Illinois
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ChicagoSchoolProtest

More than 100 people arrested while taking part in mass civil disobedience against Rahm Emmanuel's cuts and closures

More than 100 demonstrators taking part in mass civil disobedience were arrested in Chicago on Wednesday as several thousand people marched against the largest proposed round of school closings in recent memory.

Many carried placards proclaiming "Strong Schools, Strong Neighbourhoods" and "Protect Our Children" while chanting "Whose Schools, Our Schools" and calling for mayor Rahm Emmanuel's resignation.

"We're signalling that there is going to be a large and determined movement that will use the tactics of civil disobedience and direct action in order to keep these schools open," said Chicago Teachers Union vice-president Jesse Sharkey, who was arrested outside City Hall, one of 131 detained by police. "We see this event as kicking off an extended campaign this spring and we think it was a great success."

The city last week announced plans to close 54 schools affecting more than 30,000 students, primarily in low-income black and Latino areas. The proposals – which had already sparked huge, rowdy protests at hearings throughout the city prior to the announcement – mark Emmanuel's second major confrontation over education in less than six months following the teachers' strike in late August.

"People have a right to the neighbourhoods in which they live," said CTU leader Karen Lewis at the rally. "Children have the right to a safe, nurturing, loving environment."

Chicago Public Schools claims the closings are necessary to plug a $1bn deficit in the third-largest school district in the city and that consolidating under-utilised and under-performing schools will save $560m over 10 years by reducing investment in shuttered buildings. The district insists the savings will go to improving classroom resources including air conditioning, libraries and iPads for all students in grades 3-8.

Roughly 100 schools in Chicago – the third-largest school district in the country and with 87% of students from low-income families – have already been closed since 2001. Eighty eight per cent of the students affected in those closings were black, even though black students comprise just over 40% of the city's student body as a whole.

Community groups, unions and many parents argue that the closings will devastate already struggling areas, raise student-teacher ratios, put children in danger by forcing them to cross gang lines to go to new schools and are based on flawed calculations and savings.

"For too long children in certain parts of Chicago have been cheated out of the resources they need to succeed because they are in underutilised, under-resourced schools," said Barbara Byrd-Bennett, the CPS chief executive, explaining the announcement. "The district must consolidate ... to get students into higher-performing schools."

Opponents point out that there is little evidence that school closings achieve that aim and claim the closings mark an acceleration of the city's bid to "privatise" education by forcing students into charter schools.

"In the same time these school closings have been taking place over the past decade, the city has opened about 100 charter schools in the very neighbourhoods where they're now closing schools through under-utilisation," said Sharkey. "Meanwhile supports of charter schools have been very open ideologically about making school competition part of the larger picture.

"We have not yet won the argument with the people of Chicago that this is a critical moment to be active. But this was a good start. Four or five thousand people and lots of different schools represented today. The argument can and will be won."

A study by the University of Chicago's Consortium on Chicago School Research revealed that from the 38 schools closed between 2001 and 2006 only 6% of students who were moved went to high-performing schools.

"Our research found that school districts tended to save under $1m per school [closed]," Emily Dowdall, a senior associate at the Pew Charitable Trusts told the New York Times. "So in some ways that's not a game-changing amount."

Sharkey further argues that the city rarely follows through on its promises on savings. "In the past there's been investment for the first one or two years. But the money dries up once the attention is gone."

Emmanuel, who was absent on a skiing vacation on the day the closings were announced, which many here interpret as a bid to disassociate himself from the move, has since joined the fray. "If we don't make these changes we haven't lived up to our responsibility as adults to the children of the city of Chicago," he said. "And I did not run for office to shirk my responsibility."

The CTU emerged with considerable public support after it blunted Emmanuel's attempts to tie teachers' pay to test scores last year. It has pledged to continue the campaign of non-violent disobedience. "People who work in the schools and rely on public schools will oppose the mass closings by any and all peaceful means," Sharkey has told union members. "[School closings] are not something we are prepared to accept without a fight ... We're going to take this fight as far as we have to, to defend our community schools."

© 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited
 
Link to original article from The Guardian/UK
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The New Machine: Charter Schools

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Senate Democrats look to revive dormant Equal Rights Amendment

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Senate Democrats plan to make an end-of-session push this week to “rectify an historical wrong” -- and perhaps give women a strong reason to go to the polls this fall -- by putting Illinois on record in support of an Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The bid to revive the Equal Rights Amendment, which was the subject of an epic Statehouse battle in the early 1980s that helped kill the feminist push to amend the U.S. Constitution, comes from state Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago and could be a vehicle for...

Dave McKinney | Chicago Sun-Times 19 May 2014 Hits:331 Illinois

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Illinois legislator wants state to revisit Equal Rights Amendment

Illinois legislator wants state to revisit Equal Rights Amendment

More than 40 years after the Equal Rights Amendment was first passed by the U.S. Congress, an Illinois state senator is taking another crack at getting her colleagues in Springfield to adopt the provision that would enshrine in the U.S. Constitution the idea that rights can't be abridged on account of sex. Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, said the proposed amendment is still relevant today given the ongoing debates about equal pay, abortion rights and other issues on which women are fighting for equality. And she said it's symbolically important to "get Illinois...

John Byrne | Chicago Tribune 19 May 2014 Hits:287 Illinois

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Illinois becomes 16th state to legalize marriage equality

Illinois becomes 16th state to legalize marriage equality

It’s official: Illinois on Wednesday joined 15 other states and the District of Columbia in legalizing same-sex marriage. Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, accompanied by state Rep. Greg Harris, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and several other dignitaries, signed into law a measure allowing gay couples to begin marrying on June 1. “It’s a triumph of democracy, a triumph of government by the people,” said the governor, shortly before signing. “We want to have a new birth of freedom across America, and love is not relegated to second-class citizen status.” The historic nature of...

Emma Margolin | MSNBC.com 21 Nov 2013 Hits:396 Illinois

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Progressive Democrats of America and AFSCME Retirees Hosted …

Progressive Democrats of America and AFSCME Retirees Hosted                                                        Rally to Stop Cuts   to Social Security

On Monday, November 18 at noon almost 100 voters rallied in Springfield to ask Senator Richard Durbin to keep cuts to Social Security off the table. Senator Durbin has proposed possible changes such as lifting the Social Security eligibility age and implementing “Chained CPI” for individuals that earn more than $24,000. After an informational picket along Edwards Street the group followed lead organizer JoAnn Conrad retired AFSCME, IEA-NEA, chair of the Progressive Democrats of Greater Springfield, led the rally across Edwards to the senator’s office. The message was “Scrap the...

JoAnn Conrad 18 Nov 2013 Hits:453 Illinois

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Food stamp cuts to hit 2 million Illinois residents today

Those who rely on food stamps will have to make do with a little less beginning today as a boost in funding from the federal stimulus package is set to expire. The change will affect more than 2 million low-income residents in Illinois who are enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, according to the Illinois Department of Human Services. Nationally, about 47 million people are expected to feel the pinch. The move marks the end of an extra $45.2 billion the federal government funneled into the food stamp program beginning in...

Monique Garcia | The Chicago Tribune 03 Nov 2013 Hits:379 Illinois

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Illinois' Teachable Moment: The True Cost of Coal, Slavery and Historical Markers

Illinois' Teachable Moment: The True Cost of Coal, Slavery and Historical Markers

As another coal train derailed in southern Illinois last weekend, the Illinois State Historical Society teamed up with the Illinois Coal Association on Saturday for their own collision with history during the installation of a historical marker for the state's "First Coal Mine." The real train wreck: Among numerous errors, the Illinois State Historical Society marker fails to mention that other coal mines abounded in southern Illinois, thanks to enslaved African American labor -- including the so-called "first coal mine" -- while the Illinois Coal Association took the occasion...

Jeff Biggers | The Huffington Post 28 Oct 2013 Hits:430 Illinois

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How to irritate Mayor Emanuel and do some legislating in one easy step

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The pinnacle of last week's Take Back Chicago rally at UIC came near the end, when the 11 aldermen onstage were asked point-blank whether they support pending proposals to slow privatization and tax increment financing deals. Yes or no? As more than 2,000 of the city's most dedicated activists looked on, the aldermen all said yes—even though a couple of them are among the most consistent council supporters of Mayor Rahm Emanuel. They then sat there smirking, as if to say, you can't trap me, because I'm too slick. Things got so absurd...

Ben Joravsky | Chicago Reader 23 Oct 2013 Hits:399 Illinois

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Pro-Coal Kids' Pages Pulled from Government Site as Public Pressure Increases

Pro-Coal Kids' Pages Pulled from Government Site as Public Pressure Increases

Two sections that essentially told kids that coal was safe and good for the environment disappeared today from the website of a state agency in Illinois.  The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity has removed coal-related educational sections from its website, less than two weeks after the launch of a grassroots campaign demanding that the pages be taken down. The website sections were supposed to educate children about energy, but had been widely denounced because they focused on misleading pro-coal messages. It wasn't just environmentalists who objected to the way Illinois was...

Jeff Biggers | Yes Magazine 14 Oct 2013 Hits:501 Illinois

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What Would Aldo Leopold Do? Key Illinois Groups Send Fracking Rule Standards to State Offi…

What Would Aldo Leopold Do? Key Illinois Groups Send Fracking Rule Standards to State Officials

As absentee oil and gas companies register with the state of Illinois this month, downstate citizens groups are taking the lead among statewide environmental groups and laying out scientific and legal standards for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and Joint Committee on Administrative Rules to consider prior to drafting the controversial horizontal hydraulic fracking rules. In a letter sent this week to the key legislative committee and state IDNR agency officials, the groups representing rural communities targeted for fracking operations cite "several new scientific studies and academic research papers that...

Jeff Biggers | Huffington Post 08 Oct 2013 Hits:646 Illinois

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In the Spotlight: A few health care questions for Congressman Schock

In the Spotlight: A few health care questions for Congressman Schock

Dear Rep. Schock, I am a constituent, writing in my role as coordinator of the Greater Peoria Chapter of Progressive Democrats of America (PDA). I and other PDA members were at your town hall meeting in Heyworth, where some of your constituents encouraged you to vote to shut down the government unless the Affordable Care Act is defunded. In reply, you made the sensible point that ACA can't be defunded through the budget process, and that shutting down the government would bring extremely negative political consequences for Republicans. You also stated that...

Larry Jones | Journal Star 29 Sep 2013 Hits:588 Illinois

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Extraction Frontlines Organizing: Interview With Illinois South Founder Dave Ostendorf on …

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For many residents in southern Illinois dealing with the fallout of a sanctioned coal and fracking rush, the time has come to revamp the historic Illinois South organization and its role in providing impacted residents with a voice in state and federal regulatory matters. Call it deja vu all over again. And perhaps no one understands this better than Rev. Dave Ostendorf, the co-founder of the Illinois South citizens group in 1974, and a long-time community organizer for civil rights in Chicago and across the heartland and nation. "Building critical mass around the...

Jeff Biggers | Huffington Post 06 Sep 2013 Hits:549 Illinois

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When Will Illinois Stop Pushing Discredited Coal Education Program on Children, Schools?

When Will Illinois Stop Pushing Discredited Coal Education Program on Children, Schools?

Two years after a national campaign exposed a coal industry-bankrolled curriculum foisted on unwitting teachers and children, the state of Illinois is still dragging its feet to revamp its own widely denounced, misleading and climate change-denying "Coal Education Program" for schools. Here's the punchline, kids: On the heels of a recent study that the coal industry annually drains nearly $20 million from the Illinois state budget, the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity's Office of Coal Development now says it's too broke to promptly respond to a long-awaited evaluation of the...

Jeff Biggers | Huffington Post 29 Aug 2013 Hits:575 Illinois

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Boomtown wrecks

Boomtown wrecks

On the cusp of a hydraulic fracking rush, southern Illinois should recall its boom-bust history CARMI, Ill. — When an oil rush swamped her town of Carmi in the early 1940s, my great-grandmother leased her small farm acreage for drilling, but the wells came up dry. So she installed a new bathroom and cashed in like the rest of her neighbors, boarding the roustabouts. At 150 million barrels per year, Illinois pumped out more petrol in those days than Iraq and Iran combined. (photo: A pump jack works on Wednesday, April 4, 2012, in...

Jeff Biggers | Aljazeera America 16 Aug 2013 Hits:535 Illinois

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Coal Rogue State of Emergency Tonight: Illinois Farm Town Fights Second High Hazard Coal S…

Coal Rogue State of Emergency Tonight: Illinois Farm Town Fights Second High Hazard Coal Slurry Dam

When farmers, families and besieged Hillsboro residents gather this evening for a public hearing on a controversial permit proposal by a coal company to build a second 77-foot-high high hazard toxic coal slurry impoundment within city limits, the stakes will go beyond the threatened health of this iconic central Illinois farm town.   (photo: Jeff Biggers article: Coal Slurry Scandal: Gov. Quinn, the High Hazard Dam in Hillsboro Is a National Disgrace. Construction on High Hazard Coal Slurry Impoundment at Deer Run Mine, Hillsboro, IL, 8/12/2011, prior to receiving proper permit, photo courtesy...

Jeff Biggers | Huffington Post 14 Aug 2013 Hits:673 Illinois

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IL Legislators with ALEC Ties

House of Representatives

Senate

Former Legislators

  • Rep. James H Meyer [21]
  • Rep. Ed Petka [21]
  • Sen. Dave Barkhausen [21]
  • Sen. Karen Hasara [21]
  • Rep. Steven J. Rauschenberger [21]

Legislators Who Have Cut Ties To ALEC

  • Rep. Mary E. Flowers (D-31) - Flowers' staffer reported in May 2012 that Flowers is no longer a member of ALEC.[2]
  • Rep. Brandon Phelps (D-118) - Phelps announced in May 2012 that he is no longer a member of ALEC.[3]

 

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