Members of OC-NWS attended the hearing for Casals Elementary last night. It’s utterly reprehensible what CPS is doing to these families and teachers. After years of fighting overcrowding, understaffing, inadequate supplies, deteriorating physical plant and ever-changing and arbitrary CPS policy directives, it was obvious the hearing was simply a formality and a sham. The Board wants to hand over Casals to a politically connected, union-busting private company, Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL), that has already taken over several schools in Chicago.
The hearing officer gave over the first of the two allotted hours entirely to CPS employees. Some of it was unabashed cheerleading for AUSL. The Board will give AUSL $11 million ($5 million of it in physical plant improvements) as part of the turnaround. Teachers, the former principal, parents, students, community people and a CTU rep spoke passionately in favor of saving the school, and asked where that money was all these years when the school desperately needed it. Not a single person stood up in favor of the CPS plan. We (and many others) were not allowed to speak due to the excessive time given to CPS. The hearing officer had been extremely deferential to the CPS people, but was curt and occasionally rude and dismissive with teachers and parents. He seemed to especially enjoy mispronouncing and making fun of people’s names.
Something I found extremely telling was a referendum taken of Casals parents on the turnaround question on January 24th. There are approximately 230 families with children at Casals. 171 households participated in the referendum, with 93% rejecting the turnaround. These parents voted to keep their teachers and administrators, despite knowing that the CPS plan would bring a lot of much needed money into the school. The families of Casals Elementary have spoken. The Board should listen. This is not over.
A contingent from Occupy the North West Side met Monday with Alderman Roberto Maldonado of the 26th Ward and Alderman Rey Colon of the 35th Ward.
Both meetings were cordial and productive; we were able to convey our concerns about the proposed Anti-Protest ordinance and informed both of the aldermen about some provisions of the bill of which they were not aware, and how Mayor Emanuel is attempting to fast track the bill through the City Council.
Please check out our informational flyer (previous post) about this bill, and contact your alderman. We need to remind our representatives in the Council that they answer to us, not to Rahm and his one percenter masters. In return, we need to spread the word among our fellow constituents about the importance of defeating this bill and generate community support for any alderman willing to buck City Hall on this!
Our friends at Occupy Rogers Park and Occupy the South Side have drafted a great letter and pledge to deliver to City Council members. There’s a story about it here.
Here is their letter:
We are writing to draw your attention to policy concerns about legislation pending for the City Council meeting scheduled for January 18, 2012. Specifically of concern are O2011-9743.pdf , “Amendment of various sections of Municipal Code and providing associated authorization regarding
upcoming NATO and G-8 summits, and O2011-9742, “Amendment of various provisions of
Municipal Code regarding parades, athletic events and public assemblies.”
As you are no doubt aware, Mayor Emanuel sponsored this ordinance and has promoted it in the media as a “temporary” measure aimed at controlling protesters during specified events taking place later this year. As you’ve surely read, the Mayor has since been forced to retract his claim that these changes were ever meant to be temporary. Another blatant inconsistency is that the ordinance applies to the entire city, while the NATO and G8 summits occur only downtown. Other inconsistencies in the presentation of this ordinance are similarly problematic.
Given what the ordinance actually says, it cannot be construed as an effort to protect the integrity of G8 and NATO conferences. This measure is a permanent attack on public protest in the City of Chicago. The
consequences of this attack will be far reaching, and will be felt by protesters throughout the city, most of whom will never have any connection to the protests associated with these events.
As you are also aware, we celebrate the legacy of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on January 16, 2012. Dr. King’s legacy is not one of obedience to municipal authorities, but rather the inspiring story of a
man who led a community that was willing to face down oppressive lawmakers by violating exactly the type of ordinance the Mayor is asking you to support.
*It is difficult to overstate the contrast between celebrating the life and work of Dr. King on Monday, and codifying the suppression of dissent on Wednesday. *
More disturbing than the symbolism of attacking Dr. King’s legacy is the perpetuation of the continued oppression that he gave his life to oppose. This ordinance does not exist in a vacuum. After all, political speech is not about speech itself. It is about issues of public policy that affect citizens who wish to convey their concerns in the public space. While the city’s leadership has talked of tough choices, and the need to balance the budget, communities of Color have been forced to endure the greatest losses in areas of education, medical care, and access to living-wage employment. Restricting our ability to speak to those concerns would be unconscionable.
Citizens of the City of Chicago are facing attacks on the fundamental building blocks of their lives. We are losing access to health care, seeing their schools close, and losing our jobs. In each case, the impact of
these attacks has been deliberately targeted, through legislation and governmental policy, at the City’s predominantly black and Hispanic south side neighborhoods.
With regard to jobs, an analysis by the Chicago Reader demonstrates that the overwhelming majority of the City’s payroll reductions will fall on communities of Color. With regard to health care, the City is closing six
mental health clinics, five of which are in the same neighborhoods where jobs are being cut. With regard to schools, a map of recent adverse school actions falls again in the same Black and Hispanic neighborhoods where jobs and health care are being cut.
Enacting a new ordinance to suppress dissent by citizens with good cause to complain is bad enough. To enact such an ordinance two days after Martin Luther King Day is a disrespectful slap in the face to his legacy.
The work of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is not a past triumph best left to history books. It is a continuing struggle that opposes governmental oppression against communities of Color. Out of respect for
Dr. King, your constituents, and the spirit of peaceful protest, we are asking you to sign the attached pledge, which rejects this errant legislation.
Occupy the South Side and Occupy Rogers Park
Here’s the half-sheet file for the Aldermen office visits we are doing later today. Share with everybody!!!!!!Alderman Visit Flyer Final
Thanks to Dorothy for getting these notes for us
URGENT – ACTION!! MONDAY, JANUARY 9th:
Meet with 26th and 25th Ward Aldermen in regard to proposed Anti-Protest Ordinance, to be voted on in the City Council on January 18th We will have a prepared statement and speaker, would like to have as many people on hand as possible for show of support. This is not a “mic-check.”
Roberto Maldonado – 26th Ward
2434 West Division
Meet at Division and Western (on corner by Roberto Clemente High School)
Walk to Alderman Maldonado’s office by 4PM
2710 N Sawyer
Meet at McDonalds on Milwaukee and Sawyer
Between 6 and 6:30PM
This is short notice, but needs to be as city wide as possible. Our strategy is to show that there is a great public push back to this ordinance and to ask that they take a stand against it.
UPDATE: It has come to my attention that this proposal has to pass by the City of Chgo Special Events committee prior to being brought to the council for a vote. DON’T LET YOUR ALDERPERSON SLIDE BY WITH A “Oh, it’s in committee, it’s out of my hands.” Make them answer the question: Just who’s side are they on? What is their reasoning? Can they back up the blatant destruction of our right to assemble and have our voices heard?
If you have any contacts with anyone who is affected by this ordinance (and seriously, who isn’t?) please invite them to join us, or to put a group together to meet with their local Alderpersons on Monday, January 9th during their ward office hours. We will supply the prepared statement and also half sheets for hand out, for their use if they desire, just leave us a post, or shoot me an email at dorothyc at usuncutchicago dot org. (It will be available as soon as Matthew can wing it my way.)
II have posted to the Occupy Chgo Direct Action Committee in their forum (right before it went ‘poof!’ on me and I’m having trouble with the page.) I have also contacted ppl with Occupy Rogers Park, as well as send an email to the Union Labor Task Force group of Occpuy Chgo. Let’s hope we can spread the word, and make this happen.
Here is a great article you might want to include with any emails you send out to ramp this up:
“Even if you have no plans to protest against the G8 & NATO summits in Chicago this May, if you want to oppose a school closing, a greedy employer or a clinic shut-down, your rights are in the cross-hairs.”
ONGOING – BEGINNING JANUARY 12 (TBD):
Outreach and show of support to teachers, parents, students and community surrounding Casals Elementary School, 3501 West Potomac.
We’ll be taking turns being at the school in the afternoons, at end of school day, in order to meet parents and teachers and to encourage that they come to the Casals Elementary Hearing on January 30th at the BOE, 125 South Clark, at 5:30PM. We will have a 1/2 sheet handout; this is still a work in progress. The strategy is to mobilize as many parents, students and teachers to be at the hearing. Anyone who would like to participate, anyone with any ideas on putting together some kind of caravan or transport, please jump into the discussion!
There is already some discussion of the hearings within the OC Direct Action Committee; these hearings are on-going for various targeted schools through March. I will be forwarding this tactic to OC Direct Action; as well as getting this out to as many neighborhood Occupy groups for whom I have contacts, to encourage them to identify their local schools under threat, and build up community participation at the hearings, as well as using this as an outreach forum for Occupy, and the Chicago Spring.
IN THE WORKS and ADDITIONAL DISCUSSION:
TUESDAY, JANUARY 17th – Occupy the Congress
Nothing slated by Occupy Chicago as of yet, so I have no concrete information. Word is that a “Funeral for the Bill of Rights” is being planned. We discussed the likelihood of getting together with this event, then moving a group to overnight at City Hall to be in line to pack the gallery for the vote for the proposed Anti-Protestor Ordinance vote slated for January 18th (unless by some miracle, Special Events doesn’t pass it through.)
We can probably work in conduction with the NATO/G8 group, as well as, and this is important, any unions or civil and social organizations, as they are also being targeted by this ridiculous plan. Time is of the essence; we haven’t got a lot of it. Have also forwarded this plan to Direct Action Forum, as well as Union Labor Task Force for mobilization.
OCCUPY YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY
What might we do to offset the library being closed? We get busy. We can hold events in the parking lots and outside the doors. A.C. is connecting with the Union officials to discuss to explore how Occupy participants might engage the communities and the library spaces during these “closed” hours. Libby brought along a copy of “Shelter” (the
film made by local students and Logan Square residents on the impact of gentrification) and it was suggested that film screenings of this sort might be something we can do in our local, closed, libraries. (I’m not adverse to parking lot screenings, with lots and lots of
CIVICS TEACH IN for CHICAGO SPRING – An idea was batted about to encourage a large scale Civics Class as part of the Chicago Spring. Something to keep in mind. I’d like to get this idea in the hands of the Education Committee, if it isn’t already.
All suggestions are naturally, welcomed and encouraged!
UPCOMING OCCUPY CHICAGO EVENTS (From Occupychi . org)
SUNDAY, JANUARY 15 – Occupy the Dream
The Peoples Church – 941 W Lawrence
Come together with 1,200 other people from across Chicago to celebratet the legacy of Dr. King and to continue his work of justice by holding Wall Street banks and our elected officials accountable!Elected officials from across the Chicago area will be there,
including aldermen, state legislators, and federal officials. We will be asking them to hold
banks and corporations accountable around issues of jobs, foreclosure, and paying their fair share in taxes. We need you to participate in this event so that our elected officials know you care about these issues!
Sign in begins at 2:30 p.m. Let’s pack the house!
MONDAY, JANUARY 20 – Occupy the Courts
11:30 AM – 1PM Dirksen Federal Plaza 230 South Dearborn
1PM March to Occupy “HQ” at Jackson and LaSalle
Occupy the Courts will be a one day occupation of Federal courthouses across the country.
We will be Occupying 230 South Dearborn Street in Chicago, IL Americans across the country are on the march, and they are marching OUR way. They carry signs that say, “Corporations are NOT people! Money is NOT Speech!” And they are chanting those truths at the top of their lungs! The time has come to make these truths evident to the courts.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 28 – Workers’ Power: Labor Solidarity Workshop
This conference aims to bring together those who are fighting back, to not only network and learn from one another, but chart a way forward with common goals in mind. We welcome the participation of all. Slated to be held at Teamsters Union Hall; check at http://www.occupychi.org for specific times and locale.
New Years Revolution!
SATURDAY, JANUARY 14 2 – 5 PM
621 West Belmont, 2nd Floor
A get together and casual meet up for activists and those who have resolved to become more active in 2012. This is an afternoon event, I believe the start time is 3PM. There will be light refreshments and lots of interesting people with whom to network.
Members of Occupy the Northwest Side mic-check at the Blue Line Logan Square stop on their way downtown to rally with Chicago Public School teachers.
And a mic-check on the train:
Occupy the Northwest Side invites you to join us at 5pm, Tuesday, December 13th at the Eagle statue in Logan Square. We will be taking the Blue Line to participate in a rally at Board of Education headquarters in support of the Chicago Teachers Union. Teachers will be holding an all night vigil in order to be first in line for The Board’s meeting on the 14th.
The teachers need our support in fighting school closings and staff reductions. We will ride the Blue Line downtown, and do an informational mic check along the way. Please join us!
The Board of Education headquarters is at 125 S. Clark Street, and the rally is scheduled to begin at 6pm.