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The [Friday] Papers

"As with so many aspects of the musical Walmart on the Lake, Lollaplooza likes to have its cake and eat it too when it comes to trumpeting each August's 130-band lineup," Jim DeRogatis writes on his Pop n Stuff blog for WBEZ.

"The concert has maintained from the start of its reinvention as a Chicago-based 'destination festival' seven years ago that people come to Grant Park because of the event, regardless of the particular acts on the bill. Then the promoters rant and rage at any reporter who dares to publish any of the acts they've booked in advance of their official lineup press release.

"When this blogger broke the news of the lineup in 2008, Lollapalooza corporate figurehead Perry Farrell lashed out and called me 'Pepe LePew.' The last few years, my Sound Opinions colleague Greg Kot had the scoops, and though they were more circumspect in public, the promoters were no less angry behind the scenes. Now, they've got a new public enemy number one: the person claiming to be 'an anonymous Lollapalooza insider' behind the @LollaLeaks Twitter account."

Ignoble Education
"As Newt Gingrich urges putting students to work as paid school janitors, a Chicago charter network may one day mull having them pay to sweep and clean toilets," James Warren writes for the Chicago News Cooperative.

"Goodbye, corporal punishment. Hello, capital punishment. Improved performance and new revenue streams may be on the education horizon, complete with cash registers outside detention halls."

The Tribune editorial page is positively giddy, though, about fining students for such discipline-destroying crimes as leaving shirts untucked and shoes untied.

"It's a matter of respectful personal conduct," the board thunders from the planet it lives in that bases its school model on the old Catholic formula of uniforms and knuckle-rapping.

"A student caught chewing gum earns a demerit. Late to class - that's not tolerated. Untucked shirts and untied shoes - not allowed. You don't shout or throw things in the lunchroom. And so on."

Wow. If my high school was like that, I would have joined a gang.

"As the Chicago Public Schools and the Illinois Legislature grow less tolerant of failure in education, as they push for status-quo-shaking change in schools, the defenders of the old ways of education get more nervous."

Um, just when did CPS and state legislators start growing "less tolerant of failure?" Richard M. Daley took - or was given - control of the city's schools in 1995. And it's not as if that was the first rodeo for urban education reformers.

"Schools that let the small things slip can find themselves with a chaotic school environment."

Really? Untucked shirts lead to . . . what?

"PURE and other critics claim the Noble Network gouges students to raise cash. Last year, the 10 campuses of Noble raised nearly $200,000 from disciplinary fees. But those fees cover only part of the expense of staffing those classes and detention periods."

Without those fees Noble couldn't afford detention? Please. What's next, fining slow kids for the expense of putting up with them in gym class?

"Noble's tight discipline and demanding academics aren't for everyone. Last year, 473 of Noble's 5,000 students left for other schools.

"Look at the kids who stay. Last year, all of the Noble schools beat the Chicago Public Schools' average in math, science and reading scores. Noble sent 91 percent of its graduates to college."

Warren exposes this bogus argument:

"The schools perform much better than Chicago public high schools as a whole, but they are still quite selective, so it is hard to get an accurate comparison. And still almost half of their students fail state achievement exams, and pass rates vary widely by campus."

Selective schools do better than schools forced to accept all comers. Picayune fines have nothing to do with it.

"Noble's leaders are right: Discipline helps create a safe school atmosphere. It helps create success."

It helps create stifled automatons. The Trib makes fun of the reform group PURE complaining that such rules are "dehumanizing," but that's exactly what the factory model is.

Education is not about creating obedient workers and consumers, but about creating fully realized adults- and citizens-to-be. I know that's not allowed in Chicago, but maybe that ought to change.

"James Heckman, a Nobel Prize-winning economist at the University of Chicago whose research has identified the important role that social and emotional skills play in developing human capital, from birth to job training, said he thought the Noble approach was a crude one," Warren writes. 'There are probably better ways to motivate people than with cash,' Heckman said, 'and it's unfair for really poor students and parents' . . .

"[New World Foundation president Colin] Greer said the Noble system undermined two critical aims of public education: preparing children for living in a democracy and learning to live with one another.

"He likens it to teaching by Pavlovian response, referring to Ivan Pavlov, the Russian psychologist who did pioneering work on conditioned responses.

"You're responding to punishment, like one of Pavlov's dogs,' Greer said. 'You're not teaching how to behave in a democracy, where you behave in the best interests of a larger community.'

"He said the fines were absurd, and at best they created rote, reflex responses and not the sort of flexibility and self-motivation needed in a modern economy."

Signing Off
"Mayor Rahm Emanuel tried Thursday to walk a political tightrope on rules changes proposed by four powerful aldermen aimed at silencing the audience at City Council meetings - rule changes the American Civil Liberties Union dubbed 'very troubling," the Sun-Times reports.

What is the tightrope, exactly? Between alienating four powerful aldermen and the First Amendment?

Alternate: "Mayor Rahm Emanuel refused to disavow on Thursday proposed rule changes that would leave him with the power - among other things - to determine which signs, banners, placards and posters were allowed into city council meetings."


"Burke, chairman of the City Council's Finance Committee, issued a prepared statement about the controversy on Thursday."

But refused to answer questions from reporters, presumably. It's none of their business.

"The proposed changes in the Rules of Order and Procedure of the City Council were introduced as a courtesy in response to a suggestion by the sergeant-at-arms and should make for a lively discussion," Burke said.

Oh, it's just a courtesy proposal!

Um, just one question, and I'll ask it in a prepared statement: Since when do you take legislative advice from the sergeant-at-arms?


"The sergeant-at-arms, Christina Butler Pacheco, said she has not yet seen a final draft of the measure and declined further comment," the Chicago News Cooperative reports.

Too perfect!

"Butler Pacheco is a long-time political ally of Ald. Richard Mell (33rd), who also is a sponsor of the new proposal. As chairman of the council's Rules Committee, Mell effectively appointed Butler Pacheco to the sergeant-at-arms post.

"Mell said he signed onto the measure after Burke approached him with the idea.

"The two other sponsors were Ray Suarez (31st) and Carrie Austin (34th). Suarez declined comment and Austin did not return calls."


Pacheco's annual salary is $91,980. Proposing legislation is not in her job description, but hey, it's a free country. Except for those attending city council meetings.


"During City Council meetings, the room behind the council chambers becomes a mosh pit of reporters, city staffers, lobbyists, job seekers and other hangers-on trying to influence aldermen when they dart out to use the bathroom or talk on their cell phones," the Tribune reported in 2004.

"But the growing crowds have prompted the council's sergeant-at- arms to enforce the long-ignored 'aldermen only' rule for the second-floor room that is decorated with paintings of George Washington and the Ft. Dearborn massacre.

"Christina 'Sarge' Pacheco Butler - a no-nonsense Northwest Sider who keeps a black billy club at the front edge of her desk - has told aldermen that she intends to clear the room.

"Aldermanic aides will need to show identification to confer with their bosses during meetings. And reporters who must cross the room to get to the media area also will have to flash their badges. Everyone else will have to find somewhere else to glad-hand the aldermen or cajole them into exercising clout in their favor. "

The Squeaky Weal
Tom Dart talks jail.

Rare Cubs World Series Video
Futility in the final frame.

The Dancing Presidents . . .
. . . Of Value City Furniture.

Strawberry Town Forever
The other side of awesome.

The Week in Chicago Rock
Hit, miss, hit, miss, hit.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Hitsville.


Posted on February 17, 2012

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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