NO ADVERTISING, GOVERNMENT OR CORPORATE FUNDING

  • Latest News
  • Pitch a Story
  • Work with a Journalist
  • Join the Blog Squad
  • Afghanistan
  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Baltimore
  • Canada
  • Egypt
  • Europe
  • Latin America
  • Middle East
  • Russia
  • Economy
  • Environment
  • Health Care
  • Military
  • Occupy
  • Organize This
  • Reality Asserts Itself
  • US Politics
  • Chicago Closes 50 Public Schools, Spends $100 Million in Taxpayer Funds on Private College Stadium


    Activists say national union leadership needs to give more support to Black and Latino working class families fighting school closures -   October 3, 14
    Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here

    Share to Facebook Share to Twitter


    TRNN has... made its mark with amazing original reporting on the Middle East and international protest movements. - Caroline Lewis
    Log in and tell us why you support TRNN

    Bio

    Jaisal Noor is a host and producer for The Real News Network.

    Transcript

    Chicago Closes 50 Public Schools, Spends $100 Million in Taxpayer Funds on Private College StadiumJAISAL NOOR, PRODUCER: Despite months of protests and civil disobedience, Chicago's board of education voted Wednesday, May 22 to close 50 Chicago public schools, the largest such wave of closings in U.S. history. The schools are almost all exclusively located in black and Latino low-income neighborhoods in Chicago's South and West Side.

    The months-long efforts of parents, teachers, and students to convince the board to rethink the closures, and even prevent the vote from taking place, ultimately failed.

    TAMMIE VINSON, TEACHER ARRESTED FOR CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE: Our message to the mayor is to basically just to listen to the people of Chicago. We're citizens. We've been here longer than he have in most cases. We're taxpayers. We're parents. We're teachers. We're community members. And all we want is a fair and equitable education for our children.

    NOOR: Some of the most outspoken critics of the school closings have been the members of their local school councils, or LSCs. Unique to Chicago, LSCs provide teachers, parents, and community members direct oversight in how their school is run. Among the schools voted to be closed is Delano Elementary on Chicago's West Side, where Avanette Temple serves as the school councils' elected vice chair.

    AVANETTE TEMPLE, VICE CHAIR, DELANO ELEMENTARY LSC: [inaud.] my kids went to Delano. So I've been involved with Delano for 30 years. I call Delano the motherboard of the neighborhood. Delano has pushed out doctors, lawyers, teachers, home owners, business owners.

    NOOR: Delano was one of the 50 schools voted to be closed, even though the hearing officer tasked with monitoring the closing process, retired judge Clifford Meacham, recommended Delano be taken off the list. He noted the school was improving academically and had strong roots to the community. And while Chicago Public Schools has maintained closed down schools will be replaced with those that are higher performing, Meacham noted that Delano is to be replaced with the worst-performing school

    Local school council member Temple says they are not closing Delano to help its students.

    ~~~

    TEMPLE: This is a beautiful community. And they want to take our community. Like I say, they have been wanting Delano for years.

    INTERVIEWER: Why do they want it?

    TEMPLE: Prime property. Look where you're at. You're at the Blue Line, the Green Line. You're five minutes from downtown. You're in the park. You have all these grey stones. It's just a beautiful area, very beautiful.

    ~~~

    Avanette Temple is not alone in linking policies like school closings to the displacement of working class communities of color.

    In a piece posted to The Washington Post's Answer Sheet blog, Leslie T. Fenwick, dean of the Howard University School of Education writes that such policies are "really about exporting the urban poor, reclaiming inner city land, and using schools to recalculate urban land value. This kind of school reform is not about children, it's about the business elite gaining access to the nearly $600 billion that supports the nation's public schools. It's about money."

    But critics note that Chicago is simultaneously transferring hundreds of millions in tax dollars meant for public education to the private sector, including $100 million for De Paul University, a private institution, to build a new sports stadium.

    Longtime community member Avanette Temple says she sees a parallel between current protests against school closings and the decades-old movements waged by Chicago's communities of color for community control of schools and the creation of local school councils. She says closing schools will deny students access to a quality education because it will force them to walk through dangerous gang-infested areas.

    TEMPLE: I think that blacks have been marching for the longest. We're still marching. Hispanics have been marching for the longest. They are still marching. And like I asked Rahm Emanuel to walk the walk, you need to. You're sending us back into the '60s. He couldn't do it. So I feel that you don't care for us. You don't care for us as parents, as a community, our children. You don't care.

    NOOR: While 50 schools were voted to be closed in Chicago, Seattle teachers were celebrating a victory in their months-long boycott of mandated standardized tests.

    Lois Weiner, a professor of education and longtime advocate of grassroots education reform, says it's important to compare the two.

    PROF. LOIS WEINER, NEW JERSEY CITY UNIV.: Juxtaposition of these two events should really give us pause. One of the reasons it should give us pause is that the boycott and the anti-testing movement are primarily white middle-class parents and teachers, and they have more political clout than poor working-class people of color. And so one of the challenges that we face is how to unite these two movements, because i don't think either movement can succeed at the expense of the other.

    NOOR: And while Weiner says Chicago activists failed in keeping their 50 schools open, they did achieve at least one important victory.

    WEINER: It succeeded in showing the world that the puppets on the board of education were not representing the people of Chicago. It exposed that to the world. But, you know, these powerful elites are willing to do that. That's what we've seen all over the world, from Greece to Spain, to England. They're willing to sit tight against these mass demonstrations and even civil disobedience.

    And so the question is: what's next?

    NOOR: Weiner argues activists need to change tactics, including pressuring union leadership to mobilize their members to demand the Democratic Party stop supporting school closures nationally as President Obama has done through Race to the Top and in cities like Chicago with a Democrat, Rahm Emanuel, serving as mayor. She also supports teachers and community members taking over their schools in order to save them.

    WEINER: One of the things that I think we need to prepare to do is to occupy the schools, just as the CIO did in organizing industry in the '30s. They occupied the factories. And I think the difference is we need to occupy the schools and make them sites of educational liberation, so that we show that it is we who control education, not these elites who have hack politicians who do their work.

    But to do that requires a phenomenal amount of mobilization and consciousness and radicalism on the part of parents and students and teachers and community activists.

    NOOR: Reporting for The Real News, this is Jaisal Noor.

    End

    DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


    Comments

    Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at contact@therealnews.com

    Comments


    Latest Stories


    Netanyahu says Iran Intends to Destroy Israel
    What Do Ordinary Israelis Think of Netanyahu's U.S. Visit?
    LAPD Shooting of Unarmed Homeless Man Underscores Holder's Failures
    AIPAC Conference Pushes War on Iran
    Is Iran or Netanyahu a Threat to Israel's National Security?
    At Least 18 Black Caucus Members Boycotting Netanyahu's Speech
    Soul School and Black History (1/2)
    X: Malcolm's Final Years
    Baltimore's Harbor-Front Development at the Expense of City Infrastructure and Schools
    Walmart Minimum Wage Hike to $10 Still Below 1968 Levels
    Winter in the Ruins of Gaza (2/2)
    Clinton Dynasty Revisited
    How Progressive Agendas Came to Dominate Chicago Alderman Races
    Public Policy and Blaming Poor Black Communities For Their Own Poverty
    Winter in the Ruins of Gaza (1/2)
    Netanyahu on a Destructive Path
    HSBC Offshore Tax-Evading Scandal Widening
    The Class That Ruled Egypt Under Mubarak Remains in Power
    Nurses Unite to Stop TPP Fast Track
    Is FCC Approval of Net Neutrality a Real Win for Consumers?
    What Happened to Making Steel in Baltimore? - Mark Reutter on Reality Asserts Itself (3/3)
    Nader: Canadian Anti-Terrorism Bill Follows America's Lead
    Why the $655 Million Verdict Against the PA is Not A Victory for Human Rights
    Unions Fight Controversial Charter School Expansion Bill
    Venezuelan Gov. Releases Audio of Coup Plotters
    The Greek Debt and the German Acquiescence
    Maryland Police Reform Advocates and Opponents Speak Out Prior to Hearing
    Baltimore College Fights To Keep Accreditation Status
    An Irish-Style Banking Inquiry into the 2008 Financial Crisis
    What Role Can Social Media Play in Supporting Protests Against Egypt's Military Regime?

    RealNewsNetwork.com, Real News Network, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of IWT.TV inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and Real News Network.

    All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network.  Click here for more

    Problems with this site? Please let us know

    Linux VPS Hosting by Star Dot Hosting