Teach-in to help people learn about Illinois economy

Cassie Buchman, Associate News Editor

People who want to know more about Illinois’ financial situation and what they can do about it can go to a Teach-In from 10:15 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. Tuesday in the Arcola-Tuscola Room of the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union.

Math professor Charles Delman said people really need to be educated about what is really going on.

Delman said the purpose of the Teach-In is not to tell people what is right and wrong, but to share information and ideas.

“You’re welcome to question it; you should question it, it’s a discussion,” Delman said. “But we need to talk to each other to come to a solution.”

This includes the budget impasse and budget deficit Illinois currently has.

“(These problems) didn’t happen overnight. It wasn’t inevitable,” Delman said. “It could have been prevented; policies could have been different.”

History professor Debra Reid said the Teach-In is a way to gather in an informal setting with experts to teach those who want to learn more about different perspectives.

She said though people can teach themselves about these things, they often just end up looking at things that reaffirm their positions.

“Maybe people who are of a different political persuasion will learn information (at the Teach-In) and think ‘Hey, this is a problem, we need funding,’” Reid said. “We can pressure with real information and real facts to help people’s opinions change.”

Reid said it would be nice to lessen the divide between political parties, because then they would communicate in ways to solve problems.

“This is a huge problem,” Reid said. “It’s not just that we don’t have money.”

Delman said the reason behind the Teach-In was to educate people on what has led to these financial problems and to reach some conclusions on what to do to make Illinois better.

“Illinois is in a really deep hole, and it’s going to be really hard to get out of this, and this hole was created over many years,” Delman said. “I’m not saying there are easy solutions, but the simplistic explanations are simply not true.”

The Teach-In will start at 10 a.m. with journalism professor Bryan Murley presenting a session on “Social Media: Basics and Beyond.” Murley will teach those at the session how to use Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter for community organizing.

“Those are modern methods of quick communication that help to mobilize people to give them ideas or spread ideas, so we want to use those effectively,” Delman said.

Reid said if people are more familiar with the technology, people will be more likely to use it.

Delman said this workshop will be hands on and teach people who to use their knowledge to create change, but the Teach-In itself will be to help people learn more.

“In general, the community needs to learn more about how this has come about,” Delman said. “There’s a lot of soundbites and propaganda on both sides, and I think we need to get past that and understand some of the facts, some of the real-life comparisons.”

According to a press release, attendees should bring their smartphones and other tablets with the apps already downloaded.

At 11 a.m., Amisha Patel and Cheryl Flowers of the group The Grassroots Collaborative will give a presentation on “Illinois and Austerity: Where’s the Money?” where they will speak on topics such as austerity, how Illinois got into this financial situation and what citizens can do about it. This presentation will be given again at 2 p.m.

Reid and The Grassroots Collaborative will be talking about a variety of economic issues including unequal taxation as well as how states borrow money and negotiate bonds that bail them out.

The Grassroots Collaborative works with 11 membership-based organizations that educate and help people to act to create policy change on local and statewide levels.

At 12:30 p.m. there will be a brown bag lunch discussion, where participants can bring their lunch and talk about issues in higher education and local economies in Illinois.

The event is free and open to the public.


Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]