Saturday, July 24, 2010

Students draft a lesson plan of their own

Youth Empowerment Project members go to D.C. to present ideas for keeping kids in school
July 23, 2010|By Elizabeth Flock, Special to the Tribune

Read it at the Chicago Tribune
Amara Brady's academic life changed when she transferred to Mother McAuley High School on the Southwest Side last year. She got better books, more passionate teachers and access to postsecondary education information she'd never had. 

"The schools aren't on a level playing field. And some systems are just set up for failure," said Brady, 16, who lives in the North Lawndale neighborhood, where many teens are faced with drugs, violence and a rising dropout rate.
Deciding she wanted to do something about it, Brady joined World Vision's Youth Empowerment Project (YEP), which gives young people a voice to become what they call "agents of change." World Vision is a Christian organization dedicated to fighting poverty.
Brady is one of 13 Chicago-area students who decided they wanted to do something about it. Each year, YEP students from across the country choose an issue that is most on their minds, then come up with a proposal on how to implement change and present it to their local leaders.
After five months of community mapping, interviews, surveys and debate, the Chicago-area students from both public and private schools had a clear choice for this year's issue: education. They wanted to find a way to keep kids in school.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Fear and Loathing in Arizona

Read it at Huffington Post

Posted: July 16, 2010 11:26 AM

The first of seven lawsuits against Arizona's controversial immigration law is being heard this week in federal court in Phoenix. The Justice Department will challenge the state for usurping federal authority to enforce immigration laws. Americans are divided on the issue, as is always the case with immigration. Some worry the legislation will lead to police harassment of people of color. Others are busy making private donations for a defense fund of the law.

On the other side of the world, another battle over immigration drags on.

In Mumbai, India, the Shiv Sena and MNS political parties continue to declare that Mumbai is a city only for Marathis (people from the state in which Mumbai is located). The parties enforce this notion with gangster tactics. In the past, party members have beaten up non-Marathis working in Mumbai, threatened Marathi celebrities who call themselves 'Indian' instead of 'Marathi', and attacked media offices. Just this week, the Shiv Sena told a radio station it must start playing more Marathi songs or 'face the music.'

There are fundamental differences between these two battles, of course. Arizona's law could be used to discriminate on the basis of a person's color. The Shiv Sena and MNS discriminate on the basis of a person's home state. Arizona's law attempts to control immigration from outside of the country, while the Shiv Sena and MNS want to control immigration from within. Arizona wants to do it legally, while the Shiv Sena and MNS resort to violence

What is common between the two cases, however, is fear.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Save Money, Live Better: The Case for Wal-Mart on the South Side of Chicago

Read it at Huffington Post

Posted: June 30, 2010 03:24 PM

Wal-Mart may be coming to Chicago, and soon.

Union opposition has kept Wal-Mart at bay for the last six years, but when the company agreed to pay entry-level workers 50 cents above the minimum wage, unions were suddenly all ears. Last week, the City Council zoning committee finally signed off on a Wal-Mart store on Chicago's South Side.

It helped that Wal-Mart has estimated it would add 12,000 jobs over the next five years in Chicago, where the unemployment rate is more than 10 percent. There are plenty of debates going on over whether Wal-Mart is really the answer to unemployment on the South Side. One persistent argument against the company is that Wal-Mart is bad news for the mom-and-pop stores, and that the many job gains for the city will be offset by the fall-out for the owners of small businesses.

I have a family friend down on the South Side named Brenda, who is unemployed and on disability benefits because of several medical maladies. Brenda lives in West Pullman, not far from where Wal-Mart proposes to set up shop.

Brenda was recently wearing a brand new white jumpsuit. When she was complimented on the suit, she proudly said that it was "designer" and that she had bought it for $268. The suit was clearly worth much less.