Sunday, May 18, 2014

Disenfranchised People Stay Home

Looks like a valiant effort today in Rogers Park to hold a community forum, but it was lightly attended.  Here'e Kyle Hillman's sad tweet:

I recognize the backs of four of the heads in that picture. Great people, all of them. As you have probably surmised, I myself didn't attend, even though one of our great founders and activists was one of the organizers, and we've all worked with the other organizers.  I heard there was going to be a Powerpoint, and well, you know how sunny it was outside today. I just couldn't bring myself to go inside. Maybe I can get the Powerpoint with a voiceover and post it here.

I'm glad that Alderman Moore attempted to do something, and he's reached out to some very good people, but let's face it: the whole governance of the schools is so out of whack that there really isn't any reason for anyone to attend public forums until there's systemic change. In governance. There's no democratic access to ed policy whatsoever in this city. Is the alderman involved? Does City Council have some oversight role? At whom do you even direct your anger?

It would have been nice to have a public forum on the subject of UNO Rogers Park. But that ship has sailed, hasn't it?

Where I work, in Skokie, there isn't an ounce of doubt about who's in charge of the schools: including the curricular issues, the staffing, the buildings, the future plans.  If you wanted to, you could actually run against these people in an election. Here in the city, it's much harder to know. And as for running against someone, well... you know.

There's a common refrain that goes something like this: even if we had an elected school board, nobody would even bother to vote.  Look, here's Mike Flannery saying the very same thing:

(And yes, this entire post is based on Kyle Hillman's Twitter stream. It's like a fount of free content.) Mike Flannery is wrong, again. At some point, the people repeating the conventional wisdom are actually just weaving a narrative on someone's behalf, and that's what Mike Flannery is doing.  A school board election would bring out the city, particularly in these times. You can't look at apathy created by disenfranchisement and suggest that continued disenfranchisement is the solution. The solution is to let people have an actual voice in matters, and then to write election laws that honor fair participation, and limit the influence of money.

There is not a chance in hell that any of the current Board members would prevail in an election.

Anyway, nice try to all for organizing today's forum. I'm sure that momentum will build because of the quality of people leading the charge. But we really need to clear up some basic issues in this city: like, who's in charge of the schools? If we had an alderman leading that charge, you'd see some crowds up here, but we don't have that.

Things could always change, I guess.

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