Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Chicago

Suburban Decay: A Theory of Decline in Towns

Some years before I was born, my parents lived in Michigan City, Indiana. But this was only briefly–before too long, they ended up in Valparaiso, the town I grew up in. Since 1970, Michigan City’s population has fallen by a quarter, while Valparaiso’s has increased by a third. Today Valparaiso has more people than Michigan City does, and nearby Chesterton’s population has doubled its 1970 level. Another nearby town, LaPorte, has stagnated:

Why do Valparaiso and Chesterton grow while Michigan City and LaPorte decline or stagnate? I’ve been thinking about it, and I have a theory.

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Chicago Protesters Had Good Reasons to Be Upset Long Before Laquan McDonald

In Chicago, people are taking to the streets in response to the shooting of Laquan McDonald, who was shot 16 times by officer Jason Van Dyke, apparently for brandishing a knife and refusing to put it down when asked to do so:

Van Dyke has been charged with first degree murder. So far, the demonstrations have been peaceful and riots have not broken out. In the wake of a horrible incident like this, it’s important for us to remember that racism goes well beyond individual killings–there has long been statistical data documenting systemic racial inequalities in Chicago. These statistics don’t get as much attention from the media and from protesters because they’re not as emotionally gripping as a killing, but the suffering they demonstrate is every bit as real and much greater in scope.

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Teacher Evaluation

There is much discussion of evaluating teachers these days. Recently, the Chicago teachers union went on strike over the issue, among several others. The premise behind teacher evaluations–that the quality of a teacher can be determined by standardised test results, is rather tenuous. Today I would like to discuss some of the issues with this method and propose a superior alternative.

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