Just who are the Chicago public fools?

Well now here's an obnoxious-sounding blog. Let me tell you about it. And a little about me.

I am a Republican. I am an old-fashioned fiscal conservative who believes in small government, local control, and the power of families and communities to call their own shots. I am a Sunday-school teaching member of the world's oldest Christian church, Orthodoxy, which has remained essentially unchanged since the 8th century.

So how in the world is it that I now find myself in complete agreement with and support of—no, let's just call it what it is—solidarity with—a union?

A public workers union?

How is it that I recently found myself cheering every word uttered by Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis at a downtown demonstration against the widely publicized closings of 54 Chicago public schools? How did I find myself marching alongside, chanting in unison with, dudes waving anarchist flags? (Yeah, I know, that was weird.) How is it that my son and I seriously contemplated the practicality of getting arrested in an act of civil disobedience?

How is it that I can no longer bear the “conservative” stance on education that goes under the wildly misleading catch-all title of "education reform"—that is to say, anti-union, anti-public school, pro-vouchers, pro-charters, pro-privatization of schools?

It's funny, though. "Education reform" is not really just a conservative issue. Actually, education reform as it is now preached is as firmly ensconced in the current White House as it is in the most rednecky red state's state house. Everybody loves the story of the big money tech corporations and foundations sharing their educational reform largesse. Everybody loves the story of the tough inner-city charter school that saves the gangbangers from the street, puts them in ties, and gets them ready for college. Everybody loves the story of the obnoxious teachers unions and their lazy, lazy teachers shoving their way in for more, more, more of the government trough, and how they aren't going to get any more under our watch!

Right?

Well, right or left, the question remains. How come I don't love these stories any more--embraced as they are by right and left, reported unanimously in the media, and very much guiding the CPS ship here in Chicago?

Here's how.

I started looking at data.

I started reading widely—outside of major media outlets.

And I started listening—to teachers, to parents. Right here in my neighborhood. In the south side of Chicago.

The things I learned frankly surprised me. Shocked me. Turned me, in short, into an activist.

This is a new blog, a very opinionated new blog. In it I will share with you some of the data, the stories, the people who have changed the way I see things. I want you, reader, to at least consider the possibility that what you see on the news is not the whole story. Maybe it's not even half. Consider with me the possibility that everything you hear about “education reform” is not what it's cracked up to be. Consider with me the very real possibility that despite the fact that he's on parade in all his newest finery, the emperor is in fact not actually wearing any clothes.

And come back to this spot often to find lots of questions. I want to you think, to reexamine, and reconsider. Because not only do I think the emperor is not wearing any clothes, I think the educational reformers are nothing more than a pack of fools.

This etching is from the 16th century. It's called the Ship of Fools. Of the image, wikipedia says it is "an allegory that has long been a fixture in Western literature and art. The allegory depicts a vessel populated by human inhabitants who are deranged, frivolous, or oblivious passengers aboard a ship without a pilot, and seemingly ignorant of their own direction."

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