the city of Chicago enter the new school year. And now there is a new evaluation tool being used against the schools in the new Lake Calumet/Far South Side Network, an area much under the demographic and economic pressures of gentrification…



Full Disclosure
I am a teacher who was thrust into a mess of a room into which I was required to try to move over the course of those three Teacher Institute Days, also having been abruptly and dramatically changed from one grade level position to another. Solely based on the information of these circumstances, dear reader, you can probably guess what rating I received. If you guessed that I got a big, fat RED rating, you are probably correct. (I haven’t officially received a rating or any information about it yet.) But if YOU, from afar, could determine my rating, having been given the circumstances alone, and I would have/could have honestly sent them the checklist myself with an honest RED rating, why were teams of people employed (read: paid) for the task? I may be biased, but I think the tax-paying/taxes-being-raised public in Chicago needs to ask if their money is being well spent by the new administration of CPS and the mayor of Chicago. (I must note here that the observer sent to my room appeared sympathetic of my circumstances and appeared to attempt to make some kind of note about them on the side of the checklist.) Finally, let us not forget CPS’s traditional 20th day, from that CPS annual Checklist for Chaos, when many of the same schools and classrooms referenced above will likely be forced to be changed around yet again when schools gain and lose positions due to their 20th Day enrollment counts. Are the inspector-observers from the Lake Calumet/Far South Side already scheduled to go back out into these schools on the 21st day? If so, if I find myself in the same room and position, I am realistically hoping to achieve a YELLOW. Yes, classrooms should be ready when students enter; I do not know of any teacher who would not wave a magic wand to accomplish this. But with such wands not readily available for teachers and staff out in the schools, and with all of the above being the reality out in the schools, the question must be asked: is it appropriate, valid, or reliable that teams of clipboard-wielding observers armed with the “RA T sheet” enter schools for purposes of evaluation on day one?

Friday, September 23, 2011

A Great Surprise!

In the good news section...


WGN took an interest in my book MY HERO, MY DING...A Memoir of a Girl and Her Grandfather and came to my house yesterday for an interview and pictures.  The producer, Andrew Lennie, said that the segment should be ready in about a month for use on TV, the internet, and in print.  All I can say is Wow!  I'm thrilled and can't wait to see the results! 




Monday, September 19, 2011

My second Liebster Award! THANKS!



Over the weekend I received the great news that I have won my second Liebster Award!  This time I was given the award by the talented author of FERN VALLEY, Aileen Stewart.  Be sure to check out her blog  http://aileenwstewart.blogspot.com/   Fern Valley is a wonderful children's book of short stories each with an interesting storyline and a life-lesson. 



My new list of LIEBSTER winners and their blogs are...

Judi Chesshir's blog http://judichess.blogspot.com/  She is the author of the children's story My, Finny, Fin, Fin.

Kelly Hagen's blog http://kellyhagen.blogspot.com/  She is the author of the children's story Jake and Jesus.

Karin Kaufman's blog http://www.karin-kaufman.blogspot.com/  She is the author of The Witch Tree.

Mukkove Johnson's blog http://www.kovescove.com/apps/blog/  She is the author of the children's book Christmas is about Jesus.

Lisa Jackson's blog http://lisajacksonauthor.blogspot.com/  She is the author of many great books.  Born to Die was just released in July.



Congratulations!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Pension Truths to Remember...a great read!


This is some interesting reading about pensions...not just for teachers' pensions but for all pensions here in Illinois.  I'm sure the politicians won't like this because it's straight-forward and easy to understand.
Story Image
Dick Ingram

Throughout Illinois, public pension systems have been a central topic of discussion for months as state government grapples with an uncertain economy.

State legislators and organized labor continue to discuss the future of these pension systems as well as their anticipated costs to both taxpayers and members of the pension plans (who also are taxpayers).
This discussion is vitally important for the state’s future fiscal health and will be most useful if based on facts and not hyperbole. Here are some truths to remember:

Illinois’ pension systems are not bankrupt. It is true that the systems together have accumulated a total debt of roughly $140 billion but now only have about $53 billion in assets. That leaves the systems with an unfunded liability of $87 billion.

However, that total debt never has to be paid off at one point in time. It is composed of money owed to retired workers as well as active public employees at some time in the future. Because employees cannot collect until they retire, the only amount that the systems must pay each year is that owed to retirees.

Much like the pension systems, families with mortgages carry a large amount of debt, and it is safe to say that most families could not pay off their mortgages all at one time. That is an unfunded liability.
But like the pension systems, these families don’t have to pay off the mortgage all at once. They only have to pay a monthly installment. Like the pension systems, these families are in debt, but they are not bankrupt.

Illinois’ pension systems will not run out of money and default in 10 or 15 years. The best example is the Teachers’ Retirement System, the state’s largest public pension plan with more than 372,000 members.

In fiscal 2010, TRS paid out $3.9 billion in pensions and benefits. Total revenue in the same year from teachers, school districts, state government and investments was $6.8 billion. TRS currently has $37 billion in total assets.

With a 30-year average investment return of 9.3 percent, TRS continues to exceed its long-term investment targets. These returns along with continued member and state contributions ensure that TRS will have enough money to meet our annual obligations for decades. TRS has carried an unfunded liability since at least 1953 and has never missed a pension check to anyone.

Pension benefits locked in place by the Illinois Constitution are not the main reason the systems carry unfunded liabilities. TRS members do not participate in Social Security, and their average pension is relatively modest. They pay more than half of the cost of their pension benefits.

The current cost of these benefits to the state pale in comparison to the amount of money that the state has failed to contribute to the pension systems — and that comprises more than two-thirds of the money budgeted for pensions.

In the case of TRS, since 1970 the state has left unpaid more than $14 billion of its share of current pension costs. This is the main reason for the system’s unfunded liability. Under actuarial “full funding” standards, the state should have contributed $33.2 billion to TRS between 1970 and 2010. Instead, TRS received $18.6 billion.

That unpaid $14.6 billion was not available for investment by TRS to further bolster the retirement fund. When you consider that TRS has earned an average of 9.3 percent annually on its investments since 1980, the lost income is significant.

In contrast with the state failing to contribute its share, the contribution by TRS members from their paychecks increased by 135 percent since 1980 and is now 9.4 percent of their pay.

The annual cost of pensions is not bankrupting state government. Let’s look at expenditures in fiscal 2010, when the total state budget was $56.9 billion.

Of that total, all social service programs — including health care for the poor, child protection and public health — cost $17.5 billion. Medicaid alone cost $9.8 billion. The bill for public education, from kindergarten through university, was $13.7 billion. Salaries for state employees came to $3.6 billion.

By comparison, the pension benefits paid out to state retirees in fiscal 2010 totaled $6.9 billion. The state’s contribution for these benefits was $4 billion.

Pension benefits paid to retired public employees are a return on an investment. Each dollar is recycled through the economy as retirees spend money as they did when they were receiving a salary. Combined, state government salaries and state pensions during 2010 translated into a $24.5 billion economic stimulus for Illinois.

Dick Ingram is executive director of the Illinois Teachers’ Retirement System.

Click Here for original story.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Crete's European Market


Saturdays-
September 17th
September 24th,

 
8:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Main & Exchange Streets
Crete, Illinois
If you're in the area come check it out. 
Whether you're looking for home-grown produce, freshly baked breads,  fresh cheese, Kettle Corn, or other specialty products like jewelry, fall flowers, yard art, Tupperware, etc.
(and my book, My Hero, My Ding:)

 

 
 
According to Crete's Chamber of Commerce:
 
  • The outdoor corner market with a European flair!

  • The European Market hosts locally grown fresh produce, flowers and other seasonal and specialty items.

  •  The European Market has been established for the benefit of the community, the vendor and the consumer alike.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

We will never forget...








It's hard to believe 10 years have gone by since the September 11th terrorist attacks.

I continue to pray for those who lost their lives in the planes, in the buildings, and all who lost their lives trying to save their fellow man by literally going into the flames of hell.

I continue to pray for those who lost loved ones - parents, children, other family members and friends.

I continue to pray for those who survived and still live with the horrors of that day over and over again.

I continue to pray for our military - those who died fighting for our safety and freedoms and those who continue to fight to protect us today.

I continue to pray for our country, that we will be the America we were on September 12, 2001 and not forget the principles on which this great country was founded.

I continue to pray that we will never forget, so that history will not be repeated.

I continue to pray for our safety today as terrorist threats are looming around us as I type this...



God Bless America!

Grandparents Day!

I would like to wish everyone who is a grandma or grandpa a HAPPY GRANDPARENTS DAY!  I hope you have a special day filled with appreciation and love!


Please note...anyone still interested in buying a copy of MY HERO, MY DING can do so at the current sale price until Monday, September 12, 2011

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

And the Award Goes to...

With summer vacation only a memory and news that I will have a second book released in 2012 (details to follow), I was thrilled to come home and see that Marja Meijers, fellow author and blogger, has given me the Liebster Award!  Marja's book Grace of Giving has been voted the best Christian non-fiction for 2011 on the Readers Favorite website.  Check out her blog http://sacredsabbath.blogspot.com/


I appreciate Marja's thoughtfulness and I am going to present the Liebster award to five other bloggers.


There are just a few rules:

1. Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them.
2. Give the Liebster Award to five bloggers and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
4. Have faith your followers will spread the love to other bloggers.
5. And best of all – enjoy!
 
 
 
The Liebster award is presented to blogs with less than 200 followers, but definitely deserve more! AND THE WINNERS ARE...
 
 
Darlene Shortridge at her author's blog!
 
Faith Tydings at her blog "All the Hats I Wear"!
 
Amanda Stephan at her blog "The Eclectic Christian Blogger"
 
Ursula Gorman at her blog "Old Aquaintances"
 
S.B. (Steve) Newman at his blog "The Night Eagles Soared"
 

Congratulations!


Monday, September 5, 2011

America's Labor Movement has Strayed...

On this Labor Day, after you've had your fill for the day, settle here and take a read of an interesting article written by Tom Tancredo.  It was originally posted on Friday, but I thought today was a fitting day to re-post it.

Click Here for original article.


Friday, September 02, 2011


BORDER BATTLELINES
Labor movement's detour to the left
Exclusive: Tom Tancredo notes unions used to be sensibly against mass immigration


Posted: September 02, 2011
1:48 pm Eastern

By Tom Tancredo

There is a skunk at the picnic.
Labor Day used to be the end-of-summer holiday celebrating the dignity and value of honest labor. But today's labor leaders have turned their backs on that all-American, patriotic holiday. They think it's all about politics.
 
 
America's labor movement has strayed a long way from its original mission. Take, for example, the attempt by local union officials in Wausau, Wis., to exclude Republican participation in a Labor Day parade. Such shenanigans illustrate how today's labor leaders are more interested in playing partisan politics than they are in the bread-and-butter issues of jobs and wages.
 
 
Nowhere is this sad development more obvious – and odious – than the unions' position on immigration. If there is one force in American politics that should be fighting for immigration control, it is organized labor. Decades of mass immigration have eroded wages and working conditions for millions of American working people. Especially in the construction trades, hospitality and tourism, millions of jobs now held by illegal aliens were once held by working-class Americans.
 
 
The gradual erosion of organized labor's historic position on immigration came to a climax in 2000, a presidential election year, when the AFL-CIO abandoned its traditional stance and signed on to the open-borders agenda. The union pledged its support for increased immigration and lax enforcement of existing immigration laws. It is probably no coincidence that this happened at the same time the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the union that recruits illegal workers in the hotel and restaurant industry, began flexing its political muscle.
 
 
All of this certainly would have come as quite a shock to AFL founder Samuel Gompers. Widely regarded as the father of the modern American labor movement, Gompers' career as a labor leader coincided with the so-called Second Great Wave of immigration from 1880-1920. Though himself an immigrant, Gompers well understood the dangers that mass immigration posed to American workers, and he lobbied tirelessly for restricted immigration.
 
 
In a letter to Congress in 1924, Gompers identified two "hostile forces of considerable strength" that opposed halting immigration. "One of these is composed of corporation employers who desire to employ physical strength (broad backs) at the lowest possible wage and who prefer a rapidly revolving labor supply at low wages to a regular supply of American wage earners at fair wages," he wrote. "The other," Gompers continued, "is composed of racial groups in the United States who oppose all restrictive legislation because they want the doors left open for an influx of their countrymen regardless of the menace to the people of their adopted country."
 
In reading these words, we are struck by how little has changed. Today, as in 1924, there exists an unholy alliance between Big Business hungry for cheap labor and ethnic lobbyists like the National Council of La Raza eager to expand their power and influence. What has changed is the conduct of the labor unions. The impact of the unholy alliance (and the unions' indifference) on American working people is evident in the town of Wausau, Wis., itself.
 
 
In a 1994, Roy Beck wrote in the Atlantic Monthly about how immigration had transformed Wausau. The town was a peaceful community, but all of that changed in the late-1970s when Southeast Asian refugees began settling in Wausau. The trickle of newcomers soon became a steady stream, and before long the town was beset with all of the problems mass immigration typically brings: overcrowded schools, high rates of welfare dependency, increased crime and gang activity, and the emergence of social and racial tensions.
 
In countless cities across America, over the past decade organized labor threw in the towel and welcomed illegal workers into membership. Some will say this was a rational accommodation to the undeniable fact that the federal government is not enforcing its laws against unlawful employment. As illegal workers displaced legal ones across dozens of blue-collar occupations, labor unions simply adjusted to the new reality and signed up the illegal workers.
 
To a local labor leader, say, of the carpenters' union in Denver or Buffalo, it's only sensible to agree with the maxim: if you can't beat them, join them. If they pay dues, who cares if they displace other workers? The fight was lost at the national level, so local union leaders see no downside to harvesting the fruit of that political sellout.
 
Yet, this Labor Day, it's worth remembering that Wausau story. It is the story of countless cities and towns throughout the country, from Waukegan to Waco, Tucson to Tacoma. It might well have been a very different story if American labor leaders had remained true to the principles of Samuel Gompers and put the economic interests of working people above ideology. But to today's labor leaders, it's more important to keep Republicans out of their parades.
 
thumbs-down-obama
 

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Don't Forget...

GRANDPARENTS DAY is Sunday, September 11, 2011...

How will you celebrate with your grandparents?
 

 

 
You don't want to miss this sale! Since my grandfather was the inspiration behind my story I have slashed prices even further in honor of Grandparents Day from now until September 11, 2011.


"My Hero, My Ding - A Memoir of a Girl and Her Grandfather"


$9.00 FOR AUTOGRAPHED PAPERBACK EDITION


$14.00 FOR AUTOGRAPHED AUDIO CD


(S&H Included)
See easy ordering details on side panel...

 
Click on video to see book commercial!
 
You can get more information by clicking on my website http://lisatortorello.tateauthor.com and read more reviews at Amazon.com
Order at these special sale prices through September 11, 2011 and your autographed copy will be mailed right to your door! Would you like a special message included? Be sure to let me know with your order!
THANKS!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

BOHICA!




After hearing the news this morning, I thought for sure the definition of the word contract had changed.  I quickly grabbed my dictionary to check. 

According to Webster's Dictionary:

contract  (n) 1)  a binding agreement between two or more person or parties, one legally enforceable
                      2) a document describing the terms of a contract

I was surprised to see the definition was the same, so it's just our government where up is down and wrong it right.  Rahm Emanuel and the Board of Education  tried to get the Chicago Teacher's Union to break an already beaten up contract to have teachers work much longer for much less than minimunm wage.  The Union declined and the teachers are now looked at as the bad guys.  So, Emanuel and the Board of Ed sweetened the pot enough for  3 Chicago Public Schools to cave in and break their union contract resulting in  a 2% raise and thousand and thousands of dollars to make "the longer day work".  (It's amazing how they found money for this.) 


As 2012 approaches and the contracts for the teachers, police, and firefighters in the City of Chicago are to be renegotiated, all union members need to stick together and not be tempted by the poisened apple of a quick fix, a stipend or two, or empty rhetoric. 

Little by little the powers that be would like to break the unions completely. If you know your history then you should realize it is behavior like we are seeing today that caused unions to form in the first place.

To all hard-working people, union or non-union, who know the value of a contract enjoy this Labor Day weekend!  You deserve it!