Ad: [ ? ]

Tuesday, October 13

Gapers Block

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr

The Mechanics

Chicago Public Schools Fri Oct 02 2015

Keys to a Classroom

Kelvyn Park High SchoolBy Manny Ramos

On the morning of May 8, 2015, Jerry Skinner was teaching his English class to his 11th graders when he noticed a group of students wandering the hallways outside of his classroom. This is a common problem at Kelvyn Park High School, but it is not for the reason you might think. These students weren't lost, they weren't skipping class, and they weren't looking for trouble.

Sadly, it's quite the opposite. The students simply were missing two of the most essential things to any educational process.

A classroom.

More importantly, a teacher.

Continue reading this entry »

Mechanics / Comments (0)

LGBT Wed Sep 30 2015

Why LGBT Teens are Identifying Earlier

themash.comBy Cameron Beach and Thomas Atseff

"No union is more profound than marriage."

These words from Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, which legalized gay marriage June 26, have become a rallying cry in the LGBT community. With the momentous victory came a spike in gay pride, along with a surge of societal LGBT acceptance. Minds are changing nationwide, and as more Americans become comfortable with homosexuality, more individuals have felt safe and even empowered to come out as gay.

But does this same trend extend to teens? The Huffington Post reported that a Pew Research Study revealed the average age of LGB coming out has dropped drastically--from 21 in the 1980s to 16 today. Newfound support from the entire nation, as well as from individual schools and family members, may be at the heart of the trend.

Continue reading this entry »

Mechanics / Comments (0)

Election 2016 Tue Sep 22 2015

Wrigley Dodges a Walker


One thing that was avoided by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker dropping out of the presidential race: a private event at Wrigley Field for donation bundlers, hosted by members of the Ricketts family. Reports Politico:

Walker's biggest political patrons, the Ricketts family, which has contributed $5 million to his super PAC, felt similarly blindsided, according to an adviser to the Walker campaign. Todd Ricketts, who has been among Walker's most aggressive fundraisers, did not get a call until later Monday afternoon.

Ricketts, whose family owns the Chicago Cubs, was set to host a Manhattan fundraiser later this week and had been busily organizing a never-before-reported event for Walker bundlers at Wrigley Field on Oct. 2. Even amid sinking poll numbers, turnout was expected to be high. The Wrigley Field thing was going to be awesome," said the adviser. "This guy busted his ass for Scott Walker."

Andrew Huff / Comments (0)

National Politics Wed Sep 16 2015

Don't Bother, They're Here

Illustration by DonkeyHotey.

It's unclear at what point the clown car metaphor became too undersized, and a clown stretch minivan, with attached elephant trailer, more apt for the traveling circus that has become the Republican presidential nomination contest. What's clearer is that there are more GOP candidates than living Americans who can name them all.

The paper today said that someone named Gilmore, or Fillmore, or Milhous, was not invited to any of tonight's debates. Looking up from my coffee, I announced this with all the seriousness and sorrow I could muster. My wife, looking as if I had asked her to name the last three finance ministers of Kyrgyzstan, said "Who?!"

"Exactly," I replied.

Continue reading this entry »

Jeff Smith / Comments (0)

Neighborhoods Thu Sep 03 2015

How One Program is Bridging Chicago's Neighborhood Divides

Photo by Dreamone Visualz.

North Siders often get flak for not visiting other parts of the city. But the disconnect goes both ways, says Jahmal Cole. He's waiting to cross a busy intersection in Wicker Park, a gaggle of selfie-snapping teens in matching t-shirts behind him.

"People don't feel a part of Chicago, they feel isolated to their community in Lincoln Park or the Loop, or they feel like part of an under-resourced community," Cole said. "When people hear about things happening in another community it might as well be in another country."

Continue reading this entry »

Mike Ewing / Comments (0)

Chicago Public Schools Tue Aug 25 2015

Explaining a Hunger Strike to My 3-Year-Old

By Dave Stieber

A few days ago my son and I took juice to the 12 parents and community members who are performing a hunger strike. They are protesting Chicago Public Schools' decision to close one of the last public schools in their neighborhood. Frustrations are intense towards CPS, who has not been listening to their proposal to open a new public school, which they created with real community input.

Continue reading this entry »

Mechanics / Comments (0)

Op-Ed Fri Aug 14 2015

Why Wishing for a Hurricane Katrina in Chicago is Racist

By Dave Stieber

Last night I read an article in the Chicago Tribune in which the columnist and editorial board member Kirsten McQueary "metaphorically" wished a Hurricane Katrina would wipe out Chicago. I wish I were making this up, please read this piece. Even while I and many others were tweeting her about how offensive her column is, she sent out the following tweet:


What Hurricane Katrina did was kill nearly 2,000 people and displace and relocate 1 million people throughout the Gulf Coast. In New Orleans the population of the city fell by half due to loss of homes and displacement. Fifty percent of the city's residents' homes were uninhabitable or lost, and multiple generations of New Orleanians were forced to move. Historical and proudly black communities were wiped out.

Now some people like McQueary will likely say, but New Orleans is back! Who is New Orleans back for? For people who look like me (i.e. white people). Not the people who lived in those predominantly black precincts.

Continue reading this entry »

Mechanics / Comments (6)

Op-Ed Wed Aug 12 2015

I am a Dictator: A Chicago Public Schools Teacher Responds to Rauner & Claypool

By Dave Stieber

Recently Governor Rauner said, "...the Chicago Teachers Union shouldn't have dictatorial powers, in effect and causing the financial duress that Chicago Public Schools are facing right now."

This statement from Rauner comes just a few days after Forrest Claypool, our newest CEO, said that teachers need to have "shared sacrifice" by taking a 7 percent pay cut.

The shared sacrifice Claypool speaks of means that my wife (also a CPS teacher) and I would lose about $11,000 in combined income for this year alone.

I could go on and on about how Claypool is just another puppet of Rahm, in a long line of puppets appointed by the mayor, or how Chicagoans demand an elected school board (remember Chicago is the only district in the entire state without an elected school board). But since Rauner thinks a union run by 40,000 teachers is a dictatorship and Claypool says teachers need to sacrifice, I will share my stories, so that maybe, just maybe, they both (along with Rahm) will realize what it means to really sacrifice.

Continue reading this entry »

Mechanics / Comments (4)

Chicago Public Schools Wed Aug 05 2015

Intrinsic Withdraws Proposal For Third Charter School

Intrinsic Schools has sent a letter to the North Side Neighborhood Advisory Council (NAC) informing that they are withdrawing their proposal for their third charter high school in Chicago.

The letter was addressed from Intrinsic CEO Melissa Zaikos and came one night before a scheduled "Capacity Interview," which would have essentially been an interview of the charter operator by the NAC.

Continue reading this entry »

Phil Huckelberry / Comments (0)

Op-Ed Fri Jul 31 2015

The Reason I Can't Have White Friends: Race Talk in America

By Jeremey Johnson

In the last year we in America have seen a slew of race related crime. The subsequent deaths of Rekia Boyd, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Mike Brown, Freddie Gray and others have been the focal point of many conversations. Unfortunately most of those conversations don't end well. I have had many conversations about issues that plague the black community, ranging from police brutality to the common misconceptions that are often spread through bad media representations. From these many conversations I have come to one conclusion. It is nearly impossible to have white friends while living in a white supremacist country.

I am not against the prospect of interracial friendship, but such friendships are hard to maintain when so many of your white friends have diminished your entire culture to rap music, twerking, and the myth that is black on black crime. Navigating race talk is a choreographed chaos of toe stepping and boundary crossing. I often find that white people are more likely to listen to other white people on Fox News about black people than are to listen to me, an actual black person.

Continue reading this entry »

Mechanics / Comments (5)

City Council Thu Jul 30 2015

Proposed STOP Act Would Document "Stop & Frisk" in Chicago

There's never a dull day in the Loop. And there's certainly never a dull day at a City Council meeting. Wednesday morning's meeting got off to a running start as protestors of all sorts packed the second floor of the City Hall building outside the council chamber.

They held signs that said things such as "Save Dyett" (a high school slated for closure) and "Mayor Emanuel where's the justice for black children?" Multiple groups were gathered to give press conferences on upcoming ordinances or to express their displeasure with the City Council. They ranged from the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, Equal Access Across Chicago, We Charge Genocide, Chicago Votes, #ChiStops, Asian Americans Advancing Justice and others.

Continue reading this entry »

Jennifer Prohov / Comments (0)

Elections Fri Jul 24 2015

Federal Decision in PA Could Help Trigger Major Illinois Election Changes

Originally reported by Ballot Access News, on July 24, a US District Court judge in Pennsylvania issued a 41-page opinion [PDF] ruling that state's system of imposing costs on unsuccessful minor party petitions is unconstitutional.

While Illinois does not impose such costs, other related aspects of election law are very comparable between the two states. With the case Summers v. Smart [PDF] still pending in U.S. District Court in Chicago, the Pennsylvania ruling may portend the end of the hated "challenge system" in Illinois. In the process, ballot access could expand greatly -- especially for third parties, but also for "maverick" candidates running in major party primaries and for Chicago aldermanic candidates. And if the General Assembly is smart, the electoral process changes could involve the institution of filing fees, which could be an entirely new revenue source at several levels of government.

Continue reading this entry »

Phil Huckelberry / Comments (2)

Chicago Public Schools Thu Jul 23 2015

North Side NAC Members Call on Intrinsic to Withdraw Charter Proposal

The only new charter school proposed for anywhere on the North Side this year is facing strong opposition -- from the advisory group convened by CPS to review their proposal.

An outright majority of members of the North Side Neighborhood Advisory Council (NAC), a CPS-convened citizen group, has signed on to a formal letter requesting that charter operator Intrinsic withdraw their proposal for a third high school. The letter -- the full text of which can be found here -- was delivered the morning of July 23.

Intrinsic already operates one high school on the Northwest Side at 4540 W. Belmont Ave. Last year, Intrinsic also received conditional approval for a second high school. The second school has been in the news because there is still no actual location for it -- and this is at the core of the problems identified with the Intrinsic #3 proposal.

Continue reading this entry »

Phil Huckelberry / Comments (1)

Social Issues Tue Jul 21 2015

Staying Safe in Chiraq

News video startup TouchVision today released a short documentary titled Brave in Chiraq: Countdown to Summer, focusing at how youth leaders with the ARK of St. Sabina are attempting to keep young people safe this summer.

Andrew Huff / Comments (0)

Op-Ed Wed Jul 15 2015

Financial Transaction Tax Could Save the State -- and Clean Up the Exchanges

trading screenBy Curtis Black

A lot of taxes are being proposed — sales taxes, property taxes, income taxes — as the state's budget stalemate grinds on and the city's financial crisis metastasizes.

But the powers that be have taken one tax off the table, and it's one that would target the very wealthy — the only ones benefiting from economic growth in recent decades: a financial transaction tax.

A small tax on trades on Chicago's futures exchanges [PDF] could raise billions of dollars, and traditional traders wouldn't even notice it, proponents say in a new report.

Continue reading this entry »

Mechanics / Comments (0)


Don't Bother, They're Here

By Jeff Smith / 0 Comments

It's unclear at what point the clown car metaphor became too undersized, and a clown stretch minivan, with attached elephant trailer, more apt for the traveling circus that has become the Republican presidential nomination contest. What's clearer is that there are more GOP candidates than living Americans who can name them all. More...


Substance, Not Style, the Source of Rahm's Woes

By Ramsin Canon / 2 Comments

It's not surprising that some of Mayor Emanuel's sympathizers and supporters are confusing people's substantive disputes with the mayor as the effect of poor marketing on his part. It's exactly this insular worldview that has gotten the mayor in hot... More...

Special Series

Classroom Mechanics Oral History Project

About Mechanics

Mechanics is the politics section of Gapers Block, reflecting the diversity of viewpoints and beliefs of Chicagoans and Illinoisans. More...
Please see our submission guidelines.

Editor: Mike Ewing,
Mechanics staff inbox:



 Subscribe in a reader.

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15


Sign up for our free email newsletter I Star Chi and get a weekly round-up of the best of Gapers Block, plus our picks for must-do events each weekend!


Preferred format    Preferred format