PSAT for 12-3-13: Ponder truth stories in your heart

psat_logoLast night I attended a meeting where truth was told to power in a way that was simply stunning, and a bad outcome we thought was inevitable turned into something potentially very good.

This was not a PURE-related meeting, so I won’t share the details. But it was the kind of experience I have had from time to time in the course of my work, and I know many of you have had them, too. It’s a transcendent experience of the power of good people speaking their truth against the expectation of privileged elites. To quote from the Christmas story, these are experiences to “ponder in your heart.”

My first such experience happened nearly 25 years ago at the very first meeting of our neighborhood school’s very first local school council. A group of us who were not among the privileged elite of the school community had been elected. From the beginning, we asserted our truths. We set the tone by moving the meeting table down close to the public instead of sitting above them on a stage. We refused to rubber-stamp budget transfers we had not seen. During the year, we united to stop the practice of diverting funds to a tracked magnet program at the expense of bilingual programs and the (mostly African-American) children consigned to the non-magnet programs. When the principal’s contract was up, we carried out a careful, fair process in the face of internal faculty coercion, threats to LSC members’ jobs, and even one quite credible death threat. At a critical meeting, several friends from the neighborhood showed up to the meeting to speak or just show their support.  That “cloud of witnesses” made all the difference.

This is why we do what we do, and why I am so grateful to have PURE in my life.

Apparently Madison Avenue has declared today Giving Day, an antidote, I guess, to the past few days’ orgy of eating and shopping. So generous of them!

But it’s also Public Schools Action Tuesday, and it’s the end of the year when we usually make a special ask for donations anyway, so why not?

If PURE has helped you speak your truth or helped you put your truth into words, if you have picked up the newspaper and read a quote from me or Wanda or another PURE member and said, “Yay! Someone needed to say that” – please consider giving.

Plus, we have a new donate button (please find the orange button up and to the right!) – why not try it out?


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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.