Closing Schools, Increasing Policing -The Chicago Way

Closing Schools, Increasing Policing -The Chicago Way
Courtesy of The News-Gazette

Chicago spends 40% of its entire operating budget on policing. In addition the city has paid out over $500 million on police brutality cases. On top of that Rahm thinks it a wise choice to spend $95 million more on a new cop academy.

Meanwhile those that run Chicago Public Schools (don’t forget Rahm appoints them) voted to close 5 predominantly Black public schools. Add that in with the 50 plus Black schools closed in 2013.

It is not conspiracy to say that Chicago wants to incarcerate, not educate, its Black youth.

It is policy.

Many in the city see the connection. If you underfund and then close schools, while continually increasing funding to police it becomes apparent what the goals are.

A budget is a political document, not just a financial one. It shows what the city prioritizes.

Chicago prioritizes criminalizing our youth, NOT educating them.

Rahm says he cares about kids, but he does NOT send his own kids to CPS. So he can say whatever he wants, BUT unless his own kids are in the CPS system his words mean jack.

Never forget that Rahm said, “25% of CPS students won’t amount to anything.”

Chicago is filled with harmful policies past and present such as redliningblockbusting, and gentrification. Actual policies created and implemented by the city that targeted and harmed Black communities in our city.

School closings, school turnarounds, and school phase-outs, is just the new or continued version of these policies that target and harm Black communities.

While these policies continue to destroy education for the children in our city, Rahm and his crew make sure to always fund policing.

The Chicago Police Department (CPD) is responsible for torturing and killing Black Chicagoans. CPD has been proven to cover up its own crimes and illegally detain people in secret sites.

In Rahm’s Chicago, if a school is deemed unsuccessful, under his bogus school rating system, then that school is punished. Charters will be built in the area and then the school will be closed or phased out after having it’s funding systematically cut.

The police do not receive this same treatment. In fact it seems as if the police are rewarded for the more flawed that they are. Students and schools punished, police rewarded.

The Chicago Police Department is getting a brand new $95 Million Cop Academy on the Westside. More for incarceration and less for education.

Our children in CPS are treated like they are in a police state. Metal detectors, police with guns in the school. Limited resources. Terrible Food.

Yet, students are told, if you work really hard you can overcome all of this. You can make it.

No doubt the amazing kids in Chicago do overcome. BUT kids should not have to overcome. Kids should just have what they need.

So instead of building a new cop academy invest that money into the schools.

Instead of policing and incarceration we could try fully funding education.

But Rahm says no.

Rahm closes schools.

Closing over 50 elementary schools in 2013 was not enough. He wants more closures. Now it is TEAM Englewood, Roberson, Hope, and Harper high schools. Eliminating all of the public neighborhood high schools in Englewood.

But even that is not enough, so he takes out a high performing elementary school in the South Loop, National Teachers Academy. This closure is done to appease white parents afraid of sending their children to school with a majority of Black students

Rahm says screw the Black community. Because surely if Rahm truly cared about the Black residents of Chicago he would be upset by the fact that over 200,000 Black families have left the city.

But not Rahm.

He would rather close a school than fix a neighborhood.

Put policing over education.

Blame the victims.

Put Incarceration over improving communities.

This is policy. These are calculated choices. This is Chicago.

Courtesy of In These Times

Never Enough Money For Education, But Chicago Always Finds Money For Incarceration

Every year, for the past 11 years that I have taught in Chicago Public Schools (CPS), Chicago claims it doesn’t have enough money to properly fund its public schools. And every year there is some “justification” for not giving our students equitable funding.

 

In 2010, CPS didn’t have enough money and threatened to cut extracurricular programs and non-varsity sports.

 

In 2013, it was “necessary” to close more than 50 public schools, the most schools ever shut down at one time in our country’s history.

 

Now, every year our students watch as librarians, counselors, social workers, support staff, security and teachers are cut. They see how special education has been criminally mismanaged. They wonder why the technology in their school does not work, why paint is peeling off their classroom walls, why their track is unusable, why their heating and cooling vents spew out white clumps of powder, or why there are broken asbestos tiles in their classrooms.

 

Yet through all of this, Chicago always finds money for policing.

 

Throughout my time teaching in CPS, I have heard stories of the abusive nature of the Chicago Police Department (CPD) from my students. At first, due to my whiteness, I had a hard time believing my students, because what they were telling was so different from my own experiences. For me as a white person, the police are at worst a minor annoyance. But for my black students, the police can mean danger, abuse, harassment, brutality and death.

 

It has been well documented that CPD has been terrorizing Chicago’s black and brown communities for generations, going back to the 1960s, with the murder of Fred Hamptonwhile he slept, to the 1970s, with acts of torture led by Commander Jon Burge.

This year, Chicago Public Schools students will be learning through the Reparations WON curriculum of the standard torture practices during the Jon Burge era. For about a 20-year period, Commander Jon Burge and his officers would pick up innocent black men and force them into confessing to crimes that they did not commit. His standard methods of getting forced confessions was torture, which included suffocation, putting loaded weapons into mouths and electric shocks to the genital area.

 

Although the Burge torture era has ended, the corruption within the Chicago Police Department has not.

 

CPD has and continues to operate using a code of silence, with secret detention sites like Homan Square, the planting of evidence, falsifying reports and killing people of color in our city. All of these standard operating procedures are well documented.

Through all of this, the “union” representing the CPD ― the Fraternal Order of Police(FOP) ― proudly continues to justify these practices. This is the same FOP who is upset about the Reparations WON curriculum, because they want the curriculum to tell both sides. Both sides of torture?

 

Instead of working to improve policing to make sure acts of police torture, abuse and murder come to a stop, the FOP is working to make sure the mandates in the FOP contract protect cops who kill. Over the years, the FOP has negotiated items in the police contract that allows the police to make up stories and intimidate people who might file complaints against them, to name a just a few.

 

Now, Mayor Emanuel thinks the police are deserving of a new $95 million training facility. Just another example of Rahm using taxpayer money for anything and everything besides our students. Rahm will fund River Walks, Navy Pier, basketball stadiums and hotels while stealing TIF funds from the neighborhoods and schools that need them. His policies lead to the cutting of librarians, social workers, counselors, teachers, and support staff. School budgets continue to be cut. Parents go on hunger strikes to keep schools open. Still more schools are proposed to be closed, in Englewood.

You must survive on less.

 

At the same time schools and our students are having to operate with less, in conditions the mayor would never tolerate for his own children, Chicago is increasing funding to systems, like the police, that harshly punish black and brown children and families.

The Chicago Police Department costs taxpayers $4 million a day in operating costs, which makes up 40 percent of our city’s entire budget and totals up to $1.5 billion dollars per year. Police brutality cases in Chicago have cost our city more than $500 million dollars. To put this spending on policing in perspective, the daily cost of CPD is:

“… more than the city spends on the Departments of Public Health, Family and Support Services, Transportation, and Planning and Development combined. Mental-health spending receives $10 million per year, and only $2 million per year is allocated to violence-prevention services.”

Just recently, a case involving a Chicago police shooting and killing of Ronald “Ronnieman” Johnson shows once again CPD planted evidence, showcasing continued corruption. Ronald was shot while running in 2014. It was claimed that he had a gun and, according to an image put out by CPD, it showed he had a gun. This was a claim his family has disputed. The officers weren’t charged. But now, after a forensic scientist reviewed the image, it has become evident that it is a false image.

 

Meaning Ronald didn’t have a gun. Meaning there is no justification for his death.

Before Rahm gives any money to the CPD, he should follow all of the recommendations of the Department of Justice report. In case you missed it, the DOJ investigation was the largest civil rights investigation into a police department in history. The DOJ findings included that CPD was responsible for the use of excessive and deadly force against people who pose no threat, use of force in health crises, exhibit racially discriminatory behavior, having officers with no accountability and who are poorly trained.

 

On top of addressing the DOJ concerns, Rahm should also have a democratically elected Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC), as many community organizations have been advocating for years. (While he is at it, he should have an elected school board, too.)

 

Until the Chicago Police Department cleans up its act, it should not receive additional funding to build a new cop academy. Police can improve their training methods in their current training facilities. You don’t need a new building to teach police how not to be racist or why they should not kill innocent people.

 

If Rahm can’t find money for the education of our students, then there is no way he should find money for the incarceration of them#NoCopAcademy

 

Here is more information about the proposed cop academy, and here are ways to help pressure our elected officials to not support the cop academy.

 

Also consider donating and supporting the Chicago Torture Justice Center which, “seeks to address the traumas of police violence and institutionalized racism through access to healing and wellness services, trauma-informed resources, and community connection. The Center is a part of and supports a movement to end all forms of police violence.”

See this piece on Huff Post and Alternet

Both An NFL Player and Chicago Public Schools Teacher Punished for Fighting for Justice

How could an NFL player and a Chicago Public Schools Special Education teacher have anything in common? When they both are being punished for advocating for justice for others.

We are all familiar with the story of Colin Kaepernick who decided to peacefully protest the inequalities facing Black Americans, specifically in terms of police brutality. If you aren’t from Chicago then you may not be familiar with the story of Sarah Chambers. Sarah is an elementary special education teacher in Chicago who vocally advocates for the special education students she teaches at her school, as well as across the entire city. Chambers is now entering her 10th week of suspension. She is forbidden to teach her students and they have been forced to have a substitute teacher all of this time. Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has not said why she is suspended. However, just as Colin Kaepernick is still unsigned because of his advocacy for justice, Sarah is suspended because of her willingness to vocally advocate for her students.

Colin Kaepernick and Sarah Chambers are both highly effective at their chosen professions. Colin Kaepernick has the 5th best touchdown to interception ratio of all time and last year he had 16 touchdowns as compared to only 4 interceptions. Sarah Chambers has consistently received distinguished ratings by her principals, the highest rating achievable in the current teacher evaluation system.

In addition to being highly effective at his profession, Colin Kaepernick is an active citizen who is committed to making our country better. As a social studies teacher myself, it is empowering to be able to show my students a celebrity who is aware of issues, makes others aware, donates to organizations trying to improve those issues and finally is willing to work to create change. Colin Kaepernick has pledged to donate $1 million of his own money to organizations working to improve our country. He also created an organization called Know Your Rights Camp, which he is intricately a part of.

While not a celebrity, Sarah Chambers is also an active citizen and an open LGBTQ teacher who created an LGBTQ club at her school to provide all of her students a safe space. She teaches her students about the gross underfunding of Special Education programs in Chicago, which directly impact their lives. She then educates the public about these issues and speaks to those in power in Chicago to bring about the change that will impact all students in CPS.

An unfortunate similarity is that Colin Kaepernick and Sarah Chambers both work for organizations run with nearly absolute control. To the head of the NFL Roger Goodell and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, being a civically engaged citizen like Chambers and Kaepernick is dangerous to their power structure. Many fans clearly like and support Kaepernick as evidenced by the fact of his top selling jersey last season and by the fact even though he is unsigned, his jersey is currently still one of the highest selling jerseys. His jersey (currently 17th most popular of any position) is outselling the starting quarterbacks of 24 teams. Sarah Chambers is also clearly respected as evidenced by the massive amount of support she has received from her students, parents, and teachers.

In Chicago, Rahm Emanuel forbids Democracy in our school system. Rahm appoints everyone involved in making decisions about education, from the CEO to the school board. Roger Goodell also wields similar power. He often suspends players and punishes teams without just cause. The NFL and Roger Goodell try to hide information from the players, like the league attempting to cover up the issues with concussions. Rahm Emanuel also engages in cover-ups. He tried to cover up the murder of Laquan McDonald by the Chicago Police for over a year.

The actions of Goodell and Emanuel may be supported by other power hungry elites, but their actions are clearly not liked by the masses they are supposed to represent. When either of them go out in public they consistently face booing fans/constituents. Rahm Emanuel got booed after a Chicago Blackhawks rally, at a street naming ceremony, at a basketball game, and most recently by school children.  Roger Goodell gets booed at every NFL Draft.

While there are many similarities between the Kaepernick and Chambers situations there are some major differences. One of the differences that I want to focus on is the vastly different levels of support from people within their profession, as well as the unions that are supposed to represent them. Sarah has support from her union, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU). While Kaepernick does not have the same level of support of the National Football League Players Association.

There have been many rallies and protests to support Sarah, organized by the Chicago Teachers Union. But what help has the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) provided for Kaepernick? Certain NFL players like Michael Bennett, Richard Sherman, and Brandon Marshall have come out to question why Kaepernick has yet to be signed. Last season Kaepernick also had the support of his teammate Eric Reid as well as multiple NFL players and U.S. Women’s soccer star Megan Rapinoe, who joined his protest.

But through all that, why is the National League Football Players Association staying quiet? The NFLPA should be visibly fighting against the obvious banishment of Kaepernick. It should be helping to organize rallies, release statements, and build a movement of NFL players who are willing to speak up. Other players should also speak up and push the NFLPA to act.

As of now only one white male athlete has supported Kapernick in any sport. Current Eagles defensive lineman Chris Long has been the only white male athlete to support Kaepernick. Many Military Veterans, the people who he was supposedly disrespecting, have come out to support Kaepernick, yet crickets from nearly all white male athletes.

The Chicago Teachers Union has encouraged its members to speak up in support of Sarah. The teachers who are willing to speak up for her, know that it is a risk to speak up, because Rahm Emanuel wants teachers to stay silent.

Silence is exactly what the NFL and other sports organizations want. Being outspoken got former Chicago Bulls sharp shooter Craig Hodges blacklisted from the NBA, as chronicled in his book “Long Shot”.

Power likes silence whether in sports or teaching. Power adores systems like blackballing. Colin Kaepernick is not the first athlete punished for being an active citizen. John Carlos and Tommie Smith were punished for raising their fists at the ’68 Olympics. Toni Smith a college basketball player faced severe repercussions for her protest in 2003.

Sarah Chambers is not the first teacher punished for being vocal. In fact, Chicago Public Schools is currently punishing many other teachers for being outspoken, here are the stories of 5 of them.

In the cases of Sarah Chambers and Colin Kaepernick my final question is, why would the powers in place be more upset about an actively engaged citizen then what is causing them to take a stand in the first place?

The NFL should be proud of someone like Kaepernick, who can play well and be socially aware and active, just like Chicago should be proud of someone like Sarah Chambers, who is a great teacher and an advocate to make our schools better for all our students.

Power thrives by fear. To improve our country, athletes, teachers, and citizens need to support the truth tellers who are willing to risk it all. These truth tellers are not in the spotlight for themselves, but for the betterment of everyone in society.

If you are interested in helping Sarah Chambers and other teachers who have been punished get their jobs back, whether you live in Chicago or not you can click here for information on whom to contact to help.

If you are interested in helping Kaepernick get signed, start pressuring your favorite NFL team’s front office and the NFLPA. As a Bear’s fan, I know Kaepernick could beat out all of our backups and most likely our starters. I imagine that the fans of many teams around the league are not happy with their quarterback situation either.

As Dave Zirin in writes in The Nation, “The NFL is denying Colin Kaepernick employment not because he isn’t “good enough” but because he is being shut out for the crime of using his platform to protest the killing of black kids by police.”

 

*Important things to note and question about this piece. I focused on Sarah Chambers because she is and has been very vocal about her punishment. I believe publicizing her struggle will continue to help shine a light on all the terrible policies that harm all teachers, special education students and students in general in Chicago. By focusing on Sarah Chambers, a white teacher, it does not shine a spotlight on the gross injustices that teachers of color and specifically Black teachers face(d) in CPS. Chicago Public Schools has a history of firing Black and Latino teachers in large numbers and of not hiring Black teachers as well.

 

To view this piece on Huff Post click here.

Another Excused Chicago Police Killing, We Need To Trash Their Contract

It is possible that you may have missed the announcement last week that the Chicago Police Officer who killed 55 year old Bettie Jones and 19 year old Quintonio LeGrier, will not have any charges pressed against him.
The day after Christmas last year, police were called to the building where Bettie Jones lived. Quintonio LeGrier was apparently very upset and had a baseball bat, his father Antonio called the police. When the police arrived Bettie Jones opened the door of the building. She was shot and killed while the police were shooting at Quintonio, who was also killed by the police.
The Cook County State’s Attorney (Kim Foxx’s office) claimed, “there was not enough evidence to prove the officer was not acting in self-defense.” This decision to not even press charges and put the officer on trial continues the pattern of the previous States Attorney Anita Alvarez, who Kim Foxx replaced. Regardless of Foxx’s excuse to not press charges, this allows for police impunity to continue.
Recently the Department of Justice released a report condemning the Chicago Police Department (CPD) for torturing people and ripping the CPD training tactics. Important critiques from the report state that, “CPD’s accountability system is broken, that officers accused of misconduct are rarely disciplined, officer training is woefully inadequate, and the use of excessive force disproportionately affects people of color in the poorest, highest-crime neighborhoods.”
We need to demand an elimination of the ridiculous articles of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) contract that encourages officers to lie and cover up their tragic actions. There are articles in their contract that require officers to stay silent even if they witness a fellow officer doing something inappropriate. This silence is effectively known as the Code of Silence. The Code of Silence is something that Mayor Emanuel and the city admit exists
In addition to the Code of Silence the FOP contract explains that, “…collective bargaining agreements make it harder for citizens to file complaints or to learn how those complaints are resolved. They make it easier for cops to lie and harder for their bosses to discipline them. The contracts also undermine the Police Department’s efforts to improve a training program.”
The FOP contract led to the acquittal of Dante Servin for firing recklessly into a crowd and killing Rekia Boyd. The same contract allowed Jason Van Dyke to empty a full clip of 16 shots in Laquan McDonald, allowed police to erase the Burger King surveillance video where the incident happened and in collaboration with the City of Chicago kept the video hidden for a year. In addition, Jason Van Dyke is now quietly trying to get his charges dropped. This contract allowed for the very controversial police killings of Paul O’Neal, Pierre Loury, Joshua Beal, and Kajuan Raye, just to name a few of the lives taken.
It is important that you know that I’m a teacher that supports and promotes unions. However, as a CPS teacher for 10 years, I have heard countless stories of police brutality shared by my students. Both schools I have worked at had students killed by the police and many other students had been assaulted and harassed by other officers.
It is time for educators along with everyone else to call the Fraternal Order of Police union out. The FOP and the city will begin negotiations for a new contract soon as the current one expires this summer. It is important that we demand that our Alderman, State’s Attorney, and Mayor create a new contract that keeps citizens safe, as well as police.
The vast majority of police officers are not the issue. The system is the issue. The system that encourages good cops to stay quiet. The system that encourages police who are brave enough to speak up to face dangerous levels of retaliation. The system that refuses to change the way police are investigated. The mayor changed the name of the reviewing agency from Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) to the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) to sound different but the premise is the same; no accountability for police.
If there is a system that allows for police to kill and face no accountability then we need a new system. A system such as the Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC) must be put in place. The difference between CPAC and the Mayor’s appointed council no matter what he calls it, is that CPAC is elected. CPAC would hire the Chief of Police, investigate ALL police shootings, establish the budget for policing and much more. Rahm does not want community control in Chicago. Just like how Rahm refuses to allow for a democratically elected school board, he fears a democratically elected police accountability council.
Changing the system first starts with a demand.
Demand that your Alderman push for a Civilian Police Accountability Council.
Demand that your Alderman require the city to abolish the Code of Silence and police abuses in the upcoming police contract.
Demand that the families of people killed by police get the justice that they deserve.
Demand that this Fraternal Order of Police Contract get thrown in the trash.
To view this piece on Huffington Post click here.
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(For anyone reading this who might be asking, “But what about the violence in Chicago?”, know that discussing police violence does not mean I am ignoring violence in certain neighborhoods. It is not, an-either or situation. I am concerned about both. This piece is just about the impact of police violence. If you are only concerned about intra communal violence then click here, here, here, and here.)

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

 

Want to Stop Police Killings? Then White People Need to Truly Care.

If you haven’t heard the name Cedric Chatman, then you should know his name. Cedric is another tragic example of a black youth being killed by police and a city trying to cover up the murder. Cedric was killed nearly three years ago, almost two years before Laquan McDonald. To no surprise to anyone in Chicago, Rahm is currently trying to prevent the video from being released.

Black Americans being killed by police is not just a Chicago problem. This is an American problem.

I can’t sit back and witness the continued murder of black Americans, while far too many white Americans sit back and say nothing at all about it or even worse, blame the victims themselves.

As a white person who grew up in a majority white area, I know how white people view the police. They help keep us safe. The only times a white person fears a cop is when we are going more than 15mph over the speed limit and spot them in our rearview or when they show up to peacefully break up our youthful parties. The general consensus among whites is that the police won’t harm us, or our children; they will save us from the bad guys and give us due process if we mess up. If any interaction falls outside of this norm, it is ludicrous.

As we have sadly seen over the past few years, the world does not operate like this for black Americans, whiteness lets us have that sacred, safe privilege.

I know if you don’t experience something personally it’s hard to really internalize it. But this is the very reason why the intense, disturbing, police videos are so important to see.

Of course, no one wants to see someone being killed on camera.

But if you don’t watch it, then it never happened.

If white America is as tired of hearing about race and racism as some media outlets claim, then there are ways to help.

Start by giving a damn. I could call this empathy, but we are past that point in this struggle.

White culture tends to blame the victim, not the police officer, with comments like, “If Eric Garner had just… “ “If Laquan McDonald would’ve…”, or “If Tamir Rice’s parents would’ve…”.

Or we try to deflect from the real conversation about racism and ask questions like, “What about black on black crime? Why don’t black people care about that?”. Firstly, black people do care. Secondly, they protest it, which just doesn’t get the press coverage that black conflict gets on mainstream media.

Even comments like “Most police are good” are harmful. Yes, I agree that most police are good, but we’re focusing on the ones that aren’t. It is clear that there is an issue with the police and/or police training that needs to be addressed in this country. This has been going on for decades and as an example, Chicago operated Homan Square, a secret police site used to illegally hold and torture primarily black Chicagoans.

Here is a list of all the black people killed by police across America from 1999-2014, if you still need more proof.

So what can white Americans do?

  1. Listen to black people when they share experiences with race.

Some white Americans would rather go out of their way to find the most random black person saying how race isn’t a problem anymore and that black America just needs to “get over it” then actually listen to the overwhelming amount of black narratives and stories that show how racism is still so prevalent in our country. Rule of thumb, if it is just a black person sitting in their car talking about how racism isn’t real anymore you need a more credible source and for that matter if you only quote Ben Carson as your “black source” you again need find a more credible source.

2. Read articles, books, and narratives about race. The authors of these writings should be black.

There is a plethora of researched articles and books about race out there. It may not be comfortable to learn about how racism benefits us as white people and what white privilege is and does for us, but if you really want to consider yourself empathic or even Christian for that matter then you need to spend the time educating yourself. Here are a few good places to start.

3. STOP listening to white people on the news tell you about black people.

This isn’t specific to any news or TV station (although some are much worse than others). But, if you are getting your information about issues of race, including but not limited to police abuses, violence, protests, racism, etc., from this source, then you need to stop and refer back to the previous point #2.

4. Put yourself in the minority.

Go to areas of the city that aren’t white. (No you won’t be killed, robbed, raped or shot at—actually the odds are better that those things would happen in a white area, but that is a different article.) The first step with this point is realizing that yes, you are welcome and yes, it is safe. Try to take the images portrayed in movies out of your head. Try to limit your unnecessary fears. Use websites like Yelp & Trip Advisor to help you figure out where you want to go. There are great places to eat, shop, and see in black communities no matter what city you live in. When you go, plan to interact, not just observe “another culture”.

5. Teach your children that black people aren’t scary, by your words and actions.

The words you use around children are powerful; strike ghetto and thug from your language to describe places and people. Watch movies and shows with black leads or majority black actors. If possible, have your kids interact with kids who aren’t white, in situations where they are equals. Also refer back to my previous point #4.

A former black student of mine wrote an article titled, “The Reason I Can’t Have White Friends”. The title is sad and justified and the words are powerful. But, we white people need to read his words and then start educating our children and ourselves.

“I have grown tired of having to explain to people why mouthing off to police shouldn’t get me killed. I am tired of having to try twice as hard to smile on the train so people aren’t automatically afraid of me. I am tired of being afraid of police officers as they drive past my house or walk by me on the street. I am tired of being too afraid of police violence to go to the public pool, walk down the street, go to the movie theater walk with skittles or exist in my own skin. But I am unable to express this pain to people other than those of my own race. It is almost impossible to get other people to understand my pain. It is even harder to get people to acknowledge that the pain I and my people feel is even real. We live in a “post-racial” society but it seems that this “post-racial” attitude has tricked people into thinking that denying racism will completely destroy it.”

 

This piece on Huffington Post

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dave-stieber/want-to-stop-police-killi_b_8801986.html?utm_hp_ref=chicago&ir=Chicago

This piece on Gapers Block

http://gapersblock.com/mechanics/2015/12/15/want-to-stop-police-killings-then-white-people-need-to-truly-care/