The [Tuesday] Papers
"A coalition of 16 parent groups Monday demanded a meeting with Mayor Rahm Emanuel to go over the real research on a 7 1/2-hour school day, and not the 'misinformation' they charged district officials with spreading," the Sun-Times reports.
"'They are either misinformed or deliberately misleading the public,' said Jonathan Goldman of the new Chicago Parents for Quality Education coalition."
For a guy who likes to portray himself as the Moneyball Mayor - with a coterie of data geek acolytes more interested in promoting the city than probing it - who is the city's Rational Man intent on screening out the "noise" of anyone who dares ask a question, Rahm Emanuel sure can't keep his facts straight. Maybe because it's simply not who he is.
"Goldman said he and other parents have analyzed longer day studies listed on the Chicago Public School website as supporting Emanuel's call for a 7 1/2 hour school day, and they are, at best, 'mixed.''
"In fact, when the Sun-Times called the author of one analysis of 15 studies cited by CPS as proof that longer school days work, Erika Patall of the University of Texas said the evidence the studies cited was 'weak' and their conclusions were 'very tentative' because 'a good deal of the research does not rule out something other than time causing the improvement.'
"Parents also questioned CPS contentions that the system needed a 7.5 hour school day to get 'on par with other districts.' CPS officials have said their numbers were based on weekly instructional minutes in a National Center for Education Statistics chart, multiplied out annually.
"However, an author of the NCES report told the Sun-Times that the chart was based on weekly teacher minutes, not student minutes, of instruction. Plus, the NCES researcher said, every district counts school days differently, so NCES would never extrapolate student instructional minutes in a year from one week's worth of teacher instructional minutes.
"'In putting it all together, somebody is making a lot of assumptions,' the NCES researcher said of the CPS calculations. 'We do not do that at the National Center for Education Statistics.'"
Perhaps more troubling is the pattern that has developed so soon in the Emanuel Era. Can you say credibility gap?
Just for starters:
Had enough yet?
Obama Blames Bush
In other words, about the number of kids in a Chicago Public Schools classroom.
Stupid Is As Stupid Does
"The result? The last three years of job losses at the state and local government level has been the most dramatic since Labor Department records began in 1955, according to a Reuters analysis.
"Public-sector employees tended to have more job security, which in some ways helps during weak economic climates, as their steady demand for goods and services spread through the economy. The recent trend, conversely, can make things worse."
As I've written before, shedding government jobs in a horrible economy is exactly the wrong thing to do. The private sector, on the other hand, continues to sit on record hoards of cash. What's wrong with that picture?
"Money for the primary training program for dislocated workers is 18 percent lower than it was in 2006, even though there are six million more people looking for work now."
Obama blames Bush.
"More than two dozen Fortune 500 companies paid no U.S. federal income taxes in recent years partly because of a corporate tax break that is broadly supported by Republicans and Democrats alike, a consumer group said on Monday," Reuters also reports.
"Still, President Barack Obama and Republicans have backed an expansion of the tax break."
"The goal is to trivialize and isolate dissenting speech without actually banning protest outright. One result is something of a Potemkin village: government proclaims its full commitment to respecting the First Amendment without actually permitting any observable dissent to take place near the convention."
This is why it's so important as well for our local and federal governments to extend every effort to accommodate NATO protesters instead of trying to swat them away like gnatty intruders on the public's business.
"Tampa, Fla., which will host the Republicans from Aug. 27 to 30, and Charlotte, N.C., which will host the Democrats from Sept. 3 to 7, are already following the trend. Charlotte has adopted an ordinance that expands the power of the local police to detain, search and arrest persons in its downtown core. (The Charlotte ordinance also bans camping on city-owned property, a clear response to the Occupy movement.) Tampa is also considering new municipal laws to limit, and in some instances flatly prohibit, downtown protest activity."
Make no mistake - Democrats who are ostensibly liberal are no better (or worse) at championing free speech than Republicans who are ostensibly libertarian.
And because these rights derive from the same amendment - the First - that protects the free press, journalists and news organizations should be particularly sensitive to its portrayal of those seeking to exercise said rights, regardless of their message. Instead, too often, the media views protesters through the lens of official power (even though official power has a far worse track record than protesters in actually being right about the issues at hand.)
"[I]f democracy is to function properly, the ability of ordinary citizens to petition their government - directly and in person, if they choose - is essential.
"Although virtually ignored today, a right to petition is part of the First Amendment, and the Constitution does not leave it to the government to decide who should have access to it.
"The historical model of petitioning, going back to medieval England, literally involved laying a petition at the foot of the throne - while the king was sitting on it. The presentation of petitions has deep roots in American political culture. Quaker abolitionists used mass petitioning campaigns to advocate an end to the slave trade in the 1790s and the American Anti-Slavery Society renewed such efforts with similar campaigns in the 1830s and '40s. Female suffragists embraced petitioning - as did Native Americans and veterans in later decades.
"The 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery, organized by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, included a petition seeking protection of political and civil rights for Alabama's black citizens. It was to be delivered to Gov. George C. Wallace after a rally at the State Capitol. (Although Mr. Wallace declined to receive the petition then, he did so about a week later, after meeting with a delegation of S.C.L.C. representatives.)
"What would have happened if Alabama, invoking 'security concerns,' had banished the Selma march and rally to a fairgrounds miles away from downtown Montgomery?"
This is a question I'd like to see put to Rahm, whose mother was involved in the civil rights movement.
"The images of the conclusion of the march, including the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s renowned 'How Long?' address, provoked a national debate that helped ensure passage of the Voting Rights Act. This demonstrates the potential power of petitioning speech. The juxtaposition of petitioners confronting government and its officers - through the media - helps to facilitate a dialogue that engages the entire political community."
The media's role is key.
"In the post-9/11 era, security has too often been an empty pretext for placing dissent out of eyesight and earshot. The manual for advance teams used during George W. Bush's presidency designated protesters as a potential 'security threat' if they were within the sight or hearing of the president - or the journalists covering his event. The manual instructed that demonstrators were to be relocated to a designated protest area not visible to journalists. ('If it is determined that the media will not see or hear them and that they pose no potential disruption to the event, they can be ignored,' the manual stated.)"
Obama, who has waged a war against whistleblowers that is also a war against journalists, is no better.
("While the Bush administration treated whistleblowers unmercifully, the Obama administration has been far worse," Jesselyn Raddack writes in Salon in just the latest in a bulging catalog of work illuminating just what a disaster this president has been for civil liberties, dissent and press freedoms.)
"Surely whatever bona fide security risk exists when people stand near a presidential motorcade route or outside a place where the president will speak is not a function of what their message is. (To be clear, policies seeking to marginalize dissent do not have a partisan cast. Under the Obama administration, would-be protesters in Manhattan and Austin, Tex., have been prevented - on pain of arrest - from demonstrating near presidential events.)"
The Beachwood Tip Line: On pain of arrest.
Posted on April 10, 2012
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