Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Can't Pay, Don't Know, Don't Belong

Something happens to a society when its wealth is reckoned in commodities, and it is stashed away for some to have and some not to have. Some can pay and some can’t.

Something happens to a society when its ‘know how’ becomes sophisticated and mystifying and technical, and it is possessed by some and not possessed by others. Some know and some don’t.

Something happens to a society when a sense of solidarity among persons yields to a kind of individuality, when a sense of belonging with each other is diminished and a sense of being apart from each other takes its place. Some belong and some don’t.

Whatever it is that happens is happening to us. And there is the new, powerful emergence of those who can pay and those who know and those who belong. Very often the paying ones and the knowing ones and the belonging ones are the same ones—or at least they talk only with one another and trust one another. They are content to be left to their own resources, which are ample. And so the others—the ones who can’t pay and don’t know and don’t belong—are left to their own resourcelessness.

                 -             — Walter Brueggemann

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

West Side Students take on the Olympics Video Challenge

Students from North Lawndale College Prep in Collins High School on the west side explain how the Olympics would benefit the community in this video produced by Free Spirit Media in response to the Chicago 2016 video challenge.

Inspired by the Willow Summit

Lake County Sheriff, Mark Curan, was evidently inspired by Catherine Rohr at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit to sentence himself to a week in the Lake County Jail so he could better understand jail operations from the perspective of an inmate. It was the first thing mentioned on the channel 2 news this evening. Here's what the SunTimes had to say.
"In Lake County, we have embraced the scriptural mandate to love our neighbor. Your neighbor must be everyone if we are truly going to see peace on Earth," he said. "In the eyes of society, I may be sheriff, but in God’s eyes, I am no better than anyone else."

Sprinkling his explanation with religious references, Curran said the idea came to him while he was visiting a northwest suburban church earlier this month for a leadership meeting focusing on prison and correctional issues.

"I believe that because the idea came to me in church that it may have been divinely inspired," said Curran. He said he hopes his time in the jail will call attention to the need to have rehabilitation and job programs for inmates — most of whom ultimately will be released back into society.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Gang Warfare

Steven Levitt, University of Chicago Economics Professor and author of Freakonomics, visited our center today to look in on the research his students are doing at Breakthrough. Freakonomics was on the NY Times best seller list for two years. All of our staff were meeting for Staff Development Day, so he came in and interacted with us for awhile. It was a real treat for our staff to be able to ask him questions. Much of Levitt's research is very relavant to what we do at Breakthrough, especially in the area of prostitution, drug trafficking and gangs. He said that in a study they conducted with gang members they found that 7% of them died over a three year period. He compared it to soldiers in Iraq who die at a rate of 1% over the same time period. Gang members are seven times more likely to die in the city than they would be serving in Iraq. There is a literal war going on in our neighborhoods with huge casualties.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Anointed Preaching

My daughter, Monica, went to Calvary Church in Naperville on Sunday and heard what she said was the best sermon she's ever heard in her life! They had a guest speaker, a guy in his twenties named Robert Madu. Here's the podcast.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Education Challenge

"How many effective schools would you have to see to be persuaded of the educability of poor children?...We can, whenever and wherever we choose, successfully teach all children whose schooling is of interest to us. We already know more than we need to do that. Whether or not we do it must finally depend on how we feel about the fact that we haven't so far."
                 - Ronald Edmonds, Harvard University

Chicago Public School Facts

  • Only 6 of 100 African American and Latino high school freshmen males will graduate from a 4-year college (Chicago Sun-Times, Oct. 31, 2007)
  • Only 9% of African American 4th graders ranked proficient or above in reading, ranking Illinois 38 out of 41 states (Chicago Sun-Times, Nov. 2nd 2006)
  • Illinois ranks 49 out of 50 states when it comes to funding education from state funds. The education funding gap between the wealthiest district and poorest district is the largest in the nation. (Source: Education Trust)
  • 2005-2006 School Year Graduation Rates in Chicago
    Black males - 37%
    White males - 62%
    (Source: Schott Foundation)

Go to: for more information.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Wow! China knows how to throw a party!

I just finished watching the highlights of the opening ceremony at this link. Check out these pictures. Amazing!! Can Chicago top that in 2016?