Straight talk about the fight for Dyett and the CPS solution

I think it's time for a little clarity.

The Fight for Dyett is not resolved. The mayor's Frankenschool solution created without a single stakeholder, and imposed autocratically ("we are not negotiating"--Forrest Claypool) solved nothing and indeed, despite Eric Zorn's crowing about how well hunger strikes work, and hooray, it's over, and ding dong the witch is dead, the strikers are still striking.

Furthermore, the Fight for Dyett is not 12 people trying circumvent "procedure" and "bully" the mayor.

It is 12 people standing up and saying no. No more. We will accept no more manipulation of our schools and our communities for the pleasure and the benefit of the political class.

But it is bigger than that.

It is many people who are saying no to the manipulation of our schools and our communities for the pleasure and benefit of the political class.

It is hundreds of people. Thousands maybe. Thousands upon thousands. It is certainly Chicago-wide and it reaches well beyond our state and across the globe.

The Fight for Dyett is being waged by 12, yes. But it is supported by everyone who is weary of the destruction of our public schools.

The Fight for Dyett is supported by those who have seen firsthand the damage wrought by corporate education control "reformers" who find salvation in excessive testing, firing teachers, busting unions, closing schools, cutting budgets, and funding charter schools at a rate far outpacing underfunded public schools in broke districts. Those "reform" tools end in disinvested neighborhoods and disenfranchised children and it is no accident that they affect low-income black and brown children the most severely.

The Fight for Dyett is supported by those who uphold local control of schools and elected school boards; those who oppose test-and-punish curricula, the imposition of an untrained teacher class, and shoddy e-learning that costs our districts a lot but is actually pedagogical trash.

We are many. We are all over the country. We are parents, grandparents, students, teachers, retirees. We are just beginning to realize our power.

And we are in every neighborhood in Chicago. We are many, and we stand with the Fight for Dyett because we believe in democracy, neighborhoods, public schools, and local community. We are of every color and every demographic. We are everywhere.

There are, certainly, some who do not stand with the Fight for Dyett.

They also do not stand for democratic schools, local autonomy, or elected school boards.

They also do not oppose privatization, test-and-punish curricula, school closings, community disinvestment, unprofessional teaching staff, or manipulations and machinations of powers outside of the community upon the community and against its will.

And these people were standing with Forrest Claypool on Thursday afternoon at the press conference where CPS declared that they had resolved the Dyett crisis.


Oh--you say--but--but those people at that press conference, they were--weren't they?--black--all of them. They were black community leaders. Weren't they? Isn't that what the newspapers said? They would know all about the fight facing Dyett, and all public schools everywhere--right?

Oh, they do.

But all those people standing up there--like props--all of them have fought against their own communities, and with good reason.

They receive large amounts of money from the very sources of the destruction of our public schools.

Today we'll just take the politicians that flanked Forrest.

State Representative Christian Mitchell. He has received $127,000 from Stand for Children and $34,000 from Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), both of which are organizations dedicated to forwarding the purposes of corporate education control. He has received $12,800 from Noble Network Board Member David Weinberg (who in turn has given $10,500 to DFER, $10,000 to Stand for Children, and $10,000 to Stand for Children PAC), and $10,000 from Eli Broad, two prominent, and spectacularly wealthy, generals in the corporate ed control army.

Just saying.

Will Burns, who continues to insist he is and always has been for Dyett, has managed to stand in the way of the community's every move to keep its school. Burns has received $1690 from DFER, $2,500 from the Illinois Network of Charter Schools, $7,900 from Noble Network Board member John Rowe (who has in turn given $10K to Stand for Children), $21,500 from Noble Network Board member Weinberg, and more than $51,000 from Rahm's campaign. In addition, in May he was given the plum of chairing the Education Committee with its budget of more than $200K. Furthermore, while he has received no money from Stand for Children himself, oddly enough he has contributed over $17K to them. He's received small campaign donations from for CPS Board of Ed members David Vitale and Andrea Zopp as well, which seems to me personally inappropriate, although it is surely legal.

What we're looking at here is two politicians who have been bought and paid for, not by their own constituents, but by outside forces (Stand for Children is a west coast group that infiltrated Illinois in 2011; DFER is national) and internal ones with a very specific agenda.

That agenda, unequivocally, is union-busting, teacher firing, school closing, and privatization. 

It does not include supporting community schools, advocating for elected school boards, equitable school funding, or dismantling the stranglehold standardized testing has on our schools.

I am telling you now that the 12 Dyett hunger strikers know this. This is what they are up against. Not having millions of dollars in cash to influence decisions, they are giving what they have--their bodies.

You may not realize it, but most of you are with them. Despite the flow of messages to the contrary from Eric Zorn, Mary Mitchell, our CPS CEO, and our mayor, the "compromise" offered by CPS was anything but.

It is just one more example of the manipulation of our schools and communities for the pleasure and the benefit of the political class.

If you want a better Chicago Public Schools system please like my Facebook page and join me there for more discussion. You can also follow me on twitter @foolforcps.

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