It was a lovely evening last night at the People's School Board meeting, which was held, fittingly, at the People's Church, on Lawrence. The Board convened at 6:00PM, and there were several committee reports. Then there was testimony from parents and teachers around the city about the various phenomena plaguing their schools. There are people working on the elected school board, on establishing school accountability committees around the city, the coming lsd elections, the debacle at Ames, and a number of other issues.
For me, the were three big moments. First, there was a moment when people acknowledged that we've all been set against each other by the Board's strategy--- it's true; I saw it with my own eyes in Uptown. Another striking moment came when a parent talked about how some of the disciplinary policies in the charter schools were akin to training kids for how to behave in prison. I've also seen that one with my own eyes. And then finally a young man spoke from the heart about what it meant to lose a particular teacher at his school, which was closed in the last round of closings. It was heart-wrenching.
As you know, we're living in an era where personal relationships don't matter in the whole teaching/learning equation because the mantra is that class size doesn't matter and that if you put one effective teacher in front of 60 kids, those kids will be better off. Nevermind that the elites of our city continue to choose small class sizes for their own children. Nevermind that middle class people choose the same thing when they can. Poor people? Cram 'em in!
When CANtv posts the meeting, I'll link to it.
Let me just say that the People's School Board is an excellent idea. It gives people a chance to run through the kinds of scenarios they will face when the day finally comes in Chicago where we can vote for the school board, like people do in every other school district in the state. And, as I said last night, it's strange to be at a school board meeting where you're not the enemy, subject to being escorted out of the room.
There are just some of the faces from last night; I didn't have time to do much more than this. When I think about what a gift it is to be around such passionate people, I'm just grateful.