Tag Archives: Chicago

Ethiopian Hackers

Here is a heartwarming piece from DVice.  The One Laptop Per Child project has been handing out tablet computers to schoolchildren in Africa.  They had been delivering them via schools but, in this instance, they just pushed them off the truck. Not only did the kids figure out how to use the tablets, without help, they figured out how to turn on the little camera.  Since the tablets are preloaded with educational software, and the camera disabled, this was a good trick – hence the term “hacking” in the title.

The OLPC Project delivered boxes of tablets to two villages in Ethiopia, taped shut, with no instructions whatsoever.

Instructions would have been useless, because this is a remote village without written language.  Some of the comments cry colonialism, i.e., “who says kids in a remote Ethiopian village need to learn English from a tablet computer?”

Fair enough, but Jeremiah scents something even more diabolical – a plot to get rid of teachers!  We are anxiously waiting for Dr. Negroponte to distribute his magical tablets in Chicago.

See also: Dr. Sugata Mitra

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We Have Met the Enemy

Speaking of that OECD study and inequality, we return to the Chicago Teachers Union and observe that this is the “power structure” doing the most to oppress poor and minority children – sometimes with help from NAACP.

As Jeremiah wrote last year, charter schools should be top of the agenda for the NAACP.   Studies uniformly show that charter schools are more effective, primarily to the benefit of African-American students.

“In Chicago, 85 percent of the roughly 400,000 public school students are either African-American or Latino.”

When Karen Lewis disrespects the charter schools in Chicago, and the hardworking charter school teachers, this is a shameless attempt to preserve her own power – and the unequal privileges of the CTU – at the expense of our students.  Want what’s best for the kids?  Not even a pretense.

See also:  Throw Money!

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Public Sector Unions

It was sad watching the Chicago Teachers’ Union humiliate Mayor Emanuel.  The union already has a sweet deal, and they took advantage of the situation.  President Obama was unable to help to his old colleague, due to his own campaign.  Thus, the teachers’ union – not loved by Republicans – has shown disrespect for Democrats, too.

Taxpayers in Chicago are beleaguered, and to be asking them to pay increased property taxes, so we can fund increased salaries for public employees is going to be very tough.

Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, the teachers’ union has mounted a legal challenge to the state’s new restrictions on collective bargaining.  They have lost this battle already in the legislature and – with a campaign to recall the governor – in the executive, and so they move on to the judicial branch.  This, while cities and states around America are cracking under the burden of unsustainable union contracts.

Jeremiah believes that unions play an important role in protecting workers from greedy bosses and unsafe working conditions.  The state of Wisconsin, however, is not a sweatshop!  On the contrary, the legislators that write the worker-protection laws are in Madison.  The role of unions in the public sector is not comparable to their role in the private sector.  The “bosses” are elected officials, and the “owners” are taxpayers.

Collective bargaining with government workers poses a moral hazard, because the workers are also voters.  Elected officials may offer concessions, buying union votes with taxpayer money.  Also, more easily than in the private sector, elected officials can promise unsustainable pension benefits – secure in the knowledge they will be gone when the bill comes due.

Public sector unions merely enrich their workers at the expense of another class of workers – the taxpayers.

See also: Private Option for Education

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The Nuclear Option

Dear Mayor Emanuel, we were pained to see you bullied by the CTU.  The pundits are saying you will cave – and that’s the polite version.  The parents just want daycare.  Like the CTU, they don’t give a damn about education, and they surely don’t give a damn about your budget or your career.

So, just in case you wanted to carry a big stick, here are some suggestions:

  1. Assume that you have fired the entire cohort, and start doing some math.  You have 400,000 kids to seat – and maybe educate.  Your daycare “contingency plan” was a good start.  Now think:
  2. How many scabs and subs can you bring into the Chicago schools?  Remember, the CTU only controls their teachers.  You own the buildings and the buses, and you can man them any way you want.
  3. How many seats can you borrow from other districts, if you bus kids out on an emergency basis?  Plan to spend the diverted CTU salaries reimbursing the host districts.  Yes, that’s a negotiating tool.
  4. How many seats can you garner from private schools, charter schools, and parochial schools?  This is a number you should know, anyway.  How long will it take them to add capacity?
  5. Mobilizing emergency school capacity, and ramping it up, will take time.  Plan the time, and make this the deadline.  Tell the CTU that you have a master plan to replace them wholesale by, say, October 1.
  6. Promote the plan directly with parents.  They work year-round and earn half what the teachers do, so this should be pretty easy.  Point to Chicago schools’ dismal academic record.
  7. Delegate the job of waiting on Karen Lewis, and focus your own considerable energies toward implementing the plan.  You will soon find that this kind of plan gathers its own momentum.

Make it known that this is a solid plan that will happen on schedule.   That should earn you some respect.  Next time, be ready with stronger charter schools.  The way to ensure peace is to prepare for war.

See also:  Black Kids Need Good Schools

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That Pesky 14th Amendment

How are gun rights like gay rights?  Jeremiah has written that “rights are rights,” no matter what, and the Supreme Court seems to agree.  Interestingly, the same 14th amendment approach that was used to defend gay rights in California is now being used to defend gun rights in Chicago.

No State shall make or enforce any law which abridges the privileges of citizens of the United States.

The point to this amendment is that all Americans have certain basic rights – notably black Americans, in the historical context.  The states can add rights, but not subtract them.

We are seeing more lawyers appeal to this notion of “basic rights,” as states have become more aggressive about abridging them.  So, what’s next?  Abridging our rights at the federal level.

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Derrion Albert Remembered

Last month, America mourned the murder of a promising young black man in Chicago.  This reminded Jeremiah of a similar incident in Newark, and community policing efforts there.  This week, the Economist features a brilliant survey of community policing – required reading for leaders in these troubled cities.

Lest we think only honor students are in danger, the Chicago police are asking for help with crimes against the following young people:  Martell Barrett, DeQuarrius Cannon, Gamaliel Toscano, Percy Lavelle Day, Derrion Albert, Corey McClaurin, Luis Hernandez, Derrick Harris, Ebraham Tabani, Shawn Wilson, Ramone Morris, Damier Love, Juan Cazares, Gregory Robinson, Raheem Washington, John Edwards, Kendrick Pitts, Racheal Beauchamp, Johnel Ford, Mya Lyons, Brian Murdock, Quentin Buckner, Esteban Martinez, Jose Guiza, and Dushawn Johnson.

We need your help! Get involved! Go to your Beat Meeting and form a Block Club!

It doesn’t get any clearer than that.  If you live in Chicago, click here to join CAPS.

See also: Mark Kleiman’s book

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R.I.P. Derrion Albert

The brutal murder of a young honor student in Chicago recalls the death of another honor student, Yusef Johnson, killed last April in Newark.  It is easy to see that inner-city toughs resent the good kids and single them out for violence.  Derrion was lynched because he dared to excel, and his killers should swing for “hate crime” just like Nazis or skinheads.

Families will never lift themselves out of poverty until these neighborhoods are made safe for kids like Derrion.  The violence perpetuates itself, forcing each new generation into the gangs – and then into prison, where they become a burden for all of us.  As Yusef Johnson’s football coach put it, “these kids want things, and they want them now because they don’t think they’re going to have longevity.”

Violence is a problem only the community can fix.  In Newark, there was coordinated action by the schools, the churches, community leaders, and the police.  This is the most urgent problem facing black society today, and this is where race-based organizations like the NAACP need to be spending their efforts.

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