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Matt Farmer
Matt Farmer is a Chicago trial lawyer and barroom singer.

Entries by Matt Farmer

Plutocrat (The Ballad of Bruce Rauner)

(4) Comments | Posted October 23, 2014 | 11:07 AM

What do you give a guy who owns nine homes, made $60 million last year and wants to be governor of Illinois?

I decided to give him the gift of music.

After all, a guy who loves Wrangler jeans and Carhartt coats as much as Bruce Rauner does...

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Don't Sit for the ISAT

(4) Comments | Posted February 27, 2014 | 4:25 PM

When I learned Tuesday that teachers at Maria Saucedo Scholastic Academy in Chicago's Little Village neighborhood had voted unanimously to refuse to administer the Illinois State Achievement Test (ISAT) to their students over an eight-day period during the first two weeks of March, I was surprised.

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Ranking CPS Schools: It's Easy as 1-2-3

(2) Comments | Posted October 2, 2013 | 3:13 PM

The numbers are in, the spreadsheets have been released, and CPS parents now know whether their kids are currently attending Level 1, 2 or 3 schools.

Whatever that means.

According to CPS, a Level 1 school is a school in "Excellent Standing," a Level 2 school...

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Darwin's Musical Evolution

(0) Comments | Posted September 20, 2013 | 2:35 PM

Segovia said this about music and education:

I deeply believe fine arts training provides a critical platform to help us ensure our students are well-equipped to handle other educational disciplines. Music education, for example, helps to make kids better listeners. It also helps to change their behavior. Art is a...
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Emperor Arne Has No Clothes

(17) Comments | Posted July 19, 2013 | 7:07 PM

It was an "emperor has no clothes" moment in public education, and it took place on July 18 in a federal courtroom in Chicago.

The "emperor" in question was none other than Arne Duncan, who ran Chicago Public Schools from June 2001 to January 2009, at which he time took...

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A Voice I No Longer Hear

(2) Comments | Posted June 17, 2013 | 12:02 PM

I had voices in my head on Father's Day.

And I've got a pretty good ear for voices. Ten seconds into a recording, I can usually tell you that we're listening to Faron Young or Carla Thomas or Jimmy Witherspoon or Shirley...

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Of Rich Dads and iPads...

(24) Comments | Posted April 11, 2013 | 1:17 PM

Question: When is a Chicago elementary school with 23 kids in a classroom not considered by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to be an "underutilized" school?

Answer: When it's his kids' school.

Emanuel plans to close 54 public elementary schools at the end of the 2012-13 school year. The reason, he...

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Is CPS's School Ranking System on the Level?

(6) Comments | Posted December 11, 2012 | 4:32 PM

The mood was somber at Monday night's local school council meeting at Philip Rogers Elementary School in Chicago's West Rogers Park neighborhood. Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett had recently downgraded Rogers (my neighborhood school) from a "Level 1" school to a "Level 2" school, and some of my fellow...

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The War on Chicago Teachers

(28) Comments | Posted October 1, 2012 | 7:45 PM

I understand why Michelle Rhee, in her September 27 op-ed piece in the Washington Post, ignored reality and chose to frame the recent Chicago teachers strike as an epic battle between a heroic mayor fighting on behalf of public school kids and a selfish union boss unconcerned about...

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CPS Gets a Lesson in Social Justice

(20) Comments | Posted September 6, 2012 | 11:45 AM

The suits who run Chicago Public Schools never would have tried the stunts they recently pulled at Chicago's Social Justice High School had it been a largely white, middle-class school on the city's Northwest Side.

In those neighborhoods -- places like Sauganash and Edgebrook -- CPS...

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No Paper Trail at CPS

(10) Comments | Posted August 27, 2012 | 12:59 PM

I'd like to think that the folks who run Chicago Public Schools didn't just decide over a beer one night last spring that it would be a good idea to turn Roberto Clemente High School into a so-called "wall-to-wall" International Baccalaureate high school.

As a taxpayer...

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"We Are the Ninety-(Fill in the Blank) Percent"

(5) Comments | Posted June 12, 2012 | 10:46 PM

Is Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard a grade-grubber? After all, the guy's been ringing up some fairly impressive numbers since February 2011, when he was still running the schools in Rochester, New York. Back then, his Broadie charm and data-driven chit-chat earned him a 95...

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Teachers Don't Like Bullies

(98) Comments | Posted May 10, 2012 | 5:24 PM

A couple of voices from Mayor Emanuel's "education reform" choir are up in arms because some public school teachers are now talking seriously about the possibility of a teachers' strike in Chicago later this summer.

The mayor's folks are outraged by such talk -- and by recent reports of mock...

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On the Outside Looking In

(8) Comments | Posted March 21, 2012 | 12:02 PM

February was an interesting month for sixth-grade math teacher Octavia Sansing-Rhodes. On February 28, WGN-TV and St. Xavier University named Sansing-Rhodes their "Teacher of the Month" and awarded her a $1000 check for her fine work at Chicago's Herzl Elementary School.

That honor, however, was bittersweet because...

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Long on Class Time, Short on Answers

(15) Comments | Posted March 13, 2012 | 3:32 PM

If Jennifer Cheatham, the Chief Instruction Officer for Chicago Public Schools, were an NBA team, she'd undoubtedly have a lousy road record.

Last Thursday night, Cheatham brought her PowerPoint-based offense to Morgan Park High School on the city's South Side, where, for two painful hours, she was outhustled and...

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Having a Cow About Gang Symbols

(3) Comments | Posted February 13, 2012 | 11:22 AM

As soon as the Chicago press started getting worked up last week about a high school student who may or may not have slipped some gang symbols into his winning city sticker design, I telephoned San Francisco.

I wanted to talk to my old buddy Marc Paschke, who's been...

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One City, Two Different Worlds

(7) Comments | Posted February 1, 2012 | 10:57 AM

Let's face it -- Mayor Rahm Emanuel has no idea how to handle Chicago's "Rooftop Reverend," Pastor Corey Brooks. For the last 10 weeks, Brooks has been living in a dark green tent atop the now-shuttered Super Motel at the corner of 66th and King Drive.


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It's Complicated, Kids

(5) Comments | Posted January 18, 2012 | 12:10 PM

Many Chicagoans took time out earlier this week to celebrate the 83rd birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. As usual, our elected officials tripped over each other in their annual attempts to demonstrate their ongoing commitment to the late Dr. King and the principles he championed.

Our mayor spent...

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Taking It to the Next Level With CPS and AUSL

(31) Comments | Posted December 20, 2011 | 12:54 PM

Did I miss a recent press conference at Chicago's Collins Academy? You know, the shindig where Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard announced that Collins, as of November 2011, was no longer on academic probation.

Did I sleep through their slickly produced slideshow highlighting the spike in...

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One Public School's Death By A Thousand Cuts

(28) Comments | Posted December 2, 2011 | 12:32 PM

Chicago's Walter H. Dyett High School was set up as a house of cards. Former CPS CEO Paul Vallas was the architect. His successor, Arne Duncan, served for years as the absentee landlord. And current CEO Jean-Claude Brizard was recently cast in the role of the evicting sheriff, having served...

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