What Does The Future Of Public Education Look Like?

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I don’t think anyone really knows, and that alone is pretty damned frightening.

I want to talk about something I normally don’t. National news, and I only choose to do this because it could so seariously affect the education of the children in Schiller Park.

It is also more important now then ever that we stand up, and speak out in defense of our School system, and public education in its entirety.

In a 51 to 50 vote Betsy DeVos (A main player behind the Michigan charter school systems that is being called by some “the biggest school reform disaster in this country” will now be the guiding force behind this country’s public education system. A wealthy campaign contributor from Michigan who has devoted much of her life to expanding educational choice through charter schools and vouchers, but has limited experience with the public school system. (Here, here, and here)

When she was nominated to the post in November, she was called “a brilliant and passionate education advocate” by President Trump, But her performance before the nomination committee had her in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. In the end two Republican senators said they could not back her, leaving the vote tied at 50-50, and it was Vice-President Mike Pence who cast the vote that confirmed Betsy Devos

Prior to her hearing, labor unions, rights groups and teaching organisations spoke out against her appointment. So why is she so unpopular?

Mrs DeVos, age 59, is a wealthy Republican Party donar and a former Michigan Republican Party chairwoman who has long campaigned for education reform in the state. Her husband Dick DeVos was a CEO of the beauty and nutrition giant Amway and her brother is Erik Prince, the founder of the controversial private security company Blackwater.

Most of the problems with Mrs DeVos focus on her support of charter schools, which are publicly funded and set up by teachers, parents, or community groups, outside the state school system. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said her work in Michigan involved “elevating for-profit schools with no consideration of the severe harm done to traditional public schools” despite “overwhelming evidence” that charter schools were no more successful than their traditional counterparts.
In the past she lead the fight to loosen oversight of charter schools in Michigan, and less oversight of charter schools could allow them to pursue a creationist, evangelical agenda. The New York Times reported that she had told a meeting of Christian philanthropists in 2001 that education reform was a way to “advance God’s kingdom”.

An editorial in the Detroit Free Press in December highlighted concerns in Michigan over her appointment. “DeVos isn’t an educator, or an education leader,” it read. “She’s not an expert in pedagogy or curriculum or school governance. In fact, she has no relevant credentials or experience for a job setting standards and guiding dollars for the nation’s public schools. “She is, in essence, a lobbyist – someone who has used her extraordinary wealth to influence the conversation about education reform, and to bend that conversation to her ideological convictions despite the dearth of evidence supporting them.”. One of the two Republican senators who said they could not support Mrs DeVos, Susan Collins of Maine, said she was “concerned that Mrs DeVos’ lack of experience with public schools will make it difficult for her to fully understand, identify and assist” challenges facing rural schools in particular.

The concerns over her qualifications were furthered last month after her confirmation hearing. In perhaps the most uncomfortable moment, she struggled to show she was familiar with the Individuals With Disabilities in Education Act (Idea), a federal law that requires public schools to make accommodations for disabled students. The American Association of People with Disabilities said it was “very concerned” that she seemed “unfamiliar with the Idea and the protections it provides to students with disabilities”. It was not the most striking moment of the session though – that was when Mrs DeVos, discussing whether to allow firearms in schools, noted that a Wyoming school might need a gun to defend against grizzly bears.

What does this mean for the Schiller Park public school system? In all reality I don’t even think the educators here, or in this country know how this will affect the process of educating the nations youth. One thing I do know, you will have a hard time finding anyone that works in public education who is excited about this appointment.

 

 

 

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Truth Vs Lies

Born to believe 
Many writers and historians believe that human beings are conditioned to believe, rather than disbelieve. Their for giving power to the liar, and their versions of the “facts”

Let’s do an experiment:

…you hear a noise in the grass. Is it a predator, or is it the wind? Your next choice could be the most important of your life. If you think that the noise in the grass is a predator and it turns out it’s the wind, you have made an error in cognition, a false positive. But no harm done. You just move away, you are more cautious, more vigilant.

On the other hand, if you believe that the noise in the grass is just the wind, and it turns out to be a predator, you’re done. Life is over.

A false positive in this case makes you more cautious, but it really costs nothing to believe that there maybe danger behind the noise.

In contrast to the false positive not believing in the danger, amd actually having it exist was deadly, and so we choose to believe. But more than just believing in that possible danger we tend to create patterns. That I turn helps us structure our lives. It creates meaning to what could easily be random. It is from there that we develop things like superstition and conspiracy theories. They make sense of what is random.

Patterns
If this were all humans had to rely on for cognition — our limited brains making sense of that what we can’t understand — we would be in big trouble. Thankfully, however, we have verifiable facts. They ensure that what is random not just makes sense, but is also true.

And that’s where we get into some even more fascinating research about why people believe outright lies — easy to disprove lies like the kinds Donald Trump tells for example.

According to some, people tend to believe lies when they feel vulnerable. The less control people have over their lives, the more likely they are to try and regain control through mental gymnastics. Feelings of control are so important to people that a lack of control is inherently threatening. While some misperceptions can be bad or lead one astray, they’re extremely common and most likely satisfy a deep and enduring psychological need.

In normal life people find false patterns in data all the time. When they do, it’s usually because they feel a given situation is out of their control. A local example would be the Kennedy School Adition, people didn’t understand the numbers, felt out of control, and believed the lies spread to help ease their fear. It was easier to be angry and believe the false information that the School District was deceiving the community then it was to learn the difficult details and facts.

Fact or fiction
Of course, the more false the pattern, the more vulnerable you have to be to believe it. And of course, the more gymnastics your brain has to do to find the truth. The difficulty of the gymnastics mixed with fear or anger make the lies and falsehoods simply easier. That’s why certain individuals have very little other then tax complaints and fear of who I am to complain about.

Donald Trump, a man who is known for spreading falsehoods. He captured the imaginations of many people who felt vulnerable because of the past, present and future. He resonated in places of high unemployment, where manufacturing jobs have been on the decline for decades. These are places where a rational structure is needed to explain why things got so bad and why they don’t seem to be getting better.

But again this is not “rationality” as we think about it terms of reality. If it were, individuals would seek the truth no matter what their state of distress, because it is only when a problem is truly understood that the truth can be found.

Here is a relevant example. Donald Trump has dumped on China over and over again since he entered the national spotlight. He’s said that we are losing jobs to Chinese manufacturing and that the Trans Pacific Partnership was designed for China to come in, as they always do, through the back door and totally take advantage of everyone.

In the world of facts, however, we know that thousands and thousands of manufacturing jobs have been lost to automation, not off-shoring to China. We also know that China is not involved with the TPP in any way. In fact, the country has been upset about TPP since talks for the agreement started.

The human desire to feel in control supersedes all of those facts because they are hard to find or understand, and in turn, pushes us to believe what may be irrational, but is simple, understandable, and gives us a sense of control.

Think about it: Say you believe all the lies  Donald Trump has told about trade, China and the global economy. It’s a comforting notion, ultimately, because it means he also has the solutions. Voting for him, then, is a way to take control of that untruth.

Unfortunately, since it’s a lie, the problem will remain. Lies never solve anything, and the spreading of them by those in this community simply acting on revenge or some unknown agenda just make things worse. Things won’t change until we embrace the truth, and put in the effort to identify who is telling it, and who is not.

Stop Signs and Traffic in a School Zones

As I have said in the past I tend to stay away from village level issues, unless it pertains to the School, or in this case the safety of the students in Schiller Park. At times village level issues tend to have an affect on the School, and I have always found it disturbing that people in positions of leadership would play these types of games with the education and safety of your children.

This brings us back to the flashing stop signs, and the traffic concerns in Schiller Park around our schools that seems to be getting worse yet still not being addressed.

I discussed the flashing stop signs in a post a short time ago, and the program that put them in place (Flashing Stop Signs). The short of it is that the flashing stop signs were installed as a federally funded program to add safety to the walking routes around our schools. Mayor Piltaver, and her staff worked to get this program put in place in Schiller Park for a reason that we hoped was the safety of children, with no political motivation. One of the signs was removed and replaced with a standard non-flashing version, and coincidentally that took place shortly after a petition was circulated to have them removed. A petition that oddly only gathered 25 signatures before action was taken.

Why was the stop sign removed? The original reason for the removal was that a sign at another location was not working, and the village pulled the sign from the corner of Scott and Eden to use as a replacement, and that the one at Scott and Eden would be replaced when a new one arrived. As of the Schiller Park School District 81 School Board meeting on January 18th 2017 it was reported that the lighted sign at Forster and Linn had still not been replaced with the sign removed from Scott, and Eden. As of yesterday January 26th 2017 the lighted sign at Forster and Linn was still not working, and the sign at Scott and Eden was still a standard non-flashing sign. What makes the Sign at Forster and Linn so important that a village president would feel the need to remove one sign to replace another that is not working. Then replace the removed sign with the replacement when it arrives? Why not simply leave the non-operating sign in place waiting for replacement? Or as an alternative theory maybe the sign at Scott and Eden was removed to please a complaining voter, and the story about using that as a replacement to a broken sign was simply back pedaling on a bad choice? (EDIT- I was told recently, but have not verified Yet that the village had a meeting to discuss issues with the School Signs, and traffic, and at another meeting the Mayor asked the Director of Public works to explain and back up her position to have the sign switched that he himself may not have ordered, in essence put the Director of Public works on the spot for something he did not order done. He has since resigned). If that were the case the choice to please a complaining resident took priority over a program the Mayor herself advocated for as an increase in child safety. Who is leading who in Schiller Park? The mayor or the voters?

Who is leading who in Schiller Park? The Mayor or the Voters? It’s my belief that neither are calling the shots, and let me explain why? We have an arguably thorny complainer in the Mayors ear about a stop sign that is located in front of his house, and is a blight on his life and to the community. He presents a single 25 person petition to the mayor and suddenly the sign is gone (Interesting to know that the person who circulated the stop sign petition also had a petition to stop the installation of speed signs, and he had a petition for the Mayor to run for re-election, campaign favor?). It has been reported that the remaining speed signs have been returned and will not be installed.

You also have a significant portion of the community complaining about speeding around the Schools, and busses for months if not years, and still no solution has been attempted. Yes flashing stop signs were installed, but the reports of severe speeding around all three schools continue with almost no enforcement at all. Other parents post to Social Media with complaint after complaint of difficulties with the new traffic arrangements at Kennedy School yet the village blames traffic control on the School, its procedures, and its staff. The standard passing of unloading School busses, and what has been described to me as “The Soreng Drag strip” by Lincoln Middle School have been problems for years. I have witnessed first hand the staff of all three of these schools often putting themselves at risk to try and deal with this issue, an issue that is 100% a village level issue, and not School District staff. How many children have been hit in Schiller Park? How many more have to get hit before the village president will stop pandering to campaign supporters, and listen to the voters? Because that seems to be who is actually in charge of Schiller Park, the Campaign supporters not the voters or the Mayor.

That is in fact what it looks like to me and many others. It gives the appearance that the Mayor of Schiller Park only cares what is best for the people who support her campaign. If you circulate one of her petitions you have her ear type of situation. These are very serious issues regarding the lives and safety of children at a minimum, but truly affect every person that lives in or passes through Schiller Park.

Stop governing based off of your supporters needs and start governing towards what the community needs.

Why is Anonymity So Important

Why is anonymity so important?

Has David C Stachura taken it on himself in declaring the US Supreme Court wrong, and the First Amendment invalid? Of course he wouldn’t/couldn’t use those exact words. That is however the image he portrays with his devotion to my spine or lack there of simply based on my perceived anonymity. He has declared my message to be false simply because he and many others do not know me. Simply not knowing the author of a history book does not make it less true. Not knowing who wrote the dictionary doesn’t make its definitions false, or inaccurate.

People through anonymity can express themselves without fear of reprisal. In Schiller Park specifically there has always been a trend among the “Wrong Doers” (Description used based off of my point of view) to attack and harass those who speak up against them, they would metaphorically beat them into silence by attacking and harassing them, and their families. We saw it on a regular basis with the old, School Board leadership of David Stachura and Patricia Godziszewski. It has always been my opinion that in most cases they perpetrated those harassment campaigns through, and with the help of Roy F McCampbell. I do however feel that their once close group has been disrupted by parts of their group not being able to perform their assigned task, but it was the situation none the less. The smear campaign against the School District, its staff, and supporters became harassment on an epic scale. That is in fact why this blog was created in the first place. We wanted to give a voice to the majority of the community that could be safe from the onslaught of harassment intended to silence that voice. We wanted to have a voice that disarmed them of their only form of attack. You can not harass into silence that witch you can not identify.

The former group of troublemakers has for the most part devolved into one final voice spewing nothing but anger and hate. There is very little coherence left in what once was a consistent and unified all be it very negative voice, but that sole survivor seems hell bent on discrediting me simply based off of my perceived anonymity. In all actuality he does not even known for sure if his thoughts are true. I can only imagine the frustration caused by having someone tirelessly call you out on your lies, and not be able to specifically target their name with a smear campaign as has been their past practices, but none the less he continues with his school yard name calling.

Anonymity is the tool I chose to embrace to defend and protect my children and grand children. To protect my name I lessened my message, and by keeping the details of my identity secret I made more work for myself. This had a positive effect of forcing me to be more diligent in offering as much proof of my claims and opinions as possible. I feel for the most part I have succeeded. Of course I have my detractors, the people that obviously despise my very existence. They need no introduction but they hate none the less, and attempt to discredit my information as lies simply by declaring my secrets to be the key proof of my dishonesty. This is of course not true, and simply just another vain attempt at strengthening their position among the very harshly divided political portion of this community. For every hater there is at least one supporter, and if my hate mail to support mail ratio is an indicator, these is by far more for my information then against.

Anonymity has been a heated topic for far longer then any of us have been involved. It’s clear to me that anonymity is both good and bad. Anonymity has its place, and has always had a place in society. But the Internet is something new. Does anonymity have a right to exist as such on this new medium even if the risk is great? Twenty years ago, there was no Internet and we were doing fine with the issue of pre-Internet anonymity, so would technologically ending internet anonymity once and for all be a disaster? What changed that makes anonymity on the internet so important? And what would things be like if the internet had evolved to this day with anonymity being an impossibility? Ask yourself if we would be demanding anonymity on the Internet if we never had it in the first place.

Curiously, and in most cases with some exceptions like those I face with the aforementioned individual, those for and against anonymity seem to often have the same motivation—protecting democracy and freedom. The pro folks say that taking political debate to the highest level of discussion is not possible without some anonymity. Whistle blowers are a good example of why anonymity is necessary. Once they are discovered, they are fired and ruined. The anonymity folks will cite examples from law enforcement showing how attacking organized crime in particular and crime in general would be impossible without the use of anonymous sources. As I said before, I have chosen anonymity for my families freedom from persecution. Those honest individuals against anonymity would argue that in crime-fighting, anonymous sources are not reliable and can be abused, leading to the ruin of innocent people. Furthermore, anonymity is often used to illegally move secret information. People and corporations are often libeled by those who spread false information. In fact, a Schiller Park resident attempted to challenge my anonymity in court not to long ago, and did not succeed. This if nothing else was one of this blogs greatest success stories as it added validation to my message, and goals. It does not in any way prove what I have said as truth, that still remains in the hands of my readers, but it protected my freedom of speech by declaring I was not acting out of malice.
The United States Supreme Court has declared that protections for anonymous speech are vital to democratic discourse. Allowing dissenters to shield their identities frees them to express critical, minority views . . . Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority. . . . It thus exemplifies the purpose behind the Bill of Rights, and of the First Amendment in particular: to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation . . . at the hand of an intolerant society.

I have included at the end of this post a small gallery of examples to my point. The individual mentioned above still resorts to personal attacks, of me and my family despite not even knowing who we are.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flashing Stop Sign

What happened to the flashing stop sign at Kennedy School in Schiller Park?

All I know is that it is gone. Poof, just as fast as they went up one of the new flashing stop signs near the villages schools just disappeared.

The “Safe Routes to School” initiative is a federally funded program designed to improve the safety of the children that walk to and from our schools. With the Village of Schiller Park receiving money to implement that very initiative. A collaborative effort between School District 81 and the village included purchasing solar illuminated stop signs and vehicle speed feedback signs designed to increase pedestrian safety around all of the village’s schools. Part of the initiative was completed a few months back and the stop signs have been helping remind motor vehicle operators in Schiller park that stopping at stop signs is not only the law, it involves the safety of children.

This “Safe Routes to School” initiative didn’t sit well with everyone, and despite the efforts by many to reduce the signs hours of operation one resident took it on himself to spearhead a campaign to stop the federally funded efforts to help keep the Children of Schiller Park safe. He circulated a petition to have the sign removed, attended village hall, and School Board meetings (Correction: He never attended School Board meetings on this subject). He indicated to some that the flashing of these stop signs disrupted his quality of life, and were a disruption to the community. On Wednesday January 11th I noticed that the flashing stop sign at the corner of Scott and Eden streets in Schiller Park was gone, and had been replaced by a standard none illuminated version. I am not sure exactly when it was replaced as I do not travel that route daily.

History of Safe Routes to School

The SRTS concept began in the late 1970s in Denmark over concern for the city’s pedestrian accident rate. The city implemented a number of improvements including a network of pedestrian and bicycle paths, slow speed areas, narrowed roads and traffic islands. The result was an 85 percent reduction in traffic injuries to children.

The first SRTS program in the United States began in 1997 in the Bronx borough of New York City. In August 2005, federal transportation legislation devoted $612 million for the federal SRTS Program from 2005 through 2009. In 2012, SRTS activities were eligible to compete for funding through the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) transportation bill.

Benefits of Safe Routes to School

SRTS programs can help reverse the downward trend in physical activity levels among children. Walking and bicycling to and from school can contribute towards the development of a lifelong habit of incorporating physical activity into daily routines. Children who walk to school are more physically active overall than those who travel to school by car. Among the benefits of successful SRTS programs are:

Reducing the number of children hit by cars.
-Reducing congestion around schools. Parents driving their children to school account -for 20 percent to 25 percent of morning rush hour traffic. (Source: NHTSA 2003; Dept. of Environment).
-Improving children’s health though physical activity.
-Reducing air pollution.
-Saving money for schools, through a reduction of the need for bussing children who live close to school.
-Improving community security by increasing eyes on the street.
-Increasing children’s sense of freedom.
-Teaching pedestrian and bicycle skills.

What does all this mean in Schiller Park?

First and foremost it means that at one point the safety of our walking School Children was important, but in reality not so important that the complaints of one seemingly never happy resident took priority over the previously mentioned safety of our school aged walking children.

One could also argue that the intersection of Scott and Eden has the highest volume of student foot traffic, more then any other intersection in the village. With over 800 students at nine years old or less attending Kennedy School it’s sad that the leadership of the village of Schiller Park (specifically the mayor) would put the unhappiness of one individual, and his very small petition above the safety of more then 800 students and remove a safety devise at arguably the most crowded school intersection in the village. It sends a very unfortunate message to the remainder of the population of Schiller Park.

In Schiller Park the squeaky wheel apparently gets all the oil. Even if it reduces the safety of children walking to and from Kennedy School.

 

Portions of this post taken from the following web sites:

http://www.idot.illinois.gov

http://www.saferoutesinfo.org

Justice For Bellwood?

Justice for Bellwood, or the taxpayers of Illinois?

A 2010 Tribune investigation revealed that McCampbell had been paid $472,255 in 2009 for holding 10 job titles. Roy McCampbell said in a Tribune investigative story that he earned every penny of his $472,000 salary. When McCampbell retired early the next year, the pay spike inflated his annual pension to about a quarter of a million dollars. At the time the highest of any retiree in the statewide pension system that serves municipal workers outside Chicago.

Then In December of 2011 officials with Bellwood sued the former comptroller Roy McCampbell, they alleged he destroyed the village’s financial credit, and left the suburb with more then a million in debt. The lawsuit accused McCampbell of fraud and legal malpractice and that he breached his fiduciary responsibility to the village.

According to the suit, McCampbell drew up increasingly lucrative contracts for himself, and signed tax-increment finance deals that have left the village in financial distress. McCampbell was under increased scrutiny following the Tribune investigation that showed he was paid the $472,255, and In August of 2012 the Cook County states attorney’s office indicted McCampbell with five felony counts of theft. (https://archive.org/stream/412815-details-of-indictment-of-former-bellwood/412815-details-of-indictment-of-former-bellwood_djvu.txt)

Fast forward now to November 30th 2016 and we finally have a result of the endless process that is our legal system, and those who know how to work it.

Roy F McCampbell, pleaded guilty on November 30th 2016 to misdemeanor theft before Cook County Judge Timothy James Joyce. He was given two years probation and was ordered to pay $100,000 in restitution. 

Thats it, no jail time what so ever.  I guess I should not dismiss the results as simply nothing. He is now a convicted thief, and the McCampbellites can no longer argue that he is innocent until proven guilty. They spent years defending a thief, and that will never change. He is a thief who is in my opinion also an expert at manipulating “the system” to his benefit alone. When I say “the system” I mean every system that he has comes in contact with.

Is this justice for Bellwood or any of the other communities he has targeted? Is this justice for the tax payers of Illinois? I will have to let you be the judge of that, and answer the question yourselves.

More to come

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