Friday, December 28, 2012

Record Chi-Town murder rate, but not in the schools

Last night in Austin community
The fatal shooting of a 40-year-old man last night on the West Side pushed Chicago's 2012 homicide toll to the 500 mark. Gun deaths have risen sharply since Rahm took office. Is there a direct connection? I can't say. That's for him to explain.

The Tribune blames it on the weather:
Largely contributing to the spike was the unusual number of homicides that occurred during the early part of the year, in which the city experienced unseasonable warmth. In the first three months of the year, homicides ran about 60 percent ahead of the 2011 rate.
Look out, Lake Havasu, Arizona!

Of course, the rise has more to do with easy availability of guns in the city (despite the mayor's post-Newtown reincarnation as a gun-control advocate), growing concentrations of poverty in the most isolated and under-served black and Latino neighborhoods, Rahm's closing of community mental health clinics, and the increasingly competitive drug trade on city streets. Throw into this mix the neighborhood instability caused in part by Rahm's school-closings, charter-ization, and turnarounds and you have an explosive recipe for disaster.

One thing the record death stats don't show is a single murder inside a city school this year. This fact alone should debunk the NRA's response to the Newtown massacre, calling for more guns inside of school buildings.

Arm teachers? -- Yes, with lots of resources, greater autonomy, access to the new technology, professional development, after-school programs, and smaller learning communities and schools will remain relatively safe havens for children.

What not to do

The one thing you don't want to do is to decrease the numbers of African-American teachers in inner-city schools. But that is exactly what Rahm's ill-conceived school reform has done.

Three heroic CPS teachers, Donald L. Garrett Jr., Robert Green and Vivionell Brown Jr. have filed suit, charging CPS school closings and turnarounds  for a steady decline in black teachers from about 40 percent in 2000 to just under 30 percent in 2010. 

CTU's ace attorney, Robin Potter, is handling the case. She says the three are fighting to get their jobs back, plus lost pay, damages, an independent monitor to oversee the turnaround process in the future, and a moratorium on turnarounds until a monitor’s in place.

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