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Make it possible for all Chicagoans to go to a 4-year college, get better jobs

A report from the Federal Reserve found the Chicago area ranked 101st in its overall share of what are called "opportunity jobs." | Sun-Times file photo

I read with great interest the recent report that good jobs in Chicago are hard to come by for those without a post-secondary education. (“No degree? Fed’s study says Chicago is a tough place to work,” Chicago Sun Times, 5/6/19.)

That shouldn’t surprise us.

These days, you earn what you learn.

But not everybody in Chicago and its suburbs is able to attend a four-year college.

For many students and families, the money or the inclination isn’t there. That’s why we need to do more so that everyone has access to a quality post-secondary education that gives them the skills and knowledge to obtain a good-paying job.

Two years ago, I introduced the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, bipartisan legislation to reauthorize and modernize the American career, technical, and vocational education system for the first time since 2006.

Last year, it became law and this July, it will come into effect, providing additional funding for these programs and ensuring that our educational institutions and business community work together to educate and prepare students for the seven million jobs left open across the country because employers can’t find workers with the necessary skills.

At a time when our low official unemployment rate doesn’t account for the number of Americans currently underemployed or who have given up looking for work altogether, we need to ensure that everyone can afford and obtain the education they need, not just to find a job, but to build a career.

Four-year colleges have a part to play, but so does career and technical education.

U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, 8th District, Illinois

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New drug-induced homicide law lacks promise

Maybe Mary Mitchell is on to something here, “Rarely used law could aid fight to get tainted drugs off the street,” column, Chicago Sun-Times, 5/14/19.

Drug-induced homicide has been on the books for 30 years but, as she reported, in application of the law, prosecutors generally require that the drug user be forced (or tricked) into taking the drug.

Why?

Why not prosecute the drug dealer, or the friend who ran the errand to go buy the drugs? Kind of like “strict liability” for illegal drug products creeping into the criminal law from tort law (negligence)?

Because kids, adults too, who willingly jump off the 10-meter platform into the pool, or ingest prohibited/unregulated drugs, voluntarily took the risk, they asked for it. Everyone knows drugs are “bad,” dangerous, prohibited and often tainted. Swallowing or ingesting the unknown is just part of the trill. And it’s against the law.

Again, part of the trill of drug use.

In my college days, just after the founding of William and Mary College, I never left a beer unattended at a fraternity party with brothers in fear, or caution, someone would slip Benzedrine, or an upper into my drink without my knowledge and Bennie and the Jets might fly me away.

College drinking safely with friends: it was a rule. Sometimes I broke it.

But still drug-induced homicide for voluntary consumption of an unknown product has merit. But with modification.

The new drug-induced homicide law should provide that some legislator who voted for drug prohibition, his or her name pulled from a hat, should go to prison, or be put to death when a person dies from ingestion of a prohibited drug.

Not knowing whose name might be pulled from the hat would be part of the excitement of legislators playing drug-induced, prohibition roulette.

Same new death or incarceration law for for legislators who voted for marijuana prohibition when a kid dies ingesting K-2, spice or some other synthetic marijuana substitute that isn’t marijuana.

How the legislator would be executed, or how long he or she would be locked-up would be part of the trill and homicide prevention strategy.

As a former homicide prosecutor, this new law makes just as much sense as existing law: drug prohibition and drug-induced homicide.

James E. Gierach, Palos Park