Tag Archives: education

This Saturday: Fundraiser for the Occupy Freedom School at SHOP 5338 S. Woodlawn

Please Join us this Saturday for Food, Cocktails, Music, and Talk at the fundraiser for the Occupy Freedom School! 

Saturday, December 22nd 2012 at
     SHOP 5338 S. Woodlawn
                                    4-7 pm

The South Side Chicago Freedom School offers no cost, community-based educational opportunities for people of all ages. Classes and workshops directly respond to neighborhood and community’s specific desires and needs. We seek to blur the conventional lines between teacher and student, and believe in everyone’s capacity to teach and to learn. We value the non-canonized knowledge of our neighbors, daughters, elders, handymen, babysitters, and all others. This fundamental faith and belief in the worth of existing stores of knowledge within our own community supports our mission to encourage the growth of grassroots educational opportunities.

The South Side Chicago Freedom School is moving to the Woodlawn neighborhood at 6026 S. Vernon! This is an important move because the building and land we are moving into was previously vacant & abandoned. This is because the real estate market is self serving. It does not respond to the needs of the community, but to the demands of the market. This house was discarded after the crash, and we are now reclaiming this house from the market and assigning value to it as a Schoolhouse. Here we will continue to work with people to take back their neighborhood.

In the last three months we accomplished a lot. We started classes, recruited volunteers, and found a home. And we’re not slowing down. We’re planning to install plumbing and heating in the house, build a recording studio in the basement and plant a garden in vacant lots across the street all in the new year.

We are inviting you to attend our fundraiser this Saturday December 22, 2012 from 4:00pm-6:30pm! We need money, but we also want to commune with you.

Tickets are $25 at the door.

If you’re interested in attending and/or helping out in any other way, please contact me directly!

Peace & Thanks,

Stephanie Dunn


312 768 9949

Bec & Jake

South Side Chicago Freedom School aka Occupy Freedom School

Lawyerism, Libya and the Chicago Teacher’s Strike

Threads. The world is about making connections…or tearing them down.  Truth is relative. Is God truth? Could be, but we’d never know. We follow leaders, sacrifice our kin to flags and swell to war praying to god. If truth is that we might gain god’s favor in the curse of war, then either god is a lie or we are. The answer to that will lead a good heart to the ultimate morality behind war and violence.

Some individuals, likely opportunists and fools, and hardly reflective of so many good people in Libya swelled to violence reportedly over a video. Just as sickening as that response was the reply by Rightwingers in this country who, for political expediency were quick to make excuses for the film maker, or for the actions of this nation which have also contributed to the very long process that set the stage for the assault on the consulate in Ben Ghazi that resulted in the deaths of 4 Americans.

In this country it seems we have lost the capacity for at least pursuing truth, if never actually attaining or defining it. We are angles and excuses framed by lawyeristic bickering. If one side says up, the other must say down. There is no middle, only extremes, positions, argument.

We wonder over the fury and mindset of those who seem to parade regularly before cameras across the Muslim world shouting for and sometimes exacting retribution against the West. In part, in a small part inflated by cameras and western media for the sake of control is a cartoonish profile of Muslims. We see, by in large, a relatively small number, mostly under educated, or educated almost exclusively on the Koran.

There is a purpose to that. It is about control. narrow the amount of information people may see, or know about their larger world and others and they are easily whipped and swept to the whims of a controlling power.  God forbid the West and China, with their constructed monarchies and dictatorships faced true equitable global competition. Instead, feed poor Muslim populations on a militant Islam keeps them under enough control that, through their proxies, the Industrialized world and west may gorge itself on oil and other pilfered resources.

In this country we have FOX news, MSNBC, CNN, and the rest of the pandering media slowly narrowing the quality and accessibility to information. And that brings me around to the final point.

The Chicago Teacher’s Strike is a symptom of a system that has steadily degraded information in this country for the purpose of social, commercial and political control. Not Left or Right, Republican or Democratic. It is all of them, and it is us. Unions, and the strongest of the remaining unions in the public sector, are the prime targets. In Wisconsin, Scott Walker attempted to cleave the police and fire unions in lawyeristic double speak and then attack the more vulnerable teachers union. For a time it appeared that he had won in eliminating collective bargaining-the very definition of Union. Last week a Wisconsin judge overturned Walker’s effort, calling it unconstitutional.

There is power in Unions. Since the Second World War it has defined the standard of living in this nation, established the benchmark, and refocused the concept of the American Dream. There is power in holding that dream and having that standard of living.  The strike was not about money, but about an assault against the frontline teachers and their ability to teach.

The endgame is not for the love of the taxpayer. That is the FOX News mask, the sugar-coating on the bitter pill of an effort to restrict and narrow the amount and quality of information…if you agree that all news has a bias, and that it is liberal in bias, you’ve already succumbed to the message. You went there on your own two feet, just as they would prefer. Self, rather than imposed censorship has always been the ultimate and most effective….Control is the endgame, and that’s what ties it all together.

With Chris and Wiggler on the picket line in Chicago

I stopped by a grade school this morning in the Old Town neighborhood of Chicago to ask the pocket of energized red-shirted teachers to listen and call in to my radio show this Saturday at 10am on WCPT am820. I’m doing an Occupy anniversary show, but promised to give the teachers as much time as I could.

I snapped a couple of shots, engaged in a bit of good-natured back and forth when a guy pushed through the group and asked pointedly, “Do you support the Teachers?”

“Damn right!” I replied. “I grew up in a union home, and was union myself for the better part of a decade. Yeah, I support.”

He came out and met me at the curb, looking like a hip teach from a WB drama, with a neatly trimmed beard and long wavy blond hair. He introduced himself as Chris. Another, slightly more conservative fellow joined us there, calling himself, Wiggler. Not sure where the name came from. Seemed unimportant to ask. Not sure I needed to know, exactly.

I’d been listening to talk show hosts on the very Rightwing station WLS impune and attack the teachers, as if they were some sort of street scum, or deadbeats that needed to be taken to task. For the WLS talking heads it was all about the money, and of course their ultimate angle is to deride and denigrate anything union.

“It isn’t about the money,” Chris said. “It’s about the evaluation process and making it fair.”

WLS and their comrades over on WMAQ did in fact mention the review process, while conveniently omitting key parts of that argument. According to Chris and Wiggler, it isn’t simply about a review process, but about realities in inner city schools, particularly in challenged neighborhoods that at the very least complicates any review process to the point of damaging the records of otherwise gifted and excellent educators.

“It’s really common in CPS,” said Wiggler, who’d taught in some of the city’s toughest schools in the Engelwood neighborhood.

Both men pointed out that gifted students often migrate away from classes to better schools under various programs. The children that remain are often those with learning disabilities, or from homes and neighborhoods burdened with significant challenges from stifling poverty to physical abuse, malnutrition, gang violence and substance abuse. Wiggler pointed out that he’d  seen these sorts of migrations  suck away up to 60% of the best students from a classroom.

But this shouldn’t really even be about evaluations either. Both men, with the others in boisterous agreement lamented the attrition of supplies, resources and programs from schools, classrooms and students. More and more teachers are forced to buy supplies and media necessary to teach children as budgets are cut and programs like arts education, music, P.E. and more are cut. Students are crowded into classrooms with fewer and fewer teachers. And here’s why.

The tactic is a cynical and very purposeful one, fought carefully and incrementally over decades by the Right, and by complicit dupes on the Left as well. Starve the system until it becomes non-functional or marginally functional and then point to the disfunction as the cause of the problem, with the obvious solution being chater schools, vouchers, breaking up the teacher’s union, all of which only accelerate the first part of the strategy.

Education use to be about helping a person to gain critical thinking skills that could be applied to life and building a better tomorrow for themselves and their community. The attack on teacher’s unions, charter schools, home schooling, vouchers and dishonest review programs instead are intended to maintain a lower class beholden and enslaved to a wealthy and powerful 1%, unburdened by critical thought and trained rather than educated. They will be the perfect consumers of sugary crap not at all healthy or enlivening to their souls or bodies. and if there is one singularly critical battle line between what the Right wants and the freedom this nation supposedly promises for all, it may well be this fight.

Perry, Poverty and Education: The numbers

 No opinion here. Let’s look at Perry’s numbers regarding poverty and education in Texas to see what a Perry Presidency might mean for America.

First, Perry used$3.25 billion in Federal education funds in a crooked sleight of hand to balance the Texas budget on the backs of taxpayers around the country. The funds were supposed to supplement Texas State education funds. Instead, Perry cut that same amount from the state budget, ignoring the federal guidelines regarding the supplemental funds. (source: http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/12/texas-governor-a-winner-on-school-funds/)

Let’s take a look at the results, by the numbers for poverty:

According to the 2010 Federal Census the Texas population is 25,145,561. Only 10% are above the retirement age, 45.3% are White, 12% black and 37.6% Hispanic. The median household income is$48 thousand, $2000 below the national average. 17% of Texans live below the poverty level, as opposed to the national 14.3% average. 79% of Texans graduated high school against 84% nation wide.

More than 500,000 Texas families, more than 3 million people, live at or below the poverty line. 80% of those have at least one person employed. Poverty rates are highest among Hispanic and black populations, and child poverty is dramatically higher in Texas against the national average.

193 of Texas’ 235, or 82% counties are above the national average for poverty, the highest of any state in the Union. 

Cowboy politics has not served Texas well.

The education figures are far worse:

One in four Texas school children face significant hunger issues. 

Texas is 49th in the nation for Verbal SAT scores and 46th in basic math.

Texas is 40th in spending per pupil and 33 in teacher salaries.

Teachers in Texas average $41 thousand per year against the $48 thousand average nationally. (Source: The National Education Association)

As Rick Perry tours the country promoting an idea that the federal government is broke, he and his supporters might do well to fix their own house first.Easy to see now why he did not secede from the nation as he mused back in 2009. For one he would have missed out on billions in Federal aid to decorate his state budget to give the illusion of balance and fiscal responsibility. Had Texas seceded, by the numbers above, Texas would be just another Third World nation and Perry a loud-mouthed two-bit potentate.

Trump Presidential Run: Really not that shocking

Really, fellow Dems and reasonable Republicans, are you really that surprised that FOX and the basest elements of the Tea Party would champion someone like Donald Trump? I mean, this really isn’t about Trump. It’s about the media’s self-feeding vaudevillian approach to the true problems facing the country and the world. It’s about legitimizing boorishness and anti-intellectuals  by media  creations(Pick a network, Left or Right) that are nothing more than hybrids of op-eds and Jerry Springer, culled by corporations and wealthy politicos to facilitate the looting of the American treasury and the implicit power and privilege that comes with all that.

American Trinity: Is this what weve become?

There has been a coordinated and concerted effort to make this society just as vapid and dulled as necessary to keep us nominally functional enough to buy their crap but not smart enough that we rise up and tear down the abusive and perverse power structure in this nation.  It has succeeded in turning working people against their own interests and against one another, while the power elite luxuriate in their own filth.

It isn’t just FOX. It began with this whole housewife/mother cult exalted by personalities like Oprah Winfrey 20 years ago who led the charge for more family friendly news. She was the vanguard of a movement to make the news more relevant to our daily lives, giving us recipes and shopping tips instead of all that irrelevant news, you know like about that crazy bearded guy skulking around Afghanistan. What was his name? Been Ladel, Lin Baden… oh who cares. What’s the new hot restaurant this week?

The education system has been continually degraded, while mindlessly one dimension entertainment has increased exponentially, driven by a consumer addicted society gorged on cheap imported crap. The vaudeville media spins us in circles, confusing the ethics and morality of the day. It decries the decline of the middle class through the export of jobs overseas, and then extolls parasitic companies like Walmart for helping those same folks make ends meet through their cheap imported goods! It complains of high unemployment while those who  sit on their boards, or advertise with them are the ones responsible. It cries like chicken little over national debt but belittles those who would remind that their vast fortunes are as much a privilege for living in this nation as the healthcare they coldly accuse of being no thing more than a privilege. And we gave ourselves freely to all this, confusing cynicism for intellect and sarcasm for reason. That is the ultimate price of our over- entertained and under-educated souls.

As for the news, as for information in this society, it could not  continue unfiltered. Not if the thieves could get away with their crimes(how many went to jail, were arrested, fired or sued over the financial catastrophe of this country?). But the truth is the truth, unless it is not the truth. By that I mean the ultimate assault on truth is  to degrade the quality of all information, so that nothing is certain and nothing is believable. The easiest vehicle for that is the exploitation of fear and the assault on human interaction. Trust noone, fear everything. The base Right believes everyone who disagrees is a Commie or a Socialist or a terrorist animated towards the destruction of all we Christian home-bred patriots believe in. On the Left, everyone on the Right is a fascist and a racist. When there is no truth we cling to the tribe that best represents our accumulated fears, ignorances and hates.

We have become a society striving towards the least common denominator. We endeavor to mediocrity for the first time in our history. We abandon Walter Cronkite for Sean Hannity, Space exploration for Youtube, literature for Atlanta Housewives and cuisine for McDonalds. We believe more in market- crafted TV personalities, believing that through their scripted words and catch phrases, their focus-group beliefs and Madison Avenue image, they hold some special monopoly on the truth. We cheer caustic red-meat statements like mangy mutts, believing it rescues us from our emasculated selves. And then, when we wake up from our media fostered stupor, feeling foolish at being the happy dupes we once were, chin deep in our collective waste,  fighting each other for paltry scraps from above we ask how someone like Donald Trump could be taken seriously as a presidential candidate? Really not that shocking.

 Not that I have an opinion on the matter…

%d bloggers like this: