Economic Fairness and April First

A recent Tribune editorial characterizes the Chicago Teachers Union call for an April first job action as a “Tantrum Day,” and it dismisses this call by suggesting that most Chicago workers cannot whimsically decide to stay home because they’re “upset about conditions.”

CPS teachers in fact have been asked to join other educators, social service providers, nursing home employees, and other workers in a coalition that foregrounds the costs of the current budget impasse in Illinois and calls for fairer funding for these public services and public goods. As such, this action is part of a larger debate about the future of both the State of Illinois and, some suggest, the public sector more generally.  Continue reading “Economic Fairness and April First”

Assessing Assessments

CAM00021Near my home are intersections with marked crosswalks that we often use. While we wait, drivers often push past painted lines even though they’re legally required to stop for pedestrians, who in Illinois have the right of way at all crosswalks, even unmarked ones, which are designated as the spaces between ends of sidewalks on both sides of streets. Continue reading “Assessing Assessments”

Culture, Literacy, and What Every American Might Need to Know

Hirsch (1988)Americans profess a profound belief in political equality, and yet we are uncomfortable, if political scientist Robert Putnam (2007) is right, with cultural diversity. This tension, which can be seen in the motto of the United States (e pluribus unam), acknowledges the extent to which our national identity emerges from widespread cultural contact that, though potentially a resource, can also, if it results in cultural fragmentation, provide to be a liability.

This possibility is one reason why E. D. Hirsch Jr. (1983) advocates for a cultural literacy, or a shared cultural context that, among other functions, serves as the basis for what Hirsch describes as linguistic literacy (165). This shared context, which Hirsch maintains is primarily created by English and history, is a prerequisite for interpersonal communication and social participation.  Continue reading “Culture, Literacy, and What Every American Might Need to Know”

Privacy Today

Both Hillary Clinton and former University of Illinois Chancellor Phyllis Wise have been criticized for using personal email accounts for public business, which raises some intriguing issues about twenty-first century privacy.

Although Clinton’s intentions are perhaps less explicit, Wise’s seem to have included a desire to maintain confidentiality even though the official university position had been that personal accounts, when used for university business, are still subject to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) regulations. These regulations in Illinois have nothing explicit about personal email accounts, but a 2012 state appellate ruling upheld an attorney general opinion that FOIA does apply to personal devices and machines in instances of official business.  Continue reading “Privacy Today”