CN August 16, 2012

Young people, according to Carol Felsenthal (Chicago Magazine, The Hill) may be the surprise in the November election, finding Paul Ryan attractive for his youth and fresh ideas about the economy. But that will be more than offset, she predicts, by the revulsion older people may exhibit over Ryan’s health care proposals.

“I think people don’t want to get on the telephone and haggle with an insurance company. I think however many of them may say they’re Republicans and conservatives they don’t want that and their children don’t want it for them either,” she says, concluding that “I don’t see how they win Florida, and if they don’t win Florida I think they’ve lost the election.”

But Felsenthal thinks the real impact of the Romney-Ryan ticket will be felt in our local races. In the Tenth District, for example, Mark Kirk succeeded as a social moderate, she says, something his successor, Bob Dold, has emulated while running in the most Democratic district currently in Republican hands.

“Dold has followed in his footsteps to such a great degree. He makes every move toward being a moderate…but with the Paul Ryan candidacy I think I would bet on Brad Schneider now”.

Joel Hood, who writes about education for the Tribune, is cautiously optimistic that both sides in the CTU/CPS contract negotiations will come to an agreement before  school starts for the remaining CPS schools on Sep. 4.  The recent agreement about the longer school day, he argues, has taken the most explosive issue off the table because it allows fired teachers first priority for rehiring.

“This week was the week that they scheduled to talk seriously about compensation,” he says. “It’s sort of the big issue still, but it’s not as big as it was prior to the longer day thing because that’s when the district was facing the reality of maybe having to pay 15 or 20% more to teachers. ”

But the clock is ticking, and the teachers are legally permitted to call a strike any time after Saturday, with ten days’ notice.

Hood also talks about a recent article he wrote highlighting a UCLA study finding that four in ten African American students in the nation’s schools were suspended at least once during the 09/10 school year.

“They talk about the cumulative effect of all of these out-of-school suspensions,” he says.  “Anybody can sit out of school a day or a couple of days and probably get caught up but when you have these repeat offenders who are routinely suspended for long periods of time, how do you make up a week’s worth of school?”

At CPS, which has one of the most stark disparities between percentages of white and black students getting suspended, the administration recently took steps to modify its Student Code of Conduct in an effort to reduce out-of-school suspensions.

Is Jesse Jackson Jr’s stay at Mayo an opportunist effort to avoid political scrutiny? It’s cynical, but Felsenthal says – maybe.

And both guests agree that the thousands of people lining up for their two-year “deferred action for childhood arrivals” registry at Navy Pier yesterday represents a  positive direction for the future of our Republic.

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About Ken

Ken's the host of Chicago Newsroom. A former news director, reporter and radio program host, he's also a past Vice President of the Chicago Headline Club.
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