Editorial Roundup: Illinois

Updated 12/28/2021 4:13 PM

Chicago Sun-Times. December 27, 2021.

Editorial: Changing slaveholder school names is a chance to confront history


Ideally, CPS - and the city - would seize the moment as a chance for Chicagoans to delve deeply into the truth about our country's ugly legacy of slavery and racism.

With all the pressing challenges Chicago Public Schools is facing - from pandemic disruption to plummeting enrollment to students traumatized by gun violence, to name a few - it's not surprising that a promise to get rid of slaveholder school names has fallen far down the priority list.

We hope to see that change in 2022.

Only one slaveholder school name, from among the 30 names the Sun-Times' Lauren FitzPatrick identified and reported on in December 2020, has been changed: Andrew Jackson Language Academy, named for the president who enslaved hundreds of people and supported 'Indian removal,' was renamed the Chicago World Language Academy in May.

CPS says the pandemic and a change in administration are to blame for the delay, as FitzPatrick reported last week. The district plans to present a new policy on the matter to the Chicago Board of Education next spring.

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Since 2003, CPS has required a school to formally propose any name change through its Local School Council, hold two community meetings and suggest three new names. The council chair and school principal then make a recommendation.

Any new policy must make it clear this is about substance, not surface. Decisions about renaming a school - or, perhaps, keeping a name because a school's 'brand' is stronger than any link to a slaveholder, as one John Marshall High School alumnae suggested to us earlier this year - must be more than quick-fix gestures.

Ideally, CPS - and the city - would seize the moment as a chance for Chicagoans to delve deeply into the truth about our country's ugly history of slavery and racism. This is a chance for all of us to confront the inescapable fact that society memorializes what it values and excludes what it doesn't, which too often has meant people of color and their achievements and histories have gone unrecognized.

It's a chance to heal wounds and move forward.

In the wake of controversy over Confederate monuments, this editorial board suggested the creation of a permanent advisory committee to identify racially problematic public monuments and make recommendations on the future of those works - including proposals to rename streets, bridges, parks and now schools. Such a process would give communities a major say on picking new names.


That idea still has merit.

Chief Education Officer Maurice Swinney, who has been a supporter of the plan to scrap slaveholder school names, said it best earlier this year, 'it's something that we have to work on and change.'

Change is due.


Champaign News-Gazette. December 27, 2021.

Editorial: Population problem is pink elephant in corner of room

It looks like the state's population woes are continuing.

Back in April, the state of Illinois got some Illinois-style good news, meaning the news wasn't as bad as it could have been or was thought to be.

The good/bad news was that U.S. Census Bureau figures showed the state's population decline was lower - roughly 18,000 people - than previous estimates - 250,000 - indicated it would be.

'The 'Illinois Exodus' numbers were all spectacularly wrong,' one Springfield-based news website gloated.

The headline was correct. The previous estimates were off, as the final count indicated.

Nonetheless, Illinois lost another U.S. House seat, the latest in a steady series of declines that will reduce the size of the state's congressional delegation to 17. As almost every other state continues to increase population, some substantially, Illinois was revealed to be in a continued state of decline, even if not as severe a state of decline as expected.

So were happy days here again? No.

Is there a sign of positive change in the air? The answer to that question also is no.

Newly released census estimates - there's that word again - show that more Illinoisans have had all they can stand and can't stand no more.

Estimates are that the state's population declined by 113,776 between July 2020 and July 2021.

With the proviso that these figures are estimates and that, as was demonstrated, estimates can be wrong, the Census Bureau indicated that Illinois has lost population for the eighth year in a row. West Virginia, which has lost population for nine straight years, is the only state in worse population shape than Illinois.

There's a message here if the state's elected officials care to hear it - Illinois is failing. People don't leave states where the economy is strong, job prospects are sound and government is honest and effective.

They leave for greener pastures, seeking a better life for themselves and their families than they have. Sure, cold weather can be a factor. But Illinois thrived for decades with the same cold winters and hot summers it has now.

Illinois does enjoy natural population growth. Births exceeded deaths by 2,778, estimates show, and there were a reported 5,776 net migrants from abroad.

But an estimated 122,460 residents decided to pack up their bags and go elsewhere. As one publication noted, that's the equivalent of the city of Springfield vanishing.

Everyone is familiar with the state's financial problems, the ticking public-pension-debt time bomb being the most serious example. Unfortunately, little to nothing has been done about it.

People know the state has way too much costly government infrastructure, but little to nothing is being done about it.

Corruption in government is a constant source of concern. But despite the best efforts of federal prosecutors, the Illinois and Chicago Way continues unimpeded.

K-12 public education is better in some places than others, exacerbated by family disintegration, disorder in schools and an epidemic of violence that undermines children's ability to learn. Despite talking a lot about it and continued spending increases, our public officials have mostly failed.

One could go on, but readers get the idea.

Illinois is in a world of hurt, causing people to leave and those left behind to grumble about the failing status quo. Fewer and fewer will have to pick up the rising cost of state and local government, a reality that will cause more people to leave.

Of course, the latest numbers are just estimates. Maybe they're not as bad as it appears they are. If so, it would be another Illinois-style Pyrrhic victory.


Bloomington Pantagraph. December 23, 2021.

Editorial: Drive defensively when traveling this winter

We shouldn't need reminders that winter is coming. But when temperatures exceed 60 degrees a couple of days before Christmas, the season is easier to forget.

But winter '" and the delights of traversing outside during same '" is most certainly coming.

However bare the road appears, lower temperatures make conditions potentially hazardous. You may never drive on black ice. But you certainly will remember if you do.

Travel is fine in the winter. But keep some safety factors in mind.

- Always wear a seat belt.

- Slow down. Slower speeds, slower acceleration, slower steering and slower braking all are required in winter driving conditions.

- Put down the handheld devices. It's against the law always everywhere, and it defies common sense everywhere. Be sure to have it handy, though. You will need it in case of emergency.

- Leave plows plenty of room. A snowplow operator's field of vision is restricted. You may see them, but they may not see you. They can kick up blinding flurries if you're following too closely.

- Avoid using cruise control in snow and ice. Again, this may never happen to you, but if it has, you remember, and you keep your cruise control off.

- Black ice on roads that appear clear can be treacherous.

- Use care when approaching intersections, ramps, bridges and shady areas. All are prone to icing. Ramps can be particularly troublesome, particularly if others have already tried, failed and are somewhere on the ramp unable to move.

- Do not travel during bad weather unless absolutely necessary. If you do have to make a trip, be sure someone is aware of your travel route

- Prepare an emergency kit. It should include jumper cables, flares or reflectors, windshield washer fluid, a small ice scraper, traction material, blankets, water, non-perishable food and a first-aid kit.

Drive safely. There are people who will truly miss you if you're not around.


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