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Pat Quinn Wants to Get His Hands on Your School

Forced school mergers. Top high schools. The king of the creepy boyfriends. And Orland pot farmers get their day in court. Get a "Good Read on the Southland" with these five must-read stories.

Looking for something to talk about this week? Stay savvy on the Southland with these must-read stories.

1. School Merger Plan Met with Disgust, Skepticism

The governor wants to dissolve your school board and merge your schools together, thinking that will save the state about $100 million. State Rep. Bob Rita has introduced a bill that will do just that, prompting the instant creation of a grassroots opposition group on Facebook.

The anti-merger effort is .

More reaction from local school officials, for the most part displeased with the effort, can be found in a Sun-Times Media report published Sunday. One superintendent calls it "a joke."

Some of our school systems are laying off teachers and aides. Others are trimming extracurriculars. And yet others have managed to stockpile surpluses. The idea of mega-mergers and loss of local control of education prompts many questions. Deep in arrears on state aid payments owed to local schools and mired in billions of dollars in debt, one of the most critical questions is whether the state can be trusted to reinvent the public school system on a massive scale.

A town hall meeting on the issue will take place 7 p.m. Monday, March 14, at Central Middle School in Tinley Park.

2. 13 South Suburban Schools Rank in the Metro Top 100

Lincoln-Way East High School is the highest ranking south suburban school on the Chicago Sun-Times Top 100 Area High Schools list published Feb. 27. There are 12 more Southland high schools among the top 100, based on average scores on state achievement tests.

In order, they include:

32. Lincoln-Way East in Frankfort
40. Lemont
43. Lincoln-Way Central in New Lenox
44. Lincoln-Way West in New Lenox
46. Sandburg in Orland Park
50. Lincoln-Way North in Frankfort
52. Andrew in Tinley
55. Oak Forest
58. Homewood-Flossmoor
83. Evergreen Park
90. Reavis in Burbank
96. Stagg in Palos
97. Tinley Park

3. My Boyfriend's a Creep. He Could Be Your Killer

Trisha Kiefer knew her boyfriend was a creep. That feeling prompted her to tip off the FBI that he was worth a look in the Riley Fox murder. "I was just, like, check him out. If you're going around asking who's a creep, here's a creep for you," Kiefer told Chicago Tribune reporter Kristen Schorsch.

That tip eventually led the FBI and Will County prosecutors to Scott Wayne Eby, who confessed to the crime.

A year and a half later, Kiefer still hasn't been given the $100,000 reward. Battling advanced breast cancer, the New Lenox native is angry about that. But she's also filled with shame for dating "the devil," Schorsch reports.

4. South Suburban Cop Catches Rapist at 7-Eleven

There's never a cop around when you need one. That's the cliche, but Robert Fitzgerald was there when he was needed. The off-duty Midlothian cop was at a South Side gas station at 2 a.m. last Wednesday after his shift when a screaming woman came up to him and told him she'd been raped. She said her attacker was in a nearby 7-Eleven convenience store.

Fitzgerald held the guy until Chicago cops arrived, according to a Sun-Times Media report.

I was at the right place at the right time,” he said.

5. They Lost the Farm and Their Freedom

Remember the little pot farm discovered in the McGinnis Slough Forest Preserve last summer? Mariano and Pedro Robles set up a pot farm inside McGinnis Slough Forest Preserve, near 135th Street and Wolf Road. The brothers tended to 2,864 marijuana plants and kept camp there just outside of the public view.

Last Thursday, . After doing time, they could be deported.

Want more?

  • Tinley Park Patch Editor Paul Dailing explains Cook County's obtuse property tax system in .
  • An Oak Lawn woman has sued the village, , reports Oak Lawn Patch Editor Lorraine Swanson.
  • Booted from American Idol after bringing J-Lo to tears, Oak Forest's Chris Medina releases a single and appears on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. .

and a reader says

The prompts a scolding from , a Patch reader:

As a citizen of this Village I am appalled and ashamed of ALL of you and your behavior. I feel like I am witnessing a bunch of unruly children who stamp their feet, go off in a huff and/or have a temper tantrum if things don't go their way. What are you? 5?

Dennis Robaugh is editor of Patch's south suburban region. You can reach him at dennisr@patch.com.

Marie March 01, 2011 at 02:31 PM
Oak Lawn Guy, defending the status quo isn't an option if we want our schools to succeed. Real leaders will challenge and ultimately break the status quo.
OakLawnGuy March 01, 2011 at 03:55 PM
Marie, very true! As poorly as the Chicago Public Schools have performed, at least they've had some leadership that was willing to implement changes. I guess I can complain about Illinois not paying its bills till I'm blue in the face, but facts are facts and in order to survive and thrive the Illinois educational honchos (in Springfield and at school board/adminstration levels) need to be creative and willing to sacrifice rather than taking the easy way out and lopping schools.
ridgeland122parent March 01, 2011 at 04:35 PM
THANK YOU oak lawn guy!
Terry Cornell April 04, 2011 at 08:33 AM
The problem is that while everyone bickers, the children are left behind. We need to push the voucher program. This way parents can take that voucher to any school. This way all of the schools have to compete for the voucher (money). This will spurn competition for the vouchers. The schools will have to get better or be forced out of business. The winners will be the children. We are very fortunate to live in the best country in the world. I cannot believe that other countries are producing smarter children and our country is so behind. Our children is our future. Our lawmakers better wake up soon.
OakLawnGuy April 04, 2011 at 11:10 AM
I have to doubt that anything concerning vouchers can be passed into law without including the private schools. This idea was pretty hot about 15 years ago as I recall. And the big objection at grass roots level was that tax payers could conceivably be supporting private schools, schools not always of their own religious affiliation.

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