Monday, May 17, 2004

Updated May 17, 2004 at 2:25 pm.

Our TV show, "Public Affairs," airs, as always, tonight, Monday night, 8:30 pm on Cable Ch. 21 through-out the City of Chicago. The discussion with our guest, Ron Gidwitz, former Chairman and current member of the Illinois Board of Education is particularly timely for two reasons:

(1) Today is the 50th Anniversary of the U. S. Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education, which declared unconstitutional the concept that public schools can be separated, de jure, by race or color, and still provide for "equal protection of the laws," of the States, as required by the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution. No longer could a southern politician stand in the school house door and block a child's entrance because of his or her race or color.

Now, 50 years later, most, but not all, Democratic politicians, and many Republican politicians, northern and southern, stand in a failing school house door, and block that minority child's exit from that failing public school. Those politicians, e.g., Governor Rod Blagojevich, Mayor Richard Daley [the guy who could make it happen, but who would rather make his legacy a Casino- more contracts and patronage for his failing, sputtering Political Machine], Attorney General Lisa Madigan [doing the Mayor's bidding], Speaker Mike Madigan [still clearing a path for his daughter], U. S. Senator Dick Durbin, U. S. Reps. Jesse Jackson, Jr., Danny Davis, Jan Schakowsky, former Gubernatorial candidates Jim Ryan, Roland Burris and Paul Vallas [who was, of course the CEO of the CPS], State Senator and Democratic U. S. Senate candidate Barack Obama, State Senator Susan Garrett and State Rep. Beth Coulson effectively stand in the school house door, blocking low income minority students from exiting the failing school and refusing to give low income minority students a choice to improve their education at a private school, even though many, if not all, of those mentioned have themselves benefited from their parents exercising such choice or they have exercised or will exercise such choice for their own kids. [For more details on the above and on other issues discussed in tonight's "Public Affairs," program, see the entries, below, for May 11, 13 and 15].

On the plus side, all of those individuals listed above, except for Mayor Daley and the Madigans, have had the courage of their convictions to come on "Public Affairs," and debate and discuss the "school choice" issue, along with many others, and for that, I am grateful to them and applaud them.

Ron Gidwitz, similar to many of those mentioned above, states on the program tonight that he chooses to send his kids to a private school. Howeever, unlike the above, Gidwitz is consistent in his beliefs and actions, in that he doesn't want to block low income, minority, students from exiting, as his own kids have, the failing public schools. Instead, Gidwitz voices his support, tonight, for a similar school choice for those low income, minority, kids, as well. What a great way to celebrate Brown v. Board of Education!

(2) Ron Gidwitz also discusses the Governor's latest proposal [apparently now accepted by the state senate leadership] to give Hot Rod the power to "Whack," any state School Board member at will, in the name of "accountability," right off the Board. What a joke. Why don't the legislators just move the State Board of Education into the Governor's mansion [It is not being used, anyway, except by the teachers unions to prepare projects for adoption first by the Governor and then by the legislature], give the State Board of Education members nine small cell blocks-- and be done with it. [Of course, the Republican Party in Illinois doesn't look a lot better today, having just spent a few days in Collinsville, IL., celebrating the great "Reform," 18-1 victory by that great Reformer, Bob Kjellander. What happened to all of those conservative reformers who were going to produce a new Republican National Committeeman? Apparently they didn't know the way to Collinsville- and those that did-- lost their voices and intestinal fortitude. I kept hearing before the convention from the "reformers" about how Redfern had 5 votes, Rauschenberger had 4 votes-- boy, either these guys can't count noses, or somebody was making a lot of offers that couldn't be refused].

(3) Less related to Brown, Gidwitz also discusses, tonight, a variety of business climate/jobs issues in the state of Illinois [See May 11 and May 13 entries, below].

Jeff Berkowitz can be reached at