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Fun with numbers

Monday, Mar 25, 2013

* The Chicago Tribune editorial board commissioned a poll

Overall, 4 in 10 respondents give the [Chicago public] schools a barely passing grade of C. Another 2 in 10 grade the system a D. More award an F (8 percent) than an A (7.8 percent.)

That’s not a report card any child would want to take home.

* Well, not quite. Here are the parents’ answers

Suppose the schools in your neighborhood were graded A-F. as students are often graded. What grade would you give the school that your oldest child attends?

    A 33.8
    B 39.9
    C 17.7
    D 4.1
    F 3.4
    KNOW 1.0
    REFUSED 0.2

When asked about all schools, yeah, 40 percent give Chicago’s public schools a “C” and etc. But parents give their own kids’ schools pretty darned good marks.

* In other fun with numbers, I’m not gonna take any sides on Gov. Pat Quinn’s suggestion that automatic transfers ought to be looked at and possibly capped at this fiscal year’s level. But keep in mind that this is not a cut. It’s the elimination of an increase. So this reaction to capping the Local Government Distributive Fund at current payouts is absurd

Winnetka stands to lose about $140,000 in revenue, Bahan said, projection that’s on par with the Illinois Municipal League’s numbers. That would amount to a reduction of 1.5 full-time staff, he said, or a 1 percent increase in property taxes.

The Municipal League is predicting income tax revenue growth at 6 percent, while the governor’s budget office is predicting a 3.7 percent growth. Six percent seems like a lot, considering the state of the economy. But whichever side is right, this is not a cut of “X” dollars to Winnetka, it’s simply not giving them an extra “X” amount of dollars.

* And this is from a press release…

State Senator Bill Brady (R-Bloomington) will file a resolution next week calling on United States Senators Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk to seek a commitment from the new United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois to aggressively pursue federal prosecution of firearms offenses within the Northern District. According to Brady, greater prosecution of violent gun crime will result in enhanced safety and security for all citizens in northeastern Illinois.

“In 2012 the City of Chicago experienced more than 500 homicides, the vast majority involving the use of firearms,” said Brady. “Recent news coverage has shown that those convicted of firearms offenses in Chicago and Cook County receive minimal and inconsistent punishment. Stringent enforcement of these laws will have a positive effect in our neighborhoods and will increase safety by reducing gun violence.”

Brady pointed to other cities that had moved toward collaborative zero-tolerance enforcement and education efforts, emphasizing the positive effects observed in those communities as proof that it could work in Chicago. “Communities such as Richmond, Virginia have seen significant reductions in gun violence when local and federal law enforcement agencies work cooperatively to prosecute these violent crimes.”

Among all federal judicial districts, Chicago ranks lowest in prosecuting gun-related violence despite a recent surge in violent crimes involving weapons. In 2011 the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago prosecuted, according to some accounts, just 25 gun-related murders.

* I can’t help but wonder if his “according to some accounts” line is from the NRA

Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, was on Meet The Press on Sunday in a debate session opposite New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. During an exchange with host David Gregory, LaPierre took to task the Obama administration for what he defined as a poor record enforcing federal gun laws in dealing with gangs in Chicago:

    WAYNE LAPIERRE: I mean, let me give you the real sad thing though. Let me hold up a mirror right now to the whole national news media and the White House. I just got the TRAC data from Syracuse University of enforcement of federal gun laws. Last time I was here, I brought it from 2011; it just came out from 2012.

    Do you know where Chicago ranks in terms of enforcement of the federal gun laws? Out of 90 jurisdictions in the country, they ranked 90th. Why doesn’t NBC News start with, “Shocking news on Chicago. Of all the jurisdictions in the country, Chicago’s dead last on enforcement of the federal gun laws?” Why doesn’t the national press corps, when they’re sitting down there with Jay Carney and the president and the vice president, why don’t they say, “Why is Chicago dead last in enforcement of the gun laws against gangs with guns, felons with guns, drug dealers with guns?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Anonymous - Monday, Mar 25, 13 @ 2:52 pm:

    1. Homicides are not federal crimes, by themselves.
    2. The U.S. Attorney’s office has prosecuted a lot of gang leaders. This may have had the effect of somewhat increasing violence because the gangs have splintered.
    3. The U.S. Attorney’s office has gone into targeted neighborhoods to make it clear that it will aggressively prosecute felon-in-possession crimes.
    4. I’m sure Sen. Brady didn’t mean it that way, but the story is that when Janet Reno was AG (and Scott Lassar was U.S. Attorney?), Mayor Daley went to DC to complain that the U.S. Attorney’s Office here was not prosecuting enough drug crimes. AG Reno supposedly directedthe office to put more efforts into drug crimes. This had the (I’m sure purely unintended by Mayor Daley) consequence of reducing the resources devoted to political corruption cases.

  2. - justbabs - Monday, Mar 25, 13 @ 3:08 pm:

    Since no one else even attempts convictions for political corruption, let’s leave that to the USAG. The county and state offices could actually go after gun crimes if they were willing to go beyond the easy, handed-to-them, or good media generating cases that currently fill their time. That may be too much to ask.

  3. - Caveman - Monday, Mar 25, 13 @ 3:09 pm:

    Nice Rich. You malign the source of the info and ignor the stunning facts.

  4. - Rich Miller - Monday, Mar 25, 13 @ 3:15 pm:

    ===You malign the source of the info===

    Y’all are tho very thenthitive.

    Where did I malign any group?

  5. - Formerly Known As... - Monday, Mar 25, 13 @ 3:17 pm:

    Local reactions in this poll are similar to local reactions in polls concerning Congress.

    “Congress” (or the Chicago Public School system) typically receives a poor grade in polling.

    But “my Congressman” (or local school) typically fares a bit better.

    Gold stars all around.

  6. - Cincinnatus - Monday, Mar 25, 13 @ 3:21 pm:

    15-20-Life. Use it!

  7. - Angry Chicagoan - Monday, Mar 25, 13 @ 3:21 pm:

    In general, a more centralized state policy on funding education would be a good thing; it would help kids in poverty-stricken school districts, and it would hold some very wealthy and pampered districts more accountable. You already see this in other states with more egalitarian systems; part of the reason that, say, Wayzata, Minnesota doesn’t pay its superintendent anything like what New Trier pays theirs is because under Minnesota law, school finance is cengtralized, property taxes for schools are very low, and a substantial portion of income taxes from Minnesota’s progressive tax system go into a central pot of money that gets redistributed among poorer districts, which in turn manage to furnish enriching programs like foreign languages and arts, right there along with the schools in wealthy communities. We lack that equalization in Illinois, with the result that while our best high schools get resources before many universities do (New Trier HS had LexisNexis before UIC did, for example), our worst ones can’t even do an adequate job of college prep.

    Unfortunately, the process of attaining that centralization or at least maintaining the state funding we already have is not helped by administrators in the state’s richest municipalities squealing about what Pat Quinn’s cuts are going to cost them. We ought to be hearing about what Dolton and Thornton townships are losing out of the state cuts, not Winnetka. But when Winnetka’s leadership gets vocal about their losses, it just encourages Quinn to cut more. I wonder if the leaders of these wealthy suburbs realize the impression they create.

  8. - Tom - Monday, Mar 25, 13 @ 3:26 pm:

    You’re not kidding — “fun with number.” The Trib did a lot of cherry picking through that study. The ed board had to die when the saw 90 percent of parents are satisfied or very satisfied with their kids’ teacher. That doesn’t fit the Trib’s the-teachers-are-the-problem narrative very well.

  9. - wordslinger - Monday, Mar 25, 13 @ 3:34 pm:

    –Do you know where Chicago ranks in terms of enforcement of the federal gun laws? Of all the jurisdictions in the country, Chicago’s dead last on enforcement of the federal gun laws?–

    I didn’t know “Chicago” was supposed to enforce federal gun laws. I thought it was the federal government.

    But, as on all Constitutional matters and claims of fact, let’s defer to Mr. LaPierre.

  10. - MrJM - Monday, Mar 25, 13 @ 3:35 pm:

    If the Tribune editorial board gave half-a-damn about the will of Chicago parents, they stop cherry-picking poll results and push for a democratically elected board of education.

    But that’s a big, BIG if.

    – MrJM

  11. - Formerly Known As... - Monday, Mar 25, 13 @ 3:37 pm:

    Now about that 60% graduation rate…

    Or the 79% of 8th graders who are not grade-level proficient in reading.

    Or the 80% of 8th graders who are not grade-level proficient in math.

    You know. The minor details.

  12. - Cook County Commoner - Monday, Mar 25, 13 @ 3:45 pm:

    The US Attorney for the ND does not have sufficient staff to more vigorously pursue violations of federal gun laws because they are overwhelmed with the investigation and prosecution of political corruption.
    And an argument can be made that political corruption is more deadly than gun crimes because it contributes to the conditions which nourish underlying causes of violence.

  13. - titan - Monday, Mar 25, 13 @ 3:47 pm:

    What is the drop out rate in Chicago schools, and the percentage of functionally illiterate graduates?

    That so many of the parents give the schools good marks is telling (or is it a matter of who answers the poll?).

  14. - Logic not emotion - Monday, Mar 25, 13 @ 3:58 pm:

    $140,000 = 1.5 FTE = $93,331 per FTE…

    One site I pulled up showed the per capita personal income for 2011 at $41,560 for the U.S. and $43,721 for Illinois. I don’t know if the source is credible or several factors are at play; but $93K still seems pretty high for a teacher.

  15. - Wensicia - Monday, Mar 25, 13 @ 3:59 pm:

    What MrJM said. The editorial board is better at cooking the numbers than any pol.

  16. - Empty Chair - Monday, Mar 25, 13 @ 4:05 pm:

    These school numbers correlate significantly with legislator approval. Overall, “The Congress” and “legislators in Springfield/Washington” get low marks. But when asked how they like their home representatives, voters often overwhelmingly approve, except for the few competitive seats.

    People underestimate the value of a smile, whether it comes from a teacher or a Congressman. It can make someone completely forget that the individuals actually pretty bad at their job.

  17. - Wumpus - Monday, Mar 25, 13 @ 4:06 pm:

    Regarding the school grades: As a CPS graduate, I can easily say that Denial is not just a river in South America.

    When they prosecuted the gang leaders, that left younger, undisciplined folks to lead the gangs. Now, there is no honor among thieves and gangbangers.

  18. - One of the 35 - Monday, Mar 25, 13 @ 4:07 pm:

    Rich: Regarding the LGDF numbers, I guess it’s all in how you look at the situation given the historic agreement between State and Local government. The 90/10 split was because locals agreed not to levy a local income tax in addition to the existing state income tax. In exchange for this promise, the state agreed to make the state income tax bigger and share 90/10 of all income tax revenues with locals. All went well until the state spent itself into trouble and then modified the agreement to limit it to just existing revenues and not future increases. Just another example of the state welching on an agreement that was supposed to be permanent.

  19. - iThink - Monday, Mar 25, 13 @ 4:10 pm:

    ===One site I pulled up showed the per capita personal income for 2011 at $41,560 for the U.S. and $43,721 for Illinois. I don’t know if the source is credible or several factors are at play; but $93K still seems pretty high for a teacher.===

    The problem with your comparison is that your average Illinoisan doesn’t have to live in the North Shore nor have a college degree. Regardless, $93k including bennies seems reasonable if you want to attract quality teachers, which New Trier undoubtedly does.

  20. - wordslinger - Monday, Mar 25, 13 @ 4:12 pm:

    –Just another example of the state welching on an agreement that was supposed to be permanent.–

    There isn’t a statute on the books anywhere that can reasonably be thought of as “permanent.” The players change, the times change, the circumstances change.

  21. - Survey Respondent - Monday, Mar 25, 13 @ 4:17 pm:

    I was actually contacted for this survey. It was so constricted and obviously intended to bring one answer “more charters”. In fact so sure that this was the work of notorious organizations like UNO that I didn’t believe it was Joyce or NORC. If anyone bothers to read the survey questions you can see the false premises they use and false dichotomies they present. The Tribune’s editorial and the survey are an unworthy piece of trash.

  22. - Anon - Monday, Mar 25, 13 @ 4:21 pm:

    I was reading an email today about a school in Chicago celebrating a ~19 average composite ACT score for their juniors.

    I thought it was a joke, or some special program or something. Then I looked up the average for the city and realized they did have reason to celebrate.

    I had no idea they were so low…

  23. - Amalia - Monday, Mar 25, 13 @ 4:29 pm:

    The USAO is not just a tiny squad that can only do one thing. there are many cases that operate out of the light of the sweet glow of the cameras. witness last week a drug kingpin was taken down while Boss Hog was going down. that kingpin case did get print press, but the prosecutors were not in front of cameras making an example out of the guilty. maybe let’s do more of that press, Chicago media.

    and, yes, the USAO in the ND could do a bit more on the gun crime front. perhaps they are too enamored of their bigger than the state has resources to wiretap and get 10,000 ducks in a row rather than put one of 300 cases on your call up for review as the felony level Cook County ASAs must do. involving the feds earlier in investigations would be good too, hello CPD. to make a Federal case you have to have Federal charges.

  24. - olddog - Monday, Mar 25, 13 @ 4:35 pm:

    The Chicago Tribune’s poll tracks very well with the annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll
    of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools. When a survey sample of 1,002 Americans 18 years and older was asked to grade the public schools in the 2012 report, comparable findings were:

    – 48 percent gave “the public schools … in your community” an A or B, and 31 percent gave them a C.

    – 77 percent gave “the school your oldest child attends” an A or B, and 16 percent gave it a C

    – 19 percent gave “the public schools in the nation as a whole” an A or B, and 47 percent gave them a C. Another 23 percent gave them a D.

    Full report at

    Results have been like that year after year: People give high grades to the schools they have direct knowledge of, and mediocre grades — or worse — to the schools they only know about from the media.

    So, yeah, it sure does look like the Trib cherry-picked their own poll’s numbers and wrote a nice little editorial rehashing their predetermined talking points. But it’s not just the Trib that’s at fault here. They all do that, and it’s just another reminder we shouldn’t believe everything we read in the papers.

  25. - One of the 35 - Monday, Mar 25, 13 @ 4:41 pm:

    Wordslinger: Your interpretation is exactly why the state often unilaterally breaks an agreement and thinks that is o.k. Well, yeah, we agreed to something but times have changed, we had our fingers crossed, so we don’t have to keep our word. This is exactly what is wrong with our elected officials. And apparently, you are buying it and think it is o.k.

  26. - Rich Miller - Monday, Mar 25, 13 @ 4:43 pm:

    ===The 90/10 split was because locals agreed not to levy a local income tax in addition to the existing state income tax.===

    Maybe that should be revisited.

  27. - wordslinger - Monday, Mar 25, 13 @ 4:47 pm:

    –This is exactly what is wrong with our elected officials. And apparently, you are buying it and think it is o.k.–

    No I think every law passed by previous GA’s was written with fire on stone on Mt. Sinai.

    I don’t understand your point, at all. Once a law has been passed it can never be changed?

  28. - Chavez-respecting Obamist - Monday, Mar 25, 13 @ 4:53 pm:

    Hey, One of? As a proud person of Welsh ancestry, bite me.

  29. - Skeeter - Monday, Mar 25, 13 @ 5:01 pm:

    Great to see that Bill Brady cares about Chicago.

    He thinks we are failing to meet his standards, but at least he cares.

    Somebody should invite him here for a good meal so that he might say something nice about us for a change.

  30. - Arthur Andersen - Monday, Mar 25, 13 @ 5:28 pm:

    Logic and iThink, you all are in the right pew in the wrong church, if you will. The money going out of the LGDF goes to cities, not schools, so an average city worker (if there is such a thing) salary would be a better benchmark than schools.

  31. - Bigtwich - Monday, Mar 25, 13 @ 5:49 pm:

    To quote Judge Nardulli,

    “There is a presumption that a law does not create private contractual or vested rights, but merely declares a policy to be pursued until the legislature ordains otherwise. People ex. rel. Sklowdoski v. State of Illinois, 182 Ill. 2d 220 (1998). There is no vested right in the continuation of a law. The Legislature may amend a statute at any time.”

  32. - Just The Way It Is One - Monday, Mar 25, 13 @ 5:52 pm:

    Just have to reflect and say…with THOSE sad numbers on Chicago School Disapproval and abject failure on Federal gun violation enforcement…admittedly, just looking at those numbers somewhat in a vacuum, but, nevertheless, it’s hard for those numbers NOT to suggest that RAHM’S in trouble, folks, BIG trouble…!(Yet we all hope (snark to be noted)that he enjoyed his fun getaway during the Educational Crisis he just created, and on the heels of puting to rest a 6-Month Old MURder Victim)!

  33. - Judgment Day - Monday, Mar 25, 13 @ 6:18 pm:

    “I didn’t know “Chicago” was supposed to enforce federal gun laws. I thought it was the federal government.”

    Well, there’s been the joint Chicago-US DOJ gun task force (or whatever it’s called these days) that’s only been operating for at least the last 8+++ years or so. But, it wasn’t the highest priority.

    First off, the feds kept up staffing up the Public Integrity section (both FBI and AUSA for US DOJ) for dealing with our rampant political corruption. And they were also pumping up the section covering illegal drugs. And, they were pumping up the section covering financial crimes. Oh, and don’t forget those nasty terrorist types.

    So, while the US Attorney for Northern Illinois was chasing down the bad actors in the different ‘highlighted’ sectors, well, there’s never enough time or resources for everybody.

    And there’s one other aspect that rarely gets discussed. If you are local LE, it’s not easy dealing with the feds. Particularly on gun trafficking, and if it’s a ’sting’ type operation, it’s even worse. Let’s just say that over the past 10 years or so, there’s been some local LE agencies which have been seriously burned when their federal ‘partners’ got all ‘high and mighty’ on them. The word gets out.

  34. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Monday, Mar 25, 13 @ 6:26 pm:

    Looks like Brady isnt waiting to try to make inroads in Northern Illinois. Smart.

    @titan - High drop out rates? Sure. But is CPS solely to blame, or individual teachers, or the CTU? No. At some point, parents and even students have to accept atleast some responsibility for their success or failure. The polls seem to reflect that.

  35. - Lakefront Liberal - Monday, Mar 25, 13 @ 6:55 pm:

    Regarding drop out rates just saw this today:

    “The high school dropout rate among people whose fathers were dropouts is 22.2 percent. The dropout rate with high-school-grad fathers is 2.9 percent.”

    Frankly in some ways I am amazed that CPS does as well as it does. We all know that pretty much any parent with the drive to do so is moving to the burbs or putting their kid in a charter school — and CPS gets everyone else. Yet their results are almost the same as the charter schools.

  36. - county chairman - Monday, Mar 25, 13 @ 8:18 pm:

    maybe quinn will freeze property taxes in certain areas in chicago like he did when he needed the votes for gov that doesnt help schools or any one else but him was that legal

  37. - county chairman - Monday, Mar 25, 13 @ 8:26 pm:

    on gun prosecution makes you wonder who the gangs are connected to judges boys maybe its the moneyyyyyyyyyyyy wink wink

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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