Wed Jan 30, 2013, 12:27 AM
HiPointDem (20,729 posts)
Hundreds turn out to protest school closings in Chicago
Chanting "Save our schools" and "No school closings," several hundred parents, teachers and community members refused to let Chicago Public Schools officials speak during a public hearing on school closings Monday night in Uptown.
Attendees filled the bleachers and stood against the wall at Truman College for the opening meeting in the second phase of community hearings being held around the city on the district's plan to close underutilized schools.
But district officials had a tough time even making a prepared presentation as crowds shouted and chanted. As one official tried to outline the district's vision, someone shouted, "Do you believe him?" "No!" the crowd answered.
Craig Benes, who oversees schools in the North Side's Ravenswood-Ridge region, was even heckled at one point when he said he wanted "to just step away from the agenda for a moment and speak from my heart. ... I understand that teachers and parents are concerned" — but he asked for the audience's ear. He did not get it. The crowd started chanting, "Save our schools! Save our schools...! The community feedback is simple, just one sentence: zero school closings."
Read more: http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20130128/uptown/cps-school-closings-meeting-gets-heated-as-protesters-shout-down-officials#ixzz2JQv7pgyN
My Reaction To Tonight's Forum At Truman
I was an activist tonight at Truman, not a blogger. I felt I had to be because I work with a community that is in jeopardy of being railroaded. And I do feel bad that the people running the event didn't get to have things go their way. They're in an impossible spot--- they've chosen to take jobs for a board that should be elected but isn't elected. In the public sector, if your board doesn't have any democratic legitimacy, you're going to be asked to do a lot of things that people aren't happy with because they're not really at the table. It's one of those little things you just have to decide in education. You ask yourself, "Does this employer have any democratic legitimacy?" If the answer is no, then don't take the job.
First, whoever came up with the boneheaded format should be reassigned. Really? You're going to separate people into little grouplets and have paid "facilitators" listen to them? Boneheaded. I heard many reasons for the format (the term "optimize the listening" was used with straight face), but honestly a first year PR intern would have come up with a better meeting. People want to meet with decision makers, not paid facilitators, and they don't want to be separated and set against each other by focus-group people of mysterious appointment. They want to be heard, not handled.
Second, whoever came up with the circa-1941 Germany media muzzle should fall on his or her sword. That person does not understand very, very basic things and needs suddenly to spend more time with his or her family. It will be impossible for CPS to move forward if this individual is there poisoning the well over the next months. I know that I'm just a guy with a loud voice and a blog and how can I possibly be a very serious person--but the truth is that media guidance like tonight's is an affront to democratic values.
And finally, any meeting on utilization that doesn't start with the phrase, "We realize we have intentionally created excess capacity in the system , but..." is simply a dishonest meeting and no person should be required to sit through it politely.
PS. I just heard on the tv that someone from CPS thinks that the "vocal group" was brought in by the teachers' union. Well, no. The group of parents RPNPS has been working with brought in itself. I don't believe that there was even a teacher on the bus. I know it's impossible to accept that people from the community are working to save their school, but there it is. I realize that there's a lot of turnover on Clark Street but surely someone there remembers that the Mayor's cronies were bringing in paid protestors to the last round of hearings. I filmed it myself, at Malcom X College! No CPS official has any business incorrectly speculating about the motives of people trying to save their schools and who's being brought in by whom. Not everyone is as dishonest as CPS seems to just assume people are.
And for the record, the reporter who relayed this non-attributed remark by CPS didn't bother to reveal that she was party to censorship. WGN, I think it was. Do you know what the term is for a journalist using unattributed quotes in addition to not revealing the reporting limits she agreed to? An embed. It is what it is.
Two things were on the minds of the parents, students, teachers, school staffers, good neighbors, homeowners, and taxpayers who attended this meeting:
(1) Evidenced by the things they said, the majority of people were very aware of the policy issues and the negative impact on the children they love and/or serve.
(2) The majority came to the meeting harboring a profound DISTRUST for and feeling of BETRAYAL by the school administrators that are managing our school system. "Elected School Board" shouts continued to echo around the room before the spectacle ended.
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