Walmart (success) meets Emanuel (failure) in the Food Deserts of Chicago’s west side.

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A few years ago, I used to volunteer with a high school daughter at Garfield Park Conservatory gardens. Driving to and from this west Chicago neighborhood every Saturday, we noticed one thing we never passed: a grocery store. We used to wonder where the families we befriended in the children’s garden shopped – did they eat every meal at Burger King? Later these neighborhoods were labeled *food deserts* – and this was one of the problems Rahm Emanuel pledged in his campaign for mayor to fix. Today the Chicago Tribune covered the failure of his “energetic idea campaign” to make even a dent in the deserts of the south and west sides of Chicago.

Along came Walmart with a Neighborhood Market in the West Loop (Monroe and Adams). The privately-owned, non-union chain took a look at the needs of the neighborhood and found a way to help. Smaller than the giant suburban stores, this Walmart Neighborhood Market offers mainly food – an array of fresh produce that rivals upscale competitors. Shoppers include not just the local apartment (Presidential Towers) dwellers, but also food stamp shoppers. What brings them in? How about a bus that makes five regular stops every 40 minutes from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. throughout the Loop and west Loop neighborhoods. You could call it solving a problem, one food desert at a time.




ObamaCare cuts come to Chicago’s North Shore – watch the health care system deteriorate before your eyes.

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Bad news from North Shore University Health System which reported today in Crain’s Chicago Business that it will cut 130 jobs, about one percent of its work force. The cuts “are part of a broader trend by even the largest hospital networks to trim staff and cut expenses ahead of revenue declines expected to be prompted by the Obama administration’s health care law.”

Let me be perfectly clear: Common Core is evolving and your kids are the guinea pigs.

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Wondering just what the Common Core standards for math and English/language arts are? Several commentators on earlier posts were perplexed about the details – and rightly so. Who wants to read pages and pages of EduBlab on the Jimmy Carter Memorial Department of Education website? Even then, like ObamaCare, Common Core is evolving, and we are just understanding it as it gets implemented. Should we be relieved that it’s only our kids and grandkids who are the guinea pigs? After all, most of us got a pretty good education.

Still wanting more? Well in the hardest nutshell in my cupboard, Common Core math standards are the institutionalization of Everyday Mathematics, a curriculum that was invented by Zalman Usiskin of Winnetka Way fame a few decades ago. Other iterations like Trailblazers have come along, but the basic agenda is about estimating not correct answers, but a range of answers that the student articulates in verbal form. If multiplication were a color, what color would that be?

Here are some problems with Everyday Math that I noticed back when I was on the Wilmette School Board:

  1. Without learning basic math facts cold, students will not learn long division; without long division, they won’t ever get inside the system of algebra.
  2. Any student who is not a verbal learner (think some Asian kids, left brainers, boys) are left behind when they have to verbalize math concepts.
  3. Some parents have daytime jobs and don’t want to do the follow-up team-homework required to back up the math ideas.
  4. Most elementary school teachers did not get a degree in education because they excelled in math; this curriculum requires very deep math skills from teachers.

The Common Core standards for English/language arts are easier for most to get: 70 percent government (non-fiction) pamphlets v. 30 percent literature. Use your imagination: literature pushes young minds to stretch and absorb history, language, vocabulary, inspirational and challenging ideas. Raise your hand if you think more than half our citizens (Obama voters?) have next to no connection with why the founders of our Constitutional republic wrote the Bill of Rights or the Declaration of Independence. This is not a good thing.

Good thing IL GOP fired Brady – Dems and ACLU needed his expertise.

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Joining the gang of Chicago/Illinois politics-as-usual hacks, ousted state GOP Chairman Pat Brady has announced that he will now lobby for the ACLU to achieve a full range of gay marriage initiatives. Here’s how Paul McKinley, Republican candidate for the 2nd congressional district, reacted to the news:

[I]t doesn’t surprise me that he joined a liberal-racist organization against black folks. He didn’t support black Republicans in the 2nd District election, because he was always pushing for a perverted liberal agenda with Senator Mark Kirk that, as conservatives, we do not support.” (via Breitbart.com)

Seems like just yesterday that conservatives were getting flack for criticizing Brady’s party leadership and attempting to replace him. Hopeless and changeless should be the Illinois Republican motto as the state moves into Detroit-hood.

Ignorance of the law is (still) no defense. #CommonCore digs deep.

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Shortly after he swore to uphold the Constitution, President Obama decreed the nationalization of education. Some 45 states acceded in order to obtain Federal funds under the first Stimulus, even though their governors and legislators had not *read* any education standards. Soon after, the Department of Education and its stake holders began a media campaign alleging 1) that the Common Core take-over of education had grown out of the states and 2) that the revealed standards for math and language arts are “tougher.” This propaganda has been repeated so often that politicians and local school boards and administrators and teachers unions took the easy road and bought into the scheme – after all, more money is more money.

Now that folks are starting to read the regulations, it is looking more and more like changing to the (clearly unconstitutional) one-size-fits-all system of education and testing will harm not only students, but teachers. Data mining, using nationalized testing to control learning, judging teachers by their adherence to the social justice agenda – well, it’s not what local school districts and parents thought they were buying. Today, even the Wall Street Journal‘s education reporters edged into the controversy:

. . . others worry that the sheer volume and far-reaching nature of the new policies is too much, too fast. Already, the changes have sparked pushback.

And Catholic educators need to watch their backs, along with secular private school educators. Common Core nationalized testing will soon be mandated for all American students; those who haven’t been taught to the test will not be able to apply for higher education – and pretty soon, when it becomes clear that homeschoolers are not absorbing the Federal messages, it will become illegal to teach your own children anything but the Common Core principles. And this will be the real Obama legacy.

@BillKeller struggles in the NYT to combat the growing grassroots war on Common Core.

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The standards encourage more use of informational texts and literary nonfiction to build background knowledge and vocabulary that will be useful in the real world. But the Common Core does not stint on literature. By the end of high school, nonfiction would account for 70 percent of the total reading material in all subjects. That still leaves a lot of room for the classics.

Hmmm . . . 30 percent of reading still leaves a lot of room for literature? Not in everyone’s book. Bill Keller, formerly of the New York Times editorial page, takes on conservatives critical of the Common Core educational standards (a.k.a. nationalization of education, as in ObamaCare and student loans), but his effort proves to be a struggle. Nearly every sentence actually makes the case that Common Core is not what it was sold to be, and not what we want for our children. The “standards” were not state-driven, but were written after states signed on to get Stimulus I funding. The content was written, not by educators who utilized international benchmarks, but by two non-profit organizations that may sound like the government but that actually are privately funded. The objective Keller cites, improvement of educational standards, is actually his own aim – and that of many of the politicians and academics who signed on early. Common Core states that its aim is to ready students for entrance to 2-year community colleges. Is this, for example,  a New Trier High School student’s aim? How can one-size-fits-all for the entire country not be dumbing down for at least some sector of students? What we get with Common Core is a new (education) monopoly – much more expensive with much lower outcomes. Sounds like . . . the U.S. Postal Service for one thing.

The Post-Constitution, Post-Republic regime and The Liberty Amendments

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Just finished Mark Levin’s Constitution 101 book on saving our country without a new revolution. If 20% of the people read it and find the courage to fight, America comes back.

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