Strengthening democracy in Chicago – one child at a time

Strengthening democracy in Chicago - one child at a time

CRFC is committed to giving all children an informed voice and helping them build the skills they need to participate effectively in civic life.


New Online Privacy Policy Allows White House To Take Twitter, Facebook Comments To Use For Public Advocacy

How do you feel about the White House’s new online privacy policy? Comments you make on social media platforms can now be used for public advocacy. Is this okay or an invasion of your privacy?


WASHINGTON (AP) — A new Obama administration privacy policy released Friday explains how the government will gather the user data of online visitors to, mobile apps and social media sites, and it clarifies that online comments, whether tirades or tributes, are in the open domain.

“Information you choose to share with the White House (directly and via third party sites) may be treated as public information,” the new policy says.

The Obama Administration also promises not to sell the data of online visitors. But it cannot make the same assurances for users who go to third-party White House sites on Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus.

There will be no significant changes in actual practices under the new policy. But legal jargon and bureaucratic language has been stripped out, making it easier for readers to now understand that the White House stores the date, time and duration of online visits…

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The Cup of Sugar and Bad Cold Defense

by Anita Dellaria
Elementary/Middle Schools Program Manager
Constitutional Rights Foundation Chicago

“‘Then I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house in,’ said the Wolf. So he huffed and he puffed and he blew his house in.”

Students work closely with attorney volunteers to understand legal concepts
Students work closely with attorney volunteers to understand legal concepts

One of Constitutional Rights Foundation Chicago’s civic learning  events is a jury experience conducted with 2nd and 3rd grade students in Chicago public elementary schools. The trial is State v. Wolf based on The Three Little Pigs and the outcome might surprise you.

We all know the story. A belligerent wolf pounds on the doors of the three little pigs, bellowing and demanding to be let in. When the pig with the straw house and then the pig with the stick house refuse entry, he huffs and he puffs and he blows their houses down. Only when he is faced with the sturdiness of the brick house and the ingenuity of the third little pig is the wolf defeated, ending up in a boiling pot of water.

Students weigh evidence
Students weigh the evidence

Time after time the unexpected happens. Despite his place in the popular imagination as a predator and all-around bad guy, the wolf is found not guilty. Out of 187 votes cast this year so far, the wolf has been found not guilty by 152 individual school children and guilty by only 35.

How can this be? Perhaps the answer lies in the wolf’s (a.k.a. B.B. Wolf) version of the story. According to his testimony, he had a bad cold and a great desire to bake a cake for his grandmother. When he knocked on Fran Pig’s door to borrow some sugar, he sneezed and blew down her straw house. He ran to Stan Pig’s house to tell him about his sister’s house, but he sneezed again and blew down his stick house. He then ran to Dan Pig’s house to tell him about his brother and sister and to borrow some sugar when he sneezed again, but Dan Pig’s brick home withstood his ferocious “achoo!”

The jury foreperson delivers the verdict
The jury foreperson delivers the verdict

Some might say his story is a bit incredible, but the defense produces a receipt for cold medicine, and it is this receipt that jury members consistently cite when asked to explain their not guilty verdicts. They also cite what they perceive as a bias against B.B. Wolf. Relying on Fran Pig’s admission during cross-examination that not only did she not know B.B. Wolf but that she didn’t want to know him, the students detect good old-fashioned prejudice. “After all, he is a wolf,” she stated.

As any attorney volunteer who has participated in this event can tellyou, the children are concerned with “getting it right,” and acknowledge the difficult choice they face. When asked what he learned, one student responded, “I learned that whether you want a defendant to be guilty or not you need evidence to prove it.” When asked what it felt like to be on a jury, one student responded, “Being on a jury is hard because you have to hear both stories and…it is a hard choice.”

The receipt for cold medicine is very convincing
The receipt for cold medicine is very convincing

We can think of all sorts of reasons why the wolf won, but we can’t completely discount that the wolf is found not guilty because 2nd and 3rd graders do understand the importance of fairness, rational decision-making, and the awesome responsibility that comes with having the power to curtail another person’s liberty.

How should a citizen feel when she sits on a jury? Let’s hope she feels like the third grader who said, ““I feel brave and alive.”

For more information about State v. Wolf, contact Jessica Chethik at

Preview the program here!


How We Listen Speaks Volumes

CRFC Guest Blogger
CRFC Guest Blogger, Lindsey Micucci

Guest Blogger: Lindsey Micucci
High School Student and Illinois Youth Summit Participant, Lindsey Micucci, shares what she has learned about listening and leading. Views do not necessarily reflect those of CRFC.

School, home, and the Illinois Youth Summit are places where we learn that the world can be a hard and confusing place. Even though we each have different voices on all topics, sharing these opinions in a civil manner says a lot about someone’s character.

Through my participation in the Illinois Youth Summit, I have learned that pointing fingers won’t solve anything. Shaking heads, rolling eyes, and coughing are all signs of disrespect and bad leadership. Leadership is holding yourself to a higher standard, not by your actions but by your words. People don’t want a leader that is a bully or a pushover. They want someone who’s well-spoken, respectful, and a good listener. That’s what we should aim for. We should aim to become leaders. Whether it’s the leader of our homes, of our schools, or of our country, we should hold these qualities so high, that they become our own goals for ourselves.

Words are how we communicate our feelings and how we think. Using words, is more influential than actions done with one’s head down and eyes turned the other way. During debates, we’ve all seen dirty looks shot at the other side of the panel. Is it the other side, or the wrong side? Is there a wrong side?

We, as students, as human beings, are entitled to our own opinions. When we are speaking in a format that requires debate, our words should be objective. Our ability to create rational arguments, which are non-biased, is still strong even with the inevitable disagreements that will occur. Arguments are to be spoken with authentic voices and facts, not guesses that are pulled out of the air.