Chicago Sun-Times Latest news from the Chicago Sun-Times Online en-us (Editor) Newspapers Chicago Sun-Times 84 34 30 Copyright 2014 <![CDATA[ Noble Charter teachers should follow rules, too ]]> Lead story image

Let me start my criticism of the Noble Street Network of Charter Schools’ discipline methods — zero tolerance that cost parents $387,000 in fees these last three years — by saying that if I ran a school I, too, would be hard-core about conduct that doesn’t positively contribute to an effective learning environment. Students should abide by dress codes, not be late to class or eat “flaming” hot chips and sugary energy drinks in school. They should also sit up straight, make eye contact when addressed, speak in complete sentences and track a speaker with their eyes. Those are just … ]]> Wed, 21 Mar 2012 08:05:28 -0600 <![CDATA[ Leaders buckling under ‘the wisdom of crowds’ ]]> Lead story image

So much has been made of “the wisdom of crowds” — a term coined by James Surowiecki to describe how large groups of people can be better at solving problems and coming to wise decisions than the elite few — that I fear the wisdom of people in charge is fast becoming meaningless. Take, for instance, the flap over the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation announcing that it would no longer fund breast cancer screenings at controversial Planned Parenthood. From an organizational governance standpoint, it made sense for Karen Handel, Komen’s senior vice president for policy, to take … ]]> Wed, 14 Mar 2012 08:06:54 -0600 <![CDATA[ Raising school dropout age is not shown to help ]]> Lead story image

In a perfect world, raising the dropout age to 18 in Chicago and elsewhere would miraculously make kids planning a run for the schoolhouse exit stay and go on to graduate. Unfortunately, though keeping students in school as long as possible sounds like a good idea — so much so that President Obama suggested it in his State of the Union address and Gov. Pat Quinn jumped on the bandwagon by including it in his own “state of the state” address — there is little evidence to suggest it’s a successful strategy for blunting dropout rates. In a 2009 study … ]]> Wed, 07 Mar 2012 08:04:24 -0600 <![CDATA[ New book shows Obamas holding on to true selves ]]> Lead story image

Much has been made about Jodi Kantor’s new book, The Obamas, but above all the breathless headlines it has inspired, the book is a fascinating study on the isolating, constantly scrutinized nature of living in the White House in the age of 24 distinct one-hour news cycles daily, ubiquitous high-resolution picture-taking smartphones and Twitter, Facebook and blogs. Kantor’s thoroughly reported avalanche of anecdotes — relayed through friends, aides and close observers of the first family — paints a portrait of four happy and grateful Chicagoans who nonetheless pine for home and surround themselves with what little pieces of it they … ]]> Thu, 01 Mar 2012 08:22:58 -0600 <![CDATA[ It will be a pain, but I’m going ga-ga over the G-8 ]]> Lead story image

When riding the L or waiting in line for your morning cup of coffee, maybe you’ve heard some of our fine city’s residents moaning about the prospect of hosting the NATO and G-8 summits this spring. “We don’t even have money to keep the libraries open all week, why should we have to pay millions to secure a bunch of international muckety-mucks?” goes a popular complaint. “We’re already a global city, I don’t understand all this talk about putting the city on an ‘international stage,’ ” goes another. I’ve heard this one over and over again: “Nothing is worth the … ]]> Sat, 25 Feb 2012 08:05:07 -0600 <![CDATA[ 2012: Another year of politics wiping us out ]]> Lead story image

The only question on everyone’s lips these days is “will the economy — employment levels, home values, wage increases — fully recover soon?” According to the yearly gathering of brilliant economic minds at the Executives’ Club of Chicago Annual Economic Outlook luncheon, the answer is “not in 2012.” Held the day after the first anniversary of Illinois’ 67 percent income tax increase and 50 percent increase in the state corporate tax — and just days after the state’s credit rating was downgraded by Moody’s to the detestable spot of lowest state in the country — the atmosphere was as glum … ]]> Fri, 17 Feb 2012 08:06:22 -0600 <![CDATA[ My dogs went wild in fight, but don’t ban them ]]> Lead story image

Two summers ago I was involved in a violent, terrifying dog fight. During a quiet evening stroll around my neighborhood, my husband, our two dogs and I spotted a family of four up the street. A mom pushing a baby in a stroller, a young girl trailing behind a big, white Samoyed and dad with a large, leashed Boxer were headed our way and we decided to cross the street to let the merry band pass. But one of our dogs barked, setting off a cacophony of growls and woofs, and the next thing I know, the girl with the … ]]> Fri, 10 Feb 2012 08:29:41 -0600 <![CDATA[ George’s Klan analogy wrong on all counts ]]> Lead story image

Hitler and the Klan: two evils whose names should not be invoked unless specifically referring to Adolf or the white nationalist hate group. Countless are the numbers of celebrities, legislators, and talking heads who have gotten themselves in trouble for comparing someone to Hitler — Hank Williams Jr. kinda-sorta comparing President Obama to Hitler last October springs to mind. Now, Cardinal Francis George has compared gay rights activists to the Klan. Let’s start with who George imagines these shadowy “gay liberation people” might be. By using the term “the gay liberation movement” — one I had not heard before — … ]]> Fri, 03 Feb 2012 08:05:17 -0600 <![CDATA[ Must-read book of 2012: Public hospital’s sad tale ]]> Lead story image

Make it the last book you read in 2011 or your first of 2012, but whatever you do, don’t miss out on County: Life, Death and Politics at Chicago’s Public Hospital. Written by Dr. David Ansell, now vice president for clinical affairs and chief medical officer at Rush University Medical Center, County is a brutally frank, lovingly detailed account of one doctor’s mission to end health-care inequities in Chicago. I was fortunate enough to stumble upon the book, published last June, as I cleared my office last week. I meant to read the first few lines to see if it … ]]> Fri, 27 Jan 2012 08:05:02 -0600 <![CDATA[ Latino progress in jobs hits blue-collar ceiling ]]> Lead story image

You’ve heard of the glass ceiling (women) and the bamboo ceiling (Asian Americans). It turns out there’s a blue-collar ceiling for Chicago Latinos. So says a new study from DePaul University’s New Journalism on Latino Children project and the Latino Policy Forum. They analyzed Hispanic representation in 480 occupations identified by the U.S. Census Bureau and found that both Mexican immigrants and many of their U.S.-born counterparts are overrepresented in low-skilled, low-pay manufacturing, food service, and construction industries. Considering that Latinos represented three of every five new entrants to the region’s labor force over the past decade and that their … ]]> Fri, 20 Jan 2012 08:02:33 -0600 <![CDATA[ Help women’s soccer make a well-deserved comeback ]]> Lead story image

Ladies, it’s time to stand in solidarity with your soccer-playing sisters. If you spent even a moment cheering last summer when the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team competed in the World Cup finals against Japan, you need to know that those internationally renowned sportswomen may not get to play next year. If you’ll recall, women’s soccer reached a fever pitch in July and made front-page news. The final was seen by 13.5 million viewers, making it the most-watched and highest-rated soccer telecast on an ESPN network, and the second most-watched daytime program in cable history, according to the Nielsen Co. But … ]]> Fri, 13 Jan 2012 08:09:02 -0600 <![CDATA[ Being a charter doesn’t make school good or bad ]]> Lead story image

Surprise, surprise: Chicago’s charter schools aren’t doing much better than those in the Chicago Public School system. I don’t say that as one of those foaming-at-the-mouth charter school haters who believe that these publicly funded out-of-district schools do nothing more than cherry pick the decent students and divert money from neighborhood schools. No, it’s a wistful observation from someone who for years has been following charter schools’ mixed track record all over the country, hoping they would emerge as a viable and scaleable solution to the conundrum of how to educate poor, at-risk students. “Wildly uneven results” is how a … ]]> Fri, 06 Jan 2012 08:08:08 -0600 <![CDATA[ My five holiday wishes (and, OK, world peace) ]]> Lead story image

Do you remember that 1991 episode of “Saturday Night Live” when the perpetually silver-haired Steve Martin shared his holiday wish list? He started off, “If I had one wish that I could wish this holiday season, it would be that all the children of the world would join hands and sing together in the spirit of harmony and peace. If I had two wishes I could make this holiday season, the first would be for all the children of the world to join hands and sing in the spirit of harmony and peace. And the second would be for 30 … ]]> Thu, 29 Dec 2011 08:04:11 -0600 <![CDATA[ Public schools are failing the most gifted students ]]> Lead story image

I have a master’s degree in special education, but when I rack my brain, I can recall only one or two class sessions, tops, during my teacher training that were devoted to gifted students. And through hundreds of hours of classroom observations, I never once got to sit in on a class for gifted students. This isn’t a surprise. Public schools are not set up to support or enrich gifted students, who often come across as bored and listless or energetic troublemakers, because they’re not being challenged. The fact is that gifted students — defined by federal law as “youth … ]]> Thu, 22 Dec 2011 08:05:59 -0600 <![CDATA[ The poor are with us, however you count them ]]> Lead story image

If you’re confused about poverty rates, no one can blame you. It seems like for the last year, there have been constant updates on just how badly Americans are doing in the shadow of The Great Recession That Never Ends, followed by reports suggesting that so-called impoverished people are actually doing all right and now revised Census data that say, no, poverty is pretty much higher than it’s ever been. The “old” way of calculating poverty was flawed, experts say, because it failed to account for benefits such as public assistance and food stamps on the one hand, and high … ]]> Thu, 15 Dec 2011 09:50:58 -0600 <![CDATA[ Tax on pop could fund nutrition education ]]> Lead story image

Should Illinois use a pop tax to fill its coffers and maybe lighten the load of being the 23rd fattest state in the nation? Last week, the Cook County Department of Public Health released a report titled, “Estimating the Potential Impact of Sugar-Sweetened and Other Beverage Excise Taxes in Illinois,” that says a tax that increased prices enough would sharply reduce the consumption of high-calorie drinks, such as like regular soda, ready-to-drink teas and sports drinks, and have a substantial impact on the prevalence of obesity. But the tax has to be high enough to provide a true disincentive to … ]]> Thu, 08 Dec 2011 08:06:17 -0600 <![CDATA[ If Illinois doesn’t get act together, people will flee ]]> Lead story image

Last summer, I was sitting in the waiting room of a state outreach center and witnessed the angry tirade of a woman waiting to appeal an unemployment insurance issue. The people in her vicinity, and the person on the other end of her cell phone, got quite a monologue. She railed about rotten schools, high taxes, smoking restrictions and just about everything else under the sun. Defiantly declaring her independence from the State of Illinois, she vowed to leave as soon as she could afford to roll her belongings across the state line. Needless to say, I was stunned. Everyone … ]]> Thu, 01 Dec 2011 08:27:24 -0600 <![CDATA[ Reality TV shows have poisonous effect on kids ]]> Lead story image

Though I despise reality TV shows such as “Jersey Shore,” “Real Housewives” and “Ghost Hunters” — all of which seem to captivate audiences with the stunningly bad behavior of their subjects — it didn’t bother me to see a picture in Bill Zwecker’s Oct. 20 column of the Obama family gathered around the tube for their “Keeping up with the Kardashians” fix. Not because I don’t think such shows are poison for the mind — they most certainly are. I haven’t watched the adventures of Snooki and the only real housewives I run into are picking their kids up from … ]]> Fri, 25 Nov 2011 08:06:26 -0600