Did Obama Administration’s Policies Contribute to Chicago’s Deadly Violence? 

By Diane Ravitch

For many years, parents and education activists in Chicago have warned that the deliberate destruction of neighborhood public schools was causing a rise in violence. The city, first under Arne Duncan, now under Rahm Emanuel, ignored the critics, and made a virtue of closing public schools, opening charter schools, and sending kids long distances to new schools. Mayor Emanuel recognized that the critics’ complaints had some validity. He didn’t stop the school closings–in fact, he closed 50 public schools in a single day, an unprecedented action in American history. But to assuage the critics, he established “safe passages,” supposedly to assure students’ safety as they adapted to new and longer routes to their new schools. In 2013, a student was raped while walking to school on a “safe passage” route.

Nonetheless, murders and violence in Chicago are at a 20-year high this year.

Arne Duncan expressed his sorrow about the spike in violence, but still sees no connection between his policies as City Superintendent and Secretary of Education and the nasty consequences of destabilizing neighborhoods and communities.

Duncan was first to use school closings as “reform.” The first school he closed and restaffed was Dodge Elementary School. He was proud of Dodge, which was his first turnaround. When President Obama announced that he was appointing Duncan as Secretary of Education in 2008, he did the announcement at Dodge. The president said Duncan had the “courage” to close the school and start over. A few years later, Dodge was rated a failing school and closed again

Opening schools, closing schools, breaking up neighborhoods and communities. Making children walk through unfamiliar neighborhoods and gang territory to get to school. Not a recipe for safety or success.


The Truth About ‘False Balance’ Coverage of the Clinton and Trump campaigns


There are plenty of times when the media does a sloppy job of making coverage decisions. It overplays stories, reaches unfounded conclusions and publishes pieces that ought to be killed. But these calls should be based on the individual merits of the stories, not a guiding philosophy that encourages value judgments.

In the case of the Clinton Foundation, The Times started with a legitimate issue: did the former secretary of state give improper access to foreign countries that donated tens of millions of dollars to her family foundation? That’s a question voters deserve to have answered. In fact, reporting by The Times and others has turned up so many potential conflicts that the foundation decided to stop accepting foreign government funding if Clinton becomes president.

On the other hand, some foundation stories revealed relatively little bad behavior, yet were written as if they did. That’s not good journalism. But I suspect the explanation lies less with making matchy-matchy comparisons of the two candidates’ records than with journalists losing perspective on a line of reporting they’re heavily invested in.

I asked Amy Chozick, the lead Clinton reporter and author of several foundation stories, for her view on false balance in The Times’s political coverage.

“I hear a lot from readers concerned about ‘false balance,’” she said, “and while we need to be cautious about falling into that trap, a general election campaign between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump means both candidates’ records, positions and backgrounds should be equally scrutinized and, when appropriate, compared and contrasted.”

This, of course, is not a typical election. Trump is so erratic and his comments so inflammatory that many in his own party have rejected him. But it is also true that these are two presidential candidates with the lowest approval ratings in history. Neither is very trusted or liked. Which means if ever there was a time to shine light in all directions, this is it.

If Trump is unequivocally more flawed than his opponent, that should be plenty evident to the voting public come November. But it should be evident from the kinds of facts that bold and dogged reporting unearths, not from journalists being encouraged to impose their own values to tip the scale.

Read the full essay here: The Truth About ‘False Balance’ – The New York Times

How Donald Trump retooled his charity to spend other people’s money 

An investigation of the Donald J. Trump Foundation — including examinations of 17 years of tax filings and interviews with more than 200 individuals or groups listed as donors or beneficiaries — found that it collects and spends money in a very unusual manner.

By David A. Fahrenthold of the Washington Post

Donald Trump was in a tuxedo, standing next to his award: a statue of a palm tree, as tall as a toddler. It was 2010, and Trump was being honored by a charity — the Palm Beach Police Foundation — for his “selfless support” of its cause.

His support did not include any of his own money.

Instead, Trump had found a way to give away somebody else’s money and claim the credit for himself.

Trump had earlier gone to a charity in New Jersey — the Charles Evans Foundation, named for a deceased businessman — and asked for a donation. Trump said he was raising money for the Palm Beach Police Foundation.

The Evans Foundation said yes. In 2009 and 2010, it gave a total of $150,000 to the Donald J. Trump Foundation, a small charity that the Republican presidential nominee founded in 1987.

Then, Trump’s foundation turned around and made donations to the police group in South Florida. In those years, the Trump Foundation’s gifts totaled $150,000.

Trump had effectively turned the Evans Foundation’s gifts into his own gifts, without adding any money of his own.

Read the full report here: How Donald Trump retooled his charity to spend other people’s money – The Washington Post