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D.C. keeps adding insults to injury

A firefighter walks down ElgAvenue WashingtIll Nov. 18 day after tornado ripped through town Tazewell County near Peoria. | JessicKoscielniak/Sun-Times

A firefighter walks down Elgin Avenue in Washington, Ill, on Nov. 18, the day after a tornado ripped through the town in Tazewell County near Peoria. | Jessica Koscielniak/Sun-Times

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Updated: February 13, 2014 6:46AM



First FEMA says not enough damage was done to justify helping the tornado victims of Washington, Ill., though the town looks like an atom bomb went off.

Then the government cut unemployment benefits to millions of citizens.

And they want to cut food stamps. And veterans benefits. And let the government shut down.

If normal working people performed their jobs so ineptly, they’d be fired. Washington better remember who they work for.

Dave Zidel, Richton Park

Rauner wrong

So Bruce Rauner, the Republican candidate for governor, is against a decent living wage that could lift many Illinoisans out of poverty and save the state millions in food stamps costs and other government benefits.

Why is it that the people with $13 million in the bank are so often the ones who demonstrate a glaring lack of empathy for those who got them where they are?

Cindy Rochel, Tinley Park

Rauner’s not the only one

Regarding the recent letter with the headline “Rauner says whatever he thinks the audience wants to hear.”

Change “Rauner” to “politicians” and you’ve got all bases covered.

John Babush, Big Rock, Ill.

School discipline

Martin Luther King Jr. said that “Real peace is not just the absence of conflict; it is the presence of justice.” As we near Dr. King’s birthday, we applaud Arne Duncan and the Department of Education’s recent release of new federal discipline guidelines for school districts, as well as the willingness of the Chicago Public Schools to seriously consider these guidelines. Zero tolerance does not promote justice, nor does it promote peace. It serves only to strengthen the “school-to-prison pipeline” and further distance our young people most in need from the very thing we all agree is an essential part of the solution — an education. In Illinois, where suspension rates of African-American students are the highest in the country, discriminatory policies not only hurt our young people, but lead to tremendous social and economic costs for us all.

As a nonprofit working in deep partnership with high schools in Chicago since our inception in 1997, Umoja Student Development Corp. sees high schools as a place where we can break the cycle of violence and trauma. We believe that we as a city can no longer afford to push our young people out of our schools and into the street with the criminal-justice system as our only response. Traditional approaches of suspension and expulsion only increase the likelihood that a next altercation will end up in physical harm, incarceration or death. As an alternative, Umoja’s restorative justice model focuses on creating a peaceful school culture and climate. Using peace circles, peer mediations and implementing restorative discipline policies, Umoja partners with schools who are deeply committed to keeping young people in our classrooms where we have the opportunity to teach skills, influence positive choices and restore both the person doing the harm and those harmed to the school community.

While I am encouraged by the federal call to action to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline, we know that schools cannot do it alone. Schools need organizations like Umoja to help them implement alternatives like restorative practices, and we all need policies that promote the presence of justice.

Ted Christians, Near West Side



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