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The [Monday] Papers

"About 11,000 prisoners, a mix of suspects awaiting trial and those convicted of minor crimes, are housed at the [Cook County Jail] at any one time, which is like stuffing the population of Palos Heights into an eight-block area on Chicago's South Side," the Chicago News Cooperative reports. "The Cook County sheriff, Tom Dart, estimated that about 2,000 of them suffer from some form of serious mental illness, far more than at the big state-owned Elgin Mental Health Center, which has 582 beds.

"Dart said the system 'is so screwed up that I've become the largest mental health provider in the state of Illinois.' The situation is about to get worse, according to Dart and other criminal justice experts. The city plans to shut down 6 of its 12 mental health centers by the end of April, to save an estimated $2 million, potentially leaving many patients without adequate treatment - some of them likely to engage in conduct that will lead to arrests."

*

See also: The Squeaky Weal: Tom Dart

*

"The city's mental health clinics serve thousands of people, many of whom are uninsured. Dr. Bechara Choucair, Chicago's commissioner of public health, said those that remained open would treat all those who needed help or send them to private clinics paid by the city to accept the overflow of patients. But city data provided to aldermen showed that the cuts could cause a patient increase of up to 71 percent at some clinics, with no additional staff.

"The police and mental health experts fear that without adequate resources to treat them, mentally distressed people will be more likely to end up in dealings with the police.

"'It's going to increase the number of calls they get,' Amy Watson, associate professor at the Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois, Chicago, said of the Police Department, 'because it is the only place left to call.'"

*

Something someone like Rahm Emanuel doesn't understand:

The city described the clinic closings as consolidations, but Dart said the effect would be to limit the ability of patients to get to the remaining clinics.

"So many of these people are on a razor's edge," he said. "The fact that you have shut down this facility that was two miles from that individual, and you combined it over here, and now it's 10 miles away is very likely the difference between that person following the program or not."

*

Penny-wise, pound-foolish. And not even penny-wise:

"The cutbacks could also add to the burden at emergency rooms and on ambulances.

"'We have an upsurge in crisis calls when services are cut,' said Jeffry Murphy, a retired Chicago police officer and a consultant in crisis-intervention training. 'We're not saving any money closing down these clinics.'"

But it looks good on paper, and that's what counts. He can tout his "accomplishment" no matter how many lives he makes miserable.

Not Very Noble
"When you talk to non-teacher who visits a high-performing charter school for the first the first time (including any of the Noble campuses) it's the discipline they notice," CPS teacher Seth Lavin writes in his Chicago School Wonks e-mail newsletter. "'It was so silent in the hallways!' 'All the kids were staring at the teacher!' 'When she said take out pencils every single kid took out a pencil, like robots!'

"Like Newt Gingrich clumsily defending charter schools in a September Presidential debate: '. . . they were taken over by a charter school in downtown Philadelphia, and all of a sudden the kids didn't fight anymore, because they were disciplined.'

"Reporters and politicians love this. They use euphemisms like 'zero tolerance,' 'no excuses' and 'sweat the small stuff' to explain what's going on. But what I've come to learn along the way is that a lot of these reporters and politicians don't really know what that means."

You mean the picture they get in their heads isn't enough to go on? But how will they drive their compelling fairy tale narratives if they have to actually confront reality? Let's find out.

"The reality here is a lot more controversial and, frankly, ugly then these descriptions. And I say this as, on some level, a proponent.

"As the Noble episode has reminded all of us, sweating the small stuff means no chewing gum, no untied shoelaces, no untucked shirts. But it also often means the expectation of 100% compliance to all teacher directions. Plus consequences designed to make non-compliance so unappealing that, eventually, students comply always.

"Teacher directions can get pretty darn specific. They're supposed to. In elementary schools with this kind of discipline you see complicated transitions planned motion-by-motion by the teacher and timed. 'Pencils out' might mean right hand stays flat on the desk while left hand reaches inside a desk pocket and returns a pencil to a designated position on the desk. 'Take out a dry erase marker' might be a multi-step process by which a student takes out a dry erase marker, holds it in the air, and waits for teacher direction to unclick the cap from the marker. The enforced expectation that students keep their eyes on their teacher at all times (track the speaker) is very commonplace. As is a prescribed posture for sitting in chairs. Of course all this varies from school to school but in the more extreme schools it's more extreme. I've been in schools where placing your feet on the basket beneath the chair in front of you is a specific numbered misdemeanor. I've been in a classroom where a student who dropped his pencil contorted his body to reach it without breaking contact between his butt and his seat, because in his school your butt's leaving the seat was a breach that triggered a specific consequence."

No wonder Rahm wants a longer day; taking pencils and dry erase markers out of desks the proper way eats up a lot of instructional time. At least teachers will have received good training for jobs in the corrections industry after they're laid off.

*

"Largely lost in the coverage of Noble (particularly in the Chicago Tribune's editorial, once more attacking critics of CPS) was the actual source of concern - the campaign by Voices of Youth in Chicago Education to reduce the dropout rate, which has led them to focus on disciplinary policies which push kids out," Curtis Black writes for Newstips.

"'We agree there should be consequences for minor infractions, but Noble is not doing it the right way, and as a result, students are leaving,' said Emma Tai of VOYCE. She said Noble has acknowledged that 40 percent of entering students leave before senior year. (Ben Joravsky has previously reported on Noble's fines, demerits, counseling out of kids, and charges for make-up courses.)

"But Noble is 'just one piece of a much larger picture,' Tai said. 'Whether it's demerits and fines at Noble or suspensions, expulsions, and arrests at [traditional] schools, there are practices in all our schools to keep students on lockdown and push them out.'

"Concern over test scores may be a bigger driver of the approach than concern over safety, she suggests."

But it looks good on paper, and that's what counts. He can tout his "accomplishment" no matter how many lives he makes miserable.

*

"Research is clear that zero-tolerance approaches - and heavy use of suspensions - do not improve school safety or student learning, Tai said.

"The [Consortium on Chicago School Research] argues that 'emphasis on punitive discipline approaches' is particularly unhelpful with 'students who are already less likely to be engaged in school . . . Schools serving a large number of low-achieving students must make stronger efforts to foster trusting, collaborative relationships with students and their parents.'"

On the bright side, being on the butt end of a bully prepares our kids for jobs on the city council.

*

See also: Parents Feeling Ignored In School Reform

*

See also: Why Don't Top Private Schools Adopt Corporate-Driven Reforms?

Daley Detritus
"It's been six years since five Chicago government pension plans hired DV Urban Realty - a start-up investment firm founded by then-Mayor Richard M. Daley's nephew Robert G. Vanecko and President Barack Obama's friend and former boss Allison S. Davis - to manage $68 million in retirement funds," the Sun-Times reports.

"Those investments haven't gone well for the pension funds that represent Chicago teachers, police officers, other city employees and transit workers. The funds have paid DV Urban a total of $7.2 million, including $4.7 million in fees to manage the small share of the pension funds' money and another $2.5 million for a sister company to oversee the operations of three buildings bought with pension money.

"Pension officials - including Mayor Rahm Emanuel's two top financial advisers - are unhappy. By their estimation, the value of the funds' real estate investments with DV Urban has fallen by 28 percent, or about $19 million.

"That's the main reason the funds want to wrest control of the real estate investments they've made with DV Urban, according to a lawsuit they filed this month in Delaware, where DV Urban was incorporated."

And here's the key reminder:

"Vanecko is the eldest grandchild of the late Mayor Richard J. Daley. Davis ran a small Chicago law firm that hired Obama after his graduation from Harvard Law School. Davis eventually left the law firm and became a business partner with one of his clients, Tony Rezko, in a venture to build affordable housing with taxpayer money."

The Chicago Principles
Adopted by Occupy Chicago.

Jennifer Beals Goes Easy On . . .
. . . Big Poppa.

Clever With The Rhymes
She are who she are.

The Weekend In Chicago Rock
Including Dr. Dog, the Jayhawks, Twin Sister, Discarded Pearls and the Anders Osborne Trio.

Programming Note
The Beachwood Inn is open for Presidents' Day. Our beer will be very presidential.

ALTERNATE: Our beer will be impeachable.

Stop in, 5p - 2a.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Electable.




Permalink

Posted on February 20, 2012


MUSIC - The Weekend In Chicago Rock.
TV - Can Anyone Stop Sinclair?
POLITICS - Hundreds Turn Selves In For Toppling Statue.
SPORTS - Bears Psychosis Grips City.

BOOKS - How Subversive Artists Made Thrifting Cool.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Beachwood Photo Booth: Cloudy Gate.


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