PSAT for 7-17-12: Five signs the tide is turning – so, let’s turn up the heat!

Are the winds shifting? The tides turning? Could the tables already have turned?

Here are some reasons I think this may be happening.

1) An op ed in yesterday’s Guardian of London newspaper suggests that the Chicago Teachers’ Union is sending shock waves far beyond our home town for its string of upsets against the offensive moves of the city’s Democratic establishment:

This is getting national attention in the US, and a strike could be an embarrassment to President Obama. Moreover, it could re-ignite the American labour movement at a time of global unrest.

2) A few days ago, blogger Jim Warren compared a vacationing CPS CEO JC Brizard to Nero, “kayaking while Rome burns”:

I stumbled into Brizard’s absence during a chance conversation with (a) Chicago educator Thursday. The person mentioned that Brizard was out of town. He mentioned that Brizard had asked colleagues not to bother him with calls. He indicated that Brizard had posted on his Facebook page a photo of his wife with a kayak in Vermont. He rolled his eyes…..(Brizard)’s given ammunition already to anybody who looks to bypass or intentionally undermine him.

3) The Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman’s piecesuggesting Rahm’s honeymoon is over was prominently placed in Sunday’s paper. The media is beginning to be more skeptical about Rahm, his CPS schools team, and, to some extent, to corporate reform itself. The teachers’ contract arbitrator, whom Rahm’s team had set up as the voice of reason, actually made a very reasonable case for treating teachers fairly. In fact, his report comes across as a breath of fresh air amidst the hot air politicians and their corporate sponsors have beenblowing.

And media reports about the CPS ISAT scores were quite critical, especially of the lackluster charter school and longer day “pioneer” schools’ results.

4) Surprising “new” suggestion from Public Agenda and the Joyce Foundation – support LSCs.

I just read all the way through a May 2012 Public Agenda report called “Community Responses to School Reform in Chicago” and was surprised by at least one of the report’s recommendations for more effectively collaborating with the community in school reform: that CPS “consider re-engaging and strengthening the capacity of Local School Council (LSC) members” by “improving the way new members are educated and prepared for their role and responsibilities and by using this structure as a means to reach residents in local neighborhoods.” Wow. What a concept.

I found this surprising because this report follows up on a particularly yucchy “analysis” by Public Agenda (look at point four here) showing how corporate reformers can better manipulate parents to support their agenda. It was so creepy that the National Education Policy Center titled their review of the report, “Giving Parents the Run-Around on School Turnarounds.”

Both reports were funded by the Joyce Foundation, which dropped all support of LSCs several years ago as it embraced full-out corporate reform. Time for one of those foundation retreats to re-evaluate your “philanthropic goals”?

5) And….Huffington Post published one of my articles! They’ve censored me for several months and, frankly, I wasn’t expecting them to let this one on charter schools and violence get past Arianna’s protective shield.

So, what can you do to encourage the momentum?

Turn up the heat! (I ask this even though our 20+year-old air conditioner died today of all days. This is how much I love public education!).

Chicago is on the forefront of corporate education-busting because of the true grass roots collaboration between the Chicago Teachers’ Union and Chicago’s old and new parent and community groups. Let’s keep it going!

  • Learn HOW to turn up the heat from the best of the best, CTU’s Karen Lewis and KOCO’s Jitu Brown, in an SOS webinar tonight: “Build a United Fighting Teachers Union with Parent and Community Support,” moderated by Michael Klonsky. Tuesday, July 17, 2012, 9 PM Eastern Daylight Time [EDT]

“On every issue, they offered counters to his “reform” agenda of privatization, charter schools, longer school day,and test-based teacher evaluation….After more than 4,000 CTU members poured out of the Congress Theater, they were joined by rallying supporters across the street in Grant Park, with the groups merging into a sea of red-shirted marchers. As they proceeded up Michigan Ave. and then west on Adams, they were greeted with signs of support from onlookers — a group of custodians, some medical techs, hard-hatted construction workers and retail clerks.
~ Mike Klonsky’s Blog

From Mike: “For those of you who don’t know what a webinar is, think of it as an online, interactive radio show, where you can participate by asking my guests question or making comments as time allows. Otherwise just listen and take it all in. All you need is a computer with internet access and a working mic (if you want to speak).”

REGISTER HERE.

2) Help Parents4Teachers and CODE: Our Elected School Board Campaign is heading in to the home stretch. We need your help for two more weeks to finish strong!
Help us this week and next to circulate petitions to get a referendum for an elected school board on the November ballot.

  • Tuesday, July 17: West Rogers Park, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Meet at 6635  N. Mozart.
  • Wednesday, July 18: Logan Square, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Meet at the Starbucks on California and Logan Blvd.
  • Thursday, July 19: West Town, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Meet at 2002 W. Superior.

Please email info@parents4teachers.net if you can help out on any of these nights! YOU are the key to this campaign’s success!

3) (Also from Parents4Teachers): Stand Strong for Our Teachers July 25
The Chicago Teachers Union ( CTU) is asking parents and everyone concerned about quality education to take a stand at the July 25 CPS Board meeting. Meet at 9 a.am., at 125 S. Clark St. (7 a.m., if you want to testify)

The Board will be voting on the unfair CPS proposed budget that day and  CTU has called for a big demonstration before the meeting.

We need to STAND STRONG for our teachers. They are in the fight of their lives, standing up for our kids. Help them win the schools our children need and deserve.

4) Finally, like, share, and tweet my Huffington Post story – thanks!

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About the PURE Thoughts blogger
Julie Woestehoff is PURE's executive director. Julie's work has earned her a Ford Foundation award and recognition as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.
@pureparents