The Education of Tribune Editorial Board Member Kristen McQueary

Chicago Tribune Editorial Board Member, Kristen McQueary is back at again. Remember this past August, when she wrote a piece titled “In Chicago, wishing for a Hurricane Katrina”? She didn’t realize how terribly offensive and racist her piece was. (The Tribune apparently realized that, as they went back and changed her piece, including the title, which is why I provided an original PDF of the article.) Many people throughout the city expressed their outrage and actually tried to educate Ms. McQueary, as to why her piece was offensive. I wrote a piece titled why “Why Wishing for a Hurricane Katrina is the Equivalent of Putting on a Klan Hood” to help her understand. Now 7 months later, it seems the education the residents of Chicago tried to provide is not sinking in. Because she is back at it again with her piece, “Anti-Police Screed Goes Unchecked by CTU, Karen Lewis”. I tried to contact her, but Ms. McQueary, @StateHouseChick has blocked me on Twitter, and apparently does not like to be taught about her privilege and offensive comments.

So let us begin again, in the education of Tribune Editorial Board Member Kristen McQueary.

I pulled a few of her many quotes (I could’ve pulled many more) in her new piece, which most shows her need for an education. I will now direct the rest of this piece directly to you Kristen McQueary.

“Instead of focusing on improving education for Chicago kids, the union is the city’s latest command post for angst.”

Did you really just say that? You are saying Chicago’s teachers need to focus on improving education for the kids? Um, hello? Why do you think we were out in the streets on April 1st? We were trying to bring attention to the deplorable budget cuts that impact every student, parent, and person who works in schools in this city. Teachers are on the front lines daily. While you are downtown in your ivory tower. Many of us educators work and live in the communities that you hoped a hurricane would wipe out. When someone is shot in this city, who do you think is forced to counsel students and discuss their fears? Educators. Far too many counselors, social workers, and psychologists have been cut from the never ending budget cuts. So we educators have to help our students express their fears and pain. When Rahm closed 50 schools in 2013, we had to teach our students that they are not failures, just because CPS called their grammar schools failing and closed them. Every bad thing that happens in this city, we have to talk to our students about. So to state plainly or even imply for a second that teachers need to focus on improving education for our students, is one of the most offensive not to mention uneducated things you can say to or about educators.

“Chicago cops have been the target of some of that angst since November when the release of a video showing a white cop shooting a black teenager ignited protests over lack of accountability within the Chicago Police Department.”

Yes, as CPD should be. Chicago police killed Laquan McDonald by shooting him 16 times and then you know what happened to Officer Jason Van Dyke who shot Laquan? Jail? Nope, he got a job with the Fraternal Order of Police.  CPD operated a secret detention site in Homan Square where they would illegally detain and interrogate primarily Black citizens for years. The Guardian did a huge expose on it, in case you missed it. Dante Servin shot and killed unarmed Rekia Boyd in 2012, he was found not guilty and still has a job with CPD. Police officers instead of speaking up and out about the terrible things that have happened are staying quiet and covering up the abuses and murders by police. There is a lot of research out right now, as to the racist past and present of the Chicago Police. Read this report that just came out that says, “Chicago Police have no regards for the lives of minorities”.

Now Ms. McQueary, ask yourself this? Who do you think works with the people who are targeted by the police on a daily basis? That’s right, it is us, educators. We hear stories daily in our classrooms of police abuses against our students. As one of my favorite Chicago teacher’s Xian Barrett said to me, “There’s no way to create a safe, sharing classroom in CPS and NOT hear students’ fear and/or awful experiences with Chicago Police.”

Kristen, I honestly understand your struggle of not believing that police do terrible things to Black youth. Kristen like you I, I am white, and like you, because we are white we have the privilege of not having many negative interactions with the police. But all you need to do is listen to Black youth about their grievances with the police (well first you might want to try to not be racist, because otherwise no one will feel comfortable enough to even want to talk to you).

Kristen, I wrote a piece last week that explained how Black Lives Matter is educating Chicago’s teachers. Many teachers at first did not feel like the timing was right for Page’s comments, but then many of us, I know I did, really had to reflect on her comments.

As a Social Studies teacher I had to remember that even Dr. King was told that he was moving too fast, his ideas were not timed right, and to just wait. When he was locked in a Birmingham jail, a group of white religious leaders wrote a newspaper op-ed about asking him and the Civil Rights Movement to slow down. King’s response turned out to be one of the most important documents during the Civil Rights Movement, “Letters from a Birmingham Jail”.  Kristen you know how we white people love to quote King, but the idea of a movement like Black Lives Matter, Civil Rights, Women’s Rights or any other movement is to push thinking and force change. That is what Page’s comments at the rally are doing.

As you end your piece Kristen, you say, “The double standard is palpable”. I couldn’t agree with that last sentence more, for you, the double standard is palpable. You sit up in your Tribune ivory tower and write about things that you know nothing about, like education and how tragic events like a Hurricane would be good for Chicago.

But even worse, you write about things that you apparently have no desire to even learn about. That is the issue. You are just too comfortable. You refuse to challenge yourself and learn about your privilege. That is why people call you racist.

You have two choices, continue to be the fragile white person that is shocked when someone categorizes you as racist OR (this is the better option) you can really try to educate yourself. As I mentioned in my response to your Wishing for a Katrina piece in August, I suggested a starting point for you would be the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh, which details and explains white privilege and how it benefits all white people all the time.  Read books by Lisa Delpit, Theresa Perry, Beverly Daniel-Tatum, Howard Zinn, Bell Hooks, Ta-Nehisi Coates and many more authors. Even better, actually listen and hear the messages of the Black Lives Matter movement — or in your case, any black person who would take the time to try to educate you.

As a white person to another white person, your whiteness is holding your writing back. You need to not ask why the CTU didn’t rebuke the “F*ck the Police” comment, instead you need to ask why that comment was said. Interview Page, or someone from the Black Youth Project 100. Educate yourself Kristen. Because your current lack of education is damaging your career as well as this city.

I Just Saved Rahm and CPS Millions During My Lunch Period

Dear Rahm,

You live in a fantasy world. Don’t you realize that by cancelling school and making teachers take an unpaid furlough day on March 25th that you short change the learning of our students? Yet now you want to criticize us for having no options left but to strike.

We teachers have tried darn near everything to get you to realize that there are many ways to get additional funding for our schools and you refuse to do them.  So we are left with no choice but to strike.

We do not want to strike. We wanted to negotiate with you, which is why there are 50 teachers representing us on the big bargaining team (that is called Democracy) when we negotiate.

We teachers work with students every day. We communicate with parents constantly.

Unlike you, we are parents of children in CPS. We work in the neighborhoods that you only visit when it is time for an election photo op.

So Rahm, we will shut down Chicago on April 1st in attempt to force you and your buddy Bruce down in Springfield to hear us.

Make no doubt we would rather be teaching our students. Make no doubt that we do not want to strike, but we will do it because we know that seems to be the only option left to get you to hear us.

There are ways to fix this and avoid future strikes.

Start with finding funding for our schools.

Here are some options on how to do this.

1. Ask your buddy Rauner to stop with his austerity budget.

2. Man up and ask your bank buddies to renegotiate the toxic bank deals that have and continue to steal money from our schools, our neighborhoods, and cities. This has cost CPS over $500 million dollars.

3. Use TIF surpluses to help our neighborhoods and schools instead of just siphoning the money downtown in an attempt to beautify an already beautiful downtown.  There is $350 million in unused TIF money.

4. Cancel Aramark’s contract. Clearly our schools are dirty and privatizing our custodial services cost the district money and does not keep our schools clean. This would save $260 million. Yes, we would need to hire back many custodians, but they would be hired back by the schools and it would still be less expensive.

5. Relinquish your power of Chicago Public Schools. Your last CEO cost our district $20 million and the CEO’s (I hate that title, no one in charge of schools should be called that)  you appointed before as well as your current appointment continue to harm, not help our city.

6. It is time for an elected school board. The voters who have been allowed to have a say overwhelmingly demand an elected board. 90% of voters who were allowed to vote on this issue want an elected school board.

7. Stop paying the military $17 million a year to be in our schools. Our streets are violent enough, we do not need the military model of solving conflicts taught to our students.

8. Require that the Mercantile Exchange pay a transaction tax.  This would create $2 billion in revenue annually.

9. Take the Chicago Police out of schools and instead train teachers on Restorative Justice practices so we can teach our students how to de-escalate situations more effectively. This would also reduce some of the violence across our city as well as save money.

10. Don’t fund DePaul (a private university) to build a basketball stadium.  This would save $173 million.

11. Stop building the new Obama High School. Savings of $60 million.

12. Get Teach for America out of CPS. The majority of them are only here for two years anyway. This is not the way to build relationships with parents and students. This would save $1.5 million.

13. Stop the incessant amount of standardized testing that wastes instructional time and costs the district millions.

14. Listen to the people, if you would’ve done that you wouldn’t have closed 50 schools. This contrary to your lies actually cost and still costs the district money. Still costing CPS $3 million per year.

I am sure there are many more ways to save money. I just wrote, researched, and brainstormed this list during my lunch period. This list not only saves money by cutting costs, but it also creates revenue options. Now you don’t need to threaten to cut our paychecks by 7%. Schools can hire back all the staff that has been cut. We can fully fund our schools with teachers, counselors, security, and librarians. We can have programs and opportunities for our students.

Surely your “experts” can come up with your own or figure out ways to make these ideas work. Or better yet you can listen to the experts, us teachers, who through the Chicago Teachers Union’s research have come up with solutions.

Teachers are problem solvers and we are working to solve the issues that your policies have created. But until you listen to us we will have to Shut Down Chicago on April 1st to fight for funding.

Read this piece on Huffington Post

http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/i-just-saved-rahm-and-cps_b_9540596.html

CPS- A Petulant Child That Feigns Never Hearing “No” Before

When two sides enter into a negotiation, it is expected for the two sides to go back and forth on various points and details. One side will submit a proposal and the other side will reflect on the offer and then come back to the table to discuss what they like or do not like about the proposal.

Our teacher’s contract expired July 1st 2015 and it took until January 28th 2016 for CPS to make their 1st “serious offer” regarding our contract. The teachers that make up the bargaining team of the Chicago Teachers Union had been making proposals for months about how to help our schools, our students, and our teachers, while CPS had been unreceptive and/or unwilling to negotiate in good faith. But now almost 6 months after our contract has expired CPS submits one proposal and we are all of a sudden expected to take it, like it was the greatest gift ever presented to teachers?!

After the teachers of the big bargaining team went through each line of the proposal, they determined that it was not in the best interest of the students and teachers of Chicago to accept this offer. CEO Forest Claypool sent a threatening letter to Karen Lewis saying he now has no choice but to cut millions of dollars from schools.

Wait, hold up. It is not like the big bargaining team declared they will refuse all offers from CPS. They just refused parts of this offer. So the logical next step would be to come back to the table and figure out how make a contract for all parties to agree on. Just because CPS claimed it was a “good offer” and leaked parts of the proposal to the press making CPS look ‘oh so generous’ and teachers look ‘oh so greedy’, once again, does not mean it is a good contract.

So instead of continuing discussions, CPS has essentially given the middle finger to thousands of educators in this city. This is a big middle finger to the hundreds of thousands of students and parents who will be damaged by these draconian cuts to schools across the city.

All of this CPS madness comes from Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who controls the schools. The same Mayor who is liked by only 18% of the people of Chicago. The same mayor that appointed CEO Forest Claypool (who has no educational experience) after his other appointed CEO got arrested. Both Rahm and Claypool control an appointed puppet school board that meets behind closed doors and ignores all public input to make their real decisions.

So once again I come back to the “serious offer” that CPS made. In the midst of all this corruption, we educators are just supposed to trust CPS and just accept their offer?

Teachers, unlike the Mayor, CEO, and Appointed School Board work with students and parents everyday.

We teachers send our kids to CPS.

We live in the city.

We will do what is best for the kids.

Yes, making sure a teacher is reasonably protected from the craziness that is CPS and paid fairly is still doing what is best for kids. A fair contract helps keep outstanding teachers from leaving this jacked up mayorally controlled undemocratic school system.

So CPS, grow up, realize that in a negotiation there will be times when you hear “No”.

We teachers are the experts in knowing what our schools, students, and profession need.

The contract negotiating process the Chicago Teachers Unions goes through with the big bargaining team and House of Delegates is Democratic. Just because the politics of this city are run by a “Yes, Rahm” mentality does not mean we will follow suit.

We are educated in what Democracy looks like and like it or not, CPS, we are educating you, just like we educate hundreds of thousands of students across our city daily.

This article on HuffingtonPost Chicago

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dave-stieber/cps-a-petulant-child-that_b_9145606.html?utm_hp_ref=chicago&ir=Chicago

 

Live From the Heartland Radio Show

This is the video version of my radio interview this past Saturday morning on the Live From the Heartland Radio Show on 88.7 FM here in Chicago. I am talking about school closings, unions, and education in Chicago.

The coolest part is that my dad Arny Stieber was on the same show talking about Veterans for Peace and the militarization of Chicago Public Schools his interview starts at 32 mins.