Opportunity for all?

A recent and widely publicized study revealed the importance of neighborhood and location in the outcomes of poor children.  The study was reported in the New York Times, and discussed in local media over the last week. You can see, yourself, the information for Winnebago County here.  The data shows that a child, born into a household in the bottom 25% of income, has a worse outcome in some places, and better in others. That child, born in Winnebago County, will earn about 9% less income at age 26 than a similar child, also born into...

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Four reasons for a Fair Tax

When Illinois rewrote its State Constitution in 1970, the drafters included language requiring that all income be taxed at the same rate.  This was a popular stance at the time – when income inequality was low, serious pension obligations were a generation away, and medical costs were a fraction of what they are today.  Things have changed. Sometime before the end of this spring’s legislative session in Springfield, the House and Senate will vote on whether they should put before the voters an amendment to the State Constitution which...

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“Equalized Assessed Value” and the tyranny of unasked questions

There is a well-known parable which goes like this.  Once, a man was walking along the river when he saw a small child struggling in the waves.  The man immediately jumped in and rescued the child, bringing her to shore.  But then he saw another child – he jumped back in, and cried out for help.  Others came, and soon the people realized that child after child was coming down the river.  The people formed a human chain, and rescued each and every child.  A woman came along, and seeing the rescue operation, started running upstream.  A...

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Fighting Crime, Fighting Drugs?

Today I read two articles which gave me quite a bit of cognitive dissonance.  One was this column in the Rockford Register Star about the recent meeting held by Senator Dick Durbin, and others, on reducing crime in Rockford.  The article, and others before and after the meeting, describes both the “get your act together” message and the focus of the problem — gangs, guns, and drugs.  Mention is made that Rockford is a distribution center for drugs on their way to Chicago or Milwaukee, and that this is a big part of our crime problem. ...

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Schooling Against Racism

This post is adapted from a sermon preached at the Unitarian Universalist Church on April 28th, 2013 by me (the Rev. Dr. Matthew Johnson-Doyle).  The thoughts are my own, and not necessarily Next Rockford’s or the UU Church’s.   I have spent a fair bit of time working on understanding on what sometimes seems like an intractable problem: racism.  In particular, I have focused on racism in education: how does education work against racism, and how does education feed racism.  How would we design an education system, here, in...

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