Chicago Sun-Times
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Recently in Monifa Thomas Category

We're not thrilled about Illinois universities having to take out short-term loans to cover expenses while they wait for the hundreds of millions of dollars owed to them by the state.

But we've run out of other options.

It goes against conventional wisdom, but the amount of time parents are spending with their children has risen dramatically since the 1990s, the New York Times is reporting.

A study by researchers from the University of California, San Diego, found that college-educated women, on average, spent 21.2 hours a week attending to the needs of their children in 2007, compared to about 12 hours a week before 1995. Parenting time for college-educated fathers also more than doubled during that period.

Chicago is known for a lot of things: stunning architecture, deep-dish pizza and political corruption of just about every variety.

Apparently, we can also lay claim to being the "most watched city in America," thanks to the abundance of video surveillance provided by public and private security cameras linked to the city's 911 center.

"I don't think there is another city in the U.S. that has as an extensive and integrated camera network as Chicago has," former Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff told the Associated Press.

City officials won't say exactly how many cameras there are, but it's believed to be more than 10,000.

And today, the city's newly appointed emergency management chief, Jose Santiago, announced a push to get even more private sector businesses to connect their surveillance cameras to the 911 network.

Thinking about all of those cameras on the streets of Chicago left me with mixed feelings.

There's no question that video surveillance can play a big role in solving crimes and sorting out the cause of an accident or emergency.

But who's watching the people watching us to make sure they aren't abusing their access to those cameras?

The majority of Chicagoans, though, seem to be OK with the growing camera network, since police say they only hear about the cameras when people want one installed in their neighborhood or worry one will be removed.

Mayor Richard Daley "could put 10,000 more cameras up and nobody would say anything," Paul Green, a Roosevelt University political science professor, told the AP.

I'm not sure what it says about us that we get more outraged about parking meter fees than the quiet erosion of our privacy.

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Chicago is unique in having local school councils that have the power to hire and fire principals and decide how discretionary school money is spent.

These elected councils, made up of parents, community members and teachers, give people a real say in what happens in their neighborhood public schools.

But if the dearth of applicants for this year's LSC elections is any indication, at least some schools won't have enough candidates to form an effective council.

As of today, only about 2,400 people have signed up to run in next month's elections.

That's far less than the usual range of 6,660 to 8,400 candidates for these volunteer positions, according to the reform group Designs for Change.

The deadline to apply is 3 p.m. Thursday. But we're hoping schools CEO Ron Huberman and Chicago School Board President Mary Richardson-Lowry will extend that deadline by at least two more weeks, given the low number of people who have applied.

Even if that doesn't happen, it's not too late for you to get involved.

LSC election forms are available here.

You don't need to have a background in education to apply, only a commitment to the quality of our schools.

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UPDATE: The deadline to run for a local school council has been extended to March 24.

The Associated Press had a great story this week about General Motors employees who, rather than lose their jobs and health insurance when their hometown GM plant closed, now commute hundreds of miles to out-of-state plants.

For instance, there's Michael Hanley, of Janesville, Wis., who drives more than 1,000 miles to and from his job in Kansas every weekend. During the week, he shares an apartment with other GM workers. Hanley says he does it so that his wife won't lose her health insurance as she battles a medical condition that will likely evolve into cancer. But the trade-off is being an absentee dad to his kids.

Vignettes about Hanley and the other GM workers who followed their jobs out of town highlight the extraordinary sacrifices people are making to avoid joining the ranks of the unemployed and uninsured.

Read the story here.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the Monifa Thomas category.

Kate N. Grossman is the previous category.

Steve Warmbir is the next category.

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