WBEZ | Barack Obama http://www.wbez.org/tags/barack-obama Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en LGBTQ policy in Cuba http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2015-08-31/lgbtq-policy-cuba-112781 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Emmanuel%20Huybrechts.jpg" title="(Photo: Flickr/Emmanuel Huybrechts)" /></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/221745560&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-size: 22px; background-color: rgb(255, 244, 244);">The struggle for LGBTQ rights in Cuba</span></p><div style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><p>Cuba has a conflicted history with its gay and transgender population. The country imprisoned people with AIDS in the early years of the epidemic. During the Mariel boatlift in 1980, thousands of homosexuals were &ldquo;encouraged&rdquo; to leave the country. Yet Cuba is one of a the few countries that offers free gender assignment surgery to transgenders. We&rsquo;ll talk with Cuban physician and LGBT activist, Dr. Alberto Roque Guerra. He&rsquo;ll tell us about his years of advocacy to better the lives of Cuba&rsquo;s LGBT Citizens.</p><p><strong>Guest:</strong>&nbsp;<em><span id="docs-internal-guid-af4e9124-8560-72b9-5404-52b6a86551e2">Alberto Roque Guerra is a medical doctor, specialist and professor at General Hospital in Cuba, and LGBTQ activist.</span></em></p></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/221746542&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-size: 22px; background-color: rgb(255, 244, 244);">Critic calls Obama&#39;s climate change policy &#39;baffling&#39;</span></p><div style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><p>President Barack Obama is visiting the Alaskan Arctic. It&rsquo;s the first such visit by a sitting U.S. president. Meanwhile, his political critics as well as his allies, continue to criticize his climate policy over decisions like the Keystone XL pipeline, offshore energy drilling and carbon emission standards. We&rsquo;ll talk about Obama&rsquo;s climate policy with Mark Hertsgaard, environment correspondent for The Nation magazine. We&rsquo;ll ask Hertsgaard about what he calls Mr. Obama&rsquo;s &#39;bafflingly two-faced climate policy&#39;.</p><p><strong>Guest:</strong>&nbsp;<em><span id="docs-internal-guid-af4e9124-8565-4c48-aff7-1f36bb5d9de1"><a href="http://twitter.com/markhertsgaard">Mark Hertsgaard</a> is an environment correspondent for </span><a href="http://twitter.com/TheNation">The Nation</a>. His new article is &#39;Three Weeks After Obama Announced His Clean-Power Plan, He Greenlit New Oil Drilling in the Arctic&#39;. His most recent book is HOT: Living Through the Next Fifty Years on Earth.</em></p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 31 Aug 2015 14:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2015-08-31/lgbtq-policy-cuba-112781 Indiana rails against President Obama’s power plant requirement http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-08-04/indiana-rails-against-president-obama%E2%80%99s-power-plant-requirement <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/power plant FlickrDave Emerson.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Indiana&rsquo;s republican Governor isn&rsquo;t too thrilled about President Barack Obama&rsquo;s new plan plan to cut carbon emissions nationwide 32 percent by 2030. The President says the Clean Energy Plan he announced Monday is a bold step to slow climate change, but opponents like Indiana Governor Mike Pence says it&rsquo;s federal overreach that will raise prices for electricity consumers. As a result, Pence is joining about a dozen other states in legally challenging Obama&rsquo;s power plant requirements in court. WBEZ&rsquo;s Northwest Indiana Bureau reporter Michael Puente joins us.</p></p> Tue, 04 Aug 2015 11:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-08-04/indiana-rails-against-president-obama%E2%80%99s-power-plant-requirement Pell grants for prisoners: An old argument revisited http://www.wbez.org/news/pell-grants-prisoners-old-argument-revisited-112533 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/19407321_h38274460_slide-f233a67d0018562a34b055551e5caa2a8c778feb-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>It&#39;s an old and controversial question: Should federal Pell grants be used to help prisoners pay for college?</p><p>Tomorrow, at a prison in Jessup, Md., Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Attorney General Loretta Lynch are expected to unveil a program to do just that. The new plan would create a limited pilot program allowing some students in prison to use Pell grants to pay for college classes.</p><p>The key word there is &quot;limited&quot; &mdash; because there&#39;s only so much the administration can do. To understand why, we have to go back to November 1993.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;"><strong>The Crime Bill</strong></span></p><p>The era of Three Strikes had begun, and lawmakers in Washington were in a bipartisan race to prove they were tough on crime.</p><p>U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Texas Republican, introduced an amendment that would ultimately ban prisoners from receiving Pell grants. Her argument then: &quot;Because prisoners have zero income, they have been able to step to the front of the line and push law-abiding citizens out of the way,&quot; she said on the Senate floor (though Pell grants go to any and all who apply and meet the criteria).</p><p>Letting prisoners use federal dollars to pay for college, Hutchison insisted, just isn&#39;t fair. &quot;It is not fair to taxpayers. It is not fair to law-abiding citizens. It is not fair to the victims of crime.&quot;</p><p>Two decades later, Hutchison wants to be clear: She&#39;s not opposed to prison education. She just doesn&#39;t think federal Pell grants should pay for it.</p><p>&quot;I think it should be a state priority and a state initiative,&quot; she says.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;"><strong>&#39;Guys Were Having Study Groups&#39;</strong></span></p><p>Tyrone Werts says he watched lawmakers debate the crime bill on TV from his prison cell.</p><p>Werts had been convicted of second-degree murder for his role in a deadly robbery. At the age of 23, he arrived at Graterford Prison in Pennsylvania.</p><p>&quot;My reading scores was like second grade. My math skills was second, third grade,&quot; he says.</p><p>Behind bars, Werts studied. He earned his GED, then his bachelor&#39;s through a prison education program with Villanova University. It was paid for with Pell grants.</p><p>&quot;Graterford, when we had Pell grants, was actually like a college or university,&quot; he says. &quot;The arts flourished. Guys were having study groups. They were at the table, writing papers.&quot;</p><p>But Werts says that stopped when the money dried up.</p><p>After nearly 37 years in prison, Werts&#39; sentence was commuted. Now, he works for Temple University&#39;s Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program and helps released prisoners re-enter society.</p><p>&quot;I see a marked difference between those guys who went to college in prison and those guys who didn&#39;t go to school,&quot; he says. &quot;They think totally different.&quot;</p><p><a href="http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR266.html">A 2013 study by the RAND Corp. </a>found that education behind bars greatly reduces the likelihood of a former prisoner committing another crime.</p><p>But federal law still prohibits Pell grants for prisoners. Only Congress can roll back the law.</p><p>That said, the Education Department does have one option: It can waive certain rules for <a href="https://experimentalsites.ed.gov/exp/index.html">research purposes</a> and, thus, extend Pell grants to a small number of prisoners.</p><p>Think of it as an exception to the rule &mdash; not rewriting the rule itself.</p><p><em>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2015/07/30/427450422/pell-grants-for-prisoners-an-old-argument-revisited?ft=nprml&amp;f=427450422">via NPR</a></em></p></p> Fri, 31 Jul 2015 11:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/pell-grants-prisoners-old-argument-revisited-112533 Obama administration announces new housing segregation rules http://www.wbez.org/news/obama-administration-announces-new-housing-segregation-rules-112345 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Julian-Castro-AP.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em><strong style="font-weight: bold; margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51); letter-spacing: normal; orphans: auto; text-align: start; text-indent: 0px; text-transform: none; white-space: normal; widows: 1; word-spacing: 0px; -webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px;"><span style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: 'Open Sans', 'Helvetica Neue', Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 20px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51); background-color: rgb(249, 249, 249);">▲&nbsp;</span>LISTEN </strong>The head of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro was in Chicago Wednesday to announce a new rule to help communities across the country meet fair housing obligations. WBEZ&rsquo;s South Side Bureau reporter Natalie Moore attended the event and joined host Melba Lara to explain what it may mean for Chicago.</em></p><p>The nation&#39;s head of urban housing policy announced new regulations Wednesday aimed at fulfilling promises of the 1968 Fair Housing Act by promoting racially integrated neighborhoods.</p><p>&quot;The truth is for too long federal efforts have often fallen short,&quot; Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro said at a news conference next to new public housing apartments and a playground on Chicago&#39;s South Side.</p><p>Besides banning outright discrimination, the 1968 law required cities that receive federal housing money to promote equal opportunity and access to housing regardless of race, origin, religion, sex or disability. But little was done at the time or in the years since to explain precisely what the law&#39;s requirement to &quot;affirmatively further&quot; such goals meant or how to achieve that.</p><p>The Obama administration&#39;s changes aim to provide cities with specific guidance and reams of data on integration and segregation patterns, racially and ethnically concentrated areas of poverty and areas of high housing need.</p><p>Communities will be required to set goals based on the data for smarter investments in housing, schools and transportation that will be closely monitored, Castro said. The new rules will be phased in, though no timetable was announced.</p><p>The new initiative recognizes that half a century after the height of the civil rights movement, parts of America remain divided along racial lines when it comes to access to affordable housing in good neighborhoods with decent schools, public transportation, jobs, grocery stores and opportunity.</p><p>&quot;Where a child grows up shouldn&#39;t dictate where they end up,&quot; Castro said.</p><p>To illustrate the persistent inequality, he cited data showing that a child in the Jeff-Vander-Lou neighborhood of St. Louis can expect to live 18 fewer years than one 10 miles away in the suburb of Clayton, Missouri.</p><p>From Chicago to Ferguson, Missouri, to Baltimore, people remain physically divided, said Philip Nyden, who studies segregated neighborhoods.</p><p>&quot;This is the federal government saying &#39;This can&#39;t continue to go on,&#39; &quot; said Nyden, director of the Center for Urban Research and Learning at Chicago&#39;s Loyola University.</p><p>He called the announcement a good step, though he cautioned against any expectation of quick results, given that the problem is so entrenched.</p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel, speaking alongside Castro, said it was no coincidence Chicago was chosen as a backdrop for the announcement, given the city&#39;s history of using housing policy and real estate practices to keep blacks confined to poor neighborhoods.</p><p>&quot;We have a long history as it relates to fair housing,&quot; Emanuel said while standing at the site of what was once Stateway Gardens, one of the city&#39;s neglected high-rise public housing projects. Chicago demolished it and the other projects in the late 1990s and early 2000s.</p><p>On Wednesday, Emanuel cut the ribbon on the latest low-rise apartment building to replace Stateway on what&#39;s now known as Park Boulevard, an example of the new kind of public housing developments that federal officials are promoting.</p><p>The development, open to people of various income levels and with a mix of homeowners and renters, is dotted with town house-style buildings, neatly landscaped walkways, playgrounds and open spaces.</p><p>Most importantly, Emanuel said, a vibrant area of opportunity is developing around the complex.</p><p>Retailers, including a Starbucks, have moved in. To the west is U.S. Cellular Field, home of the Chicago White Sox; to the east is a math and sciences charter school; and just to the north is the Illinois Institute of Technology. Three commuter train lines shuttle residents downtown and toward higher-paying jobs.</p><p>Roberta Wright, 44, loves the area. She lives there with her two adult children, a son who&#39;s in the Army and a daughter attending Illinois State University.</p><p>&quot;I have some great neighbors. It&#39;s really diverse. So that&#39;s a plus for me,&quot; she said. &quot;There&#39;s not a lot of riffraff.&quot;</p></p> Wed, 08 Jul 2015 14:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/obama-administration-announces-new-housing-segregation-rules-112345 Chicago universities to Obama: Just don't pick New York for library http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-universities-obama-just-dont-pick-new-york-library-111705 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/obamapullman_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The two Chicago universities in the competition for President Barack Obama&#39;s library came together Monday to send a message to the White House: Choose either one of us, just don&#39;t pick New York.</p><p>Officials from the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago, as well as Mayor Rahm Emanuel and others gathered in a crowded hotel ballroom for what was billed a &quot;Unity Breakfast.&quot; Speakers took turns reminding the president and the first lady where their roots are and implored them to &quot;bring it on home,&quot; as Carol Adams, a member of the University of Chicago&#39;s Obama library community advisory board, put it.</p><p>&quot;Chicago is the only place with the historic political trajectory of President Barack Obama, and his presidential library should be erected here,&quot; said Adams, a former president of the DuSable Museum of African American History. &quot;&#39;For indeed, he did get there from here.&quot;</p><p>The effort to convince Obama to build his library in the city and not at the University of Hawaii or New York&#39;s Columbia University has been a major story in Chicago &mdash; and has even made its way into next month&#39;s mayoral election between Emanuel and Cook County Commissioner Jesus &quot;Chuy&quot; Garcia.</p><p>Emanuel, Obama&#39;s former White House chief of staff, has pushed hard for the library and was dealt what was widely seen as a blow to his campaign when it was reported earlier this month that the Obamas would delay announcing their decision until after the April 7 runoff election.</p><p>The mayor did not receive nearly as much support among black voters in last month&#39;s primary as he did when he was elected in 2011, after a campaign in which he made no secret of his access to the president.</p><p>Now, those same voters Emanuel is trying to win back have overwhelmingly supported a project that would bring thousands of jobs and tens of millions of dollars to one of two predominantly black communities that are in desperate need of some good financial news.</p><p>&quot;It can be on the South Side, it can be on the West Side, but it cannot be on the Upper West Side of Manhattan,&quot; Emanuel said.</p><p>The mayor also alluded to Garcia without saying his name during a later press briefing, drawing a contrast between himself and his challenger, who initially opposed the transfer of park land on the South Side.</p><p>Emanuel even seemed to suggest that the library foundation wanted to make sure he was re-elected before awarding the library to Chicago &mdash; though individuals with knowledge of the delay told the AP last month that the foundation decided to delay because it did not want to inject itself into a campaign or be seen as giving Emanuel an unfair advantage.</p><p>&quot;I do think the foundation made a decision because they believe leadership counts, and having strong leadership that can make sure you not only have a plan but that you can see it through will help us secure the library,&quot; he said.</p><p>Garcia&#39;s campaign did not immediately return a call for comment.<br />&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 16 Mar 2015 11:44:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-universities-obama-just-dont-pick-new-york-library-111705 Fundraising for future Obama library picks up http://www.wbez.org/news/fundraising-future-obama-library-picks-111408 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/AP401486246971.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>WASHINGTON &mdash; The nonprofit raising money for President Barack Obama&#39;s future library has picked up the pace of its fundraising, with up to $4.4 million rolling in during the final months of 2014, records released Thursday show.</p><p>All told, the Barack Obama Foundation has raised at least $3 million and possibly as much as $6.2 million since its formation nearly a year ago. The largest checks have all come from donors in Chicago, which is working aggressively to shore up its bid to host the presidential library and museum.</p><p>Two universities in Chicago have been competing vigorously with schools in Honolulu and New York to build the project, and the president and first lady Michelle Obama are expected to announce their decision within the next few months. Building the library is expected to cost hundreds of millions of dollars, financed mostly by donations raised by Obama&#39;s foundation.</p><p>Contributing most generously to the project have been longtime Obama supporters who gave or helped raise hefty sums to Obama&#39;s presidential campaigns. Many were repeat donations from those who have given to the library project before.</p><p>Fred Eychaner, founder of Chicago-based Newsweb Corp., gave the foundation between $500,000 and $1 million in the last three months of 2014, records show. A major Democratic fundraiser, Eychaner gave almost $8 million in the last election cycle to liberal groups and has hosted fundraisers for Obama at his home.</p><p>The foundation&#39;s only other donors to exceed $500,000 came from Cari and Michael Sacks, also of Chicago. Michael Sacks is a business executive with close ties to Obama&#39;s former chief of staff, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Obama appointed Cari Sacks to the Kennedy Center&#39;s presidential advisory panel in 2010. The couple previous gave the foundation more than $250,000.</p><p>Two members of the Obama foundation&#39;s board &mdash; Kevin Poorman and board chairman Marty Nesbitt &mdash; have also given sums of less than $100,000 to the nonprofit.</p><p>Obama&#39;s foundation is voluntarily disclosing large contributions in ranges of dollar amounts. While it&#39;s already raising money to cover its own costs, the foundation has said most of the funds to build the library won&#39;t be raised until after the Obamas leaves the White House. Obama and the first lady have pledged not to raise money for the foundation until after they leave office.</p></p> Thu, 15 Jan 2015 14:53:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/fundraising-future-obama-library-picks-111408 House votes to undo Obama immigration policies http://www.wbez.org/news/house-votes-undo-obama-immigration-policies-111400 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/AP408512381832.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>WASHINGTON &mdash; Shunning a White House veto threat and opposition within their own party, House Republicans approved legislation Wednesday to overturn President Barack Obama&#39;s key immigration policies and expose hundreds of thousands of younger immigrants to expulsion from the U.S.</p><p>The 236-191 vote came on a broad bill that would provide $39.7 billion to finance the Homeland Security Department through the rest of the budget year, legislation that lawmakers of both parties said was sorely needed to pay for counterterrorism, cybersecurity and other priorities at a moment when the Paris terror attacks have underscored dire threats.</p><p>Democrats accused Republicans of putting that money at risk by attaching veto-bait amendments on immigration, and some Republicans voiced the same concern. But House GOP leaders and most of their rank and file accused Obama in turn of reckless and unconstitutional actions on immigration that had to be answered.</p><p>&quot;This executive overreach is an affront to the rule of law and to the Constitution itself,&quot; said House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio. &quot;The people made clear that they wanted more accountability from this president, and by our votes here today we will heed their will and we will keep our oath to protect and defend the Constitution.&quot;</p><p>But Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., who chairs the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said the Republicans were simply pandering to the far right.</p><p>&quot;Shame on Republicans for attacking the Latino community,&quot; Sanchez said. &quot;Republicans are consciously targeting millions of families who work hard, contribute to our communities and are just trying to give their children a chance at the American dream.&quot;</p><p>One of the immigration amendments, approved 237-190, would undo executive actions that Obama announced in November to provide temporary deportation relief and work permits to some 4 million immigrants in the country illegally, mostly people who have children who are citizens or legal permanent residents. The amendment also would cancel earlier directives to immigration agents aimed at giving them discretion in focusing deportations on criminals.</p><p>A second amendment would delete Obama&#39;s 2012 policy that&#39;s granted work permits and stays of deportation to more than 600,000 immigrants who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children under age 16. That measure passed narrowly, 218-209, as 26 of the more moderate Republicans, some representing large Hispanic populations, joined Democrats in opposition.</p><p>The underlying bill passed on a mostly party line vote, with 10 Republicans voting &quot;no&quot; and two Democrats voting &quot;yes.&quot;</p><p>But even with Republicans in control of the Senate, the bill faces tough sledding there. Republicans are six votes shy of the 60-vote majority needed to advance most legislation, and some GOP senators have argued that the Homeland Security bill shouldn&#39;t be the vehicle for a contentious debate on immigration.</p><p>Within the House GOP, too, there&#39;s frustration from some centrist lawmakers that two weeks into a new session of Congress, with a bigger party majority in the House, the most conservative lawmakers are still calling the shots, successfully pushing leaders for a vote to undo the 2012 policy dealing with younger immigrants known as &quot;Dreamers.&quot;</p><p>&quot;If we were just specifically dealing with the November overreach of the president, you&#39;d have Democrats who&#39;d be voting with us on that piece of it but we&#39;ve gone well beyond that,&quot; said Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif. &quot;We&#39;re passing a bill for political reasons, a bill that has no ability to pass the Senate.&quot;</p><p>Before leaving town for a two-day retreat in Hershey, Pennsylvania, Republicans also steered the House to approval of legislation to ease the landmark Dodd-Frank law, which aimed to rein in banks and Wall Street. The new legislation would give U.S. banks two extra years to ensure that their holdings of certain complex and risky securities don&#39;t put them out of compliance with a new banking rule. The Dodd-Frank changes, approved 271-154, also face an Obama veto threat.</p><p>Given the growing importance of Latino voters, Wednesday&#39;s immigration votes could end up raising questions in the 2016 presidential election for the eventual GOP nominee. Potential candidates weren&#39;t touching the issue Wednesday. Requests for comments from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former GOP nominee Mitt Romney went unanswered. At an event in Manchester, New Hampshire, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky refused to say if he would back his House colleagues&#39; efforts.</p><p>Democrats, on the other hand, were eager to weigh in.</p><p>Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois warned Republicans they were igniting &quot;the mobilization of an immigrant community throughout this nation that will be the death knell to the future of your party.&quot;</p><p>Wednesday&#39;s votes were set in motion late last year, after Obama infuriated Republicans by announcing executive moves on immigration not long after the GOP swept the midterm elections. Republicans passed full-year spending bills for most of the government but kept the Homeland Security Department on a short leash in order to revisit the issue when they would be in full control of Congress.</p><p>Yet given Obama&#39;s veto pen and Senate rules granting significant rights to the minority party, it&#39;s not clear that the GOP has much more leverage now than it did before. House and Senate Republican leaders have ruled out a government shutdown or any disruption to Homeland Security funding, so it appears likely that once the House bill is rejected by the Senate or vetoed by the president, the House will have to accept a version with less contentious language on immigration.</p><p>Current Homeland Security funding expires at the end of February, so House leaders have given themselves more than a month to find a solution. It&#39;s expected to be a topic of debate at the Hershey retreat.</p></p> Wed, 14 Jan 2015 11:29:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/house-votes-undo-obama-immigration-policies-111400 Hundreds attend hearing on South Side Obama library proposal http://www.wbez.org/news/hundreds-attend-hearing-south-side-obama-library-proposal-111396 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/obamalibrary.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Hundreds gathered on Chicago&#39;s South Side to sound off about a University of Chicago proposal to build the Obama Presidential Library and Museum in a public park.</p><p>Many at Tuesday&#39;s Chicago Park District hearing say they support carving out about 20 acres in one of two historic parks as part of the university&#39;s bid.</p><p>Jackson Park was the site of the 1893 World&#39;s Columbian Exposition, and Washington Park is a national historic site. Both were designed by famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted.</p><p>Proponents say the library would be a boon for the area and using a relatively small part of either park could assure the city is chosen. Finalists include the University of Illinois at Chicago and New York&#39;s Columbia University.</p><p>Opponents say relinquishing parkland sets a dangerous precedent.</p></p> Wed, 14 Jan 2015 07:54:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/hundreds-attend-hearing-south-side-obama-library-proposal-111396 For Obama library, a contest of haves vs have-nots http://www.wbez.org/news/obama-library-contest-haves-vs-have-nots-111319 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Obama-debate_0_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>President Barack Obama has preached economic opportunity and equal access to education as cornerstones of the legacy he wants to leave behind.</p><p>But in the contest to host his presidential library, two public universities that serve needy communities fear the playing field has been tilted against them by a pair of elite, private schools with seemingly endless money.</p><p>As Obama weighs a decision he&#39;ll announce within months, the University of Hawaii and the University of Illinois at Chicago are struggling to offer the upfront resources needed to offset the massive cost of building the library and presidential museum, expected to run close to half a billion dollars.</p><p>The other two schools in the running, Columbia University and the University of Chicago, are both top-10 schools with a combined endowment of more than $15 billion.</p><blockquote><p><strong>Related: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicago-bids-obama-library-risk-111313" target="_blank">Chicago bids for Obama library at risk&nbsp;</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>The Obamas are expected to raise much &mdash; but not all &mdash; of the money themselves, so a university&#39;s ability to contribute will be a major factor. The Barack Obama Foundation, which is screening proposals and will recommend a winner to Obama, has asked each school in the running for explicit details about what financial and other resources they can bring to bear.</p><p>&quot;Look, when it comes to raw fundraising prowess, we&#39;re not in a position to compete with New York and Chicago,&quot; said Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, during a recent interview in his Honolulu office, overlooking the panoramic, oceanfront site that Hawaii has proposed for the library. &quot;We bring different assets to the table. But if the question is who can raise more money, Honolulu&#39;s going to come in third.&quot;</p><p>In an unusual move this week, the Obama foundation let it be known that it was displeased with Chicago&#39;s proposals &mdash; in particular, the fact that the University of Chicago can&#39;t guarantee access to its proposed South Side sites because they sit on city park district property. Still, the blunt warning through the media appeared designed mainly to light a fire under the University of Chicago to fill holes in its proposal, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel&#39;s office quickly stepped in to say the city was working to acquire the land for the library&#39;s use.</p><p>Across town at the University of Illinois at Chicago, student trustee Danielle Leibowitz said her university has suspected that it&#39;s the underdog all along. A key player in her school&#39;s bid for the library, Leibowitz said the university wants to team up with a community foundation to build the library in North Lawndale, a blighted, heavily black neighborhood on the West Side.</p><p>&quot;If he wants to be consistent with the message he&#39;s given throughout his presidency, it really only makes sense to give it to us,&quot; Leibowitz said. &quot;To suddenly hand over your legacy to a private institution seems rather hypocritical.&quot;</p><p>The University of Chicago and Columbia declined to comment for this report.</p><p>The Obama foundation said each school has its own unique strengths and regardless of which school is chosen, the foundation will be able to raise the needed money.</p><p>&quot;The foundation is looking at each response as a complete package and will choose a partner which, on balance, offers the best opportunity to create an outstanding presidential library and museum,&quot; the foundation said in a statement.</p><p>As public, taxpayer-funded institutions, the University of Illinois and the University of Hawaii face legal and practical limitations on how much they can contribute to a project such as Obama&#39;s library. Still, both schools have sought to show they&#39;re eager to do what they can. Hawaii lawmakers have expressed interest in having the state pitch in, while the foundation partnering with the University of Illinois has pledged $5 million. Obama was born in Hawaii and started his family and political career in Illinois.</p><p>Columbia and the University of Chicago have been coy about what they&#39;re offering. But people familiar with those schools&#39; proposals, who weren&#39;t authorized to comment publicly and requested anonymity, said both schools are prepared to absorb a substantial chunk of the cost themselves. They&#39;re also working to secure attractive real estate where the library can be built.</p><p>Although the foundation has tapped Julianna Smoot, a major Democratic fundraiser and former Obama campaign official, to direct fundraising, the foundation&#39;s board has said it won&#39;t start seriously raising money to build the library until much later. The Obamas have pledged not to solicit donations until after they leave office.</p><p>Meantime, the question of what message Obama wants his library to convey has grown more pronounced as the economic recovery continues to leave many behind. Marcus Betts, a spokesman for the North Lawndale Presidential Library Committee, said Obama has a rare opportunity to show that one&#39;s background need not predetermine one&#39;s ability to succeed.</p><p>&quot;If you think about what Martin Luther King Jr. would do, where he would put a project like this, I think the answer becomes very clear,&quot; Betts said. &quot;It really boils down to the have and the have-nots.&quot;</p></p> Wed, 31 Dec 2014 14:05:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/obama-library-contest-haves-vs-have-nots-111319 Chicago to add new Barack Obama College Prep High School http://www.wbez.org/news/education/chicago-add-new-barack-obama-college-prep-high-school-110073 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/IMAG2549.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago is getting another selective enrollment high school.</p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Thursday the city will build the Barack Obama College Preparatory High School on the Near North Side. It will enroll 1,200 students and is slated to be ready for the first 300 freshmen in the fall of 2017. The first students who will be eligible to enroll in the school are currently fifth graders.</p><p>Emanuel made clear in announcing the school he&rsquo;s responding to heavy demand for the city&rsquo;s top high schools&mdash;where many students need near perfect scores to be admitted. Emanuel said he recognizes the angst many parents face once their kids hit upper elementary school.</p><p>&ldquo;&rsquo;Where am I gonna send my child?&rsquo; It is the biggest anxious question that exists across the city of Chicago,&rdquo; Emanuel said at a press conference at Skinner North Elementary, a classical school that will see part of the park behind it gobbled up for the new high school.</p><p>&ldquo;Twenty-four hundred kids every year <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/chicagos-best-high-schools-who-gets-who-doesnt-97110" target="_blank">get turned away</a> who are prepared for our high schools; and we are not prepared for them. Well, we&rsquo;re gonna be prepared for them,&rdquo; Emanuel said.</p><p>Obama College Prep will be built on park district land near the corner of North Halsted and West Division streets, where the towers of Cabrini Green once stood. School officials said 70 percent of students will be admitted based on grades and test scores.</p><p>This will be the city&rsquo;s eleventh selective enrollment school and one of four elite public high schools clustered in a roughly one-and-a-half mile radius. Walter Payton College Prep, ranked one of the best schools in Illinois, is less than a mile away.</p><p><span style="font-size:18px;"><strong>Location is &quot;a slap&quot;</strong></span></p><p>The location of the new school drew immediate criticism.</p><p>Teacher Ray Salazar said he was &ldquo;shocked&rdquo; to hear the city was locating another selective school on the North Side. Salazar said it showed &ldquo;city politics again are influencing decisions that benefit white, affluent families.&rdquo; He said any new selective school should be located on the Southwest Side.</p><p>&ldquo;We do not have a selective enrollment high school in a predominantly Latino neighborhood, and it is unfair that our high-achieving students have to travel over an hour to get to the nearest high-achieving school,&quot; said Salazar, who teaches writing at Hancock High, near 56th Street and Pulaski Road.</p><p>Salazar also said the system has become so competitive, disadvantaged students have trouble getting in at all. All selective schools have lower percentages of poor students than the district as a whole. At Payton, just 31 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, compared to 85 percent citywide.</p><p>West Side activist Dwayne Truss called an Obama High near Halsted and Division &ldquo;a slap to both black families and children.&rdquo; Truss said the money planned for the school should be used &ldquo;to provide adequate funding for all of Chicago&rsquo;s neighborhood schools rather than cater to wealthy middle-class families the school is targeting.&rdquo;</p><p>Others wondered why Obama&rsquo;s name was going on a North Side school when the president lived and worked on the South Side. &ldquo;He knows about it and he&rsquo;s excited about it,&rdquo; said Emanuel. It would be the first CPS school to be named after a living person.<br /><br />Emanuel said the location for the new school was chosen because the land was available, it&rsquo;s on various transportation routes, and&mdash;perhaps most importantly&mdash;it&rsquo;s in a TIF district with $60 million available.</p><p>Thirty percent of the seats at Obama High will be set aside for students nearby.</p><p>That&rsquo;s a provision 27th Ward Ald. Walter Burnett said he pushed for &ldquo;because we should not spend money in a neighborhood and people from the neighborhood cannot go to the school,&rdquo; said Burnett. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s asinine. This is the TIF money that&rsquo;s supposed to go back in the neighborhood that comes from the people in the neighborhood. I did the same thing with Westinghouse. When Westinghouse was built, they used my TIF money, (and) I told them they have to have a neighborhood component.&rdquo;</p><p><a href="http://newwestinghouse.org/apps/pages/index.jsp?uREC_ID=56511&amp;type=d&amp;termREC_ID=&amp;pREC_ID=81978&amp;hideMenu=1">Westinghouse College Prep </a>has selective admissions and a less competitive &ldquo;career&rdquo; track, but admission to that program still requires minimum test scores and an extensive student essay. No students are automatically admitted to the school by virtue of their address.</p><p>Emanuel has come under fire for miraculously coming up with money for big-ticket capital projects at vaunted North Side schools with well-connected parents&mdash; current additions are underway at <a href="http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20131111/lincoln-park/overcrowded-lincoln-elementary-get-three-story-19-classroom-annex" target="_blank">Lincoln</a>, Coonley and <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/education/22644102-418/payton-college-prep-to-get-17-million-annex-room-for-up-to-400-more-kids.html" target="_blank">Payton</a>&mdash;while students on the Southwest and Northwest Sides <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/no-simple-answers-chicagos-severely-overcrowded-schools-107651">hold class in trailers and stairwells due to overcrowding</a>.</p><p>A new Near North Side high school was <a href="http://www.cps.edu/About_CPS/Policies_and_guidelines/Documents/CPSEducationalFacilitiesMasterPlan.pdf">not called for in the Facilities Master Plan</a> the district adopted less than a year ago; that plan actually predicts a drop in the population of 15-to-19-year-olds living in the area. And the district admits it has an <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/future-uncertain-chicagos-neighborhood-high-schools-108834" target="_blank">oversupply of high school seats</a>.</p><p>Asked how another North Side selective school fits into what many view as a two-tiered educational system, Emanuel said he rejects that view. But analyses show that <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/race-out-loud/greater-segregation-regions-black-latino-students-100452">racial segregation in the system is increasing</a>, with the middle class disproportionately concentrated in CPS&#39;s magnet and gifted schools, and many charter and neighborhood schools enrolling disproportionate numbers of low-income and minority kids.</p><p>Emanuel said strong schools exist in minority communities and pointed to his efforts to strengthen neighborhood high schools with new International Baccalaureate and STEM programs.</p><p>Lakeview parent Patricia O&rsquo;Keefe, who has three grammar-school-aged children in three different selective schools, praised the decision to expand the number of selective high school seats.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s heartbreaking to see kids turned down who are completely qualified. So from my lens, it is a fantastic thing,&rdquo; O&rsquo;Keefe said.</p><p>And O&rsquo;Keefe believes it may help parents buy into the system rather than fleeing to the suburbs or private schools.</p><p>&ldquo;If you get more confidence in the city about high school, I think you reach a tipping point where everything will start to get better.... Something like this will not only help the selective enrollment, but it helps the whole momentum of high schools in general.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Linda Lutton is a WBEZ education reporter. Follow her on twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZeducation">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 25 Apr 2014 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/education/chicago-add-new-barack-obama-college-prep-high-school-110073