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The [Friday] Papers

1. $1.1 million that could have been spent a zillion better ways.

Way to go, Rahm!


"You will find across the city that teachers spend on average $1,500 a year on school supplies out of their own pocket," says Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis.


Wouldn't it have been nice if Rahm had said "In lieu of inauguration festivities, please send your donation to the Chicago School Supplies Fund that I've just created. I cannot in good conscience throw a million-dollar party when some of our schoolchildren still go without the essentials."

But that would be a different world than the one we live in.


"Some teachers I know have bought coats, mittens, bus cards, lunch boxes, and a lot more for their students," Christine Whitley writes for her ChicagoNow blog. "No matter whether you think teachers are overpaid whiners or underpaid, under-sung heroes I think we can all agree that a teacher should not have to buy her students proper winter clothing."


Back to the list: What a coincidence that compiling the list was completed just in time for Labor Day weekend. Will wonders never cease?

Talk about insults.


It presumably went like this . . .

RAHM: Just make damn sure we don't release that fucking list next to news about asking for shared sacrifice, or cutting the cop budget or rescinding teacher raises. I don't want my million-dollar bash juxtaposed against poor kids or dead police officers.

2. "High school seniors planning to apply to DePaul University for the freshman class of 2012 can leave some key information off their applications," the Sun-Times reports. "Their ACT or SAT scores."

Bravo, DePaul.

An education researcher told me this week that studies show conclusively that the best predictor of "success" in college is high school GPA and the quality of the college (not the high school a student is coming from). High-stakes testing is bullshit.

And I would add that the definition of "success" is probably pretty lame, too.

Schools aren't supposed to be assembly lines turning out workers who can "compete" in the "global economy." The corporatization of our education system has perverted its values. Education is supposed to create well-rounded, inquisitive citizens who have been thoughtfully exposed to the world of ideas and taught how to think critically about the world around them. Gaining some career skills along the way is good, too, but not necessarily the point. The point is education as a public good that is essential to both democracy and a civil society. The economic benefits flow from that, not the other way around.


By the way, I never took an SAT or ACT. I did take the PSAT as a high school junior, and I took the GRE - hungover - for graduate school. I'm a good test-taker but I find these tests highly flawed and the emphasis on test preparation to actually be anti-educational. We've lost our bearings.

3. Lynn Sweet's "Understanding The Obama-Boehner Speech Mess" misses the point. The White House never should have scheduled the president's speech for the same night as a GOP debate (including three House members who would otherwise be attending a joint session of Congress called by the president) in the first place. That was a purely political move that was also politically stupid; how they didn't foresee the folly that ensued is beyond me, but competence is clearly emerging as an issue with this president.

4. "Emanuel used the occasion to strike blows against the 'dishonest' budget policies of 22-year Mayor Richard Daley, without ever mentioning his predecessor by name," Progress Illinois notes in its report on the mayor's second town hall meeting on the budget.

It's extraordinary what a mess Daley left the city in if you go by what we're hearing from the Emanuel administration - the 911 system is broken, the schools are a disaster, the budget is smoke and mirrors . . . and nobody spoke up all these years!

5. I dunno, maybe this guy should run for president.


What does Barack Obama really bring to the presidency? Besides his other flaws, he's just so generic. He has no particular agenda - and is certainly lacking for big ideas. He's just kinda there, doing the generic centrist Democratic thing - and not very well. His administration was supposed to be built around a theme - reforming America. Changing the way we think about our politics. Inspiring and uniting us toward a higher, common purpose. He could have used the economic crisis he walked into to do just that. Rebuild America! Inevitably, that would mean making some people mad - like Wall Street. Too bad! At least now we know what a John Kerry presidency would have been like.


Actually, this presidency is worse. Far worse than even I expected.


Presidents should have some experience. Obama had never been in charge of anything except his campaign. That's not good enough. The presidency ought to be the last line of the resume, the pinnacle of a career. I want a president who has been at the table and knows the players and has learned the lessons of leadership and gained some wisdom along the way. It should be your last job, capping off a long (and even varied) career. Perhaps Obama would have made a good president 20 years from now. He'd certainly have a better understanding of how to do the job. Those who (childishly imbued with partisanship) dismissed his lack of experience showed both a disrespect and an absurdly gross misunderstanding of the office. And now we're all paying the price.

6. A lot of people I know somehow still believe in the Democratic Party. Understanding your so-called friends is just as important as understanding your opponents. You're just being used, folks.

7. The Week in WTF.

8. Here we go again:

"Tribune Co. asked the judge in its bankruptcy case Wednesday for authority to pay management bonuses for 2011 ranging from $16.4 million to $42.5 million, despite declining performance at the Chicago-based media conglomerate," the Tribune reports.

"The potential payments, which are slightly lower than those requested in 2010, would be made to 640 management employees based on how much operating cash flow the company generates in 2011 relative to a plan approved by the board in February, court documents show."


"[T]he governor who last year promised to 'cut, cut, cut' state government has been insulting citizens by quietly giving his employees nice raises," the Tribune said in an editorial last year called "Clueless in Illinois."

"[O]ut here in taxpaying Illinois - where many people have accepted frozen or reduced wages because that means they still have jobs - the governor looks downright clueless."

Well, at least he's running government like a business!


The people at the top always take care of themselves, don't they? "Shared sacrifice" is for the rest of us. Just look at Rahm's inauguration.

9. The World's Greatest College Football Report: Dirtbags, Lies and Godwottery.

10. The Week in Chicago Rock.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Godwottery.


Posted on September 2, 2011

MUSIC - Holiday Hullabaloo.
POLITICS - Bank Profits Soaring.
SPORTS - Chicago vs. Michigan, 1903.

BOOKS - Dia De Los Muertos Stories.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Chicagoetry: West Town Blues.

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