Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Rahm's budget hearing not exactly what he had in mind

Rahm finally meets with Dyett hunger strikers. But makes no commitments. Strike continues into Day 16. 
The Sun-Times  reporter Stefano Esposito keeps referring to last night's public response at Rahm's budget hearing, as a "gripe session". Strange, but not a surprising view of democracy.

The mayor says his current public meetings are "to discuss the City's current budget outlook and solicit savings, reform and revenue ideas from residents to assist in the preparation of the 2016 budget." But in reality, as David Vitale once told me, such meetings are really about "reining in" dissident community voices.

Well, that sure as hell didn't work yesterday. With the creditors and Moody's breathing down his neck and with Dyett hunger strikers now into a health and life-threatening 16 days without solid food, those voices were not about to be reined in. The budget meeting at Malcolm X College, was turned into a demand for Rahm to stop stonewalling the Dyett school process they themselves launched months ago, and to meet face-to-face with the hunger strikers and begin serious negotiations.

Tresser: "Where is our money?"
Others grilled the mayor about the lack of transparency over the city’s tax-increment financing districts (TIFs).
“The question I have for our mayor is: Where is our money?” asked Tom Tresser of the TIF Illumination Project
In the end, Rahm was forced to agree to meet with the hunger strikers or face direct responsibility for further risks to their lives. I hear it was Forrest Claypool, Rahm's new schools CEO who pushed for the meeting. He needs this to go away.

The mayor and Claypool did meet with them after the budget meeting. But according to hunger striker Jitu Brown, the meeting with Emanuel, Claypool and board Vice Chair Jesse Ruiz lasted only about a half hour.
“It was a cordial meeting, but they made no commitments,” Brown said. “That’s not acceptable. So we’ll be on this hunger strike.”
Brown said the mayor’s office asked the protesters to end their hunger strike.
“What we got from Claypool is that he’s new, the board is new,” Brown said. “We hear that from every regime. We are not going to be pulled on that string again.”
Where does that leave things? Last night was a small victory. The protests forced some movement on Rahm's part. Possibly some division in his camp. But hunger strikers are saying that token gestures are not enough. There needs to be some serious movement on a public high school for Bronzeville and more before this battle ends.

Speaking of serious discussion, don't miss this dust up between the brilliant former Chicago teachers and Harvard doc student, Eve Ewing and charter flack Peter Cunningham on WBEZ. Brilliant Eve is too much for over-matched Peter and his consumer model (smooth-or-chunky) of education. It's about Dyett and a lot more. Listen to the whole thing.

Nice job, Eve. Facts are indeed stubborn fellows.

More support is needed. Come to the VIGIL FOR DYETT this evening at 7:30PM, Tribune Tower 435 N. Michigan

Monday, August 31, 2015

CTU PRESS RELEASE: CLERGY CALL FOR EMERGENCY HEARING ON DYETT

CLERGY TO APPEAL TO MAYOR EMANUEL TO END TO THE DYETT HUNGER STRIKE NOW IN 14th DAY

Parents, educators, activists continue to refuse food untiBronzeville receives a neighborhood high school

CHICAGOAs activists enter the 14th day of dangerous hunger strike, a group of clergy, representing varioufaiths, will hold press conference Monday, August 31st to call on Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Board of Education President Frank Clark to end this dangerous non-violent protest by immediately calling for an emergency hearing on Dyett High School. 
Three strikers have already required medical attention and many fear that more will succumb. The school district moved its Dyett vote to the end of September,which places these parents, grandparents, community activists, teachers and clergy refusing solid foods in serious health danger, according tmedical professionals. Theprotesters have vowed to continue the hunger strike until their community receives neighborhood high school.

WHO:             Rev. Robert Jones, currently in the 14th day of hunger strike, will be joined by varioufaith leaders, including Rabbi Brant Rosen, Rev. CJHawking, and others in direct moral appeal for fairness, democracy and education justice. The clergy will represent varioufaiths and represent a cross-section of Chicago.


WHAT:           Clergy will conduct press conference to call thmoral question about Mayor Emanuel’s refusal to entertain the Dyett proposals ashe previously promised; and to call on city leaders to help end this hunger strike as 12 protesters move into a critical phase of protest. The clergyintend to deliver plea to the mayor in hope that he will act quickly, hold an emergency hearing on the matter, and end the hunger strike.

Chicago PEACE (Parents, Educators and Community for Education), a CTU faith-based group, will also participate in the news conference.


WHEN:           Monday, August 31, 2015
10:00 a.m.

WHERE:         CITY HALL, 5th FLOOR
121 N. LaSalle Street


Friday, August 28, 2015

Revised AP history curriculum is racist to the core

According to the revisions, "there was a debate among European leaders about how non-Europeans should be treated." Wow! What an interesting debate. I wonder who won?
I just finished reading the "revised" AP U.S. History framework which is supposed to offer top high school students a more "evenhanded" understanding of our nation's past. But the revisions amount to little more than a cover-up and an excuse for slavery, the slaughter of Native Americans, colonialism and the white supremacist ideology that justified it.

Here are two examples of the latest revisions from EdWeek:

Slavery and the European Settlements 

2014 Version:
“Many Europeans developed a belief in white superiority to justify their subjugation of Africans and American Indians, using several different rationales.”
2015 Version:
 There was debate among European leaders “about how non-Europeans should be treated, as well as evolving religious, cultural, and racial justifications for the subjugation of Africans and Native Americans.”
Manifest Destiny meant "looking for natural and mineral resources".
Manifest Destiny

2014 Version:
“The idea of Manifest Destiny, which asserted U.S. power in the Western Hemisphere and supported US expansion westward, was built on a belief in white racial superiority and a sense of American cultural superiority, and helped to shape the era’s political debates.”
2015 Version:
The movement west was due to “the desire for access to natural and mineral resources and the hope of many settlers for economic opportunities or religious refuge.” Advocates of annexing lands “argued that Manifest Destiny and the superiority of American institutions compelled the United States to expand its borders westward to the Pacific Ocean.”
The heart of the problem lies in the way we teach history to high schoolers. Instead of engaging them in real research of literature and artifacts, whole periods of history like the World War I or Vietnam are neatly packaged in a few paragraphs inside a textbook page. There's a right answer on the A.P. test which is a gate keeper to college credit and entrance.

It seems that the powerful College Board has bent to right-wing political pressure and has become little more than a propaganda machine for right-wing pols, think tanks and conservative academic departments. One can only imagine what the "right" answers are on the revised U.S. History exam.

I feel sorry for the teachers that are forced to teach this crap.

Rahm to both Dyett hunger strikers and Little Black Pearl: "We don't need no stink'n public school in Bronzeville."

Rahm, Clark, Claypool & Jackson
Rahm Emanuel, cynical bastard that he is, never intended to put a school back in Dyett. From the time he closed this, the last public open-enrollment high school in Bronzeville, his plan was always to sell the building to the real estate developers -- like he's done recently with Von Humboldt in Humboldt Park and Trumbull (to Svigos Real Estate Group) in Andersonville. The awarding of the Obama Library in Washington Park has only made the incentive greater.

Like his predecessor Daley, Rahm would sell of every foot of this city's public space that wasn't nailed down, if he could. And maybe he can. The erosion of public space and public decision-making has been a hallmark of the regime's strategy of gentrifying and whitenizing the city. It's New Orleans without the flood. A quarter-million African-American citizens have left Chicago in the past decades.

Now it appears that the board's RFP for a new school at Dyett was a ruse. After 11 days of surviving on liquids and with several of the hunger strikers needing medical treatment (see the warning from local health professionals) , they've been told by Board Pres. Frank Clark (former ComEd C.E.O), that the game is up. Rahm, Claypool, Johnson and their gaggle of always-compliant board members, are dumping the new-school proposals from all three groups, the Coalition to Revitalize Dyett (Global Leadership and Green Technology), Little Black Pearl's contract school, and a late one solicited by the board from former Dyett Principal Charles Campbell.

The seemingly endless proposal process, pitting black community groups against one another (see Mary Mitchell's column yesterday) was used an an excuse for not accepting the original proposal months ago. But now, with public support for the hunger strikers growing, and with local, national, and even international media picking up on the story, Rahm's hand has been forced.

Yesterday, according to the Sun-Times, the board's Chief Ed Officer, Janice Jackson tried to blame the entire RFP ruse on former C.E.O Barbara Byrd-Bennett who, facing possible indictment in the SUPES scandal, has seemingly gone underground.
Newly installed Chief Academic Officer Janice Jackson also said that the request for proposals process was initiated by former CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett before Jackson and CEO Forrest Claypool took charge.
Rahm has taught her the blame-your-predecessor game well.

Adds Jackson:
 “We don’t want to open a new school and then have those schools competing when they’re already in a position where they’re fighting over the same children." 
Hilarious! This from a regime which has been trying to place privately-run charters, military schools, and selective enrollment schools down the block, around the corner and across the street from every neighborhood high school in the city.

Burns didn't get the memo.
The mayor's shutting down of the RFP process also made a liar out of his ever-faithful Ald.Will Burns, who obviously didn't get the memo in time. On Tuesday, feeling the tide of support shifting towards the hunger strikers, Burns wrote a letter to the Hyde Park Herald proclaiming, 
"Failure is not an option. Dyett will be a successful open enrollment community high school."
Note to readers...Whenever you hear a pol or an ed reformer say, "failure is not an option" -- it's an option.

Adds Ald. Burns:
As the newly appointed City Council Chairman of the Committee on Education and Child Development, I will continue to work with the community, the Chicago Board of Education and the RFP process to secure a new plan for Dyett. I do not take the hunger strike lightly and I am sympathetic to the demonstrators.
By sympathetic, Burns meant that the hunger strikers are a bunch of "bullies".
As Fourth Ward Alderman, I will not be bullied into submitting to the special interests and scare tactics of one group. The whole community deserves the opportunity to have their opinions represented and communicate their plan in a fair and open process.
Well guess what, Alderman? The whole community has now been shat upon and their will be no "fair and open process." There never was one. Didn't you know? Of course you knew.

Hopefully this cynical act of betrayal will serve to unite a divided community behind the hunger strikers and for the salvation of the great tradition of public education in Bronzeville.


Thursday, August 27, 2015

DAY 10 -- Support builds and the media curtain has finally lifted.

Rep. Rob Martwick and other pols step up. Martwick is sponsor of the Elected School Board bill. 

The Tribune and Sun-Times have finally discovered the hunger strike. So has the Washington Post.

A SMALLTALK SALUTE goes out to AFT Pres. Randi Weingarten who flew in yesterday to speak in support of the strikers. She was joined by a group of pols including Reps. MartwickFlowers, Hernandez & Ford; Commissioner Chuy Garcia; Progressive Caucus Alders John Arena, Sue Susan Sadlowski Garza, Carlos Rosa and others.

Pres. Weingarten & hunger striker Jitu Brown
Weingarten called the community's proposal for a public (not charter or "contract") Dyett Global Leadership and Green Technology High School, “the best proposal I have seen in my entire career.” 

CTU V.P. Jesse Sharkey spoke. As did IFT Pres. Dan Montgomery. CTU Pres. Karen Lewis voiced her support in the Defender.

I spoke on the phone yesterday with Stanford Prof. Linda Darling-Hammond who voiced her support for the hunger strikers.

Ald. Will Burns is alleged to be hiding under the mayor's desk.

With striker Jeanette Ramann hospitalized yesterday after collapsing at the CPS board meeting and Irene Roninson hospitalized Monday, many of the strikers are now feeling the effects. But still no action on the part of the mayor or his puppet school board.

But don't think board members aren't feeling the heat. At the Board of Education Wednesday, one gallery speaker after another called on CPS to approve the green tech plan for Dyett.

According to the Sun-Times, board member Mahalia Hines called for some resolution to the Dyett question.
“This has been going on well beyond this board and I think we either need to get a yes or a no.” 
Board president Frank Clark (former ComEd CEO) replied:
“The Board is not immune to the people who choose to enter into a hunger strike and put their health at stake to get a resolution on something important to them... We do need to reach a conclusion, it may or may not be the conclusion that everybody wants, but a conclusion I think is necessary as soon as we can do that.”
You can tell when they're nervous. The room fills up with double-talk.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Big day for Dyett hunger strikers


Important day for the Dyett hunger strikers.

AFT Pres. Randi Weingarten is coming to Chicago today to speak in support of the strikers. Maybe that will push some other unions to do the same and get some decent media coverage.

Our thoughts are with hunger striking Grandmother Irene Robinson who was hospitalized yesterday. She.tells hospital staffers,  "I'm still hungry for Dyett!"

International Business Times picked it up...
The hunger strike has caught the attention of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who briefly joined last week, and the advocacy group Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools, which encouraged residents across the U.S. to join in solidarity Tuesday. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers labor union, also announced plans to speak before a group of Dyett demonstrators Wednesday.
The Daily Caller reports:
 Strikers say the decision to shutter the school reflects Emanuel’s utter neglect of Chicago’s black community.
...but mainstream Chicago media still basically ignoring this story.

Even worse, CNN ran this brief picture [video] story, (thanks busyboypro) but with a "Not Verified by CNN" disclaimer. What???

TWEETS:

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Day 9 of Dyett Hunger Strike

Michelle Gunderson, In These Times
I spent yesterday afternoon over at Dyett and got to meet some of the hunger strikers like UIC grad student Prudence Browne and parent activist Jeanett Taylor-Ramann. They're living on liquids (bring some fresh juice when you come) and desperately hoping for community support in order to save the last of their neighborhood schools. 

Prudence helped write the strikers' proposal to create a new small school with a strong curricular focus, the Dyett Global Leadership and Green Technology. The proposal is solid but the board is stonewalling it. It seems like the mayor and toady Ald. Burns are determined to go to any lengths, not to allow the activists their victory.

Progressive Caucus Ald. Rick Munoz shows up in support.
She was headed down to New Orleans to do research on the post-Katrina ed "reforms" for her dissertation, when she joined the strike. 

As for the amazing Ms. Taylor-Ramann, check out her interviews in Huffington and Catalyst. She has a great personal story of struggle and school/community activism. 

There's been good coverage of the Dyett hunger strike in independent and social media @FightForDyett, but hardly a word in the mainstream. Why not? It's a great story. An official blackout? I doubt it. Although I'm sure there's City Hall pressure being applied. Where are you great Sun-Times ed reporters? You can't all be on vacation.

Ah, there you are. Still not much. I thought I saw someone from the N.Y. Times. But...
Rabbi Brant Rosen
Yana Kunichoff has a written a good piece on the strike, now in its 9th day, in In These Times,

She writes:
The Dyett hunger strike is only the latest flare-up in a public school system in turmoil. Contract negotiations between CPS and the Chicago Teachers Union remain in a stalemate, and financial woes including some bad investment decisions (and the district’s unwillingness to renegotiate them) have left CPS begging for operating funds from a reluctant state government.
The demands of the CTU and the Dyett hunger strikers have important overlaps. In response to CPS calls for cuts in its pension contributions to teachers, the union has said that CPS is “broke on purpose.” Dyett hunger strikers also say they do not believe there is a lack of money for a neighborhood public school.
She's right. The closing of Dyett and 49 other neighborhood schools has not saved the school system any money and the longer Dyett sits empty and unused, the more is becomes a blight on this historic Bronzeville neighborhood. She's also right that the Dyett struggle is part of a much bigger battle, here in Chicago and nationally, to keep the PUBLIC in public education. 

I'm hoping that the Dyett hunger strikers get the kind of support they badly need on their Day of Solidarity.

Monday, August 24, 2015

WEEKEND QUOTABLES

The 12 Dyett hunger strikers (Day 8)

Jitu Brown
It's a shame that parents have to starve themselves. These are mothers and fathers. We have to starve ourselves to have our voices heard while parents in other parts of the city of Chicago have to, parents in Lincoln Park and in Uptown and Rogers Park simply went to a meeting and said they didn't want a charter school. And the CPS pulled it off the table. -- Real News
CUNY Prof. Andrea Gabor
There is also growing evidence that the reforms have come at the expense of the city’s most disadvantaged children, who often disappear from school entirely and, thus, are no longer included in the data. -- N.Y. Times -- "The Myth of the New Orleans School Makeover"
Jacques Morial
“They’re peddling this notion of a complete recovery: opportunity for all, want for nobody,” say Jacques Morial, a community activist whose brother, Marc, and father, Ernest, have served as mayor. “That’s just not the case.” -- Washington Post
Gary "SUPES" Soloman emails Byrd-Bennett
“Thank you thank you thank you for everything. Really. And we need to make time for one another to just get together and laugh. As tired as we are, as hard as we work, I think it’s important we get together and just laugh a lot." -- Sun-Times
Barbara Byrd-Bennett emails Soloman
“I just cannot be lead [sic] around by the nose like this … just not who I am.” -- Sun -Times
CPS Liar-In-Chief Bill McCaffrey responds
 “I cannot comment due to the ongoing investigation.”  -- Sun-Times