In the wake of the Newtown tragedy, the Obama administration
proposed a series of gun control recommendations and policies. His four-point
plan includes "making schools safer" and "increasing access to
mental health services." The plan states "We need to make our schools
safer, not only by enhancing their physical security... but also by creating
safer and more nurturing school climates that help prevent school
violence. Putting school resource officers (specially trained police officers)
and mental health professionals in schools can help prevent school crime and
for Social Justice (TSJ) is an organization of educators who are committed to
education for social justice. We fight for classrooms and schools that are
anti-racist, multicultural, multilingual, academically rigorous curriculum that
is both caring and critical, and grounded in the experience of our students. We
believe that schools should indeed be a safe space for students, families,
teachers, and all community members.
While TSJ supports the call to
"make schools safer,” we must question what makes our schools
"safe." We do not support the idea that police in our schools, and
the criminalization of our students, creates a “nurturing school climate.” The
increased reliance of law enforcement and school resource officers often
translates school discipline into police records for students – indeed an
average of 25 CPS students per day are arrested on school grounds. These
arrests and out-of-school suspensions disproportionately affect students of
color, primarily African American and Latino students, and greatly increase the
chance that these young people will enter the criminal justice system. Although
most of the publicized school shootings have been by white shooters in mostly
white suburban neighborhoods, the proposed increase of police in schools will
only continue to criminalize African American and Latino city schools. These
close ties between schools and police work directly to strengthen the
plan calls to “put up to 1,000 more school resource officers and counselors in
schools.” TSJ believes we must act now to ensure that these thousand, and more,
are all counselors, not police. We know schools are safer without cops in them. We know schools are
safer when they have enough counselors, mental health workers, supportive and
supported teachers, and relevant and engaging curriculum. We know we must fight
for the “nurturing school climate” all teachers and students deserve—a climate
that dismantles the school-to-prison pipeline by saying No to Cops and Yes to
Join the Grassroots Education Movement (GEM), parents, students, educators, and community organizations across Chicago in community canvassing on Saturday, Jan. 19th in the morning and early afternoon hours!
The Mayor and Board of Education have closed or taken over dozens of schools every year, targeting Black and Latino neighborhoods. These closings take resources that students deserve, destabilize our neighborhoods, and increase racial inequality in the schools. The Board of Ed is now planning to close dozens more schools, taking even more from the communities that have lost the most. They plan to close schools in part to pay for corporate handouts and more privatized charter schools controlled by the Mayor's supporters--taking our community's schools, jobs, and VOICE.
Join us in spending a few hours of the Marting Luter King, Jr. Day weekend fighting for our communities, our students and our schools.
Teachers for Social Justice and CORE will be having two joint events in the coming month, both related to the work of Lois Weiner, a life-long union activist, educator, and scholar on urban education and teachers unions.
The first will be a discussion of Weiner's new book, The Future of Our Schools: Teachers Unions and Social Justice. This is an important, short, very readable book. You can buy it from Haymarket Books (they'll send it right out) or via email (julie [-at-] haymarketbooks[-dot-]org). We will be discussing Part 1, pp. 3-81 and Chapter 12.
Here are details and a link to RSVP:
TSJ/CORE Book Discussion
Sat., Jan 26th
UIC College of Education, Room 3233 RSVP here
Here is what Karen Lewis of the CTU had to say about Lois Weiner's new book:
"Lois Weiner's book should be a wake-up call for all of us who work in K-12 schools. Her analysis of the current political climate is clear, sharp and desperately needed. The Future of Our Schools provides a template for rank and file members to be pro-active in their unions and a nudge to union leadership to open the process to defeat the corporate agenda." --Karen Lewis, President, Chicago Teachers Union
The second event will be a public forum with Lois Weiner on Friday, February 8th. The exact time and location are TBD, so please stay tuned!