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2006-2007 College Football – Week 1 August 31, 2006

Posted by j-dub in College Football, Sports.
5 comments

It’s finally here…College Football. The first games of the season are played tonight, with probably one of the most emotional games of the year being played tonight between Northwestern and Miami(OH); the alma-mater of the recently passed Randy Walker (he was the Northwestern Coach at the time he passed).

College football is rapidly becoming my favorite sports season. I’ll be using these weekly college posts as a place to make my predictions, thoughts, and other various comments about the great game of college football.

I’ll try and highlight the biggest games each week as well as cover our local conference, the Big Ten, and of course talk about our beloved Orange and Blue.

Here’s a link to the College Football schedule on ESPN’s website.

Week 1 (Game = My pick)

EIU at Illinois = Illinois
#9 Cal at #23 Tennessee = Cal
#2 Notre Dame at Georgia Tech = Notre Dame
#11 Florida State at #12 Miami (FL) = Miami (FL)

Nothing too exciting the first week of the season. I probably wouldn’t have put the Notre Dame game on my list of picks, but everyone seems to think this game could be close because of the upset Tech gave to Auburn in week 1 last year. My guess, Quinn and the Irish carve em’ up by about 20+ on their way to a rout. Illinois better win this game or else we have serious problems; even though EIU is pretty solid they should never lose to a 1-AA team. Cal will pound the Vols. I just think the west coast teams always have the faster athletes that can just flat out get after it. Plus, Tennessee has been pretty stagnant the past few years.

The most exciting game this week is FSU and Miami, which isn’t played until Monday the 4th (Labor Day). Even though Hurricane Ernesto is disrupting the Miami practice schedule, I’m still picking the Canes. They lost a close one last year (by 3 pts) and their offense will be much better this year against a FSU defense that lost a few key guys to the pros. I think FSU makes some turnovers and Miami makes them pay.

Also, check out my season predictions here. I’ve predicted the number of games Illinois wins, the big ten champ, most overrated conference/team, and the national champ already.

Please post your picks, argue with mine, point out other games of interest, or talk about any other college football stuff that’s on your mind.

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2006-2007 College Football: Season Predictions August 30, 2006

Posted by j-dub in College Football, Sports.
24 comments

Here are my August predictions for this season of college football, so I can LAUGH at them in January.

Illinois Wins = 5 – EIU, Rutgers, Syracuse, Indiana, and Ohio.

Big Ten Champ = Iowa – the Hawkeyes beat the Buckeyes in a Saturday night showdown in Iowa City.

Heisman = Brady Quinn – so much hype, a great schedule, plenty of TV time, and his team will win enough games. He’s a lock. Only Troy Smith of Ohio State and Adrian Peterson of Oklahoma (if he stays healthy) will give him a run.

Most Overrated Team = West Virginia – they play nobody all year, but yet already have a #5 ranking to start the year. Which is why I have them listed as a potential National Champ possibility below. However, they are clearly the most overrated team to start the season. A USC, ND, Auburn, Miami, or OSU team would POUND them. Maybe I’d have more respect if they actually played somebody.

Most Overrated Conference = Pac-10 – all sorts of “experts” claim this is the best conference. ARE YOU KIDDING? Outside of USC and Cal, this conference is a joke. None of the teams in the conference know how to play defense and the Big 10, SEC (the best conference), Big 12, and ACC are better from top to bottom.

National Championship Possibilities: ND/USC/Cal vs Miami/Auburn/W.V.

National Championship Pick = Notre Dame vs Miami, with Notre Dame winning it all.

I’m picking ND. I know, I know, let me jump on the bandwagon too. Actually, they only have 4 tough games (PSU, Mich., MSU, and USC). I think they win all 4 of those games, with MSU and USC being revenge wins this year. All the other teams I listed above aren’t as experienced at the key positions as ND, or their schedules are tougher and that’s the reason for my pick.

What are your predictions?

Open Thread August 30, 2006

Posted by j-dub in General.
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Is this like the coldest 2-3 days we’ve ever had in August or what?

Open thread, so you can enlighten me….

Anniversary: Hurricane Katrina August 29, 2006

Posted by j-dub in National, Politics.
4 comments

Today is the 1 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina coming ashore in the Gulf region.  This isn’t the type of anniversary that you celebrate. This anniversary is the antithesis of what most of us associate an anniversary with; the celebration of something good or positive that happened in our lives. No, this anniversary does not connect on any of those levels.

When we remember Hurricane Katrina, we’ll think about the largest displacement of Americans since the dust bowl era. We’ll remember the EXTREMELY PATHETIC response from our federal government. Those memories will also remind us of the lack of preparedness on the local level, in Louisiana (New Orleans more specifically) and elsewhere.

I’m no Bush-hater, please understand that.  Honestly, I actually like the guy.  That said, anyone who thinks the federal response was even adequate….get a life.  This was quite honestly the most embarrasing time to be an American.  Other countries around the world saw the futility of our government during this disaster.  Anyone with a brain could tell you this was a joke of an effort.  FEMA being ran by a former member of the International Arabian Horse Association, was probably the biggest mistake.  The government waiting 4 days to get into the area, another HUGE mistake; along with countless other blunders along the way.  I’d be here for days covering all of them.
Simply put, this whole ordeal reeked of failure from the word go.

It’s real easy for most folks to point the finger at Bush and say “it’s all his fault”.  That’s too easy.  The local authorites, Nagin (mayor of New Orleans), Blanco (Gov. of Louisiana), they should also be seated at the “EXTREMELY PATHETIC” table right next to Bush and the rest of the federal guppies that couldn’t give their all for the people of the Gulf.  Not to mention all of the idiots who looted, didn’t heed proper warnings to evacuate, etc.
I mean seriously, what the HELL were all these people thinking?

The most powerful country in the world couldn’t take care of itself in the face of a hurricane.  A hurricane that we knew about DAYS in advance.  This isn’t like a tornado where you might only have 15 minutes to prepare.  This hurricane was known about well in advance and no one wanted to do anything about it.

Could you imagine the response if a hurricane hit Texas?  We would have seen nothing short of a full-scale invasion of resources to get Texas back on track.  You can guarantee that one.  Take a look at 9/11.  Obviously, not the same type of situation, and I wouldn’t directly compare the two situations.  However, the effort by all the entities involved with 9/11 has been completely polar opposite when compared to New Orleans and the Gulf area.   I won’t blame racial or social implications, but I can see why others would sing that tune.

I’m sure you’ll get bombarded with Katrina stuff today, but here are some links on Hurricane Katrina coverage:

Yahoo! Coverage

MSNBC Coverage

BBC Coverage

American Red Cross Donation Page 

In the end, we can all hope, pray, and wish the best for our fellow Americans in New Orleans and the entire Gulf Region.

Please post your comments, thoughts, ideas here. 

USA! USA! USA! August 28, 2006

Posted by j-dub in Sports.
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For the second consecutive year, the United States has won the Little League World Series.  This year the little fellas from Columbus, Georgia turned the trick.  Led by STUD pitcher Kyle Carter, the boys from Georgia made us all proud.

I LOVE THE LITTLE LEAGUE WORLD SERIES!

Congratulations, to the Columbus, Georgia little leaguers.  An excellent season, and an excellent job representin’ for the Red, White, and Blue!

Here’s a link to an AP story.

Here’s a link to the ESPN story.

Game Week August 28, 2006

Posted by j-dub in College Football, Sports.
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Eastern Illinois University is coming to Champaign-Urbana this Saturday 9-2 to face off against the Fighting Illini.

Ron Zook’s squad is looking to get off to a good start this year with a win over EIU.

I figure Illinois is good for 5 wins this year.  Maybe 6 if we can pull an upset along the way.

Post your thougts, comments, predictions about the 2006 Illini.

ESPN High School Football August 26, 2006

Posted by j-dub in H.S. Football, Sports.
19 comments

Considering the weather is crappy today, I’m forced to be indoors watching TV. To my surprise, ESPN is carrying HIGH SCHOOL football games this year. They are supposed to have one each week. This game happens to pit two of the top 5 H.S. teams in the country against one another. The announcers stated that over 10 Division 1 prospects/recruits/commits are playing in this game.

That is absolutely amazing. One team is Byrnes, South Carolina and the other is Belle Glades, Florida. Byrnes is #2 in the nation and Belle Glades is #5. The rosters for each team read like a college or pro stat sheet. Recievers that are all 6’2″ or taller (one runs a sub-4.3 40) and lineman that weigh over 300lbs! This is a game between HIGH SCHOOL teams!

Anyways, its been a pretty good game so far. I love the fact that ESPN is airing H.S. football. It’s just another example of kids who want to play because they love the game. Much like the little league world series games.

Friday Night Lights – Week 1 August 25, 2006

Posted by j-dub in H.S. Football, Sports.
4 comments

It’s that time of year again…High School Football Season. The fall has to be the best time of year for sports. We get the baseball playoffs, prep football, college football, and the start of pro football.

For those of you who haven’t seen the movie Friday Night Lights…you should. It’s all about high school football in West Texas. I’d put the movie on par with Remember the Titans, Radio, Hoosiers, and the like. Really a great movie.

Fridays are ritual in high school football. Players would wear their jerseys to school, and there is always a different atmosphere in the school on gameday.

Week one of the prep season has a few games of interest to me.

The big twelve conference has the following noteworthy games in week 1:

Champaign (Central) at Normal (Community)
Danville (H.S.) at Urbana (H.S.)
Normal (Community West) at Champaign (Centennial)

The Cornbelt has this good game:

Fairbury (Prairie Central) at Mahomet (M.-Seymour)

Two playoff teams from last year, which should make for a good game.

St. Joe and Unity play weaker, lesser known opponents and should roll easily in week 1. Other area teams such as Salt Fork, Tuscola, Monticello, and Westville have not so exciting opponents.

Another local game of interest will be the Leroy vs. Fisher re-match from last years playoffs. Leroy looking to avenge last years close loss (Fisher lost in the next round to Tuscola).

A Chicago area battle features two of the traditional powerhouses from up north:

Joliet (Catholic Academy) vs. Chicago (Mt. Carmel) at Soldier Field (Sat.)

You know it’s a big game when you play at Soldier Field. That should be a thriller.

Here are my picks:

Normal Community wins versus Central
Danville over Urbana
Normal West over Centennial
Mahomet beats Prairie Central
St Joe and Unity both win
Leroy pays Fisher back for last year with a win
Joliet Catholic defeats Mt. Carmel on Saturday

I must say I was disappointed that the News-Gazette website didn’t have any prep sports info last night. Hopefully they’ve been covering it in print.

For those of you who want your High School Football fix, go to the following page on the IHSA website:

http://www.ihsa.org/activity/fb/index.htm

For a week-by-week schedule go here:

http://www.ihsa.org/activity/fb/2006-07w/weekschd.htm

Feel free to chime in with your predictions, a noteworthy game I missed, and your thoughts/comments on any of the local teams.

Nonprescription “Morning After” Pill August 24, 2006

Posted by j-dub in Politics.
1 comment so far

Check out this story.

I’m surprised to see this approved by the FDA.

What are your thoughts? Does this affect abortion legislation? If so, how?

Lemont Little Leaguers August 24, 2006

Posted by j-dub in Sports.
2 comments

Congratulations on a great season for the Lemont, IL Little League team.

Here’s an ESPN story about their final game last night.

I watched the end of it, and it was a heart-breaker.  They were so close to advancing another round in the Little Leauge World Series.

For those of you who haven’t been watching the LLWS; you are missing out.  This is probably the most genuine form of sport you can watch on TV.  The kids play their hearts out and everyone has to play (that’s a rule).

Again, congrats on an excellent season.  Thanks for representing Illinois so well.

Hot Rod’s Energy Plan August 23, 2006

Posted by j-dub in Local, Politics.
3 comments

Check this out.

Legit energy plan or campaign season initiative (as JBT is dubbing it)?

AS A VOTER, does this mean anything to you? Or are you skeptical about it’s true value?

I’m interested to see/read your thoughts…

Social Security August 22, 2006

Posted by j-dub in National, Politics.
2 comments

I’m not close to retirement, but I’m not stupid enough to think I’m going to be able to live off of social security when I actually hit retirement.

So, I’ve been trying my best to find the latest info on the current status of the social security program in the U.S. I found some interesting, yet scary statistics on the White House website.

Let me preface by saying that some Dems have questioned these statistics, but for my money, I’d rather be safe than sorry. If the estimates are 5 or 10 years premature, that doesn’t correct the problem; it just delays it. But, here’s a good factcheck.org article giving their opinion on some of Bush’s typical rallying points.

Here are some of the stats that I pulled from this webpage on the White House website:

  • For one-third of Americans over 65, Social Security benefits constitute 90% of their total income.
  • In 1950, there were 16 workers to support every one beneficiary of Social Security.
  • Today, there are only 3.3 workers supporting every Social Security beneficiary.

Here’s the BAD news:

  • Under the current system, today’s 30-year-old worker will face a 27% benefit cut when he or she reaches normal retirement age.
  • Just 13 years from now, in 2017, the government will begin to pay out more in Social Security benefits than it collects in payroll taxes – and shortfalls then will grow larger with each passing year.
  • By the year 2027, the government will somehow have to come up with an extra $200 billion a year to keep the system afloat.
  • By 2033, the annual shortfall will be more than $300 billion a year.
  • By 2041, when workers in their mid-20s begin to retire, the system will be bankrupt – unless we act now to save it.

The GOOD news is:

  • Social Security is sound for today’s seniors and for those nearing retirement.

Sorry, if I put a damper on your day. However, don’t be pessimistic. We have the power to affect change on this issue. Be sure to quiz your candidates on what they intend to do about social security and don’t count on the government to be your only means of financial stability come retirement. It sounds crazy with the way life is, but start doing whatever you can now to help yourself later.

I apologize, but after those depressing stats; I had to give a little pep talk. I hate presenting such negative information, but people need to realize that this is a REAL problem in order for it to get corrected.

President Bush has talked about privatizing the social security system. He was all over this issue last year, but this year it has taken a back seat. Or so it seems (ignore partisan angles in the article, just pick out the facts). And, judging by the page on the White House website (the one I linked you to), there have been no newsworthy updates in the past year. Maybe he’s holding off until after these upcoming November elections to pick the issue up again; I’m really not sure. Kind of weird though, considering this was supposed to be a “top priority” during his time in office.

I’m not against privatization, and I would welcome the ability to have control over MY money. I just haven’t heard enough detailed information to sell me completely, and at this point, almost anything would be worth a try considering the state of the current system (see stats above).

The last few administrations have been talking about social security reform, and not doing anything about it. I’m glad they’ve at least talked about it, which has helped to raise awareness, but talk is cheap as far as this issue is concerned. And considering Bush is on his way out and has his plate full with Iraq, and whatever else, he’ll be lucky to accomplish anything on this in his remaining time in office.

Personally, my plans for retirement are as if social security never existed. I figure that’s the smartest thing at this point. However, I’ll still be really pissed if there isn’t SOME benefit for me by the time I get to retirement. Especially considering I’ll pay into the system for over 50 years of my life.

Sorry for the length, but this is an issue that I feel should be important to everyone.

Feel free to express your thoughts, ideas, opinions, and/or vent about the social security quandary that is or isn’t (depending on your viewpoint).

PS: Here’s a link to the Social Security Website, which has benefit calculators, etc to help you with your retirement planning.

Open Thread August 21, 2006

Posted by j-dub in General.
2 comments

Open Thread Monday…..again. I really dislike Mondays…especially when it’s so beautiful outside and I’m stuck at work.

Update:

Here are a few interesting links I’ve found today…

Joe Rosenthal Passes Away (he took the famous Iwo Jima photo from WWII)

Big Little Leaguer (talk about an oxymoron, this kid is HUGE!)

Spike Lee’s Katrina Documentary will be worth checking out…

Open Thread August 18, 2006

Posted by j-dub in General.
3 comments

Rain, rain, go away…….

PDAs August 17, 2006

Posted by j-dub in Hardware, Technology.
2 comments

I’ve been wanting a PDA for awhile now. I think my life has actually become hectic enough to where it might come in handy. The only problem is I’m not sure what to get. I don’t think I need anything too complicated; just the basics for a first try. I don’t think I would want to take the plunge into a PDA/Cell Phone combo ($400+ most places I’ve seen), until I knew I liked having the PDA functionality.

Here are the features I think I want:

Calendar/Schedule
To Do List
Address Book
Alarms/reminders for appointments
Computer Synchronization
Document Access (ability to edit word,excel files, etc)
Internet capable (check email, sports, etc) – Possible wi-fi option
MP3 music ready
Games

I checked at the Palm website (for starters) and the Palm Z22 ($99), Tungsten E2 ($199), Palm TX ($299) all look like they could potentially fill my needs. $300 would definetely be my top-end price range. If I were to spend any more, I might as well get a PDA/Phone combo; a Treo of some variety.

I know there are different types of memory, programs, and operating systems on these things, but other than that I’m clueless. I’d really like to hear from some PDA user, or you tech-savvy folks who know more about this and might be able to help me.

Any knowledge you can pass on would be great. Such as which companies/units to avoid, other caveats to keep in mind when buying a PDA (accessories, etc), or any other helpful tidbits. I’d greatly appreciate your help.

Best of the Web: YouTube.com August 16, 2006

Posted by j-dub in Internet, Technology.
49 comments

After I read this article, I figured I would start my “Best of the Web” posts. I had already planned on doing these random best of the web posts, and I figured this was as good a time as any to start.

I’m constantly on the internet and I always seem to find an interesting site or tool that is worth passing on to all of you. That is basically the gist of these posts.

As the post title indicates, I’m focusing on youtube.com today.

Until recently, I hadn’t really visited YouTube very often. I had heard of it, and seen it linked to incessantly across the web; but I hadn’t really checked it out.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve visited it on an almost daily basis, and I never leave without a good laugh. I usually come to YouTube in search of some hilarious bit to give me my daily dose of humor.

Here’s my favorite so far scary wolf!(video clips, so if you’re at work, make sure your volume is down)

I’ve also checked out some others such as the mentos and coke videos (mythbusters just recently did an episode on this phenomenon also), the mac spoofs (of the new mac tv commercials), and I’ve heard all the talk about the latest Britney Spears video.

As the article I linked to earlier states, YouTube has cracked the top 50 most visited websites in the world. This is quite an accomplishment, especially once you consider all of the websites out there today.

If you’ve been on the web for an eternity, like I have, and want something different or just want to kill some time surfing the web; check out YouTube.

Feel free to share your favorite YouTube videos, or your “best of the web” nominees.

Domino Effect: Possible Danville Smoking Ban? August 14, 2006

Posted by j-dub in Local, Politics.
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As you all probably know, the cities of Champaign-Urbana have enacted smoking bans. Urbana’s ban already in effect for restaurants (bars/taverns to come Jan 1st), Champaign’s ban will take effect January 1st of 2007.

Now, the Danville City Council is beginning to take public comments in regards to the issue. Here’s a Commercial-News article about the story.

I love this quote from Ward 6 Alderman Steve Nichols:

“I just think that we just need to ease into things,” he said. “I honestly believe in the near future there will be an almost total ban everywhere.”

Honestly, I think he’s right. Ease into it, listen to the public and at least let everyone speak their piece about the issue. Everyone will feel better about it in the end if you honestly listen to what they have to say; instead of pulling them by their hair, kicking, and screaming (metaphorically speaking). The Mayor expects the public comments period to last 3-4 months.

Did C-U area have similar periods of time for public discussion? Or do you think they rush the issue to the table?

So far, I like the Danville approach to a possible ban. Of course there are the same worries amongst bar/restaurant owners about possible business loss, etc. I haven’t heard of any special interests groups being involved with this so far, which is unlike the C-U area.

Basically, Danville, after watching C-U stumble their way through a smoking ban; will have every opportunity to get this right. They will have seen what to do and not to do and they should get the best solution on the table. Hopefully, for all parties involved, they do.

I guess that’s the benefit of being slightly behind the curve. I love the progressive attitude of C-U (in all things, technology, government, etc), but sometimes that can get you into trouble with a lot of things. For example, you buy the very first iPod, only to find out that it still has a lot of bugs to work out. It’s a dumb thing to be resistant to change, but it’s also not smart to always be the first to do something.

I look at it like this. It’s like the old saying goes…..patience is a virtue….

Gay Marriage Ballot Issue Rejected August 11, 2006

Posted by j-dub in Politics.
3 comments

Here’s the story.

And the most notable quote:

“Unless they pull a rabbit out of a hat in federal court, it’s not going to be on the ballot,” said Patricia Logue, senior counsel for the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund.

For starters, I didn’t know that Illinois already prohibited same-sex marriages. You might be wondering why put an issue on the ballot if it’s already prohibited. Well they (llinois Family Institute and Protect Marriage Illinois) were trying to amend the state’s constitution by putting this gay marriage ban in the Illinois constitution so it wouldn’t be able to be overturned.

The website www.protectmarriageillinois.org has this listed as their proposed changes (what they were trying to get on the ballot in November):

Shall the Illinois General Assembly submit an amendment to Article IX of the Illinois State Constitution to the voters of the state of Illinois at large at the next general election stating as follows:

“To secure and preserve the benefits of marriage for our society and for future generations of children, a marriage between a man and a woman is the only legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state.”

Well, I’m surprised this hasn’t garnered more attention. Especially considering the slowness of the election news at this point. It sounds as if the protect marriage people will try and fight to still get it on the ballot, but their sample of required signatures was not meeting the specifications required by law; they could be out of luck at this point.

Any thoughts?

Threat Level: Red August 10, 2006

Posted by j-dub in General.
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This is pretty scary stuff:

Article #1
Article #2
I haven’t had much time to analyze, but it was basically a plot to bring liquid explosive devices onto planes that were coming into the U.S..

In response, homeland security has banned liquid/gel like substances from aviation flights for the time being.

Please post any other news/thoughts you come across.

Rantoul Schools August 10, 2006

Posted by j-dub in Schools.
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Read this article to get the latest on the stalled contract talks at the high school.

“The bargaining hasn’t gone anywhere,” said Gene Vanderport, area representative of the Illinois Education Association. “There’s a considerable distance.”

Also, if you remember back several years ago, the high school had so many money issues that they proposed the elimination of the sports programs at the high school. This ultimately failed, but was a huge wakeup call to everyone in the area. Since then they’ve remodeled the High School and things seem to be going okay, except for the contract issues, extremely high teacher turnover rate, etc.

What is wrong with this picture?

Moving on to the Rantoul Grade Schools…

If you remember back to February of this year, the school board approved a deal which would create 4 grade-level learning centers. Here’s that article. This deal was met with quite a bit of opposition in the community.

The 20-page plan has many facets, but the most controversial is the reassignment of students to schools. The plan will send students currently at Broadmeadow and Pleasant Acres schools to Pleasant Acres for kindergarten through second grand and to Broadmeadow for third through fifth grade.

The plan sends students currently attending Northview and Eastlawn schools to Eastlawn for kindergarten through second grade and Northview for third through fifth grade.

The plan calls for redrawing boundaries to balance class size; implementation of the plan is expected to cost $237,000.

Here’s an updated article on the school transition.
I like the fact that they are trying to make improvements, but if you look at the list of new purchases you’ll see the following:

40 resource books…the improvement plan, which will cost more than $200,000, also includes money to hire coaches, one for reading and one for math, to work with children who will take the Illinois Standards Achievement Tests in the grades 3-5 schools.

And the district will hire two fluent Spanish speakers, one for the lower grades and one for the upper grades, to help Hispanic children make the transition to regular classrooms.

I keep thinking to myself, why did you need to shuffle the kids around? If you were going to spend all this money on extra help for the kids, wouldn’t that be enough? Basically, the board is doing this in order to pass all the state achievement tests at the grades 3-5 level. They need to shuffle the kids in order to balance the test scores out amongst all the students.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Rantoul School system, Broadmeadow and Northview are the good grade schools and Pleasant Acres and Eastlawn are the bad. Basically, the difference being that Broadmeadow and Northview are in the wealthier parts of town and Pleasant Acres and Eastlawn are in the not-so-wealthy parts of Rantoul.

Hence, you get a large group of kids with less opportunities going to the same school and not passing state achievement tests. Meanwhile, the better off kids across town are having no problems. I guess I’m not understanding the need to combine schools. I mean why not just give the kids at Eastlawn and Pleasant Acres the extra help they need?

What exactly IS going on with the Rantoul School system? Bad management? Not enough funding? Or something else entirely?

Any which way, it’s been a problem for quite some time, and it’s one that needs answering.