I woke up early yesterday. I had even less than my regular four hours of sleep. I was determined to attend the Chicago Board of Education meeting and then to participate in two rallies for education justice and police accountability.
It turns out that I missed the rallies. We waited nearly two & a half hours for the public comment section of the Board meeting to begin. It is excruciating to quietly sit in uncomfortable chairs while blatant falsehoods are offered without challenge.
I thought about leaving early without making my statement but I am accountable to a group of people who have been working on the issue of school discipline data transparency for almost two years now. So I gritted my teeth and stayed put.
Meanwhile outside of the Board meeting, students, parents, educators, and community members were protesting CPS’s closing of schools and the proposed deep budget cuts for the remaining ones. Protesters then marched to City Hall to demand an elected school board. Make no mistake about it, young people were at the forefront of the protests. Students had called on their peers to boycott school and dozens of young people responded by taking to the streets.
The haunting photograph above by Jessica Rodrigue captures and embodies disinvestment and institutional violence. Emmet Elementary school is located on the Westside of Chicago. Today, as students return to school across the city, Emmet stands padlocked and empty. It is one of the 49 schools that were closed by CPS.
I am anxious and unsettled. I’m worried about this school year. Already, I am hearing from teacher friends that they have class rosters with 35 and 38 students. The mother of Asean Johnson, a 9 year old who came to national attention this Spring during protests against school closings, appeared on television this weekend to say that while her son’s school was saved from closing, he’ll have over 35 peers in his 4th grade classroom. This is in no way conducive to a quality education. Anyone who has spent ten minutes in a classroom can tell you this. Frankly, anyone who has been around two children for any length of time can attest to the difficulty of keeping them engaged and on task for an hour, let alone seven…
I fear that CPS is consigning a significant number of our young people to the trash bin; treating them as disposable.
I have watched for years now as Chicago bleeds black people and displaces the poor. This trend predates the current mayor Rahm Emanuel’s tenure. What the election of Emanuel has done is to super-charge a process of gentrification and urban removal that has been happening for years.
La Casita in 2011 (photo by Brett Jelinek)
The latest betrayal of the brown and the poor came on Friday evening when parents and children were interrupted during an Atzec dance class by police officers and demolition trucks.
photo by Vivi Arrieta (8/16/13)
La Casita, a library and community center adjacent to Whittier elementary school, has been a contested site for years. In 2010, parents and community members staged a 43-day sit-in to save it from demolition. This protest predates the Occupy movement. Chicago Public School (CPS) officials wanted to replace La Casita with a soccer field that would serve Cristo Rey, a nearby private school.
The parents won their fight. CPS promised to keep the center open and leased the building to the parents for $1 a year. Alderman Danny Solis committed to securing funds to renovate the space. You can learn more about the 2010 struggle to save La Casita here.
The Chicago Lawyer’s Committee on Civil Rights Under Law and the Education Law and Policy Institute at Loyola Law School are seeking volunteers for the Independent School Monitoring Project.
Pending the outcome of both federal and state litigation, Chicago will be closing as many as forty-nine schools and sending students to designated welcoming schools. The Independent School Monitoring Project is intended to assist in the orderly transition of children to new schools and ensure that their right to a high quality education is preserved during that process. Volunteers will work brief shifts in front of welcoming schools on the first days of the school year, talking directly with parents and students about their experiences at the new school. Volunteers will not provide legal advice, but will be given know your rights materials to hand out and will be able to provide legal referrals as needed.
Volunteering with the Independent School Monitoring Project will be a minimum three-hour commitment: one hour of training and two hours of monitoring time. Trainings will take place on Thursday, August 22nd from 5-6 p.m. and Friday, August 23rd from 9-10 a.m. (volunteers need only attend one of the trainings). We are exploring webcast options for those unable to attend an in-person training session. Monitoring sessions will be on the first two days of the school year for CPS students: Monday, August 26th and Tuesday, August 27th, with additional days of monitoring to be scheduled on an as-needed basis.
If you are interested in signing up, registration is available HERE. Please feel free to direct any questions to Eve Rips at email@example.com. Thank you so much for your interest.
Youth activists from Fearless Leading by the Youth (F.L.Y.) and their supporters held a rally and press conference this morning to demand that funds be re-directed from incarceration to restorative justice efforts and other positive youth interventions. The rally took place at the Cook County Offices downtown to coincide with the monthly board meeting. The rally marked the 6th year anniversary of FLY and the Audy Home Campaign.
Some of the youth dressed as prisoners to make the point that the $40 million spent by Cook County to jail youth at a cost of over $500 a day would be better & more effectively spent at the community level providing needed resources.
by Sarah Jane Rhee (7/31/13)
“Cook County Board members are failing our youth, incarcerating youth isn’t working, and it is wasting money,” said youth activist and former detainee of the Cook County Temporary Juvenile Detention Center Auntraney Carter. “We are outraged that that as our friends die the county’s only response is to increase spending on juvenile detention.” (Source)
A significant part of my work involves locating and analyzing data. I’m a data nerd at heart. In November 2010, I launched the Chicago Youth Justice Data Project (CYJDP). My goal was to make juvenile justice-related data more easily accessible to local community members in Chicago. However, I only care about data to the extent that it can be a tool to help mobilize people for action and to perhaps inform policy.
Since CYJDP launched, I have been heartened by the positive feedback that it has received. Community members and organizers have been in touch with me to ask various questions, I facilitated a data workshop in late 2011 that was very well-received, and we have written and published several reports. Some of the reports have been cited by local policymakers, used in media reports, and most importantly to me, they’ve been incorporated in local organizing efforts.
Today, I am excited to unveil “Policing Chicago Public Schools (Volume 2).” This is a report that I co-wrote and co-produced with my friend Eva Nagao. Eva is the genius who actually designed the report and the site. I love the fact that we are experimenting with interactivity. I am incredibly grateful to her for this and so much more. She has volunteered her time with my organization for over a year now and without such support we could not do what we do.
“Policing Chicago Public Schools (Volume 2)” relies on data from the Chicago Police Department (CPD) to show the types of offenses and the demographics (gender and race) of the youth arrested on CPS properties in calendar years 2011 and 2012. The report builds upon the 2010 data that we presented in January 2012.
CPD reports its data by police district rather than by individual school so this year we also worked with students from Loyola University to create an interactive application that allows individuals to search for crime and arrest data by school for the 2011-2012 school year too.
The key data points in the report are that:
Overall youth school-based arrests have been decreasing. In 2010, over 5,500 arrests of young people under 18 years old took place on CPS properties. In 2011, the number of youth school-based arrests (18 & under) was 4,959 and in 2012, it was 4,287.
Black youth are still disproportionately targeted by these arrests. While they represent about 42% of CPS students, black youth accounted for 75.5% percent of school-based arrests in 2012. This mirrors the general trend of disproportionate minority contact within the juvenile legal system.
In 2012, young men were more likely to be arrested on CPS properties than were their female counterparts [68% vs. 32%].
Most youth school-based arrests are for misdemeanor offenses (84%) as opposed to felonies (16%).
In 2012, 86% of youth school-based arrests happened in school buildings while 14% took place on school grounds.
In 2012, the top three aggregate numbers of youth school-based arrests were in the 8th, 5th, and 4th police districts. Together these three districts accounted for 30% of total youth school-based arrests on CPS properties.
You can read the full report here. I am really proud of what we’ve done to make this report interactive. I hope that you will take the time to browse.
Below, you can find an infographic that Eva created to help summarize the key findings of the report (so, so exciting).
Over the past few months, I have heard a number of people speak about Chicago school closings. Unfortunately, many people were woefully uninformed about the key issues. As a public service, I have aggregated some articles and resources that I found most informative and useful in understanding the Chicago school closings struggle. I have intentionally limited the list to 10 items.
Fact Check: Chicago school closings by Becky Vevea and Linda Lutton, May 16, 2013 – If you only read one piece, read this one. It provides the most comprehensive consideration of all of the claims that have been made by the Chicago Public Schools about the necessity to close over 50 schools.
It was a shameful day as the Chicago Board of Education voted to close 50 schools (the single largest mass closing of schools in the nation’s history)…
Sidewalk outside of CPS Headquarters (Chicago, 5/22/13) – photo by Sarah Jane Rhee
There’s a young man named Brian Stirgus who has spent countless hours organizing to keep CPS schools open over the past few months. He’s 17 and a high school senior graduating in just a few short weeks. Brian is a leader with Chicago Students Organizing to Save Our Schools (CSOSOS) which is a youth-led group established to fight against the school closures. You can listen to him eloquently explain the damage that closings will cause for students and to their communities here.
After the Board voted, several members of CSOSOS and their allies gathered for a candelight vigil and press conference outside of CPS Headquarters. As someone who graduated from one of the elementary schools set to close, when Brian spoke, it was with tears streaming down his face:
“They have failed us again. What’s next?” he asked. He added: “It’s like they want to wipe my race out of existence.”
Brian and Chuy (Chicago, 5/22/13) – photo by Sarah Jane Rhee
This photograph of Brian, taken by my friend Sarah Jane Rhee, is seared in my mind and so are his words. Young people have had their eyes opened to the corrupt politics in this city. I don’t know Brian personally though I know dozens of other incredible young people just like him in this city. Some of those young people have also been involved in fighting for education justice. It is for this reason that I am not despairing tonight despite the Chicago Board of Education’s shameful vote. There were tears today but there was also a resolve to continue to fight.
I believe in the creativity and the resilience of the young people in this city. I do. We are not making their path into adulthood any easier. Yet in spite of our detrimental policymaking, Chicago’s youth are by and large making their way through the obstacle course. Some are falling down and we are duty bound to reach out our hand to them. But I am consistently amazed that so many of our youth remain optimistic about the future. So tonight, I’ll take my cue from them and will keep moving forward in the struggle for education and social justice.
I try as much as possible to document activism & resistance by youth in Chicago on this blog. I do this because I am profoundly committed to the idea of youth leadership development and voice. I am co-founder of the Chicago Freedom School and these issues are central to our mission. I also see the activism of youth in this city as critical to prison abolition.
The protesters [sic] staged a “die-in” about 4:45 p.m. on South Cottage Grove Avenue at East 62st Street to make the case that school closures will force displaced students to cross gang lines. The protesters wore mock blood-stained shirts as they blocked traffic at the intersection before being arrested. Goldenberg said.
The protest was intended “to demonstrate to Mayor (Rahm) Emanuel the loss of life that he will be responsible for if he and his appointed school board go through with the proposed closures,” the group said in a press release.
Matt Ginsberg-Jaeckle, an organizer with Southside Together Organizing for Power, and others called the event — in which students blocked traffic in the intersection of 61st Street and Cottage Grove Avenue — a “die-in.”
Students wore mock-bloody clothes in an effort to show the effect they believe school closings will have: more violence and death for the young students forced to cross new gang territories.
“The message is that school closings are killing people,” Ginsberg-Jaeckle said. “Everyone knows what will happen when these kids start crossing these gang lines.”
The students laid down in the intersection, blocking traffic for several minutes before being taken away by police after refusing to leave, witnesses said.
Police could not confirm immediately confirm any arrests but said the protest was “peaceful.”
According to witnesses at the scene, the students were led away in handcuffs.
Kelly High School teacher William Lamme said two of his students were arrested in the protest.
“They wanted to do something to show how they feel,” said Lamme, a Kelly social studies teacher. “Mayor [Rahm] Emanuel is certainly creating a school for young activists.”
Nearly 100 activists, parents and students were at the event, initially arranged by parents from Fiske and Sexton elementary schools. Sexton is slated to close and merge its students into Fiske.
“We have to make our voices louder and our actions stronger,” said Lamme, who came to support his students. “This is civics 101.”
Here is a brief video of a student whose school is targeted for closure speaking the importance of keeping it open:
As per usual, the amazing and intrepid movement photographer, Sarah Jane Rhee was on the scene to document the student resistance. She posted her terrific photographs on Facebook. I share some of them below.
by Sarah Jane Rhee (5/15/13) – Vigil to Stop School Closings
by Sarah Jane Rhee (5/15/13) – Vigil to Stop School Closings
WASHINGTON, Dec. 2, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), and the National Institute of Corrections (NIC), have partnered to significantly expand the body of evidence associated with improving outcomes for individuals re-entering the community. These Justice Department agencies will s […]
New Delhi, Dec 2 (IANS) Reducing the legally defined age of a juvenile from 18 to 16 was a "regressive" move and highlighted the need to focus on strengthening reform and rehabilitation, child rights organisations said here Monday. "The proper implementation of the Juvenile Justice Act and other children protection schemes like the Integrated […]
New Delhi, Dec 2 (IANS) The Women and Child Development Ministry has proposed that juveniles above the age of 16 years, involved in heinous crimes like murder or gang-rape, be tried as adults. If passed, the new proposal to amend the existing law will deny protection to juveniles aged between 16-18 years under the Juvenile Justice Act. The decision comes alm […]
New Delhi, Dec 2 (IANS) The Supreme Court Monday issued notice to the central government on a petition seeking to strike down as unconstitutional the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act that bar criminal courts from trying juvenile offenders. Counsel Aman Hingorani told a bench of Justice B.S. Chauhan and Justice S.A. Bobde that under the provisions of th […]
WASHINGTON, Nov. 26, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) released State Court Organization, 2011, which presents 2011 data on the organization and operations of state trial and appellate courts and examines trends from 1980 through 2011. Topics include court structure, distribution of judges by […]
To Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, who originally publicized the charges, the outcome is satisfactory because the girls will receive “the services they need,” he said Thursday. He added that Sheriff Judd owed the girl an apology and that a lawsuit against him was a possibility. The sheriff may have been doing his best to respond to the community’s desire to […]
WASHINGTON, Nov. 21, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- From 1994 to 2011, the rate of serious intimate partner violence, such as rape, sexual assault, robbery or aggravated assault, declined 72 percent for females, the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today. During the same time, the percentage of female intimate partner v […]
New Delhi, Nov 13 (IANS) The Delhi High Court Wednesday said the counsel appearing for two convicts in the Dec 16 gang rape case was making "false statements" before the Supreme Court. A division bench of Justice Reva Khetrapal and Justice Pratibha Rani said advocate M.L. Sharma, representing Pawan Gupta and Mukesh Singh in the case, misled the ape […]
New Delhi, Nov 5 (IANS) Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) parliamentarian Dhananjay Singh and his wife were arrested Tuesday for allegedly torturing their maid to death and beating another minor servant with sticks and rods, police said. Dhananjay Singh, who represents Jaunpur in Uttar Pradesh, has been arrested and booked for destruction of evidence and violating t […]