Some powerful and relatively mainstream national organizations have come together to call for a National Day of Action Dec. 9, to defend our schools. They include the national AFT, NEA, Annenberg Institute for School Reform, SEIU, and several national campaigns with strong grassroots bases including Dignity in Schools Campaign and Journey for Justice. See here for more info.
The actions will vary from city to city focused around local issues, but they are united by a national platform that TSJ is generally aligned with-see the principles here. This is significant because of who is involved and the national scope and common program. It is definitely a sign that the growing education movement is beginning to coalesce nationally and that the national teacher unions are moved to act by the militance of locals and the movements around them.
Please come out! We are all meeting at City Hall at 4:15, see attached flyer.
Sat. 11/30/13, 1pm - 2:30PM West Belmont Branch Library, 3104 N. Narragansett Ave., Belmont Cragin Mon. 12/2/13 5:30PM - 7:30PM Archer Heights Library, 5055 S. Archer Ave.
Learn how a political group has effectively transfer our children's educational funds into the hands of wealthy investors who are making significant returns on their "investments".
The educational model implemented by UNO has nothing to do with a curricular reform or a creative/alternative teaching methodology for students, but it is a “ponzi” financial scheme supported by corporate and political interests.
UNO does not have high performing schools as they usually claim, they have at least two underperforming schools and their charter was already revoked in New Orleans in 2011 due to poor academic results.
UNO favors investors rather than educational support services, and the quality of instruction is severely affected by this type of model that has already asked for a "bail out" in 2008 and it is just a matter of time before they go bankrupt.
Join us on October 22nd, the 50th anniversary of the 1963 Boycott of Chicago Public Schools, when an estimated 250,000 Chicagoans – mostly CPS students – protested segregation and inequality. The evening features a screening of in-progress documentary '63 Boycott from Kartemquin Films (The Interrupters), a panel discussion with education activists from then and now, and a spoken word performance by Malcolm London of Young Chicago Authors. The panel includes Karen Lewis of the Chicago Teachers Union; 1963 Boycott leader Rosie Simpson; Fannie Rushing, a young organizer of the 1963 Boycott; Elizabeth Todd-Breland, a historian at University of Illinois in Chicago; and Jasson Perez from Black Youth Project.
The DuSable Museum of African American History 740 E 56th Pl Chicago, IL 60637 Tuesday, October 22, 2013 from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM (CDT)
Co- Sponsored by Kartemquin Films, Chicago Teachers Union, Education for Liberation Network, the DuSable Museum of African American History, the Center for the Study of Race, Politics & Culture at the University of Chicago, Crossroads Fund, Grassroots Collaborative, Black Youth Project, Young Chicago Authors, Chicago Grassroots Curriculum Taskforce, Human Rights Program at University of Chicago, Chicago Freedom School, Chicago Area Women's History Council, Teachers for Social Justice, Save Our Schools
Join thousands of community and union members to launch a powerful shared economic justice platform.
TAKE BACK CHICAGO
725 W Roosevelt Rd Chicago, Illinois 60607
5pm Rally and March
Register at http://www.thegrassrootscollaborative.org/takebackchicago Read the Full Story
Recognition of Indigenous People's Day (Oct 12)
TSJ plans for the year-If you loved the Curriculum Fair, if you volunteered for the Curriculum Fair, if you want to get involved-the calendar is full! Find out how to get involved with TSJ in the many activities in which we're involved! We'll lay out our whole year--Inquiry to Action Groups, the Elected Representative School Board Campaign, People's Board Meetings, Movie Nights, TSJ Popular Education Forums, the Campaign to Strengthen Local School Councils, Neighborhood Schools Fair, work with the Grassroots Education Movement (CTU and others), and more!
New TSJ Membership Structure
We are starting a paying membership program, of $20/year (t-shirt included), and $10/year for students, renewable each year on Labor Day. And that's a sliding scale, as needed.
Join TSJ, get a TSJ T-shirt and button, and learn more about how we can work for education justice in and outside the classroom!
Bring cash or checks to the meeting, we don't take credit cards!
UIC College of Education
1040 W. Harrison St
Room 3233 (3rd Floor "Commons")
11:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Free-All are welcome!
Read the Full Story
First People's Board Meeting Held Wednesday, Sept 25, 2013 at Mount Carmel Missionary Church on Chicago's South Side
Notes from a participant:
Wednesday night was a terrific People's Board Meeting. It was excellent. I counted, and we had about 100 people, but it wasn't about the numbers. People lined up and spoke, and though some folks probably could have been shorter, everyone who went up there spoke, and they said all kinds of insightful, powerful, moving, and hopeful things. The Board listened and responded, and Adourthus McDowell from KOCO chaired it (as the Board chair) and ran it like the hundreds of LSC meetings he's run over 20 years—fairly, decently, with dignity and seriousness, noting important things for us to do and be.
It was a great example of us trying to live what we want to be. We don't often get to practice that kind of people's democracy, and although we do not have democracy (people's or otherwise!), it is important to envision it and practice it when we can. We have to become the people we want to be, in the process of changing the world. As one speaker said, we are authentic and transparent, and are engaging in a bottom-up process to change our children's education. You could feel it Wednesday night. Everyone there seem to take it very seriously. People spoke from the heart and others listened, and it felt powerful.
And Jessica Suárez spoke on behalf of TSJ, and spoke from the heart (as always) as a mother and to-be-teacher about how you have to know the students' community and have passion for their struggles.
(Photos by Rousemary Vega) Read the Full Story
Come to Milwaukee w/ TSJ for a March and Rally Saturday Sept 21-Public Education is a Civil Right!
Milwaukee public school educators, parents, and students need your help. The assault on public schools is increasing in Milwaukee. We have called for Public Education is a Civil Rights March and Rally for Saturday, September 21 in response.
We hope that you can join us to demonstrate to the entire state that we are united in our demand that public education be supported, not abandoned.
IF YOU WANT TO COME WITH US, EMAIL Jessica of TSJ, we will leave Saturday AM and return that afternoon-we will either be on a bus w/ CTU and/or car pooling. WEAR YOUR TSJ T-SHIRT!!!
The most recent attack on public schools in Milwaukee has come in the form of a proposal from the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce that would create a New Orleans's style "recovery zone" in Milwaukee. Dozens of "low performing" schools would be removed from the democratic control of the school board, and placed in a new school district or zone that has an appointed superintendent. That superintendent would then turn those public schools over to privately-run charter schools. This is essentially what happened in New Orleans -- all the teachers were fired in that district as part of the conversion. This is also happening in parts of Tennessee and Michigan.
We are asking for you to stand in solidarity with public schools in Milwaukee. For over 20 years Milwaukee has been ground zero for this assault on public education and we are drawing the line. We are saying "no more." Over 50 organizations have endorsed the march. John Stocks, NEA Executive Director is going to be joining the march and will be a speaker. We need a large turnout. We need you.
The MTEA is willing to contribute $100 to any uniserv or local or community organization from outside of Milwaukee to defray cost of a rented bus to come to Milwaukee. We will support the first ten bus requests that we receive.
If you have questions please contact me directly.
President, Milwaukee Teachers Education Association (and close friend of TSJ!)
After joining UNO as Board's Chairman, Martin Cabrera Jr. resigns. During his short time, Gov. Pat Quinn restored the $98 million school-construction for UNO to complete construction of a new high school in the Southwest Side.
Letter to Tribune's editorial team "UNO: Corruption, profit, and public responsibility" We are very disappointed by the Tribune’s June 6 editorial, “UNO scrambles to save itself” supporting Juan Rangel as UNO’s CEO, even though, as the Sun Times reported, many Latino community organizations and leaders are demanding that Rangel step down in order to have a transparent investigation of UNO and its real transformation. UNO is a publicly-funded institution and should be accountable to the public and taxpayers who support it. The crisis in UNO reinforces the need for ALL schools that receive public funding—including charter schools—to have elected Local School Councils. This is particularly so for UNO which has received more public funding than any other charter school operator. Only an elected LSC of parents and community members can restructure and hold accountable an organization that has misused public funds with the consent of the current UNO Board. What is the real reason Juan Rangel wants to remain the UNO CEO and Cabrera the new Board chair? Rangel admits that he failed as CEO, as he knowingly signed inappropriate millionaire contracts with "people he trusted." He put family members on the payroll, and made significant donations (through UNO staff) to political campaigns for candidates who are likely to protect UNO practices. This corruption and politicking secured UNO roughly $70 million in public bonds (that UNO Board President, Martin Cabrera and his financial firm helped sell to wealthy investors). If the Tribune were to investigate the economic interests at stake, it would find that investors can double their investments in charter schools in only seven years by using New Markets tax credits. But this depends on UNO continuing to grow and get money from CPS. Is UNO helping investors to profit from our children's educational funds? The Tribune’s claim that UNO runs “excellent schools” needs fact checking. The consequences of UNO’s financial schemes and its flawed education model are already felt at some UNO Schools, at least two of which- UNO Tamayo and UNO Las Casas—perform at the lowest level. We predict that it is just a matter of time before more taxpayer funds will go towards paying UNO’s investors, rather than addressing the educational needs of Latina(o) students. This is a disservice to our community and our children. Byron Sigcho, Vice-President Hispanic Literacy Council and Teachers for Social Justice Pauline Lipman, Professor Educational Policy Studies, UIC and Teachers for Social JusticeRead the Full Story
TSJ has created Popular Education Pieces that set forth a vision of what public schools should look like while connecting the dots of between many of the corporate style "reforms" that are in opposition to that vision. These 10 page booklets can be downloaded and printed for use at meetings, in classrooms and other gatherings where people are fighting for social justice in education. They can be used as full booklets, or as individual issue fact-sheets. Please distribute widely.
This is the NEXT STEP in the campaign for an Elected Representative School Board.
With the closing of 49 schools and massive budget cuts, parents, students, and community members and organizations around the city are joining a NATIONAL CALL and here in Chicago, are calling for a ONE-DAY boycott of CPS.
Our program is:
An Elected Representative School Board.
A moratorium on all school closings, turnarounds, phase-outs and charter expansion.
TIF Funds back to CPS and a financial transaction taxfor education.
The proposal for sustainable school transformation to replace corporate, top-down interventions for struggling schools!!
URGENT: La Casita at Whittier school was demolished today around 9:30 am without notice or previous meeting with the community, as Alderman Solis and CPS promised. The construction crew with police support broke a side fence to avoid dozens of protesters who were blocking the main entrances, and they started to demolish our children's library so that a private high school near by can build a soccer field. PLEASE come at a vigil today at 4:30 pm (1900 W. 23rd) to demand that Alderman Solis honors his word to build another library for our children, and more importantly, to demand CPS and the mayor to stop giving public funds and/or subsidies to private institutions at the expense of our communities. If you can't come, please call Alderman Solis at 312-952-0581 or 773-523-4100 and demand that at least have the decency to come and explain what is happening.
“We were told that we could have a meeting with Danny Solis and CPS this morning,” activist Carolina Gaete said. “But when we came for the meeting this morning, this is what was waiting for us,” she added, pointing to the worksite and demolished building.”A group of angry parents marched to nearby Benito Juarez high school, where a summer fair was being held, in the hopes of confronting Solis. But Solis is “out of town, on vacation,” staff manning a stall at the fair for Solis said.
Gaete vowed that protestors would fight on despite the demolition of the building, saying they’ll try to stop CPS from laying a soccer field at the site of the field house, and try to find a new home for the volunteer-run library, English language and Dance classes that the field house hosted. “We’re not defeated,” she said. “We just have to work out our next move.”
Students, Teachers, Clergy, Workers opened a week
of ALEC protests - Photo @phillipcantor
17 E Monroe (at Wabash & Monroe)
Protest the ALEC conference from 12 pm to 1 pm outside of the Palmer House (17 E Monroe)! There will be a picket line, press conference, and banner drops from the L tracks.
Friday, August 9 at 10 am
121 N LaSalle
The City Council Committee on Education (led by Latasha Thomas) is holding a hearing on the CPS budget cuts and layoffs. We are organizing a presence at this hearing.
Saturday, August 10 at 10:30 am
35th and King Dr.
Join CTU for the Bud Billiken Parade! This is a fantastic annual event, and we will have a big contingent, including marching band. Please join us! We will meet at 35th and King Dr. and walk over to join the parade. After the parade, join us for a picnic behind Dyett School on the Midway at 51st St, one block east of King Dr. We will serve complimentary hamburgers, hotdogs, and drinks.
Chicago Public School leaders got an earful Thursday night at a public hearing about next year's budget. - Photo via ABC Chicago
The Chicago Sun Times covered the budget hearing in Englewood where TSJ member Byron Sigcho called out CPS for de-humanizing students and doing absurd things such as shifting art and physical education to online classes: “When you yourself refer to our children as seats, it’s hard to believe that you think of our children more than seats and of our communities more than spreadsheets,” he said. Sigcho, a grad student at University of Illinois at Chicago, continued to vent. "You’re really proposing that our children take P.E. and art classes online? To me that’s a joke. That’s not investing in our youth. . . . Why does CPS keep funding corrupt charter networks?” he said, referring to the UNO Charter Schools." WBEZ reports that "A top school official at the North Side hearing said at the start of the meeting he didn’t just want to hear complaints about cuts. He wanted solutions for closing the district’s $643 million gap between revenue and expenses."
“Tell us the things you think we’re spending money on, that you think we ought to cut,” said Chief Administrative Officer Tim Cawley. “You can’t just say, ‘Give us more.’ Tell us what you think we should cut.”Speakers were happy to comply.“Ask the 20 charter schools that are opening after 50 public schools have closed—ask them to do more with less,” said Dan Phelan, who worked as a teacher in the writing center at Schurz High School until he was laid off last month."
According to this Chicago Tribune Article, CPS claims that they are "only" cutting $68 million from classrooms, but other estimates are much higher - closer to $162 million causing massive cuts to art, music, physical education, libraries and core teaching positions.
Parents at the budget hearing at Truman College on the city's north side "railed at CPS": "I'm angry that the mayor sold the idea of a longer school day and only funded it for a year," said Janet Meegan, a parent at Mitchell Elementary in the West Town neighborhood...Meegan said her school has lost a specialized reading teacher [one of the 500 positions Rahm promised as part of the longer day] and a librarian. Parents, she said, will be pitching in with increased student fees to help pay for art and music programs. This was not what we were promised," Meegan said at a hearing at Truman College in Uptown attended by about 200 people. Progress Illinois reports that at the north side hearing CPS Chief Administrative Officer Tim Cawley (who lives in a north-shore suburb on a waiver of CPS's residency policy) "...really struck a nerve while discussing various investments the district is making for next year, including a$7.7 million expansionof its Safe Passage program. The program is being ramped up with 600 additional Safe Passage workers to cover routes for the 51 welcoming schools.
“You probably don’t have to worry about Safe Passage up in these neighborhoods,” Cawley said, which caused an uproar.
“How would you know,” one person at the meeting asked Cawley. Others said: “How insulting!” “How dare you?” “Oh my God!” and “Where are you from?”
“My son was shot and murdered near here. Don’t even go there,” said local resident Carol Keating-Johnson. “You don’t know what’s going on in these communities.”
Via Bob Simpson "Action Now led a walkout of the Chicago Public Schools budget hearings at Malcolm X College tonight (Friday Aug. 2). Decrying the undemocratic CPS public hearings that have so far not been attended by Barbara Byrd Bennett or Mayor Emanuel, they led about 2/3 of the audience out of the auditorium." - This walkout was not covered by any media outlets.
On Saturday July 13th, 2013, a jury of six women found George Zimmerman not guilty on all charges in the murder of Trayvon Martin, a young Black man who was racially profiled, considered "suspicious" simply because of the color of his skin, and then murdered on the street by a neighborhood watch vigilante. We are outraged and disgusted by this verdict. It highlights the enormous injustices of our system, indeed forcing us to question the idea that "justice" even exists within the legal system of our country.
The deep racism and historic inequality of our legal system is mirrored in the systemic inequality of our education system. It is no coincidence that the majority of schools being closed in Philadelphia, and across the country, are schools with majority Black and Brown students in low income neighborhoods. As educators, we have a responsibility to discuss, address and develop an analysis around not only this case, but also other forms of oppression and institutional racism, so that we can be prepared to have real conversations with our students.
We must talk about race. When the majority of educators in Philadelphia are white and the majority of our students are students of color, we have to be willing to talk about that dynamic. When the default in our schools is to punish, suspend, expel and arrest our students when they violate our school norms, rather than help them learn from their mistakes and repair the harm they've caused, we have to see this as a direct extension of how black and brown people are criminalized in all parts of society. When our state is the leader in sentencing youth, mostly youth of color, to life without the possibility of parole, we have to be willing to talk about race and the connections to the school-to-prison pipeline. When we hear our colleagues blaming "those parents" for the dysfunction in our schools, we have to be willing to confront the implicit racism in their attitudes.
The killing of Trayvon Martin reminds us that we do not exist in a post-racial society. We must be willing to challenge ourselves and move outside of our comfort zones. As educators, we know that growth often comes from being uncomfortable. Therefore, we have a responsibility, as educators, to push ourselves, our colleagues, and our schools to confront racism, engage in difficult and honest discussions, and help validate and heal the pain that is still too real in our students' lives.
Talk with your colleagues about the acquittal of George Zimmerman. Talk with your colleagues about ways to discuss the pain and betrayal of Trayvon Martin's murder with your students. Talk with your colleagues about the role race plays in the classroom. And, of course, push yourself to think deeply about your own personal beliefs and stereotypes that you may hold as a result of living in an unequal, racist society.
Trayvon Martin's death was an atrocity. We must learn from it and push ourselves to act so that the next Trayvon Martin - one of our beloved students or a member of our own family - can walk safely home without fear of being gunned down.
One thing you can do right now is sign the NAACP's petition requesting that the Department of Justice file civil rights charges against George Zimmerman.
Additionally, here are some links to places to begin the self-education we all need to be more effective educators.
Please sign up to march with TSJ-we will be marching on both the South and West sides. And you can march 20 minutes, or the full three days, your choice! And all TSJ marchers get a new, TSJ "activist" t-shirt that looks just like our logo w/ an orange background! Nice!
The march ends with a rally at Daley Plaza, Monday, May 20 at 4 PM!
TSJers: What You Can Do to Organize Against School Closings:
1) Petitions for a moratorium on school closings(attached, Spanishand English). Each sheet has room for 10 names. These are NOT online petitions, but are old-style real signatures (remember those?). Once done, they need to be delivered or faxed to CTU, or scanned and emailed (all contact info on petitions themselves). Then email us and let us know how many actual signatures you collected!! Help get as many signers as we can!
2) Go to Report Card pickup at a school near you that is affected by the closings (133 schools). Elementary schools are Wednesday, 4/17, and High Schools are Thursday, 4/18. Usually, report card pickup is 12:00 to 6:00, but check w/ the school. The best times are 12-1 and from 5-6.
* Take the petitions (Spanish, English), ask people to sign them, and talk to parents.
3) Speak at a faith community near you (see flyer; this is an initiative to reach out to faith communities to fight the school closings).
4) Lobby in Springfield for a moratorium on school closings, and for the Elected Representative School Board. A bus is traveling to Springfield each Wednesday. CTU/GEM is working to fill it with parents and people who work at the school action schools, but others are welcome. Please urge parents and others from closing/turnaround schools to get on the bus. Next Wed. 4/17 there are a number of empty seats. Contact Carolyn to reserve a space.
5) Use and share the school closing curriculum-available here, created by Cyriac Mathew, Uplift HS.
6) Check out the calendar of events, school closing hearings, etc.
7) Attend CTU President Karen Lewis' talk at the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation in Evanston, this Wednesday the 17th at 7pm.
8) Keep reading your TSJ emails to stay abreast and active!
Curriculum Created by Cyriac Mathew, a TSJer at Uplift Social Justice High School:
Teachers & Educators: Have your students learn about school closings and implement a related service-learning project! This is a two-week, work-in-progress curriculum to get our students to better understand some of the issues related to school closings and then make their voices heard.
Whether you are a HS teacher or not-this curriculum is really important because it not only serves as a model of how to prepare young people to understand and change their world, but it also shows what teachers can do inside the classroom as well as outside! It's a great model and we urge ALL teachers to try to do similar work to what Cyriac is doing.
In preparation for this rally, there are several ways to get involved:
1. CTU is organizing meetings in the networks, along with other GEM members (community organizations). Download a flyer here with ALL meetings and addresses. If you are interested in attending or helping to organize at/for these meetings (in particular, working w/ other TSJ members), please sign up here. The TSJ organizers below will contact you (but their emails are here so you can contact them as well). The network meetings that TSJ people will be attending are:
Pilsen-Little Village (Mon 3/18, 6PM); contact Rosi or Byron
On February 13th, CPS released its list of potential school closings, which contains 129 schools, 124 of which are north of North Ave. Thousands of parents, teachers, students and community members have been showing up at CPS's school closings commission hearings to denounce CPS's plan to balance the budget on the backs of Black and Brown students and outsource neighborhood schools. We are building a city-wide coalition, the Grassroots Education Movement, made up of teachers, parents, students, and communities to defend and take back our schools. Please support neighborhood schools by attending these hearings. There will be a hearing every weeknight and Saturday morning through March 4th. For a complete list, please visit this page. Also plan to attend TSJ's next general meeting to help plan the fight against school closings:
TSJ Feb General Meeting
Sunday, Feb 24
11:00 AM - 1:00 PM
UIC College of Education
1040 W. Harrison
3rd Floor "Commons" Room (3233)
All are welcome!
Discussion of School Closing Hearings and Community Response
TSJ "Popular Education Organizing Sheets"
Organizing Plan-People's Board Meetings, city-wide actions, and more