Tag Archives: Racism

Chicago’s Racist Test Questions

9 May

ImageI have seen a lot in the news today about Los Angeles.   There, a test question asking 8th grade students to determine whether the Holocaust actually happened or was created for political gain drew well deserved outrage.

Lesser know is that Chicago has its own racist and xenophobic test this year.  This test was removed from the knowledge center today, but as far as I know has not been pulled from unsuspecting elementary school classrooms where teachers will be giving the test to many immigrant children.  The assessment asks students to identify the best argument between two on opposing the path to citizenship.

Argument one is from Arie Payo who used to work for the Bush administration and now writes for the Conservative Journal.  His argument is “I think it is best to keep America for Americans and those who know how to speak English properly.  Save America for those of us who know how to behave in law abiding ways.”

Argument two is from a small business owner named Stella Luna who worries that “giving citizenship to undocumented immigrants would increase the number of poor people living in our town.”

Students not only have to decide who is the authority, but explain the author’s viewpoint and what in their background brings them to this conclusion.  In a nutshell, many immigrant children are being asked to explain why they are ruining America with their law breaking ways.

It gets worse, though.  I decided to Google “Stella Luna”, “Arie Payo”, and “Conservative Journal”.   None of them actually exist.  They were totally created by the test creators who could created any topic, but chose one that would be insulting and damaging to many CPS students.  The offensive and xenophobic questions were actually written by the test creators and not some right wing journal.

Actually, if I was a Republican I might be upset too.  At a time, when they are trying to reach out to voters, these vile statements are being attributed to a member of the Bush administration.    CPS has taken steps to cover this up, but what they haven’t done is to recall the tests.  Students across the city are in the process of taking it.

Surely, even very sensitive topics can be addressed by a teacher who provides context.  However, an examination is not the place to provide context, especially one where the teacher must read from a script.  Do the right thing CPS and pull this test.


Two Quick Ones

22 Apr

My goal is always to post Monday through Thursday and then get one other blog post in on the weekend.   I tried to do a daily blog before and it became too much of a chore.  However, I still do want to provide information to teachers and parents on a regular basis so this seems to be a compromise that works for me. 

This weekend, I came across two really powerful stories and they’re going to provide the only two links in this late Sunday night update.   I hope, you’ll click on both links.  The history lesson for Barbara Byrd-Bennett is just great blog writing, while the other link shows our students are starting to stand up for their rights.

Chicago Youth Organize to Fight Back

“Yesterday, some of our students went public with stories of being demoted from junior to sophomore status in March, a month before the PSAE state exam which is administered next week and only given to juniors, and which Mayor Emanuel has made major efforts to link to school closings and principal and teacher evaluations. Two VOYCE student leaders were on a list of 67 juniors in total who were demoted in March at a southwest side high school, or a third of that school’s junior class.”

Here’s Where We’ve Been, Barbara Byrd-Bennett

“Race and class warfare aren’t just cards we play; they are our life story.  The very people in politics, corporate boardrooms and media conglomerates are the self-same folks who have been repeating this cycle for two centuries.  Our lives have been spun for so many purposes that we have fallen down, dizzy and delirious, into the sinkholes and potholes and vacant lots full of weeds that are our share of the wealth your friends have made off of our labor.”


Accidental Fascist

10 Apr


Last night, there was a ton of activity on the internet when Brad Paisley released his new duet with LL Cool J.  I think the song tried to be a song of earnest racial reconciliation, but it fell apart under its own tone deafness.   Saying you don’t mean it, doesn’t make a racist act less racist and you can’t equate African-Americans having wounds over slavery and years of second class citizenship with white people not liking a guy’s doo rag or gold chains.  It reminded me a lot of the Tribune and other Chicagoans (and Ohioans) swearing it’s not racism. This is the Chicago situation:

1. You force African-Americans into certain pockets of the city.  When they get overcrowded you give them Willis Wagons.  When Martin Luther King complains, you lie to him.2. You neglect the infrastructure of those neighborhoods and refuse to adequately fund their schools.3. The people who live there leave the city.4. You close down their schools and cram 40 students in a classroom again.  Maybe they still have some old Willis Wagons lying around for the receiving schools.

Please, just tell me how this is not racist.

Newark Student Walkout  

There is hope for our future.  When faced with $56 million in budget cuts, 15 of 17 Newark Public High Schools had students walk out to protest.  Over 1,000 students risked suspension (and at one school a beating) to let their voices be heard.  This really gives me some hope that people will start to fight back over the mixed up priorities towards education in this country.

Michelle Obama to Visit Chicago High School Tomorrow

:”Mrs. Obama will visit Harper High School in the West Englewood neighborhood, a school in which nearly 30 current or former students have been shot, 8 fatally.  She will meet with a small group of students and counselors to hear firsthand about their experiences, according to a statement from the White House.”

Michelle Gunderson Offers Pledge for Ethical Use of Student Data

“I realize it is just a start. If I could wave a wand and make the tests disappear I would. But I do know that if my school district insists on giving these tests, I can insist upon exercising some control over how they are used.”

TED Star Sir Ken Robinson Offers Solutions for Chicago’s Schools

“Robinson said there is no easy solution to Chicago’s problems of poor graduation rates and underperforming students. But he questioned the city’s recent proposal to close 54 public schools, saying it seems to him that the schools could “one of the engines of re-generation.”

Canter Middle School Supporters Come Out in Force at CPS Closing Meeting

““Today people came out from CPS to watch us for three days to make sure we don’t steal and to make sure we still teach,” said Patrick Papczun, a math teacher at Canter. “Did anyone come out before this? No, no one came out to the school before this.”

Accidental Racist: School Closing Edition

“I’m just your mayor, and I’m kind a new here.
I’ve spent the last few years in DC,
I’ve got an Ohioan advising me.
Putting this behind us is my only wish,
If you don’t like the Ipad,
I know where I can get you a dead fish.”

Yes, Racism Does Exist

5 Apr

I am white.  I was born that way and I have white friends and relatives who would never accept that they were in anyway racist.   They’re good people.  They have black and brown friends and they aren’t filled with hate.

The problem is that we tend to limit racism to slavery, the KKK and the American South before 1964.  That’s why it’s so easier for white reporters to be confused and flummoxed by what they see as overblown charges of racism in the school closing debacle inflicting CPS.

When black students were stuffed into Willis Wagons in the early 1960s, it was easy to say it wasn’t racism.  It was simply where schools were overcrowded.  Now, as we close these schools, again we can proclaim that it’s not racism because that’s where the underutilized schools are.

When the first Mayor Daley decided to build the Dan Ryan as a dividing line between whites and blacks on the South Side of Chicago, it was easy to overlook the racism, at least until Martin Luther King came to town. 

Most people in Chicago are painfully unaware of the Chicago race riots of 1919 or the city’s many attempts to build a buffer between downtown and the South Side “Black Belt” that first led to the construction of University of Illinois-Chicago.

Just because you don’t see the racism inherent in the school closings from your neighborhood doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.   The percentage of African-American teachers in Chicago has dropped 20 percent since school closings began under Daley.  Ask yourself about the way we consider closing the schools where African-American children attend acceptable, but asking bankers to renegotiate toxic swaps or putting the TIF money back in the schools are unacceptable. 

This is not plantation owners whipping slaves racism or even angry mob burning down black neighborhood racism, but make no mistake, racism exists and it is front and center in this closings.

Teachers Union Bus Tour Puts Spotlight on School Closings

“One activist on the bus said, “The key people who should be involved in the beginning aren’t. We have to play catch-up to a game that’s created by people on the Fifth Floor in a corrupt city like Chicago.”

Barbara Byrd Bennett Really Lives in Ohio

“If Barbara Byrd Bennett were a Chicago teacher today, she would be another exhibit in the annual report of the Inspector General. The IGs energies are largely devoted to persecuting Chicago teachers and other school workers for violations of the CPS residency rule. Chicago teachers must live in Chicago, and investigators from the IG’s office routinely are tracking down miscreants who really live outside the city.”

Chicago Public Schools and Other People’s Children

“Much of Democrat Rahm Emanuel’s electoral war chest came from the coasts, including $1.5 million total from Hollywood (where Rahm’s brother Ari is a fancy shmancy talent agent) as well as from east coast tycoons like Donald Trump — a Republican — who threw $50,000 at the Chicago race.”