Thursday, October 8, 2009

The view from the top

"It's not a conversation where we want to do all of the talking," said Holder, flanked by a cadre of local officials. "We want to listen to educators, to parents, to students and to experts in the field and find out the best ideas for addressing this urgent problem." (Tribune)

Arne Duncan returned to Chicago along with Attorney General Eric Holder, to solve the youth violence problem and apparently to do some political butt-covering for himself and Mayor Daley, writes the Tribune's John Kass.

Duncan came bearing a check for $500,000 for troubled Fenger High leaving many wondering why it took the beating death of a 16-year-old student to get badly needed dollars into Fenger to pay for counselors and proper staffing at the school? And what about Chicago's other high schools?

Duncan and Holder stayed as far away from the angry Roseland community as possible, holding up instead inside the exclusive Four Seasons Hotel, while angry parents and community activists remained outside. They carried signs reading: "You can't solve it, your system caused it."
Evangell Yhwhnewbn, a community activist also known as "Mama D," questioned how effective the meeting could be if community members were not allowed to participate. "It's the same people doing the same thing and they expect a different result. It's not going to happen," she said. (Fox)
Duncan claimed they did not meet at the school to avoid a "circus."
“There was no circus,” said Phillip Jackson, executive director of the Black Star Project, who is championing his own anti-violence plan spearheaded by faith- and community-based organizations. “It was relatively calm. The question remains: Where were they? We have a plan for President Obama, and we wanted to share it with his officials. It has been ignored by President Obama.”
It sounds like Catalyst reporter Sarah Karp really pissed Duncan off when she dared question the role his school closing policies may have played in contributing to the violence around Fenger.
Duncan bristled when I asked him whether the district’s turnaround strategy had anything to do with increasing violence at Fenger, calling the notion “absolutely ridiculous.”

Postscript: The Tribune's Kass did some of his mayoral butt-covering as well. Kass writes:
Daley is the mayor. Daley is not the father. He didn't raise the kids who commit the crimes. He didn't fail to instill respect for life in those who swing the clubs or pull the triggers. You can't blame him for the bad and indifferent parenting of others.
How soon Kass forgets. This story is from the April 11, 1992 issue of Sun-Times is about Daley's son Patrick who, along with Daley's nephew, took part in a bat-wielding brawl of their own, which witnesses claimed, was a racist attack on an Asian kid around the Mayor's Grand Beach retreat. As expected, young Patrick received only a slap on the wrist. Club-swinging boys will be boys, you know.

ST. JOSEPH, Mich. Mayor Daley's 16-year-old son was sentenced to six months' probation and 50 hours of community service and was ordered to write letters of apology for his role in a brawl at the Daley summer home last month. Patrick Daley also was ordered to refrain from drinking or attending parties where alcohol is served illegally and to pay $150 in court cost and a portion of the $1,800 spent investigating the fracas. Appearing before Judge Stuart Meek Jr. in Probate Court, Michigan's version of juvenile court, Patrick Daley pleaded guilty to charges of furnishing alcohol to minors and disturbing the peace at the summer home in Grand Beach, Mich.

Here's chapter 2 of the Daley family brawlers.

Also see Catherine Gewertz at Edweek ("Is youth violence in Chicago worse because of school closures?")


  1. You can bet Daley's kids never spent a day in the detention center.

  2. To Sarah Karp at Catalyst: When they "bristle," you know you're asking the right questions.

  3. If I were a parent or member of the community around Fenger, I would also be extremely angry that the meeting took place at the hotel. The excuse of "avoiding a circus" is not acceptable.


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