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Wrigleyville protest? Don’t do it

Friday, Sep 19, 2008 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Sen. James Meeks has come up with the goofiest publicity stunt ever

Six thousand protesters, wearing bright orange T-shirts, could ring Wrigley Field during the first Chicago Cubs playoff game, under a plan by state Sen. James Meeks to move his school funding protests to a national stage.

With the Cubs expected to clinch the playoffs soon, Meeks said Thursday he hopes overhead TV shots from the Goodyear Blimp during the first home playoff game — probably a night game on Oct. 1 — will give the entire nation a view of protesters upset about Illinois’ inequitable school funding system.

* You gotta wonder if Meeks has ever been to a Cub game - not inside, but outside amongst the legions of idiotic drunken revelers

Chicago Police Department officials said the prospect of dropping off young children in dozens of buses to a sporting event in a congested area filled with excited fans who could be intoxicated raised definite safety, traffic and crowd control concerns.

“Unlike New Trier, where the environment was controlled and enclosed, this . . . is an open environment where children can be subject to vehicular traffic, intoxicated fans — there are a number of external factors,'’ said Monique Bond, spokeswoman for the Chicago Police Department.

“We can’t compromise the safety of children, the safety of fans and the safety of residents.'’

This idea needs to be dropped. Those kids could get hurt. Plus, it’s tantamount to child abuse to subject them to those inebriated barbarians.

* Meanwhile

Meeks’ comments followed the release of a new study that found that a small number of Illinois districts with the most property wealth spend $2,324 more per pupil on instruction annually than the vast majority of Illinois districts.

In addition, the study by Ralph Martire of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability found that Illinois elementary-only districts with some of the fewest poor kids tended to do better on state tests when they spent more on their students, especially if they spent at least $6,000 per pupil.

Also Thursday, Chicago Schools CEO Arne Duncan told a legislative committee that the state should pass a modest income tax hike to boost school funding and forget about a “tax swap'’ that would link property tax relief with higher state taxes.

* More on that new study in a Sun-Times editorial

Money does matters. It matters a lot.

That point is hammered home by a new study that adds heft to the argument that extra dollars can help boost test scores.

The researchers started by documenting what we all already know: Wealthier school districts spend more per kids than poor districts do. On average, the wealthiest districts spend $4,186 more per child than the poorest ones. Broken down by dollars that go to instruction, the differential is $2,324, according to the analysis by the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability.

The researchers then tied spending to achievement. Among elementary districts with few poor students, they found a correlation between extra dollars and higher state test scores. Affluent districts that spent up to $5,000 per student on instruction produced a mix of outcomes — about half performed below expectations on state tests, half performed above. When spending approached $7,000, almost every district posted better-than-expected test score averages. The same pattern exists with respect to high-poverty schools, though it’s more tenuous because there are only a small number of poor districts that spend $7,000 per student.

This analysis has its flaws. The researchers were unable to look at the most destitute districts and didn’t analyze the link between high spending and test scores.

The study can be read in full by clicking here.



  1. - BandCamp - Friday, Sep 19, 08 @ 10:28 am:

    ===those inebriated barbarians===

    Rich, you hurt my feelings.

  2. - Wumpus - Friday, Sep 19, 08 @ 10:29 am:

    Wow, maybe Meeks is intelligent enough to see that the Sox are choking and may not make it to October. Why not Comiskey. I imagine Obama’s people are on the phone in a fervor. It is not an indictment of Obama, but will show the disfunctional home from which he came.

  3. - Macbeth - Friday, Sep 19, 08 @ 10:33 am:

    How about Meeks quit using the kids as pawns and get out there himself?

    Take a couple laps around the field in your bright orange jersey. You take the heat — the verbal abuse, the taunts, and the random hot dog.


    I’ve said this before: Meeks, you’re an embarrassment. Go home.

  4. - The Doc - Friday, Sep 19, 08 @ 10:35 am:

    ===those inebriated barbarians===

    Worn like a badge of honor!

    Rich, are you absolutely sure you’re not a Cubs fan?

  5. - Snidely Whiplash - Friday, Sep 19, 08 @ 10:36 am:

    Just what do the Cubs have to do with Illinois school funding? Sure, throw the Cubs off their game to make your own point, Meeks. As Rich pointed out, too, the lack of judgment here is incredible. Let’s thrown a few thousand kids in front of the doors of Wrigley while tens of thousands of excited fans are trying to get into the gates. Sen. Meeks, I’m sure you have access to the Illinois Criminal Code. Look up “inciting a riot.” Sheesh!

  6. - wordslinger - Friday, Sep 19, 08 @ 10:41 am:

    Sen. Meeks is a grown man and he can take his fight into the well of the Senate and the governor’s office. Or, he can run for mayor or governor if he thinks they’re not doing the job. This Children’s Crusade is abusive.

    Here’s what Meeks said on WBBM when he called off the boycott (record attendance, by the way).

    ==”Everyone who is running the system now and is in the hierarchy needs to go,” he said. “If we put more money into the CPS system the way it’s run now, it won’t help.”==

    The way I read that is, give me my choices to run the schools, then give me more money. It’s a power grab and a money grab. The kids are pawns.

    If you can’t get more money out of the state, get it out of the city, where they pay lower property tax rates.

    Tests scores are up again, it was reported this week.

  7. - GoBearsss - Friday, Sep 19, 08 @ 10:43 am:

    Don’t know why they bothered with a study… its already been done. By ISBE. Every year.

    Look at the ISBE report card site - and use your eyes.

    First - a graph of test scores vs. low income student population. A definite trend there.

    Second - a graph of test scores vs. per pupil spending on instruction. No trend there at all.

    Now, I am a very big proponent of more money for schools. But I can see with my own eyes that per pupil spending on instruction is not the sole determination of a student’s success.

    It seems that other factors are more at play - such as family economic situations - in affecting learning. That means we have to be more creative.

    How about targeted initiatives for students in low-income neighborhoods how have to face more pressures outside of school than what time to meet at the mall?

    How about more after school programs and weekend programs for these targeted neighborhoods. Or more guidance counselors at these high schools. New Trier spends 2 or 3 times as much per student on guidance counselors than chicago public schools. Does it make a difference? I don’t know - but it might be worth trying giving CPS high school students more help navigating personal lives and their educational careers.

  8. - Phineas J. Whoopee - Friday, Sep 19, 08 @ 10:43 am:

    That Rev Meeks-he ain’t right…in the head.

  9. - Dan S. a Voter and Cubs Fan - Friday, Sep 19, 08 @ 10:44 am:

    Is this knucklehead Meeks a Sox fan? Take it to the southside and stay out of Wrigleyville.

  10. - Vote Quimby! - Friday, Sep 19, 08 @ 10:44 am:

    ==those inebriated barbarians==

    Sounds like someone’s just jealous that Signal Faded Field wasn’t the target….

  11. - Truthful James - Friday, Sep 19, 08 @ 10:55 am:

    Money matters, but in a different context.

    a. The parents believe that education is an economic and a social good. The District is not all mansions. Parents move to the District and willingly prepare their children to enter the feeder schools. They pay attention and motivate their children with the family responsibility to succeed.

    b. They willingly tax themselves to hire teachers with a commitment to subject matter mastery and a love of what they teach and who they teach. They hound the administrators and the schools — establishing among themselves “Caucuses” to organize school support efforts. Woe betide a school board member who does not hew to the Caucus line. All board members are vetted by the appropriate Caucus before any election. They then organize the vote.

    Are the results perfect? No. There are behavior problems among the students. There are community complaints that students who enter the work force from high school do not have the skills to hold available jobs.

    CPS is a monstrosity. Break it up into smaller Districts where parent governance can be exercised. School Councils are a good first step, but participation is small — evidence that perhaps there is in some school attendance areas a parent problem — see a. above.

    It is going to take a generation or two of heavy effort to remotivate a “parent class” not just in the education field directly. Too many adults were warehoused in schools and dropped out or passed on. Given them free access to GED classwork at the community colleges not only to better qualify them for work but to be better able to pre-kindergarten educate their children.

  12. - Judgment Day Is On The Way - Friday, Sep 19, 08 @ 11:01 am:

    “Plus, it’s tantamount to child abuse to subject them to those inebriated barbarians.”

    You mean they’re going to bus those kids down to Springfield to see our State Legislature in action?

  13. - Levois - Friday, Sep 19, 08 @ 11:02 am:

    Didn’t he already make a bad judgment call by trusting Blagojevich twice already?

  14. - siriusly - Friday, Sep 19, 08 @ 11:09 am:

    Those “bodyguards” who drive Meeks around in his big SUV need to tell him this is not a great idea.

    The guy has no cred left on this issue, he’s been fooled (or foolish) two many times.

  15. - muon - Friday, Sep 19, 08 @ 11:13 am:

    Go Bearss and Truthful James both make valid points on where the correlations might really lie. In the study prompting this thread there are two graphs comparing test scores to spending that should be looked at carefully. In figure 9 there is a noted correlation between spending and test scores for districts with low poverty rates. The cause of the correlation is not explored, but there is at least some sense that a statistical correlation exists.

    In figure 10 the same graph is prepared for districts with significant, but not majority, low-income populations. Though the authors claim a correlation in the text I see none. The positive tilt of the trend line is well within the confidence level, which means it could tilt down instead of up. This tends to indicate that money spent on instruction does not significantly improve performance when poverty is a factor.

    One conclusion could be that for a family out of poverty money spent on instruction can have an impact. However, without changing the environment of a child in poverty, it’s not clear that generally increased spending will have any impact at all.

  16. - VanillaMan - Friday, Sep 19, 08 @ 11:14 am:

    It is a bad idea, but a good PR stunt.

    Obama was forced to phone Jones, so perhaps Meeks expect Obama to be forced on this embarrassing mess too?

    Since Obama was elected in 2004, we haven’t seen him try to reform anything until yesterday’s phone call. So maybe Meeks is onto something. Perhaps with enough embarrassment, Obama will finally do something about our educational meltdown.

    So if he is actually elected president, we will have to embarrass Obama when he runs for re-election in order to get something out of him. Then when he runs for Pope, we can embarrass him some more to get some of the other things he needed to have done as a state senator he put off to run for higher office.

    Yeah, this might work! Go Meeks!

  17. - GoBearsss - Friday, Sep 19, 08 @ 11:15 am:

    I understanding what you are saying muon, but fear that the more dominant poverty trend may be coloring the results.

  18. - Nice Suit - Friday, Sep 19, 08 @ 11:33 am:

    ==those inebriated barbarians==

    overly dramatic…

  19. - Fustrated - Friday, Sep 19, 08 @ 11:39 am:

    So does Meeks not having anything productive to do?

  20. - Rich Miller - Friday, Sep 19, 08 @ 11:41 am:

    ===overly dramatic===

    You’ve obviously never been to Wrigleyville during a game.

  21. - Truthful James - Friday, Sep 19, 08 @ 11:57 am:

    Rich –

    Going to Wiggly Field is like going to a tavern without instant replay and the bartenders (beer vendors) block the view on the life sized RealVision.

  22. - Pat collins - Friday, Sep 19, 08 @ 11:57 am:

    other factors are more at play - such as family economic situations - in affecting learning. That means we have to be more creative.

    Or steal good ideas from somewhere else.

    Some friends gave me the contact info of teachers in Singapore. Recently, the gov. has allowed a large number (for Sing) of immigrants from mainland China.

    So now they must teach kids who dont’ speak English, and in many cases come from one parent families. These people are often poorer than average for Sing, and often parents work long hours, so dont have a lot of time for the kids.

    How do they deal with it?

    I am getting info, and will blog to illinoize soon.

    Basically, what must happen is:

    1) More resources for “in school tutoring”.

    2) You need to separate the kids into learning levels. The brighter ones need less tutors and teachers, different books and labs. Slower kids need more tutor time.

    3) Improve safety. I know people with kids in Waukegan schools. Gang dodging seriously cuts into their learning time.

    4) Different curricula. Since basically ALL learning will need to happen in school, it MUST be back to basics with none of the fluff that too often infests schools.

  23. - VanillaMan - Friday, Sep 19, 08 @ 11:58 am:

    Gee Rich - Do you think it is OK to take kids to Cub games? Or do us dads need to be extra careful of the inebriated barbarians? If your statement is accurate, Wrigley shouldn’t be a place to take children.

    I don’t think you are wrong by the way. I believe there are enough drunken boobs within a Cub game to cause trouble for African American kids protesting how poorly their schools are financed.

    If we have to start fearing drunken barbarians at ballgames, we have to start demanding better behavior and enforcement at them too.

  24. - Rich Miller - Friday, Sep 19, 08 @ 12:00 pm:

    ===If your statement is accurate, Wrigley shouldn’t be a place to take children.===

    Read it again. This isn’t about taking kids to a game. It’s about sending kids out to protest at a game, without adequate protection.

  25. - Squideshi - Friday, Sep 19, 08 @ 12:33 pm:

    “Those kids could get hurt. Plus, it’s tantamount to child abuse to subject them to those inebriated barbarians.”

    Sounds like a “heckler’s veto” to me. I won’t comment on the merits of such a protest; but I will say that people have a general right to protest, and if the organizers think this protest is warranted, then the solution here is to step up police protection and control the “inebriated barbarians” rather than allowing them to curb the free speech of others with their behavior.

  26. - GoBearsss - Friday, Sep 19, 08 @ 12:41 pm:

    The general problem is there is no place TO protest. All tight sidewalks right around the stadium.

    Not surrounded by a parking lot like that cell phone company on the south side.

  27. - Truthful James - Friday, Sep 19, 08 @ 12:53 pm:

    Squid –

    I guess you greenies have no sense of hummus — er, humor.

  28. - Captain America - Friday, Sep 19, 08 @ 1:11 pm:

    I thnk the Reverend Meeks is way “off base” with this publicity stunt, since there is no connection between the venue/occasion and the public policy problem. It lends credence to the theory of some that Reverend/Senator Meeks is a publicity hound, instead of an honest broker seeking a solution to a legitimate public policy problem.

    My best guess is that Meeks intends to run for Governor/Mayor, and he’s seeking all the free publicity he can get pursuant to that intent. I still think Meeks is sincere about the school funding/education issue, but his sincerity may have become tainted by his personal political ambitions.

    Senator/Reverend Meeks is a formidable person/politician.I still respect him despite his proposed ill-advised Wrigley/Cubs publicity stunt.

  29. - Dan S. a Voter and Cubs Fan - Friday, Sep 19, 08 @ 2:38 pm:

    Good job Meeks, Cra-Z heard about your plan and it messed him up so bad he gave up 7 runs in an inning and a 1/3. Take it to the southside and mess with Ozzie’s mind.

  30. - steve schnorf - Friday, Sep 19, 08 @ 2:55 pm:

    Meeks has tried for years to accomplish his goal of school funding reform thru “within the system” means, and it has gotten him nowhere. I understand his decision to get in our faces more. We need it.

  31. - Truthful James - Friday, Sep 19, 08 @ 3:11 pm:


    Not to put too fine a point on it, I can’t tell which set of cheeks he is putting in my face.

    Until he admits the failings of his congregation at attempts to use his pulpit and his money to organize their efforts to improve temselves and their schools, I will continue to be confused.

    For the present he is content to blame everything on evil outside influences. Tom Wolfe in his short book “Mau-Mauing the Flack Catchers” had it about right for his place and time.

    I don’t see the Reverend Senator campaigning for welfare reform to restore the family structure which would in turn help a great deal in many areas from Education to the willingness to accept entry level jobs as the first step up the economic ladder.

    He has a huge amount of talent and communication skills, but uses them as many black politicians do to control rather than truly improve his constituency and to advance his political goals.

  32. - Wumpus - Friday, Sep 19, 08 @ 3:18 pm:

    Arrghm, Rich, How’d you miss talk like a pirate day?

  33. - steve schnorf - Friday, Sep 19, 08 @ 3:21 pm:

    James, I guess he could also try wishing on a star

  34. - HV in HP - Friday, Sep 19, 08 @ 3:53 pm:

    Cubs blow game in effort to stymie Meeks’ protest…

  35. - Angry Chicagoan - Friday, Sep 19, 08 @ 4:17 pm:

    There’s obviously no limit to the idiocy of Illinois politicians. But then I should have already figured that out with this governor.

  36. - Squideshi - Friday, Sep 19, 08 @ 9:17 pm:

    “I guess you greenies have no sense of hummus — er, humor.”

    We have a sense of humor. I just take constitutionally guaranteed rights seriously.

  37. - CHILDOFGOD - Tuesday, Sep 30, 08 @ 4:57 pm:


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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