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Chicago Public Schools Mon Nov 24 2014

I Would Be so Thankful If Only Chicago Had an Elected School Board

By Dave Stieber

While we all prepare to give thanks for family, friends, and loved ones, I want to pause and give thanks to the people in this city who are relentlessly trying to give us all the opportunity to have an elected school board.

Because Mayor Rahm Emanuel keeps Chicago the only school district in the entire state of Illinois that does not have an elected school board.

We have a school board that is handpicked by the mayor and therefor does whatever the mayor tells them to do, because if they go against him then guess what? They are no longer on the school board.

We have an appointed school board that meets during the work day so parents, teachers, students and the community cannot easily attend the meetings. But in spite of this, every month people attend and speak out about how CPS can be and needs to be improved. Yet every month the CPS board pretends to listen to the pleas of the people they should be representing, watches while parents make their pleas and says nothing while people are physically removed from the microphone. The appointed board then goes into a closed door session and does whatever they want to do– er, I mean, whatever they were told to do.

We have an appointed school board that agreed to close the most schools in the history of the United States and claimed that closing schools was good for children.

We have an appointed school board that has according to a Chicago Tribune editorial has allowed "CPS to get ripped off by the banks for the last 10 years." This money that the school board and our mayor allowed the banks to take from our schools was enough money to keep all of the 50 schools that were closed open. This money could reduce class sizes and allow for more counselors, librarians, art teachers, nurses and the list goes on and on to be hired.

A truly Democratic society means we are able to vote and be represented by people whom we voted for. In Chicago our mayor will not let Democracy into education. As a social studies teacher we are required to teach our students about the major types of governments in the world. When I teach about Democracy and then compare it to a dictatorship it is evident that our school system is run like the latter.

Various groups and people have been attempting to get a referendum on the ballot to allow the citizens of Chicago to vote to determine if they would like an elected school board or not. Yet every election one of Rahm's puppe– I mean aldermen — specifically Alderman Joe Moore has managed to bump the elected school board question off the ballot.

Why is this?

What is our mayor so afraid of?

Rahm must be afraid of Democracy.

The time is now to give the people of Chicago the say in how our schools are run.
Because there is one thing we all can agree on and that is Chicago Public Schools are a mess.

If you want to help make an elected school board a reality check out and get involved with CODE Chicago and the work the Chicago Teachers Union is doing to bring educational Democracy to Chicago.


David Stieber is a father, husband, CPS teacher of History. Dave is passionately committed to promoting and improving urban public education, while simultaneously improving the lives of his students. He earned his masters in Urban Education Policy Studies from the University of Illinois at Chicago. You can follow Dave on Twitter at @D_Stieber.

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PulSe / November 24, 2014 12:54 PM

If I had more time I would have told your petitioners that Chicago School Board is better off where it is.

The school board you advocate for is just another long stride in the race toward Detroit.

Chicago can do better - and it will.

Dave Stieber / November 24, 2014 2:14 PM

Thank you for reading the article & for your comment. Just to be clear you think by Chicago attempting to get an elected school board (like every other district in the state & like the vast majority of districts in the country) is a bad thing?

Can you explain why?

joe / November 27, 2014 12:02 PM

I'll answer. It's not a bad thing. The present system defies logic. Joe Lake

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