Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Election Interference

This from a Reader ...

All this talk about recounts and "Russian interference" is so wrong. These are not "our" elections. They are elections run by the imperialist ruling class to decide who will be its political representatives in the next period. There is no "popular mandate" and "the people" don't decide anything. To promote this idea is wrong and harmful. It promotes false illusions among the masses just at the time when clarity is so needed. The electoral process is managed by the ruling class through its political representatives and media outlets. They decide what is "legitimate" to discuss and who to choose. They promoted Trump. The purpose of elections is to de-mobilize the masses.

All of this avoids the real question: why does the ruling class need a political representative like Trump at this moment? Even though they know it will provoke a lot of opposition?

No one has interfered with elections around the world more than the US ruling class. They control the process in most of the world. And when they don't get the outcome they want, they organize coups or other ways to sabotage elected governments. Countless examples. To promote the idea that "democracy" equals popular power is to ignore decades and decades of history.

Just look at what Obama is doing now. He is a lame duck so people say now he can do what he really wants. So what is he doing? Going back on the plan to close private prisons. Expanding the global war to Libya and Somalia, and giving Trump even more 
war powers for the coming years. Turning over to Trump Guantanamo, no restrictions on torture, expanded wars all over the globe. Expanded powers to involve local police in arresting and turning over immigrants to ICE.  Lists of who to deport. $1 trillion plan to revamp the nuclear arsenal, etc. etc. ad nauseum. Nothing progressive from the Democrats: the other wing of the imperialist vulture.

Who knows? There is so much false information out there it is often difficult to be sure what to believe. But why don't the Democrats talk about all of the Black people denied voting rights? Or the new laws about voter registration? They clearly don't want to mobilize any mass opposition. Just rely on the system--like recounts. And "give Trump a chance" rhetoric. They don't want to call the system into question either. Just maybe some voting errors. This just supports the legitimacy of the system.
It is easy to blame "Russian hackers." These days they always blame someone that only the government can have any evidence of (like mysterious plots the "security services" foiled), This not only mobilizes people around the reactionary program of the ruling class; it also teaches people to rely on the system and its military/police forces to "protect" them.
So who knows about Russian hackers? But even if there is truth to it, it seems to be a diversion from what's really going on, and a diversion from the very reactionary plans of the ruling class, which is in charge of these elections like all elections. So it seems like a smokescreen. Did Hitler come to power because of some mysterious hackers (whatever the equivalent would have been in that era) or because of the needs of the German ruling class. THAT is the issue.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Social Media Control

Rising Use of Cities Monitoring Protests and Social Media
By Jim Vail
Chicago News

Massive protests rocked this country after Donald Trump was elected president of the United States.
In the days after the election hundreds of thousands have hit the streets, students have walked out of classes and celebrities like Lady Gaga, Mark Ruffalo and Cher were among the thousands protesting outside Trump Tower in NYC late on election night.
Meanwhile, local government and police are using social media monitoring products to probe posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube for information on those protests, and any potential threats.
According to a report by the Brennan Center for Justice, social media monitoring products have the capability to read, interpret, and categorize millions of posts in mere minutes, allowing users of the software to stay on top of discussions on social media in real-time and search through past posts.
Some social media monitoring products even claim they can interpret the nuances of sarcasm in posts, evaluate credibility and influence of a message, chart out relationships between social media users, recognize and create alerts based on images (including emojis), and pinpoint the movement of individuals.
“In short, social media monitoring technology provides the capability to constantly monitor and archive information on millions of people’s activities,” writes Rachel Cohn and Angie Liao in Truthout.com.
The authors write that according to a survey of police chiefs, 96.4 percent of law enforcement agencies surveyed used social media to listen and monitor.
The problem is while police say this is to monitor criminal activity, the technology can be used to monitor political and social justice movements such as the current Trump protests sweeping the country. The writers state that the police have used Geofeedia, Media Sonar and DigitalStakeout to monitor Black Lives Matter activists. During the Freddy Gray protests of 2015, Baltimore police used Geofeedia’s real-time monitoring to run social media photos through facial recognition technology.
The facial recognition technology, which Facebook uses and explains why you get notices of photos you were tagged in, can be used to discover rioters with outstanding warrants and arrest them directly from the crowd protesters.
“Investigations have revealed that some companies even marketed their services to law enforcement for monitoring of protesters,” Cohn and Liao write.
During the NATO protests several years ago in Chicago, the police arrested a number of protesters. Some were taken to the infamous Homan Square detention center where they were shackled and prevented from making a phone call. There are a number of lawsuits against the city based on this.
According to the report, some companies allow the police to create “undercover accounts,” or “targeted friend requests” that law enforcement believes the subject will accept, such as accounts depicting ‘attractive women’ or accounts purporting to be from a friend or acquaintance.
Still, while more information is detailing the growing reality of our surveillance state, very little is known about how, when and why social media monitoring technology is used by the police. Outside a freedom of information request, “there’s almost no way for the public to determine whether their local police department or sheriff’s office possesses social media monitoring software, much less obtain information on their policies regarding the use of such software,” the report states.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Film Review

By Stephen Wilson

Moscow, Russia -- A new film has hit the Russian cinema based on the wartime legend of twenty eight heroes who died defending Moscow from a relentless and
remorseless German offensive aimed at capturing the city in
 November 1941. The film comes just at a time when historians are passionately and angrily arguing over to what extent the legend was invented. It is as if the film was made to staunchly preserve the legend..
One of the film directors behind the film, Andrei Shalop claims the film represents : " Real Cinema about real heroes of our great nation.... From Childhood, like the majority of my contemporaries, I have loved war films. As a Russian, I think this is a fully worthy genre.The Great Patriotic War - this is the most significant event in our history. The most important point is we won.It seems to me that most film directors want to make such films about war.. In my family, two of my grandfathers and a grandmother fought in this war."
Before I set out to watch this film I was expecting another crass and crude patriotic war film with cliched dialogue , a lot of gory blood and
a film overwhelmed by special effects that it sounded like a computer
game. This was not the case ! In fact , the film uses real Panzer tanks,
dug out trenches and weaponry. The soldiers are not reminiscent of
marvel super heroes or gloriously dying with shrill last words. Instead,
the soldiers wait , smoke and and tell anecdotes tensely, as the Germans
thunderously bombard their positions. The bombardment scenes quickly
dispel romantic notions of war.
However, the dialogue is laced with patriotic lines often attributed to the heroes. For example we hear : " Not only the whole of Moscow is watching us with bated breath but the whole World because right here we have to defend Moscow." and of course the immortal last words of the commissar :" Russia is vast ! But there is no where to retreat !
For Moscow is behind us".
The soundtrack of the film reminded me of 'The Magnificent Seven' and thoughts of the Seven Samurai and the Brave 300 Spartans crossed my
mind. As a wartime genre the film passes as better than average. Or to put it another way , far worse war films have been made in recent years.
If you want a stirring fast moving action and entertainment, it is good.
But if you want facts , find a decent history book !
Fresh Controversy about the legend was provoked by a decision of the head of Russian state archives to publish a 1948 state investigation into what actually happened near Dubosekovo where the 316th Rifle Division fought off invading German tanks . The publically reported version claims 28 soldiers , including Panfilov, heroically died defending the gateway to Moscow thus preventing the Germans breaking through to the city. The soldiers accomplished the feat of destroying 18 German tanks. At the
end of November, a journalist called Krivitski , in an article titled 'The Testimony of the Twenty Eight fallen Heroes , 'for Red Star, claimed that 28 men under Vasili Klochkov , in an anti-tank platoon from the 1075th regiment, repelled fifty German tanks.All the 28 soldiers died ! The paper claimed that Klochkov's last words were : " Russia is vast ! But there is no where to retreat ! For Moscow is behind us !'. Six months after this article the heroes were posthumously made heroes of the Soviet Union'.
There was one snag. The official 1948 investigation found that not all the 28 soldiers had died. In fact, six soldiers survived ! One soldier who was severely wounded later died in hospital. Two soldiers ended up as German prisoners of war while another two managed to escape captivity. Another
soldier returned to his native Ukraine where he worked for the local police and was later arrested for 'collaboration'. The latter case refers to Ivan Dobrobabin who after the battle was captured, then escaped and returned to his village to work as a local policeman . In 1943 he was arrested bythe Red Army , only to be freed by a later German counter offensive. He was finally arrested in 1947 for collaboration with the Germans. During his interrogation Dobrobabin offered his version about what happened during battle. He claimed that it was he himself who led the 28 heroes and not Klochkov.
This represents the most damning revelation which ,if accepted, punctures the grossly inflated legend.
In another case, one of the survivors, Ivan Shadrin , following the battle, was captured by the Germans .At the end of the war he led an uprising of prisoners against the Germans. When he returned back home to his local village he discovered that his wife , presuming him dead , had taken a new husband.
The current Minister of Culture ,Medinsky 'a historian', was enraged by the publication of those relevations. Medinsky fumed : "It is a sacred legend which is simply impossible to besmirch. Only scumbags try to do this".
Sergei Mironenko , the director of State Archives was promptly fired. The facts suggest that far less than 18 German tanks were destroyed and more men than 28 were involved in the defence.
However, do those facts completely undermine the heroic feat of those 28 soldiers? Nobody doubts that there were thousands of brave heroes who died fighting the Germans. In fact, 28 fallen heroes is rather a grossunderestimate ! The Historical Journal Rodina, once wrote an article titled' 7000 Heroic Panfilovs ' . (See Rodina, September 2015 number 9)
Why do some people presume that just because some of the 28 did not die they were any less heroic ? Is it not a case that some people have myopic, misleading and childish notions of who can be regarded as a hero? Being taken as a prisoner of war does not mean the soldier ceases to be a hero.
For example, Ivan Shadrin organised an uprising against the German guards in his concentration camp. Heroism can't be simply reduced to martyrdom or self-sacrifice. It can assume many diverse forms. An every day heroine might be a single mother who carries on struggling to survive against persistent poverty and yet manages to retain her dignity against constant humiliation. One of the sad legacies of the Great Patriotic War was that a lot of heroism went unacknowledged and unrewarded. We should not be self-righteous about who qualifies as a hero and who does not. In fact, a person can begin the war as a coward and then become a hero ! Only a
society which thrives on an anti-philosophical culture meanly and dogmatically defines heroes . There are inexhaustible ways of being heroic!
There were far more than 28 Panfilov heroes!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Lower coaches stipends

CPS Outsourcing Coaches to Save Money
By Jim Vail

The Chicago Public Schools recently announced that they have teamed up with the Chicago Park District to provide sports programs to the elementary school students.

Among the recent budget cuts was the elementary sports programs.

CPS no longer pays coaches to coach sports such as basketball, flag football, track and field, softball, etc. to students in 5-6 grades and 7-8 grades.

Before they paid coaches a measly $20 per hour rate and put a minimum of only so many hours a coach could be paid.

The teachers who coached in the elementary grades of course put in more hours than they were compensated.

Many suburban districts compensate their coaches much more and thus produce better teams. In fact, outside basketball, Chicago public schools rarely win state competitions.

The recent announcement that teachers and others can apply through the Chicago Park District to coach teams means that coaches will be make even less. The park district pays $12 an hour according to a former employee who now teaches in CPS.

The deal appeared to be orchestracted by CPS CEO Forrest Claypool who headed the park district before heading the schools.

So the race to pay less and less is alive and well, the children's well being be damned!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Russian Trump Reaction

By Stephen Wilson

Moscow, Russia -- The Trump victory came largely as a surprise . It was largely unanticipated.
However most Russians appear to welcome the Trump victory in the Presidential elections because of his confessed admiration for President Putin, a desire to improve Russian American relations and a past statement suggesting he would recognise the Crimea as part of Russia. They hope that the election of Trump will be pivotal in ending a new cold war , curbing if not cancelling sanctions and bringing real peace to Ukraine.
When I told one of my students that Trump had won the election , he expressed delight saying: " Did Trump win ? (disbelief) That is great news ! If I had the right to vote in the American Elections I'd vote for Trump. " Questioned as to
why he supports Putin he stated: " Trump wants to improve relations with Russia. He likes Putin."
Before I had visited my student I had dropped into a small corner shop and noticed them watching a news report of Trump winning . I asked the manager what he thought but he was not so optimistic. "I don't think it will make any difference. America always needs an enemy and Russia represents the ideal arch enemy. It is because Trump owes a lot of things to the industrialists who support them and they'll have their agenda."
Perhaps the Russians have been strongly alienated by implacable anti- Russian policies of the Obama Clinton government. Russians blame them for supporting the war in Ukraine, sanctions as well as being behind doping scandals. The idea that Russians helped Trump secure victory is regarded as an insult to not only Russians but the intelligence of Americans. The Russians are tired of what they see as hysterical warnings that the Russians intend to invade the Baltic states. The election of Trump is viewed as representing 'punishment for this stupidity. '
When I attended one of David Wansbrough's lectures two weeks ago, his comments on Clinton were warmly welcomed by the Russians in the audience. He stated that in the Arab world Hillary Clinton was known as 'Killary ' because of her involvement in the murder on Colonel Gaddafi.
The Russian film Director Stanislav Govorukhin stated : "I was against Clinton because she is so disgusting. I remember when the future Government of Islam killed Gaddafi , one person would look at this incidently with moral
superiority but most people expressed pity. Only she felt great joy. I'm very glad that Trump won".
Vladimir Spivakov, an actor claimed: "It seems to me , that the majority of Russians namely wanted this result. "
Yevgeni Yasin , a manager from the Higher school of Economics, stated:
"Clinton was supposed to be the next American president as most of the American press wrote. The victory of Trump was for me, unexpected.
"I can't say I'm satisfied because I don't understand this figure. If we will practise the policies , which we did with Obama, then finally Trump will say, "It is impossible to do any business with those fellows".
Not everyone welcomed the Trump victory in Russia. The Moscow Times published a front page article with the heading 'Grave New World". They go so far as to state that Trump's victory has stalled all attempts of reform in Russia. The article appears to grossly overestimate the influence of America on the internal affairs of Russia. The Editor in Chief Mikhail Fishman makes the ludicrous theatrical statement that, "The hope for change in Russia has been buried in the voting booths of Florida, Michigan, and North Carolina."
(Moscow Times , no. 5780, 10-16 November, Post Election Analysis , Mikhail Fishman)
Even more hysterical was a comment from a former American Ambassador which attributed Trump's victory to Russian covert intervention.
Neither the Russians, nor the Americans have such a huge influence on the internal affairs of each other. It is either hysteria or wishful thinking to suggest otherwise.
A much darker explanation as to why Trump is so popular in Russia lies with the fact that his authoritarian policies, racism , and hostility to migrants, refugees and Afro-Americans are shared with many Russians.
What we might be witnessing is a Brexit effect where the powerless and side-stepped working class whites are endorsing extreme right wing populist policies as a protest against an establishment politics which has long ignored
Nevertheless, Trump remains a dark horse. He is a notorious liar whose statements contradict each other and are highly inconsistent. Will he really build a wall between Mexico and America? Will he carry out his promise to deport 6.5 million illegal migrants and eventually 11 million?
Will he reverse the concessions Obama made to illegal immigrants where some of them could obtain more legal status and services? Will he actually improve relations with Russia or is it just bombastic banal rhetoric?
One thing is certain. The victory of Trump represents a severe blow against struggling migrants, refugees and the most disadvantaged sections of American society . The irony is that Clinton was the the fifth candidate in American history who while winning the most votes, still failed to secure  
the presidency. Another Irony is that Trump previously condemned the electoral college system of presidential elections as 'unfair ' for the very reason that his opponent lost! So much for democracy!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Trump Wins

Trump Wins - People Continue to Lose
By Jim Vail

Our Smilin Lyin Commander In Chief

Donald Trump surprised many of us, shocked us many would say, by winning the president race.

People didn't think it was possible. A clown, a racist, a wacko, etc., etc.  How could someone like that win?

Well, first, he is one hell of a brilliant businessman who knows how to fool the people, amass millions and get his name everywhere. 

And his womanizing, lying, vicious talk, fakeness and obsession with image make up the perfect face for a vicious empire that bombs the world and now looks like the joke it really is.

I found it humorous some people lamented on Facebook that World War III could break out. But that was Hillary Clinton his opponent who threatened to go to war against Russia, not Trump. In fact, Trump said the US should focus on working with Russia to fight Islamic fascists in Syria, not destroy the government like Hillary did in Libya that gave birth to ISIS.  

Trump played to people's dark side by blaming immigrants for taking their jobs. He was the only one who spoke to the working class white people who have lost their jobs. He was also the only one who said he would stop the disastrous free-trade agreements, tear up NAFTA and bring back jobs to Ameria. The Democrat stayed quiet on that too.

In fact, the only reason to vote for Hillary was to vote against Trump the clown. 

But why vote for Hillary if she promised nothing for the people who continue to lose in this system. Like eight years of Obama made our first black president a practical non-entity when he implored people to vote for Hillary.

It reminded me why Bruce Rauner won against Democrat Pat Quinn for governor. He wanted to be Rauner by naming Paul Vallas as his running mate. There was no reason to vote for Quinn. What did he do for the working class? 

The people voted against the establishment again.

But they will get nothing in return. Just like those poor Ukrainians who rushed out to overturn their corrupt government, implement a coup and establish a new government. A new government beholden to Western interests, to American empire interests namely, that demands privatization and further eroding the social contract to support the people. 

The people always lose in a capitalist system where the ruling class controls the political mechanism. 

Trump did what he did because he was able to finance his campaign. He was free to tell the truth - and lie as he always does like any good politician - and show who Hillary really was, a paid whore to Wall Street, CIA hacks and the establishment she has served and that made her and her cheatin husband very rich.

Trump promised big business and the wealthy more tax cuts, and to bring back jobs to the people.

Trump's a billionaire. A liar. A fake.

Wall Street will get its tax breaks. The people will continue to eat shite.

These elections are a fake choice for the people. 

So the great wizard continues to do his magic and the people of Oz continue to wear their green spectacles and vote.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Beware Facebook Users!

Internet Privacy Issues Threaten Our Freedom
By Jim Vail
Special Chicago News

In a country that values its freedom, why do we allow our communication nerve center to be under constant surveillance?

Kent Law Professor Lori Andrews has written a frightening account of how the government and corporations watch our every move on the social networks giving us no privacy. She proposes creating a Social Network Constitution, similar to the US Constitution, which gives us the right to protest our government, protect us from unlawful searches and give us the freedom of speech.

That freedom which we hold dear in the Constitution does not exist on the social networks we visit every day.

“Are social networks public or private,” Andrews writes in her book I Know Who You Are and I Saw What You Did. “If a woman invited 20 people into her home, the police would not be able to enter without a warrant based on probable cause. If her boss wasn’t invited to the party, he would not be permitted to eavesdrop electronically on the conversations there. But what if a woman has 20 Facebook friends? Is that a private gathering or a public one where any third party – from the cops to the boss – can use whatever the woman says against her?”

In the age of the internet, Big Brother is watching our every move and we the people have no legal document to protect us.

In 2011 when this book was first published, Facebook started sharing home addresses and cell phone numbers of its users with third-party websites, something most of its users would never consent to.

What people post has been used against them. Schools, employers, mortgage brokers, credit card companies and many other social institutions seek information from social networks in order to make judgements about people. For example, one college grad applied for a job with a major talent agency that canceled his interview because of a drinking photo on his website.

According to Andrews, judges have been granting opposing counsel’s requests for everything a person has posted on Facebook. In one case a disabled wife asked for spousal support in a divorce, but her husband convinced the court to admit her recent Match.com profile, showing an active lifestyle. The court denied her request for support.

Facebook’s eroding privacy policy is shown on a timeline. Facebook has gone from a private space for communication with a group of your choice to a platform where much of your information is public by default. It uses your private information to make lots of money and shares that information with the government when asked.

“The underlying structure of Facebook – the impression that you are speaking to only your friends – is what provides the impetus for people to provide more intimate, personal, and revealing details than have ever been shared on the Web,” Andrews writes. “People’s gut feeling that what they are posting is private is a belief that it is reasonable for society to protect under the right to privacy.”

Right now people do not receive adequate warning about the implications of posting on social networks or using the Web more generally. The lawyers write up those long notices we have to click to agree, but people don’t read or understand them.
“Even in our exhibitionist culture, people long for privacy.”

One survey in 2010 showed that younger adults tend to be more cautious with their online privacy than older ones.

The Social Network Constitution would mandate that the default setting on social networks should be that no one would have access to your information unless you specifically agree after adequate warnings about the implications of giving up your privacy in a particular online setting and adequate disclosure about who will be using that information and for what purposes.

The protection of anonymous posters is an interesting question. If free speech is to be encouraged, anonymity might be warranted, Andrews writes. But for a robust discussion, shouldn’t the identity matter in order to know who stands behind the comment. People write letters to the editor of the newspaper and they have to identify themselves. That is not the case online.

One person was posting numerous comments about court cases, sports and even the relatives of reporters. One post about the mental state of a relative of a reporter upset the editor, who looked up the email and linked the address to Judge Shirley Strickland. The judge sued the newspaper for $50 million for invading her privacy. It turned out that the judge, who posted comments about many of her cases, did not like the newspaper’s coverage of her courtroom. The reporter she attacked had quoted what she once told a woman who pled guilty to credit card fraud: find a man. “Men are easy,” the judge told the defendant. “You can sit at the bus stop, put on a short skirt, cross your legs and pick up 25. Ten of them will give you their money. It’s the truth … If you don’t pick up the first 10, then all you got to do is open your legs a little bit and cross them at the bottom and then they’ll stop.”

Eventually the judge dropped her lawsuit and settled with Advance Internet for an undisclosed sum. Advance Internet now blocks newspaper employees from accessing the email addresses of people who post. 

When Facebook introduced its facial recognition software to users worldwide, it silently enrolled all users in the program without their permission. There is no option in Facebook’s privacy preferences to prevent the collection of biometric data. But in Germany in 2012 Facebook had to promise to forgo using facial recognition software and delete previously used photo tag suggestions after the Germans said it violated EU and German laws by storing data without the express consent of users.

So why is Facebook allowed to do this here?

Is Facebook really our friend? Do we really want our every move to be recorded and used by whatever group is watching us? The Chinese government is building a massive network of hidden cameras and facial recognition software to monitor its citizens in public spaces. The US government wanted to do the same thing. When the Dept. of Homeland Security proposed initiating facial recognition technology in the US, it met such resistance that the program was scrapped. Fine, let Facebook do it.

In the European Union when a person’s personal data is collected, the parties responsible are required to inform the person who they are, why they collected it and for whom it was collected. Do we not want that here?

“In the digital age, let’s face it, there’s no money in doing the right thing. But as people begin to realize the risks of their posts being used against them, the demand for rights-protecting technologies and policies is growing.”

America, wake up! Let’s get this Social Constitution Network passed to protect our online freedoms as well! 

Friday, November 4, 2016

Keep Lakeview Open!

By Stephen Wilson

(Moscow, Russia) -- It is with great dismay and disbelief that I, and many other adult educators have learnt that 'The City Colleges of Chicago ' intends to close Lakeview Learning Centre by May 2017. They claim that the closure 'will help City colleges weather the storm', and save a few million dollars. But it sounds more like destructive rather than creative accounting!
Closing such a centre which provides at least a 1000 students with a free and accessible education system (for immigrants as well as offering a second chance to disadvantaged students) is not just a loss for Chicago. It represents a great loss to the World as well as the universal cause of Adult Education !
Lakeview Learning Centre is not just any college. It is something special.
It is a unique historical landmark of progressive education inspired by the Highlander Folk school In Tennessee and Jane Addams of Hull House, who was a prominent sociologist . Jane Addams was a great listener who argued
that teachers had to acknowledge the voice of experience of both adults and children . She stated that any education system should attempt to "give the child's own social experience a value''. She was part of a new radical way of doing sociology termed 'Symbolic Interactionism' which treated people not as mere data or objects of research but human beings with dignity. She eloquently argued that all people seek "an outlet for more kindness " and thought that sociology should become part of this quest.

Folklorists appreciated how the Highlander Folk School taught courses of 'square dancing' as well as the history of the working class.
The closure of Lakemore not only means a loss of teaching jobs and student places but it will kill a community !
But the attack on Lakemore Learning Centre also represents an assault on a great vision of education where people are not only offered a second chance and the hope of new opportunites . It is a vision of an education system which empowers people with the faith to construct a kinder, more
caring and improved society. In other words the good society dreamt by Martin Luther King and Jane Addams.
This threatened closure reminds me of the brief closure of Scotland's only Adult Education residential college during the 1980's . The college was also a historical landmark (a former Medieval abbey ) and unique because it was the only adult residential college where adults with few or no qualifications could study for free and even prepare for entry to universities. But the Tory government closed it as it 'deemed it too expensive '. However, Adult educators and students did not give up and launched an indefatigable campaign to reopen the college. And they won! Newbattle Abbey College in Scotland is now open and doing a great job again ! The Motto of the college was: " Sero Sed Serio', meaning 'Late but in Earnest'. What it means is that it is never too late for adults to learn or get a second chance.
We should be eager and earnest to defend Lakeview Learning Centre so that it is never too late for immigrants or other people to enter education!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Lakeview Closing?

Keep Lakeview Learning Center Open

MEDIA CONTACT:                                                                                                           George Roumbanis, PresidentAFSCME 3506, Adult Educators & Coordinators UnionCity Colleges of ChicagoPhone: 773-744-7603Email: afscme3506@gmail.com
A historic landmark of progressive education is being forced to close, less than a mile from Wrigley Field just as the Chicago Cubs play in the World Series for the first time in seven decades.
The City Colleges of Chicago announced on October 14th that Lakeview Learning Center, an off-campus program of Truman College, will close in May 2017. The community center has provided more than three generations of immigrants and working-class Chicagoans with free classes in English as a Second Language and GED high school equivalency. It has an important history in the Wrigleyville neighborhood that stretches back to 1972, when the program was originally named Universidad Popular (People’s University) by Latino activists in the city. Founding organizers of Lakeview Learning Center brought together their experiences with the Highlander Folk School in Tennessee and Jane Addams Hull House in Chicago to promote adult literacy.
Thousands of students have passed through the doors at 3310 North Clark Street and many of them have moved on to college educations or professions throughout the city. The 14,200 square foot facility was built by the Public Building Commission of Chicago in 1983. Today, Lakeview Learning Center continues to provide services to approximately 1,000 students per semester with free classes in the mornings, evenings, and on Saturdays. It is one of the longest ongoing, self-contained adult education programs in Illinois and a home away from home for many students. Current data shows that 61% of the students self-report being born outside of the U.S. Along with the LGBTQ Center on Halsted and the senior citizens Hattie-Callner Apartments, Lakeview Learning Center is an active site of diversity in the midst of Wrigleyville’s mass gentrification.
City Colleges of Chicago, which reported total net assets of $859 million in 2015, says it hopes to receive “between two and five million dollars for the Lakeview Learning Center location.” It announced that the center would be closed to “help City Colleges weather the state funding shortfall.” The closure comes at a time when millions of dollars are being invested in the Wrigleyville neighborhood by the Ricketts family to construct upscale restaurants, luxury hotels, and chain stores. The CTA also plans to spend a minimum of $570 million in the area to speed up Red and Brown Line trains by a few seconds. Meanwhile, independent stores and longtime homeowners in Wrigleyville are finding themselves priced out and pressured to relocate.
Responding to the closing, Lakeview Learning Center student leader Óscar Piña Morales says “I’m 21 and from Mexico. I’ve been studying here for two and a half years. This school changed my life. It’s a gift. You can’t put a price on this gift.” According to several teachers and activists who were present during the center’s early years, it is common knowledge that this specific property was given to City Colleges as a gift with the stipulation that it be used solely for educational purposes. AFSCME 3506, the union that represents the teachers and coordinators at Lakeview Learning Center, is currently searching for documentation on this claim.
To help keep Lakeview Learning Center open, the union is asking Chicagoans to write statements of support. Please send emails to:
*rlynnerup@ccc.edu (Rasmus Lynnerup, Executive Vice Chancellor – City Colleges of Chicago)
*hhodge1@ccc.edu (Hilary Hodge, Associate Vice Chancellor of Adult Education – City Colleges of Chicago)
*ward44@cityofchicago.org (Tom Tunney, Alderman of the 44th Ward)
All emails should also include a CC and be forwarded to:
*afscme3506@gmail.com (George Roumbanis, President of AFSCME 3506)