Thursday, May 28, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 8.51.14 AM

By Nancy Thorner –

The upscale community of Lake Forest remains in a turmoil over what was to be a fast-track approval at a hurriedly arranged 7:00 a.m. Special Meeting of Lake Forest Board of Education District 115 on Tuesday, May 26, to discuss the hiring of Dr. Chala Holland, an African American administrator now serving as assistant principal at Oak Park and River Forest High School, as the sole candidate for the position of principal at Lake Forest High School. Ms. Holland was picked from a pool of 25 candidates. Eight were interviewed, culling the pool down to three. Through interviews conducted by teachers and administrators, Holland was chosen as the finalist.

The LFHS principal search began in March of this year to replace Barry Rogers (LFHS also has an assistant principal) who resigned from his LFHS position after only two years of what had been a successful tenure. Roger’s resignation was followed in short order with his appointment to another administrative position, that of an Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, a shared position in Lake Forest Districts 67 and 115.

Although the administration tried to keep Dr. Holland’s name a secret, even stating in an email to parents on May 25 that “it remains by necessity and law a personnel matter required to be confidential”, this was not to be. The leaking of Holland’s name as the administration’s #1 choice for principal happened on Friday, May 15.  It didn’t take long until concerned citizens in Lake Forest, wanting to know more about the administration’s #1 candidate for principal, used Google as their search engine. Links to Dr. Holland’s Facebook page, her website’s consulting firm of Holland Educational Consulting Group (HECG), and other social media accounts were found and examined.  Most disconcerting is that less than 24 hours after the Google search began all of Ms. Holland’s information had been scrubbed from the Internet.

Among the more inflammatory remarks on a recovered cache of erased Holland posts, doubly offensive because of the job Holland is seeking, purports that “tracking is a beacon of white privilege and institutionalized racism.” Regarding tracking, it separates children into various groups backed on their ability in coursework specific to AP honors, college prep and remedial.  A February 22, 2014 post on the HECG Facebook page showed an image of Malcolm X with this overlay quote in white letters: “Only a FOOL Would Let His Enemy Teach his Children.” Another HECG website post of January 1, 2013, focused on academic tracking, how it perpetrates racism in schools, and about white privilege and internalized racism.

The initial secrecy over principal candidate Chala Holland (pronounced Shay-la, who was in the audience at the Tuesday morning special board meeting), was further compounded by what the Internet search revealed.  As would be expected, the information spread quickly through social media. Accordingly, the stage was set for a standing room only, vocal crowd that filled the District 115 Board of Education meeting room at its Lake Forest West Campus on Tuesday, May 26.   Public interest was further enlisted through the initiative and courage of a LFHS Freshman who started an online petition late on Saturday, May 23rd, requesting signatures of those protesting the hiring of Holland.  By the morning of the special board of education meeting, Tuesday, May 26, over 546 signatures had been collected.  A bright, posed and well-spoken young man offered these comments during the time of public comments on Tuesday, May 26.

As to why the Special Board of Education meeting was set at 7:00 a.m. the day after Memorial Day, school board president, Reese Marcusson, explained:  “The candidate had been selected [interview process was complete] and action was called for.”  Continuing: “It is only at a school board meeting where business can be discussed outside of an executive meeting. Finding a time suitable for all board members to attend is difficult.  Schedules have to be rearranged.”

Remarks by Superintendent Michael Simeck informed the standing room only crowd about the very talented Dr. Chala Holland, who, by the way, is a step about Simeck in having earned her doctorate degree. As is indicative of the process used in the highly competitive school districts here in northern Illinois, and why salaries are so astronomical in comparison to the rest of Illinois, Simeck went on to say, “The more talented the candidate is, the more likely the candidate will be snapped up by another school district. Time is rarely your friend, so we had to move quickly.”

According to information received from “Open The Books” (A Project of American Transparency), following are the 2014 base salaries for 1) Superintendent Michael Simeck ($204,598); 2) Barry Rogers when principal at LFHS ($206,945); and the present assistant LFHS principal ($204,598).  Forty percent of teachers and administrators at LFHS receive salaries at the $100,000 to $100,125 level, while 21% are compensated at the $125,000+ level. These salaries represent only “pensionable” salary — the annual amount that figures into the eventual calculation of the employees retirement annuity and are not total cost which includes perks and pension benefits.

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 8.52.25 AM

The board and superintendent Michael Simeck listened to more than two dozen comments from residents of the community, as well as colleagues and neighbors of the candidate.  Comments were limited to three minutes; audience members were requested to hold their applause.  Some booing did erupt, which the board president nipped in its bud, when non-residents used the podium to speak in defense of Ms. Holland.  Despite rhetoric relating how successful Ms. Holland was when employed in Evanston and now at Oak Park High School, it was  concurred that Lake Forest residents should be given the priority in speaking.  As one Lake Forest resident remarked, “Outsiders need not preach to us, for how can they know what is best for the community of Lake Forest?

One non-resident even suggested that Lake Forest, as part of a Global Community, must adapt to what is a changing society.

Residents offering comments were respectful in how they addressed the board, often expressing gratitude for the work of school board members.  Two resident speakers did suggest that Superintendent Simeck resign from his position.

Major concerns and questions expressed as public comments:

  •  “Why did Ms. Holland scrub her Internet sites to hide her opinions from the community?”
  • “Who told Ms. Holland to scrub her website and why?  It’s now down for maintenance?”
  • “Take a deep breath and delay hiring.  An interim principal can be named at Lake Forest High School (There is already an assistant principal in place.).”
  • “Superintendent Simeck seems to have his own agenda for Lake Forest High School.  If any administration has an agenda it wishes to put in place, it should start its own school.  I don’t want my children to be an experiment of some future idea that might not work.”
  • “The ideas and core values of the students must be considered and those of the community.  Does Superintendent Simeck believe he knows the core values of Lake Forest resident better than the residents themselves do?  An agenda is being pushed that is not in keeping with the core values of this community. Truth is like a lion.  You don’t have to defend it. Truth needs no explanation.”
  • In a tongue and cheek comment: “Could it be that all of Holland’s websites were removed for maintenance at the same time?”
  • “Superintendent Simeck’s action represents a hostile takeover of the Lake Forest School System.  Just say ‘no’ when it comes to renewing Simeck’s contract.”
  • “Were the views held by Ms. Holland known by Simeck when he recommended Holland?  What could Simeck have been thinking in hiring someone so obsessed with race?”
  • “You can see that I am brown.  It takes hard work to succeed.  My children fit into Lake Forest School System.  I don’t want compassion from anyone because of the color of my skin.”
  • As stated by an educated black Lake Forest resident and parent:  “My children are doing well.  I found Holland’s posts very divisive.”
  • “It’s about Holland’s character — end of story.  About scrubbing her social media — or who told her to do so — is proof of her character.”
  • “Ms. Holland may be brilliant, but she would be more effective in another situation given the right setting and circumstance.  Hiring Ms. Holland would be a disservice to the children.  It’s all about kids at the end of the day.”

Following the public comments the board and the administration went into executive session. Announced after the meeting was reconvened was that the discussion about Chala Holland’s candidacy would extend for several more days. Another public meeting will be held sometime between the evening of June 1 and the board’s regularly scheduled meeting on June 9th.

What happened in Lake Forest is an example of what grassroots activism can do through social media to rally individuals together for a common cause.  Although the saga continues in Lake Forest, it remains troubling that Chala Holland seems to view tracking as some kind of a white supremacy thing.  She might even be described as a revolutionary intellectual if her views weren’t in sync with what is so prevalent in today’s society by those on the Left:  an obsession by white supremacy and racism as a reflection of the ills of society.

Although offensive, this thought process does not describe Lake Forest High School, or the community as a whole, with its mostly white population.  It would not be impertinent to inquire whether Superintendent Michael Simeck is attempting to implement a major culture shift at Lake Forest High School?

Cultural shifts through experimentation that propose to bring fairness to all, especially to those perceived to be poor and less fortunate, are taking place across the spectrum of American society.  Public schools are not excluded from the perceived leftist philosophy that white students must be made to understand that being white is not a sign of privilege.  It is through hard work and effort that LFHS students do well academically, not because most of them are white.

Superintendent Simeck seems eager to jump on the band wagon for social reform. The question remains how to fit a square peg in a round hole if the board and Superintendent go their own way and hire Dr. Chala Holland as principal of Lake Forest High School.

The author would like to hear how other school districts in Illinois are dealing with the issues of white supremacy and racism.

Technorati Tags: Illinois Review, Lake Forest Schools, Nancy Thorner

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Thorner: Vouchers in Waukegan? It’s a real possibility

Waukegan families learn about the possibility of school choice for their kids | Image Source

By Nancy Thorner –

Last weekend in Chicago, Ted Dabrowski, Vice President of Policy at the Illinois Policy Institute, spoke at a conference hosted by the Franklin Center about his efforts to initiate a voucher program in northwest suburban Waukegan.

Dabrowksi, a passionate supporter of school choice, described the power of school choice as “allowing parents and students to decide which school choice option is the best fit for them.” Milwaukee, Wisconsin was cited as having a long standing voucher program with good results.

Dabrowski rightly referred to the Waukegan public schools an educational tragedy with low-performing schools, also prevalent in other Illinois cities, especially in Chicago. Chicago is home to 45% of the state’s lowest-performing elementary schools and high schools.

Accordingly, half of the state’s lowest-performing schools are located outside of Chicago’s borders in Aurora, East St. Louis, Rockford, Springfield, and Waukegan. Surely the family members of students in these districts want the option to have their loved one attend a higher-quality school, realizing just how important a quality education is for their child’s future.

About Waukegan: With a population of more than 90,000, the depressed city of Waukegan sits on the shores of Lake Michigan just minutes away from the prosperous communities of Lake Bluff and Lake Forest, yet Waukegan is as different as night and day. The collapse of manufacturing led to a massive shift in the city’s demographics. Houses can be bought for almost nothing.  As such, low income families have moved in. Hispanics now make up more than half of Waukegan’s total population, representing nearly 77% students in Waukegan schools.

With the above facts in mind, Dabrowski, in concert with the Illinois Policy Institute, perceived Waukegan — about 40 miles north of Chicago — to be fertile ground to introduce a voucher program.

With $12,000 spent per pupil, only 18% of the students graduate college ready. Additionally, because of the low performance of Waukegan Community Unit School District #60, the Illinois State Board of Education, or lSBE, had designated the school district for a possible takeover.

In introducing his voucher program to Waukegan residents, Ted Dabrowski and his team knocked on 13,000 doors with a petition in hand to educate residents.  Realizing the program had to be packaged in different ways to Hispanics, blacks, and a white minority, his petition advocating school choice was printed in both English and Spanish.

An important observation to make is that the Waukegan voucher does not involve fighting for change at the legislative level, but instead at the grassroots level.  Although the Waukegan voucher initiative is still in its infancy, a recent change in the Waukegan School Board could move the project along.  In the recent 2015 election, several incumbent members were defeated by pro-reform candidates, increasing the potential for school choice., a delightful short video by the Illinois Policy Institute, can be viewed by clicking on the right side of this link page under the title, “School Choice in Waukegan.” This promotional video has been utilized in Waukegan and other venues to educate the public about the benefits of a voucher program.  The video was likewise shown by Dabrowski to the assembled conference participants to begin his presentation.

Featured in this whimsical, cartoon-designed video is Erica, a freshman at Waukegan High School, which, the video says, is not the best fit for her.  Because her parents lack the money to send Erica to a school where she might blossom, she remains stuck in a school that is determined by her address. conveys a positive messaging of school choice without bashing traditional public schools, for who can oppose giving parents the right to choose?

As far as school choice becoming a legislative reality here in Illinois, it doesn’t look all that promising in the near future.

It was in 2010 when Rev. Meeks, a black minister and an elected representative from Chicago’s inner city, sponsored a Chicago School Choice bill which called for a voucher program. The bill passed in the IL Senate but not the House.  Although many current legislators do believe in school choice, after Meeks’ failure the legislation was never revived to be acted upon.

In expressing how virtual schools  are not for everyone,  Dabrowski described his experience in trying to start a digital learning charter school in January of 2012.  It was to cover eighteen school districts with its aim of getting 1,000 kids to be part of the system under K12 Inc (The  K12 International Academy is a fully accredited, private online K-12 school that liberates students from rigid schedules, classes that move too fast or too slow, bullying, and other factors that stand in the way of success.). Not only did Dabrowski’s proposal fail, but a one-year moratorium was issued against establishing a virtual learning charter school.

The following two arguments were proposed by Dabrowski to consider when confronted by individuals who object to vouchers.

1.  Pubic education is the education of the pubic, no matter what form it takes.
2.  It’s not about what we teach, but how we educate.
The efforts being made by Ted Dabrowski on behalf of Chicago’s Illinois Policy Institute could help students succeed in Waukegan without excuses being made for low income or illegal immigrant students.
As Dabrowski remarked, “Going the grassroots way, engaging families and children hoping for a better education, is the best way to compliment a lobbying effort in Springfield.”
About the conference
“Amplify School Choice Chicago” was held May 15-16 at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers. Sponsored by Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity, a non-profit organization that promotes a well-informed electorate and a more transparent government, Franklin Center’s new project, “Watchdog Arena”, headquartered in Alexander, Virginia, spearheaded the Chicago event coordinated and led by Josh Kaib.  Mary Ellen Beatty, the Director of Journalism Operations for the Franklin Center, accompanied Mr.Kaib to Chicago. is a news site powered by informed writers, bloggers, and citizen journalists. It will serve as a national publishing platform for articles that expose waste, fraud and abuse as well as examine a plethora of policy issues at all levels of government.  Other Watchdog Arena events held this year were in Washington, D.C.; Phoenix, Arizona; Denver Colorado; and Atlanta, Georgia.

Speakers heard during Chicago’s two-day Amplify School Choice conference included: Ted Dabrowski, Vice President of Policy at the Illinois Policy Institute; Andrew Broy, President of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools; Bruno Behend, Senior Fellow for Education Policy at the Heartland Institute; Myles Mendoza, Executive Director of One Chance Illinois; and Illinois Representative Jeanne Ives.

The following School Choice options were presented during the conference as alternatives to the traditional “brick and mortar” public schools, especially to serve the needs of children living in poor neighborhood.

  • Traditional public schools
  • Charter schools (publicly-funded, privately run
  • Vouchers (“Scholarships”)
  • Education Savings Accounts (ESAs)
  • Homeschooling
  • Private schools

Participants also participated in a tour of Leo High School led by its president, Patrick Hickey. Leo High School has been providing quality Catholic eduction to young men from Chicago’s South Side since 1926.  100% of its seniors have graduated in the last six years, and more than 96% of them have gone on to college.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Thorner: “Blended learning” could be an answer for America’s education woes


By Nancy Thorner – 

Bruno Behrend, a senior Fellow for Education Policy at The Heartland Institute in Chicago, was one of the featured speakers on Friday, May 15 at the two-day Amplify School Choice conference held in Chicago, organized by Josh Kaib, Assistant Editor of Watchdog Arena, a project of the Franklin Center, located in Alexandria, Virginia.

Behrend gave his unconditional support for “blended learning,” a formal education program in which a student learns at least in part through the delivery of content and instruction via digital and online media. Through blended learning there is some element of student control over time, place, path, or pace of learning. Blended learning can be effective in traditional “brick-and-mortar” public school when face-to-face classroom methods are combined with computer-mediated activities.

Touted by Behrend was Khan Academy, an all-digital learning site where students can learn at their own pace. Khan Academy is already being used in public schools by students to complete homework assignments. The Khan Academy Internet page states:”You only have to know one thing:  You can learn anything.  It’s Free.  For everyone. Forever.”

As an example of blended learning, Behrend spoke of a happening in Ethiopia where it took only five months after the installation of computer software for students to learn English without the help of a teacher. Digital learning allows children to learn lots of different things at their own pace, enabling them to learn more when relying on their own ingenuity and curiosity, than when told what to expect from any given situation.

Behrend believes the battle for school choice is in danger of being lost. As stated by Behrend: “It’s difficult to beat a failing system if the support level for the status quo system is above 50%.”

In referring to an incumbent school district as a district’s own system, taxpayers must understand that their existing or incumbent educational system “sucks,” he said, a difficult task because of the propensity of trained school official to misrepresent the facts. Above all, Behrend cautioned not to attack teachers, but to instead attack unions when talking about school choice.

He noted these important benefits of school choice:

  • Better education.
  • More parental support and control.
  • Less expensive/More money for learning, not bureaucracy.
  • Less government propaganda/indoctrination.
  • More freedom.
  • More diversity.

The U.S. keeps spending more and more on education, but the results aren’t apparent. While the average national per student spending on education is about $12,000, 80% of the expenses incurred by a school district involve teacher and administrative salaries and pensions obligations.

In Illinois, the average teacher salary is $74,000, while the average superintendent makes $124,000.  These salaries, however, pale in comparison to teacher and superintendent salaries received by those employed in the upscale and wealthy school districts located in northern Illinois, where it’s not uncommon for high school teacher to have a base salary of $115,000.

In commenting about vouchers, Behrend placed a voucher program above that of a charter school.  Nevertheless, children in both instances perform better than had been the norm in the replaced schools.

It was not at all surprising when Behrend cited home schooling as the best form of school choice.

Behrend cautioned against using the term “voucher” because of the bad vibes associated with the word by those who insist, among other reasons, that vouchers drain school districts of dollars.  So as not to lose the voucher fight, Behrend called for a rehabilitation of the word.  Bruno suggested redefining vouchers by calling them “Opportunity Scholarships”, favoring that the money follow the child directly to the provider such as in  Education Savings Accounts. This method provides children with a much broader variety of education.  It is then possible for parents and students to select from providers that offer every imaginable learning system, from the traditional school to online-schools beaming content to computers on demand.

In speaking convincingly about difference forms of school choice, Behrend didn’t mince words when stating that “the Government Education Complex must be killed as it doesn’t represent the interests of the children, parents, or the taxpayers. It has outlived its usefulness. Stop trying to fix it.”

Continuing, Behrend noted that the future is already here, although not yet evenly distributed, with a transformation taking place from the 19th century Government Education Complex to a 21st Open Source Learning Network.

With a 21st century network educational system that incorporates blended learning, schools can offer programs that will radically change education for the better, essential to improving this nation’s generally low education scores in comparison to other nations.  Even when employing incremental steps in education reform, regular evaluations must be conducted to ascertain whether a given reform will actually lead to real transformation.  Granted, teacher unions will fight tooth and nail to prevent meaningful school reform from happening.

The following argument position was shared by Behrend as a way to bring individuals around to considering and hopefully accepting school choice:  “Do you really wish to fund the system itself instead of the children?”

He described Common Core as the “last dying gasp of centralization.”  Killing centralization requires undermining the premises of the entire education system that has been accepted since 1840.  It won’t be easy, but since centralization is already unpopular, winning the debate will be easier than it appears to be. Through offering school choice to parent and children, it will soon become apparent how choice is a much better option for children.

Is it fair that good education is available for the lucky few, while the unlucky remainder get stuck in America’s under performing schools which Bruno calls “urban drop-out factories”?   School choice could change the present, unacceptable situation.

Another conference speaker, Ted Dabrowski of the Illinois Policy Institute’s presentation was featured on Illinois Review earlier this week. In “Thorner:  Vouchers in Waukegan?  It’s a real possibility” special attention was directed at Dabrowski’s account of his grassroots voucher program in the depressed city of Waukegan, Illinois — in association with the IPI — to give poor and illegal immigrant children a chance to succeed as an alternative to remaining in a failed school system.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Thorner: Leo Catholic High School students provide evidence favoring school choice

Screen Shot 2015-05-23 at 11.36.11 AM

By Nancy Thorner –

A great example in Chicago of how school choice works, and works well, is Leo Catholic High School, a private all-male, secondary parochial high school located at 7901 South Sangamon Street in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood of Chicago. Leo is home to a predominantly African–American student body, and the Chicago Archdiocese school is named in honor of Pope Leo XIII. Established in 1926 as the Congregation of Christian Brothers‘ first school in Chicago, Leo has educated thousands of boys from Chicago’s South Side and suburbs.

Student enrolled at Leo come from 26 different zip codes. Currently enrolled are several white students who live in the Canaryville section of Chicago, a largely Irish community on the South Side adjacent to Bridgeport. Leo’s current student body numbers 153 students with a full-time staff of 23.

Leo Alumni Succeed

Considering the success of Leo students who are guided by their school motto — “Deeds Not Words” — since 1926 Leo is where young men have learned to become leaders. Framed photos of successful alumni adorn the walls at Leo High School. Below are but a few of many successful Leo graduates:

  • Tom Garrity (class of 1930), a general and head of Air Force Logistics Command during World War II.
  • Kevin McCarthy, a Secret Service agent that took a bullet for President Ronald Reagan in 1981.

When touring Leo High School, a steep climb to the second floor revealed a most unusual site:  a full-fledged boxing ring.  Thanks to Mike Joyce, the Leo High School Boxing Club is the only on-campus high school boxing program in the city.  Having graduated from Leo High School in 1986, Mike Joyce has served there as a volunteer coach since 1996. The Leo Boxing Program Coach started by Joyce has produced many Golden Glove Champions.  A sign on the wall above the boxing ring displayed these words:

Screen Shot 2015-05-23 at 11.36.23 AM

Leo High School Tour Reflections

There were many favorable impressions when touring Leo High School.  Meeting our charter bus as it pulled up in front of Leo High School was the president of Leo Catholic High School, Dan McGrath, who in  reflecting his great pride for Leo in its 89th year, cited this amazing statistic: There has been a 100% graduate rate for the past six years, with 94% of Leo students going on to college. Such was reflected on the orange and black sign (Leo school colors) located in front of the school.  There are 27 students in this year’s graduating class. Behind the sign was a Veteran’s Memorial to honor the war dead, described as keeping in the proud military tradition of Leo High School.  Likewise noted by McGrath was that St. Sabina Church was located just down the road from the high school.

During the course of the tour these facts were related about Leo High School:

  • Educational experiences for Leo students include speakers of note and field trips.
  • One-half of the individuals that work at Leo are Leo graduates.
  • No student who wants a good education is turned away. Leo expects its students to succeed and to be the best they can be, as do parents who have a financial obligation.
  • Leo’s tuition is $7,000 a year, but no one pays this amount. 50 hours of volunteer work by parents over the course of the school years will lower tuition down to $5,000.  Alumni are also very generous, bringing the average tuition cost down to $4,000 per year. This is in contrast to $15,000 actual cost at Leo High School to educate one student.  Based on 2014-15 published tuition rates, the average tuition of South Side Catholic Schools is $10,000.
  • Leo does face competition from other charter schools.  There are five in the 17th ward.
  • Leo provides a rigorous college prep program.  Although no direct subsidies are received from a religious institution (Leo does have a chapel), Leo benefit from the Big Shoulders Fund that supplies support to Catholic schools in the neediest areas of inner-city Chicago.  Big Shoulders performs prep work free for Leo students.
  • All teachers are non-union.  Teachers remain at the school for a good while, consider it a calling, and are dedicated to helping students succeed.  Teachers willingly stay after school to help students who fall behind.
  • There is a very supportive and interested alumni, loyal and dedicated, who often show up at Leo unannounced. This year’s alumni banquet attracted 700 Leo grads and guests.
  • Although the Leo high school building is structurally old and lacks the frills and attractiveness of school buildings located in more affluent areas, the structure is solid and was built to last.  Upkeep and maintenance costs are therefore kept at a minimum.


Nancy Thorner on tour at Leo Catholic High School – photo by Mark Weyermuller

A pressing problem facing Leo High School is that it’s land-locked, making expansion of the campus difficult. With this in mind a small land acquisition is being considered, made difficult because most of the money raised goes for tuition. Active parents’ and alumni clubs contribute much to the school’s financial well-being. As to the gym on the 3rd floor, it needs to be replaced.  And despite having won 7 state championships, Leo doesn’t even have a track to call its own.

When visiting the cafeteria, students  were dressed in either a solid colored shirt and tie or wearing an orange Leo polar shirt which students must buy. Although informed initially that a tie and shirt was the dress code from October thought April, it was later stated that a tie and shirt could be worn anytime if a student chose to do so, even in September and May.

Students Display Future Success and Leadership Skills

My most favorable impressions of Leo were of the students themselves.  The students assigned to be on hand to answer questions that might arise during the tour were polite, friendly, and well spoken.  As to this question posed by Thorner to the school’s president, Dan McGrath, during the course of the tour, “Do students always communicate so well in standard English?” His response:  “Although students might not do so when away from school, it is required of them when in school.”

It was also noticeable how all students held eye contact when spoken to or in responding. McGrath explained how eye contact does not come naturally to Leo students. This attribute acquires much work to achieve.

It is evident that a private charter school like Leo High School is educating young men who are ready and willing to make a difference in society.  It amazed me to hear that no policeman is needed to maintain order or to ensure a good learning environment. This is in contrast to what Leo students would face if enrolled instead in a Chicago public school mandated by their home address.

Other stories from Amplify School Choice Conference include:

Thorner:  Vouchers in Waukegan?  It’s a real possiblity

Thorner:  “Blended learning” could be an answer for America’s education woes 


Tuesday, May 12, 2015


powered by Typepad

Saturday, May 09, 2015


powered by Typepad

Contact IR

Thursday, April 30, 2015

By Nancy Thorner – 

With the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade and its companion case Doe v. Bolton establishing “constitutionalized” abortion in all 50 states, the United States is one of the most permissive in its treatment of abortion. It ranks with China, North Korea and Canada as the only countries in the world that permit abortion for any reason after fetal viability.

Wishing to spread the message of the Reagan Revolution, the Republican Assembly of Lake County (RALC) annually sponsors  a Reagan Day Dinner. The Republican Assembly of Lake County is associated with the National Federation of Republican Assemblies. The first Republican Assembly was founded in 1934 in California.  Ronald Reagan called the Republican Assemblies “the conscience of the Republican Party,” while others have called them “the Tea Party” before there was a Tea Party.

This year, RALC’s Reagan Day Dinner’s featured Chicago area’s own Clarke D. Forsythe, senior counsel of Americans United for Life  and author of “Abuse of Discretion: The Inside Story of Roe v. Wade.

Ronald Reagan would have been pleased to welcome Clarke D. Forsythe to the podium.

In 1983 Reagan wrote an article, “Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation,” in which the president said “Abortion concerns not only the unborn child, it concerns every one of us,” and further wrote, “We cannot diminish the value of one category of human life—the unborn—without diminishing the value of all human life.”

Ronald Reagan was America’s most pro-life president, Forsythe said. Shocked over his signing of a 1967 bill as governor of California, Reagan later considered its signing as the greatest disappointment of his life. Such was the guiding factor that helped Reagan become a strong human life advocate, even to promote the overturn of Roe vs. Wade.  Reagan’s legacy, according to Forsythe, was that presidents can’t solve issues all by themselves; states should have the most effect on abortion policy.

According to Forsythe, prudence in politics has been lost. That raises the question as to how America should move forward to preserve human life.

Abraham Lincoln reacted with disgust to the Dred Scott decision of 1858 by opposing the extension of slavery. He believed if slavery was confined to the original slave states, it would die its own natural death. Overall, the Dred Scott decision had the effect of widening the political and social gap between North and South and moved the nation closer to the brink of Civil War.

Throughout much of American history, prior to Roe vs Wade in 1973, states banned or severely restricted abortion. Law enacted in the 19th and early 20th centuries often targeted abortion providers rather than pregnant women seeking abortions, as the aim was not to prosecute, but to protect pregnant women and their unborn babies from injury.

The decades that followed introduced the women’s suffrage fight, followed by the feminist movement, which ushered in great political and sexual freedom at the cultural, social, and legal levels. The change was well underway when the Supreme Court tried to fashion a national solution to the abortion issue in 1973.

Also of importance in accepting abortion at the state level were campaigns against population growth, increased marketing of the contraceptive pill in the 1960s, funding and support from wealthy benefactors such as John Rockefeller and Warren Buffett, and the American Medical Association’s eventual endorsement of abortion reform.

It also didn’t help when falsehoods were spread by advocates of abortion reform in the 1960s and 1970s, such as the lie that thousands of women died annually from illegal “back alley” abortions.  Not unlike what often happens today to sway public opinion, advocates of abortion reform thought that deceptive means were justifiable to promote their cause.

Part 2 will explain how “Roe” — a reckless and lawless decision — became law of the land in 1973.  Also, why the times are right for Republicans to grasp the life issue as a winning one.

Thursday, April 30, 2015 at 08:30 AM | Permalink

Monday, May 04, 2015



By Nancy Thorner – 

The fight for women’s suffrage, followed by the feminist movement, ushered in great sexual profligacy at the cultural, social, and legal levels. By 1970 abortion laws had been passed in many states under which a woman could legally receive an abortion. The result: There were court challenges to many older state abortion laws.

It was in the early 70’s that the Supreme Court agreed to hear two cases challenging laws that restricted abortion. In each case the Court affirmed the lower courts’ conclusions and struck down both statutes by a vote of 7-2, declaring the statues unconstitutional because they denied a woman the right to decide whether to carry a pregnancy to term, believing that both cases violated the privacy and liberty interests contained in the Constitution.

In case one, Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court considered a challenge to a Texas law outlawing abortion in all cases except those in which the life of a mother was at risk. In a second case, Doe v. Bolton (1973), the focus was on a more lenient Georgia law that allowed a woman to terminate her pregnancy when either her life or her health was in danger.

The Court did address this question in its ruling: As states have an “important and legitimate interest” in protecting the health of the mother and even “potentiality of human life” inside her, when does a state’s legitimate concern for maternal and fetal protection rise to the level of compelling interest?  In addressing the issue, Justice Harry Blackmun drew up a Three Tier Trimester Framework that can be viewed here.

While the Dred Scott decision of 1858 declared a slave not a person, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court Roe vs. Wade ruling (and its companion case Doe v. Bolton) denied fetal viability, thereby establishing “constitutionalized” abortion, having the effect of nullifying the abortion laws of all 50 states. 


Events leading up to the sweeping Roe abortion decision

Not being the standard practice for the Supreme Court to accept cases that decide political issues, what happened in 1973 to allow the Supreme Court justices to issue such a sweeping abortion decision that created a torment of unrest throughout this nation, which has allowed the Supreme Court for 42 years to assume the role of the National Abortion Control Board.

Few if any constitutional scholars think Justice Harry Blackmun’s majority opinion in Roe v. Wade(1973) was flawless.

Clark D. Forsythe called Roe vs. Wade “a reckless and lawless decision.” Forsythe shared little known details gleamed from the published papers of Supreme Court Justices as featured guest at the Republican Assembly of Lake County Ronald Reagan dinner on Saturday, April 25, at Lambs Farm in Libertyville.  His expressed thoughts now form the basis of his book, Abuse of Discretion: The Inside Story of Roe v. Wade, which lays out the many missteps, errors and fabrications made by the justices in deciding

According to Clark D. Forsythe, Senior Counsel of Americans United for Life, a serious mistake was made after the Court decided it did have jurisdiction to hear the two cases, when it proceeded to consider whether abortion was a constitutional right without a concrete factual and medical record to review in either case. Accordingly, the Court should have reached no decision, or sent the case back for trial, or taken other cases with a trial record, or at least reached a narrow decision

It was also a time of flux in the court’s makeup: Justices Hugo Black (a holdover from the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration) and John Harlan (Dwight D. Eisenhower) had resigned from the court in September, 1971and President Nixon was about to appoint two new justices which could have altered the final vote of Roe.  Although Chief Justice Warren Burger (a Nixon appointee) urged that the case by held over for re-argument until the court would be at full strength, that didn’t happen until October, 1972, with the court issuing its decision in January, 1973.  Although viability was argued — Was it present at 12 to 18 months? — nothing was agreed upon.


Changes since 1973 allow Republicans to win abortion issue 

Mr. Fosythe believes that the life issue is a winning one for Republicans.  Much has changed since 1973. The country has come far in the last 50 years.  Ultra sound has made light of the viability issue.  Since ultrasound the number of abortions and providers of abortions have dropped. Young people are also becoming more pro-life. Only 7 – 9% support abortion for any reason.

A handout at the event, “State of the States:  Where Are We Now?”, indicated that thirty-eight states treat the killing of an unborn child as a form of homicide.  Strong polling data strong shows that the American people want less abortion; want it rare; and early in the pregnancy. Capitalizing upon how the American people view abortion in 2015, Republicans would be wise to promote a message that calls for reducing abortion by making it as rare as possible.


Abortion for population control and as a personal decision

Although abortion is still viewed by the elites, including the United Nations, as a way to control population (eugenics), Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg ascribes to this view. In a five-year-old interview, Ginsburg first advocated taxpayer funding of abortions. Ginsburg then followed up by saying she backed Roe to eliminate “populations that we don’t want to have too many of.”  So according to Justice Ginsburg, poor people should have abortions and not children!

According to Mr. Forsythe, abortion is linked to the fostering of mental problems.  There is also an increased chance of breast cancer after an induced abortion. Broaching the issue of population replacement, sufficient birthrates are needed to ensure the economic growth of a nation.  This nation has near replacement levels, but in Europe (consider Russia and Italy) where many women are consciously limiting the size of their families, there are negative replacement levels.  Also frowned upon is the selection of the sex of a child while yet in the womb, with abortion being the answer if the fetus is found not to be of the desired sex.  China was given as an example, where because of its one-child policy boy babies far outnumber girl baby births.

A question posed to Clarke D. Forsythe in the question and answer session was the role of men when dealing with the abortion issue.  Forsythe agreed that it was a huge social problem.  There a lack of responsibility among men who impregnate women.  As such, men must become part of the solution.

Check here to see view fetal homicide state laws. Illinois is one of 29 states that defines the killing of an unborn child at any stage of gestation as la form of homicide.

Monday, May 04, 2015 at 08:24 AM | Permalink

Technorati Tags: Illinois Review