Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers. Episode 63. Mark Miller and Dr. Dexter Voisin. The Trauma Show.

As I watched the video of two young African American men being handcuffed and arrested in a Philadelphia Starbucks – arrested for the crime on sitting two minutes without ordering anything – I was struck by how calm they seemed.

And then I thought about past videos of Black men being shot and killed in situations not so different from what occurred in the Starbucks in Rittenhouse Square.

Not resisting or arguing at a moment like that was a form of self-care and protection.

In a way you could say it was a form of coping with the trauma of American racism, both personal an institutional.

That was the topic of today’s Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers.

Our guests are Mark Miller, author of Jolt, Stories of Trauma and Transformation and the University of Chicago’s Dr. Dexter Voisin. Dr. Voisin studies the impact of racism and violence on young people.

Some studies suggest that the impact of trauma is imbedded in our DNA and passed on from one generation to the next.

I wondered about the effects of racism and violent trauma on our nation and on our nation’s DNA.

Or the trauma of capitalism.

An hour was not nearly enough time.

The episode of Hitting Left is here.


Red state teacher revolt moves to AZ.


Thursday Arizona teachers voted to strike for more school funding.

78% percent of Arizona teachers voted to reject Governor Ducey’s offer of a 20% raise by 2020, pointing out that the offer of a raise without more funding for public education will hurt schools and students.

Arizona is a right-to-work state. Strikes are illegal. By state law teachers who strike can lose their certification to teach.

As in the other states hit by the red state teacher revolt, the movement has been driven by a grassroots organization, Arizona Educators United that did not exist a few weeks ago.

The NEA affiliated union is working with Arizona Educators United, but has warned it’s members of the dangers.

The Arizona Education Association has warned its 20,000 members about a 1971 Arizona attorney general opinion saying a statewide strike would be illegal under common law and participants could lose their teaching credentials.”

It appears that the threats have not scared anyone from taking this first-ever state-wide vote to strike.


The strange love affair between Illinois pro-gun Congressman Rodney Davis and the IEA.

The IEA Representative Assembly is this weekend in Rosemont, Illinois. I am retired and no longer an IEA member, no longer a RA delegate (after being one for 20 years). I wrote this post February following the murders of students and teachers at Marjory Stone Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. It asks the RA to direct the IEA to stop political contributions to politicians like Rodney Davis (IEA endorsed) who receive money from the NRA. I understand that some delegates will propose this action. It would be a meaningful, rather than a symbolic, thing to do.

Fred Klonsky

untitled Pro-gun Republican Congressman Rodney Davis and past IEA President Cinda Klickna.

In the wake of the epidemic of school shootings in the United States I wonder how pro-gun, NRA-backed elected officials – particularly a Congressman – could also be endorsed by the Illinois Education Association.


There is Rodney Davis, a down state Republican Congressman who is the IEA’s poster boy for their  bipartisan endorsements and their requirement of electability as a criteria for receiving IEA and NEA PAC dollars.

In 2016 Davis won the NRA endorsement “for his consistently standing strong against President Obama’s and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s gun control agenda.”

That agenda included banning assault rifles like the one used to murder students and teachers at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Davis votes with Trump 95% of the time.

He is an anti-choice, anti-immigrant, anti-Affordable Care Act, pro-corporate tax cuts, Republican.

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ISBE report: CPS special ed services “delayed and denied.”

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A special investigative team of the Illinois State Board of Education reported what special ed parents and teachers already knew: Services have been intentionally delayed and denied.

WBEZ reporter Sarah Karp – who has been on this story like a dog on a bone – summed up the report this way:

It’s important to start by saying that this type of inquiry by the state board of education is unprecedented. The state charged a panel of lawyers to do a very thorough investigation.

They collected more than 8,000 pages of documents and held community meetings and official hearings that included hours and hours of testimony.

The findings are very technical. Special education is complicated and dictated by many laws and rules.

But here’s the bottom line: For the most part, the state panel found systemic problems with the procedures put in place by Chicago Public Schools in the 2016-2017 school year. The panel said some of these new procedures, which are still in place this year, resulted in delays in support for kids or in some cases wrongful denials.

The inquiry team also found that the appeals system put in place for schools to ask for more help for their students was ineffective and led to even more delays and denials.

Here is the press conference held at the State of Illinois Thompson Center in Chicago prior to the ISBE meeting yesterday, Wednesday.

CEO Janice Jackson says she’s no longer using the connected consultants brought in by former Rahm fixer – CPS CEO, Forrest Claypool.

Karp’s reports pointed the finger at Claypool’s connected consultants as those who were mostly ignorant of special education needs and purposes but that created the delay and deny process.

Parents and school advocates remain vigilant.

Raise Your Hand, one such advocacy group posted:

“We are pleased to share that the IL State Board of Education (ISBE) special education panel agreed with the major assertions that 14 organizations made that CPS put in place systemic policies to delay and deny services to students since July 2016. The panel shared its findings at the ISBE board meeting today.

We now must ensure that ISBE puts strong remedies in place for corrective action. The Advocates groups (including RYH) are calling for a 5-year independent monitor to oversee special education and $10M in compensatory services, among other requests that would help ensure children and families receive necessary services.”

“You can’t arrest homelessness away.”

Source: The Columbia Chronicle.

From the Columbia College Chronicle.  Feb 27, 2017

A lack of counseling for children who have experienced trauma can cause them to become “numb to their emotions,” said Waldo Johnson, a professor in the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago.

This February has seen a rise in crime in South and West side communities, including the deaths of multiple children—the youngest being a 2-year-old—as homicide statistics continue to rise in the city, following a year that experienced 762 murders.

With seven homicides, Feb. 22 became the deadliest day of 2017, prompting experts to agree that more needs to be done to head the trauma of city youth.

“You can’t arrest homelessness away,” said Dexter Voisin, another professor in the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. “You can’t arrest lack of opportunity away. Policing is not going to solve this problem by itself.”

According to Voisin, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention—the federal agency responsible for public health—predicted that every homicide in Chicago affects 120 community members. The effects include  post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety in the friends and family of those killed.

Voisin said damage is seen in children who witness a homicide or know the victims, and is directly linked to low school attendance records, unsatisfactory school performance and high dropout rates. Dropping out increases the juvenile’s likelihood of becoming involved in organized crime, he added.

“Often, school counselors will be rushed in, and help will be given to those kids,” Voisin said. “The reality is when you have schools with homicide [victims] or murders in communities, those kids have been experiencing ongoing violence often on a daily basis.”

Constant exposure to violence could cause youth to worry about their own safety, Johnson said, and cause them to acquire a weapon. The most recent community violence instances have dealt with juveniles as the ones pulling the trigger, he added.

“We have to think of those individuals as being lost,” Johnson said. “To be engaged in this kind of behavior certainly suggests that something, with respect to their own lives, have gone awry.”

Johnson and others are concerned about the nearly two-year state budget impasse, which has created funding problems for child services in schools and hospitals that address emotional behavior following a traumatic experience.

“The programs and the services designed to address these very concerns are either at great risk of being reduced or of closing down in the communities where they are needed most,” Johnson said.

Andy Wheeler, a support coordinator at John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital, 1969 Ogden Ave., said he works with a program called Healing Hurt People Chicago.

The program pairs children with a trauma intervention specialist, who builds a relationship with them and encourages them to open up. Specialists follow up with their patients for six months to a year after a trauma incident, to assure they are feeling safe in their school, according to Wheeler.

“Right now, we have such a large caseload and such a long waiting list that we have to prioritize those who have been direct victims of community violence,” Wheeler said. “Anybody dealing with community violence could always use more resources.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is currently directing more funds toward after-school and youth-mentor programs, such as Becoming a Man and Working on Womanhood, both mentoring programs for youth in at-risk neighborhoods, as reported on Sept. 26, 2016 by The Chronicle

Voisin said city officials should be looking at long-term investments similar to what New York City and Washington D.C. did to combat youth violence and homicides—specifically investing in jobs for youth, as well as mentorship programs.

“You can’t tell a kid, ‘Don’t join a gang,’ if you don’t give them an alternative, viable opportunity,” Voisin said.


Dr. Dexter Voisin will be joined by Mark Miller, author of Jolt: Stories of Trauma and Transformation as guests on Friday’s Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers. Live at 11am. 105.5 CDT. Download the Lumpen Radio app. Streaming at http://www.lumpenradio.com. Podcast at hittingleft.libsyn.com and other podcasts hosting sites.

Red state teacher revolt rolls on to AZ.

Arizona educators will vote this week on whether to walk out for more education funding, according to Arizona Educators United, the grassroots group coordinating the #RedForEd movement.

A right-to-work state, the formal national teachers union affiliate, the Arizona Eduction Association, is just one of the groups working with Arizona Educators United – formed a few weeks ago on Facebook,  and others.

Organizers told the 45,000 members of the group’s private Facebook page that they also planned to have another statewide “walk-in” Wednesday, similar to the demonstrations held last week.

In Denver, hundreds of Colorado teachers gathered Monday at the capitol building. The teachers, who gathered just before noon made so much noise that some state representatives and senators left their chambers to watch the rally.

And check this out in the NY Times this morning.

The shorting of pension payments. It’s not just a revenue problem. It’s a poverty problem.

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Amanda Kass on Chicago Tonight.

Amanda Kass, Assistant Director, Center for Municipal Finance, has published a report that looks at the diversion of state money from municipal services to underfunded public pension municipal pensions.

A 2011 state law allows for underfunded local public pensions funds to make a request to the state Comptroller, Susan Mendoza, to garnish state funding that was to go to local governments in order to make their pension payments.

The first case where that has actually happened is Harvey. Harvey is a town south of Chicago that is among the poorest in the state and almost entirely African American.

Harvey already has one of the highest poverty rates and highest property tax rates in Illinois. There is no way it can afford to maintain public services and make their pension payments.

Harvey may be the first town that will face garnishment, but not the last. Kass reports:

Out of 632 police and fire funds, I identified 71 (or 11%) in which actual contributions were 50% or less than what the Department of Insurance said the total contributions should have been during that time. Those funds are located in 54 municipalities, the majority of which (49 funds) are in Cook County or DuPage County. Among the group of 71 funds, the average amount that was contributed between 2003 and 2010 was only about 39% of what DOI said should have been paid. And 24% of the funds received no money from their respective municipality at least once between 2003 and 2010. As a group, these 71 funds are also in worse financial shape than most police and fire pension funds. While the average funded ratio for all funds in 2016 was 60% the average for these 71 is just 47%.

Those of us who are pension activists have consistently argued that the problem with underfunded public pensions in Illinois is insufficient revenue.

But Harvey and other towns in Illinois with high poverty rates can’t solve this problem on their own.

As Amanda Kass points out, “This isn’t just a pension problem or a fiscal mismanagement problem. It’s a poverty problem.”

Kass adds, “Importantly, the new pension funding enforcement mechanism will not resolve any underlying structural issues that may have led to the pension underfunding in the first place.”