domingo, 12 de junio de 2016

La Masacre de la Plaza Bulnes y el Asesinato de Ramona Parra

 
EL MOTIVO DE LA CONVOCATORIA DE LA CTCH 
A comienzos de enero de 1946,  el Presidente de la República Juan Antonio Ríos, gravemente enfermo, había sido reemplazado por el radical reaccionario Alfredo Duhalde,  que gobernaba en calidad de Vicepresidente.

En el norte, los sindicatos de las oficinas salitreras Humberstone y Mapocho habían declarado la huelga en protesta por la descarada alza de los productos de primera necesidad, decretada  arbitrariamente por las empresas de esos yacimientos.
El Gobierno se puso al lado de los patrones. Eliminó la personalidad jurídica de ambos sindicatos, dejando a los trabajadores en la indefensión. Entonces, la CTCH convocó el mitin solidario.
PROVOCACIÓN POLICIAL
Iris Figueroa, a la época Encargada Femenina del Comité Regional de Santiago del Partido Comunista, explica:
“El permiso que había extendido el Intendente de Santiago, decía que el mitin, nosotros lo teníamos que hacer detrás del monumento a Bulnes, pero había demasiada gente, y empezaron a pechar porque la concentración se hiciera frente al monumento, con vista a la Alameda...  de repente un oficial da la orden de apaleo.  En aquel entonces era parlamentario del Partido el compañero Andrés Escobar y a pesar de que él se había identificado y le explicaba que más daba que la concentración se hiciera delante o detrás del caballo... A pesar de eso, el oficial de carabineros procedió y le rompió la cabeza de un sablazo.  Cuando ya la gente vio que le salía un chorrito de sangre de la cabeza, cuando vio correr sangre por la ropa del compañero, la gente tuvo una reacción... pero inmediata y se empezó a enfrentar con los carabineros.  Ahí con los listones, con los motes, con lo que llevaba en sus manos”.
ASESINADA UNA JOVEN RUBIA
Todo indicaba que había  una premeditada provocación en marcha.
Especialmente brutal fue el comportamiento de las fuerzas represivas en el sector frente al entonces Ministerio de Defensa.  Allí estaban, entre muchos otros, los del sindicato Recalcine.  Indignada ante la actuación de carabineros, una muchacha rubia se acercó a un oficial y protestó airadamente.  El policía respondió con un golpe que la derribó al suelo.  
La joven se puso de pie y le lanzó a la cara un puñado de pasto que ha recogido en su caída.  Este sacó su revolver y le disparó en la cabeza, hiriéndole de muerte.  Ese balazo fue el comienzo.

CON BALAS DE GUERRA
“En un momento determinado – relata Américo Zorrilla testigo ocular de los hechos – yo presencié desde muy cerca cuando un oficial dio una orden, los carabineros pusieron una rodilla en tierra – toda una hilera de carabineros – y apuntando hacia la masa de gente, empezaron a disparar.  Fueron varias descargas, por orden del oficial.  Quedaron muchas personas heridas, fueron seis los muertos.  Inmediatamente después de eso, los carabineros se replegaron, desaparecieron y dejaron la plaza llena de gente botada en el suelo, algunos heridos, otros muertos.  Había sangre por todas partes.  La gente que en el primer momento había arrancado, volvió ahora.  Algunos hacían parar a gritos los autos y camiones que pasaban, para llevar los heridos a la Asistencia Pública”.
EL PUEBLO SE ADUEÑA DE LAS CALLES
Superado el terror y la sorpresa inicial, los trabajadores reaccionaron con indignación.  Muchos de ellos tiñeron con la sangre derramada sus pañuelos, camisas, periódicos y los enarbolan como banderas.  Marcharon por las calles céntricas de Santiago, en donde no se veía un solo carabinero.  Todos estaban escondidos en sus cuarteles.  Las masas eran dueñas de las vías de la capital.  A pesar de tanto odio acumulado, actuaron de manera muy disciplinada.
“Recuerdo haber caminado – narra Américo Zorrilla – entre los cuerpos que estaban tendidos en el pavimento.  Podría indicar en la Plaza Bulnes, el sitio en que estaba Ramona Parra (la rubia muchacha de Recalcine.) muerta.  Estaba en la vereda, pálida.  Era la palidez de la muerte.  En su sien había un círculo, una perforación nítida, sin que saliera sangre de ella.  Al lado, de pie estaba su hermana y uno o dos jóvenes que la miraban”.
UNA JOVEN OBRERA
Ramona Parra, Encargada Femenina del Comité Regional Santiago de las Juventudes Comunistas, desde 1945 trabajaba en el Laboratorio Recalcine, donde envasaba medicamentos.
A la pregunta de sí la conocía, responde Américo Zorrilla:  
“Sí.  Se le veía mucho en el local del Partido o en las oficinas del diario, a menudo con su hermana.  Una morena, la otra blanca.  Llamaban la atención.
“Ramona era una muchacha delgada, pálida, de rostro muy agradable.  Siempre con una sonrisa a flor de labios.  Hay una fotografía que se ha conservado para la historia, en que ella va detenida entre dos carabineros, a raíz de alguna de las manifestaciones tan frecuentes en aquellos días.  Ella va sonriendo, con su gesto habitual”.

PABLO NERUDA CANTA A LA JOVEN COMUNISTA
 “Ramona Parra, joven
estrella iluminada,
Ramona Parra, frágil heroína.
Ramona Parra, flor ensangrentada,
Amiga nuestra, corazón valiente,
Niña ejemplar, guerrillera dorada:
Juramos en tu tumba continuar la lucha
Para que así florezca tu sangre derramada”.


LOS MUERTOS EN LA PLAZA
El poeta evoca a los caídos el 28 de enero de 1946:
Manuel Antonio López
Lisboa Calderón
Alejandro Gutiérrez
César Tapia
Filomeno Chávez
Ramona Parra

Y dice:
“La lluvia empapará las piedras de la plaza, 
pero no apagará vuestros nombres de fuego.
Mil noches caerán con sus alas oscuras, 
sin destruir el día que esperan estos 
muertos”. 
 (Del poema “Los muertos en la Plaza”, Canto General)

LAS BRP
En homenaje a su heroica militante, las Juventudes Comunistas dieron su nombre, en febrero de 1966, a las Brigadas de Propaganda Ramona Parra, las BRP.
El acuerdo fue adoptado en el V Congreso Nacional de las JJCC, realizado en Santiago entre el 8 y el 13 de febrero de 1966.  Pero cuando iniciaron su actividad práctica fue en la gran marcha de la juventud chilena en solidaridad con Vietnam efectuada entre Valparaíso y la capital en 1967.

domingo, 1 de noviembre de 2015

Obama regrets “taking the joy out of teaching and learning” with too much testing

In a stunning turn of events, President Obamaannounced last weekend that “unnecessary testing” is “consuming too much instructional time” and creating “undue stress for educators and students.” Rarely has a president so thoroughly repudiated such a defining aspect of his own public education policy.  In a three-minute video announcing this reversal, Obama cracks jokes about how silly it is to over-test students, and recalls that the teachers who had the most influence on his life were not the ones who prepared him best for his standardized tests. Perhaps Obama hopes we will forget it was his own Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, who radically reorganized America’s education system around the almighty test score.
Obama’s statement comes in the wake of yet another study revealing the overwhelming number of standardized tests children are forced to take: The average student today is subjected to 112 standardized tests between preschool and high school graduation. Because it’s what we have rewarded and required, America’s education system has become completely fixated on how well students perform on tests. Further, the highest concentration of these tests are in schools serving low-income students and students of color.
To be sure, Obama isn’t the only president to menace the education system with high-stakes exams.  This thoroughly bi-partisan project was enabled by George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act. NCLB became law in 2002 with overwhelming support from Republicans and Democrats alike.
Obama, instead of erasing the wrong answer choice of NCLB’s test-and-punish policy, decided to press ahead.  Like a student filling in her entire Scantron sheet with answer choice “D,” Duncan’s erroneous Race to the Top initiative was the incorrect solution for students.  It did, however, make four corporations rich by assigning their tests as the law of the land.  Desperate school districts, ravaged by the Great Recession, eagerly sought Race to the Top points by promulgating more and more tests.
The cry of the parents, students, educators and other stewards of education was loud and sorrowful as Obama moved to reduce the intellectual and emotional process of teaching and learning to a single score—one that would be used to close schools, fire teachers and deny students promotion or graduation.  Take, for instance, this essay penned by Diane Ravitch in 2010. She countered Obama’s claim that Race to the Top was his most important accomplishment:
[RttT] will make the current standardized tests of basic skills more important than ever, and even more time and resources will be devoted to raising scores on these tests. The curriculum will be narrowed even more than under George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind, because of the link between wages and scores. There will be even less time available for the arts, science, history, civics, foreign language, even physical education. Teachers will teach to the test.
What Ravitch warned us about has come to pass, and Obama has now admitted as much without fully admitting to his direct role in promoting the tests. Duncan and Obama, with funding from the Gates Foundation, coupled Race to the Top with Common Core State Standards and the high-stakes tests that came shrink wrapped with them.  Together these policies have orchestrated a radical seizure of power by what I call the “testocracy”—The multibillion dollar testing corporations, the billionaire philanthropists who promote their policies, and the politicians who write their policies into law.
These policies in turn have produced the largest uprising against high-stakes testing in U.S. history.  To give you just a few highlights of the size and scope of this unprecedented struggle, students have staged walkouts of the tests in Portland, Chicago, Colorado, New Mexico, and beyond.  Teachers from Seattle to Toledo to New York City have refused to administer the tests.  And the parent movement to opt children out of tests has exploded into a mass social movement, including some 60,000 families in Washington State and more than 200,000 families in New York State. One of the sparks that helped ignite this uprising occurred at Garfield High School, where I teach, when the entire faculty voted unanimously to refuse to administer the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test.  The boycott spread to several other schools in Seattle and then the superintendent threatened my colleagues with a ten-day suspension without pay.  Because of the unanimous vote of the student government and the PTA in support of the boycott—and the solidarity we received from around the country—the superintendent backed off his threat and canceled the MAP test altogether at the high school level.  Can you imagine the vindication that my colleagues feel today—after having risked their jobs to reduce testing—from hearing the president acknowledge there is too much testing in the schools?  And it should be clear that this national uprising, this Education Spring, has forced the testocracy to retreat and is the reason that the Obama administration has come to its current understanding on testing in schools.
However, the testocracy, having amassed so much power and wealth, won’t just slink quietly into the night.  A Facebook video from Obama isn’t going to convince the Pearson corporation to give up its $9 billion in corporate profits from testing and textbooks. The tangle of tests promulgated by the federal government is now embedded at state and district levels.
More importantly, the President exposed just how halfhearted his change of heart was by declaring he will not reduce the current federal requirement to annually test all students in grades 3 through 8 in math and reading, with high school students still tested at least once. A reauthorization of NCLB is in the works right now, and all versions preserve these harmful testing mandates.  As well, Obama’s call to reduce testing to 2% of the school year still requires students to take standardized tests for an outlandish twenty-four hours.  And it isn’t even all the time directly spent taking the tests that’s the biggest problem.  The real shame, which Obama never addressed, is that as long as there are high-stakes attached to the standardized tests, test prep activities will continue to dominate instructional time.  As long as the testocracy continues to demand that students’ graduation and teachers’ evaluation or pay are determined by these tests, test prep will continue to crowed out all the things that educators know are vital to teaching the whole child—critical thinking, imagination, the arts, recess, collaboration, problem based learning, and more.
Obama’s main accomplice in proliferating costly testing, Arne Duncan, said, “It’s important that we’re all honest with ourselves. At the federal, state, and local level, we have all supported policies that have contributed to the problem in implementation.”
Yes, let’s all be honest with ourselves. Honesty would require acknowledgement that standardized test scores primarily demonstrate a student’s family income level, not how well a teacher has coached how to fill in bubbles. Honesty would dictate that we recognize that the biggest obstacle to the success of our students is that politicians are not being held accountable for the fact that nearly half children in the public schools now live in poverty. As Congress debates the new iteration of federal education policy, they should focus on supporting programs to uplift disadvantaged children and leave the assessment policy to local educators.  They have proven they don’t understand how to best assess our students and now they have admitted as much. It’s time to listen to those of us who have advocated for an end to the practice endlessly ranking and sorting our youth with high-stakes tests.  It’s time Congress repeal the requirement of standardized tests at every grade level.  It’s time to end the reign of the testocracy and allow parents, students, and educators to implement authentic assessments designed to help support student learning and nurture the whole child.

lunes, 7 de septiembre de 2015

“Se intenta deslegitimar la educación pública para destruirla” (Gary Anderson)

Gary Anderson es profesor del departamento de Administración, Liderazgo y Tecnología de la Universidad de Nueva York y ha realizado diversos estudios sobre el impacto del neoliberalismo global en la educación y su creciente privatización. Recientemente publicó una investigación sobre la nueva gobernanza y las nuevas redes políticas en el campo educativo. La dimensión simbólica del liderazgo educativo es otra de sus preocupaciones académicas.
Para Gary Anderson, la principal crisis no está en la docencia ni en las escuelas públicas. Este profesor norteamericano apunta a una crisis del Estado que ya no quiere proveer los servicios, que se ha retirado, “que no da servicios sociales ni apoya a los individuos. Ahora tenemos a los individuos desprotegidos que tienen que lograr movilidad social sin ayuda”.
De visita en Chile para participar en el seminario “Educación Pública y Privatización”, organizado por la Facultad de Filosofía y Humanidades, la Facultad de Ciencias Sociales y la Vexcom de la Universidad de Chile, Anderson se refirió también a los nuevos actores que han entrado a jugar en la toma de decisiones de las políticas educativas y cómo los académicos han ido perdiendo influencia en medio de la proliferación de think tanks conservadores.
“Tenemos varias dimensiones de la privatización. Hay otras dimensiones además de lo económico, la segunda dimensión es lo político, el neoliberalismo ha cambiado las formas de gobernanza radicalmente, nuevas redes políticas, con actores que no existían hace 30 años, en Estados Unidos en la educación. Antes los académicos y los sindicatos tenían bastante influencia en la política pública en educación. Desde los años 30 hasta los años 70 realmente los actores eran los educadores en cuanto a la política educativa, pudimos profesionalizar la docencia, preparar a los docentes en las universidades, hubo adelantos bastante importantes en cuanto al profesionalismo de la docencia y en las reformas escolares. Empezando los 80 aparecen nuevos actores en Estados Unidos, encabezados por la cámara de comercio y nuevos actores políticos, algunos que ya se conocen, nuevas redes, emprendedores políticos como los nuevos filántropos, donde Bill Gates es el más conocido, gente que ha aprovechado el neoliberalismo para generar más ganancias en sus negocios y entonces esa plusvalía la están utilizando ahora como individuos privados para hacer política pública.Nadie eligió a Bill Gates para tener tanta influencia en las políticas públicas educativas y, sin embargo, es difícil imaginar las políticas públicas en Estados Unidos de Obama sin el dinero de Bill Gates detrás: entregó 200 millones de dólares para promover la evaluación de docentes por los resultados en los exámenes. Lo único bueno es que ha movilizado a la docencia como nunca vimos en el pasado. Hay una proliferación de think tanks conservadores promoviendo ideas y que compiten con los académicos”.
Anderson abordó las dimensiones de la privatización en lo cultural y en la creación de nuevas subjetividades en las escuelas: individualismo institucionalizado (fragmentación, anti solidaridad); desaparición de los espacios públicos; invasión de lo comercial en todas las horas despiertas de los individuos; y privatización de los medios.
En este contexto se genera un control desde afuera de la profesión docente, a través de la vigilancia pero a distancia, un control concertado: “la presión de los pares, la vigilancia y hasta la humillación se tornan hechos cotidianos. Antes el docente podía cerrar la puerta de su aula, pero ahora el examen traspasa la puerta”.
Anderson estuvo en Chile durante la semana en que se anunció que más de 783 establecimientos subvencionados han solicitado pasar al régimen de gratuidad a contar del año 2016. Sin embargo, persiste la desconfianza en las familias respecto a lo que implicará la gratuidad, asociándola a un deterioro de la educación.
¿Por qué se asocia lo gratuito a la mala calidad?
No estoy tan convencido de que sea ese el problema, porque como dije en la sesión creo que hay que entender el buen sentido del padre que elige la escuela y cuál es la forma de pensar y creo que no es necesariamente muy racional o basado en un conocimiento de las escuelas, sino que tiene que ver mucho con la percepción de quienes mandan los hijos a determinadas escuelas. O sea, es el capital social y cultural de la escuela más que la calidad de la escuela. A lo mejor piensan que los que cobran atraen a otro nivel de familias, entonces es una combinación del hecho de cobrar pero también de quiénes mandan a sus hijos ahí. Porque por ejemplo tienes escuelas públicas muy buenas, colegios tradicionales donde va mucha gente de elite que son públicos, que no cobran, pero todo el mundo sabe que son muy buenos. Nadie piensa ‘no voy a mandar a mi hijo ahí porque no cobran’. Es más complejo que eso. Es la percepción de que como somos sociedades muy segregadas hoy día, muy segregadas por clase social, andamos en círculos bastante cerrados, de otra gente como nosotros. La estratificación social es tal que los padres quieren mantener a sus hijos con gente que ellos ven como de su clase social. En general, la elección va más por ese lado. Y no necesariamente tienen razón, a veces una escuela tuvo una reputación hace 10 años y ahora ya no es así, y las escuelas cambian de reputación. El problema de la elección de escuelas es que los padres no tienen información. El problema de la teoría de la elección racional tendría cierta validez si tuviéramos toda la información para elegir escuela, pero no la tenemos y sobre todo las familias pobres no la tienen, entonces deciden por múltiples razones.
¿Y también su decisión está afectada por la imagen que la sociedad tiene de la educación pública? Usted señalaba en el seminario que hay think tanks en Estados Unidos que tienen una influencia mayor que el mundo académico y que realizan campañas contra la educación pública.
Se intenta deslegitimar la educación pública para destruirla. En Estados Unidos hay grupos de padres que compran escuelas como negocios, las escuelas charter [financiadas con fondos del Estado pero auto gestionadas por grupos privados u organizaciones sin fines de lucro], hay una manipulación de la comunidad, no se trata de movimientos. Y hay filántropos que promueven esto.
Según Anderson, estas formas de poder se pueden resistir con vigilancia crítica y resignificación de los discursos, creando alianzas con otros grupos de profesionales y desde todos los sectores públicos.
“Es difícil porque ellos tienen muchísimo dinero. Tienen tanto dinero que pueden gastar en promover esto. Nosotros sólo podemos con movimientos de base, movilizaciones, que ustedes acá tienen, pero tampoco se logra mucha influencia”.

domingo, 30 de agosto de 2015

Troy LaRaviere: My Statement on CPS’ “Warning Resolution”

CONTEXT AND BACKGROUND

I’ve been asked for my thoughts in response to the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Board of Education issuing a “warning resolution” against me for opposing their backward education policy and corrupt fiscal management of our school district. Before responding, I have to write a few words about who I am.
I have never written about myself, and I don’t discuss myself in interviews unless the reporter asks a question that requires that I do. This is why it baffled me that the Tribune story on the warning resolution stated I worked to “raise [my] profile.” I work to raise the profile of CPS’ and City Hall’s incompetence and mismanagement. When I write and post, it is always about CPS policy; never about myself. However, it seems that it might now be helpful to tell you a few things about my record. After all, who am I to criticize CPS’ management, and why should anyone listen to me?
I am the principal of Blaine elementary school. When I arrived at Blaine in 2011, 79% of students were meeting standards—one of the highest percentages in the district among neighborhood schools. Just two short years later 89% we’re meeting standards—remarkable growth for an already high-performing school. Only 43% of African-American students were meeting standards on the ISAT test before I began my principalship. Just two years later almost 80% were meeting those standards (The ISAT was discontinued after two years).
Most importantly–according to criteria established by Rahm Emanuel himself, as a part of his principal merit awards–only three schools in the entire district have consistently met three or more of his four school excellence criteria—for three consecutive years.** That’s three schools out of more than 600. Blaine is one of those three schools. Although he calls it a “principals” award, Blaine’s progress has been the result of the collaborative work of a strong team of people. I lead that team.
One would think CPS and City Hall would pay more attention to the critiques of a principal whom their own criteria has identified as one of the district’s three most effective school leaders.
One would be wrong.
CPS is not interested in anything that contradicts its ideologically driven anti-public-school privatization agenda; an agenda which includes, among other things, over-testing students, and the diversion of public education funds away from students into the hands of private interests. It was action I took against both of these backward elements of the CPS reform agenda that led to the Board’s warning resolution against me. The resolution contains two warnings.
SUPPORTING PARENT CHOICE IN OPTING STUDENTS OUT OF TESTING
The first warning is in regard to actions I took in response to a PARCC testing Opt-Out movement initiated by Blaine’s PTA. It was the most successful elementary school opt out movement in Chicago, with more than 80% of our parents opting their children out of taking the test. It was a parent-driven effort and I fully supported their right to opt their children out.
Parents submitted forms directing us not to give the test to their students. CPS responded by telling principals that we must defy parents and sit the student down in front of a test—that only when the student refused it, could we allow him or her not to take it.
I know of no other field in which the professionals are ordered to disregard parents’ choices and force children to refuse to participate in what their parents have already refused to allow them to participate in. If a parent tells a doctor that she does not want her child to take a particular prescription, the doctor is not ordered to disregard the parent and put the medicine in the child’s hand and make the child refuse it himself.
CPS’ directive appeared to be a thinly veiled effort to pressure students into taking the test in defiance of their parents. It is blatant hypocrisy for a district that promotes itself as supporting “parent choice” to go to such great lengths to get children to violate the choices their parents make for them. I responded in an open letter to CPS stating:
“I will not be following ISBE’s ridiculous directives aimed at intimidating children and families into taking tests they do not want to take… No child under my watch whose parents have opted him or her out of the PARCC will be sat in front of any computer to take it, nor presented with any materials. The test wastes enough time on its own. We are not wasting even more learning time by engaging in CPS’ and ISBE’s test-driven political theater.”
This is the stance for which I was cited in the warning resolution.
Within the resolution the board plainly states that their reason for issuing the warning is because, “You publicly supported the Blaine PTA’s Opt Out initiative for the PARCC test.”
In response I return to my analogy with medicine. Doctors have the right to advise patients against taking unnecessary prescriptions and medical tests promoted by the hospital and the pharmaceutical companies that profit from them. Not only do they have that right, they have thatobligation as medical professionals. As education professionals, we not only have the right, but we have the obligation to give our professional assessment of the worth and value of the tests promoted by our district and by the private testing companies that profit from the administration of those assessments.
In each situation there is a company that stands to profit, and an institution allied with that company. There to protect the interests of the child in either situation is the professional judgment of the doctor and educator. As they do in most aspects of their management of this district, CPS officials and the Emanuel administration are attempting to eliminate the professional judgment of educators from all major district decision-making.
In the end, parents must choose for themselves and the board of education certainly has an obligation to insist that principals administer the assessments to all who choose to take it. However, the board and CEO have overstepped their executive authority when they give directives to principals that prevent us from meeting our professional responsibility to speak openly to students and parents about the worth of these tests. If you believe doctors should not be prevented from advising parents to forego an unnecessary medical test for their children, then the same logic must apply for educators. In fact, that logic is even more applicable to educators since we work for the public, not private sector interests.
The only way to test the legality of an unjust policy or law is to break it. The classic examples are from our nation’s civil rights struggles. In order to fight segregated busing in Montgomery, Alabama for example, Rosa Parks had to test the law by deliberately breaking it. So let me state it clearly: I am deliberately testing the legal soundness of a policy that forces educators to violate parental choice, and prevents us from meeting our professional obligation to advise parents and students regarding the wisdom and need for them to subject themselves to an increasingly onerous load of unnecessary testing.
INSUBORDINATION: VIOLATING THE NO-QUESTIONS POLICY
The second thing I was cited for was insubordination when I violated a “no questions” policy at a district principals budget meeting. I sat there at the meeting listening to CPS officials blame Springfield and teacher pensions for the budget woes, while they completely ignored their own well documented corrupt and reckless spending (e.g., $20 Million Supes Contract, $340 Million Aramark Contract, $10 million central office furniture purchase, etc. etc.). So I stood up and asked the question anyway, citing several questionable expenses. Then CEO, Jesse Ruiz, stood up and told me that I was being disruptive. It is a profound moment of truth and clarity when a CPS official gets up and makes it clear that he considers asking relevant questions“disruptive.” I have already written extensively about the details of this encounter in a post entitled, “Adding Insult to Injury: A Look Inside a CPS Principals Budget Meeting.” In the resolution, the board cites me for insubordination, in part, because Ruiz asked me why I worked for CPS if I were so unhappy with its leadership, and I responded, “To save it from people like you.” It is important to note that Ruiz asked me to come into the hallway where he called me a “loud-mouthed principal” and asked me that question. In essence, the board is attempting to discipline me for answering his question. If he didn’t want an honest answer, he should not have asked the question.
Another disturbing thing about this resolution is the way I was informed about it. I received an email on Monday telling me I could come in on Tuesday at 1pm to respond to the allegations on a resolution that the board would be voting on the next day. The board clearly knew that I was scheduled to speak at the City Club of Chicago’s panel on CPS Bankruptcy at that time since one of their own—Jesse Ruiz—was also on the panel. I chose to keep my appointment on the panel and thereby miss my opportunity to respond to this absurd resolution.
WHAT NOW?
Yesterday, I drove by Washington Park to see if there was any organized activity at the scene of the Dyett School hunger strike. There didn’t seem to be, so I pulled away and headed toward 43rd and Vernon, about a block east of Martin Luther King Drive.   The entire part of the block facing 43rd street is an empty lot on which once stood a fire-damaged slum I lived in as a child; where my brothers and I slept on floors and cots for months until the owner of Moore’s Furniture and Piano Mover’s donated a bunk bed to my mother. I go back there often to remind myself of the road I have traveled, and of the awesome responsibility I have been given. I came here from nothing. By any reasonable odds, I was not supposed to be here. And yet, here I am. I am not an overtly religious man but circumstances leave me no choice but to believe that whatever power put me on this earth—and in this position—did so for a reason. While I am here, I have a responsibility and a duty to use this position to advocate as strongly as humanly possible for the betterment of our city and its schools. That includes advocacy for sound evidence-based education policy and prudent fiscal management of district resources—the advocacy that led to the current warning resolution.
I will continue to support all of my PTAs efforts on behalf of the children and families of Blaine and I will continue to call out CPS on its reckless fiscal operational and educational mismanagement of our district at every opportunity they give me. Unfortunately, for our teachers and the students they serve, those opportunities abound.
I have been called a hero many times; and sometimes a saint. I am neither, by a longshot. Like all of you, I have my personal flaws and my ominous fears. However, each day I work to rise above those flaws and to rise above the foreboding limitations and restrictions of the corrupt system in which we find ourselves living and working.
Cord Jefferson and Hampton Sides once stated: “It is self-defeating to want our heroes to be perfect, because we aren’t perfect ourselves. By calling our heroes superhuman we also let ourselves off the hook: Why do the hard work of bettering the world if that’s something only saints do?”
We don’t need heroes, and we don’t need saints. We need a movement. A movement of hundreds of thousands of people across this city who stand together to retake it from the grips of the corrupt and inept elected and appointed officials who hold the reigns of power. The hero we need is the public itself, awakened and ready to change our collective reality; ready to serve as examples to our children—examples of citizens who come together to work and change our city for the better.
On a related and somewhat humorous note, one of the Board’s “Directives for Improvement” was for me to “Conduct yourself as a role model for students.”
I don’t imagine they’ll ever get the irony.


Email: TroyLaRaviere@gmail.com
Twitter: @troylaraviere
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/troylaraviere

lunes, 27 de julio de 2015

A menina que doa livros

Perdido num lugar distante de tudo, um homem se abriga na casa de uma família simpática e diferente. Essa gente tem um hábito esquisito: sair todas as noites para buscar o dia. Quando passa de novo por ali, o homem leva um presente que muda a rotina daquelas pessoas...”
Na infância, o fotógrafo Paulo Pampolin adorava esta história de Edy Lima, “A gente que ia buscar o dia”, contada pela mãe. O livro se perdeu, mas Pampolin guardou a fábula na cabeça e, a seu modo, passou a recontá-la para embalar os sonhos da filha Giovanna, hoje com 9 anos. Tal era a conexão entre pai e filha que Patrícia, atual mulher de Pampolin e madastra de Gigi, decidiu procurar um exemplar da obra nos sebos de São Paulo. Lima repousa atualmente nas estantes da família e é um dos raros livros aos quais a menina se apega. Os demais ela faz questão de compartilhar, depois de lidos, obviamente, com quem quiser. Quase todos os domingos ela e o pai oferecem literatura de graça aos pedestres do Minhocão, região central da capital paulista. 
A ideia de doar livros começou há pouco mais de seis meses. Dona de uma biblioteca invejável para a idade, Gigi se perguntou: por que não compartilhar com outros leitores? Encontro-a em uma manhã fria e cinzenta de inverno. O termômetro marca 13 graus, mas não a desanima. A menina empurra um carrinho repleto de obras de sua coleção rumo a um ponto do elevado, fechado aos carros no domingo. Entre artistas, ourives, ciclistas e turistas, ela monta sua pequena banca de exposição de tomos gratuitos.
Diante do empenho da filha, Pampolin criou no Facebook a página “A menina que doa livros”. Pela rede social, avisa quando estará ao lado de Gigi no Minhocão (as doações acontecem nos fins de semana que a menina passa com o pai), elenca os títulos disponíveis e aceita pedidos de encomendas. Giovanna lê todos os comentários, mas, por motivos de segurança, deixa as respostas a cargo do pai. “Em uma tarde, a página passou de 30 curtidas (seguidores) para mais de mil. Com isso comecei a juntar meus livros para doar também”, diz o fotógrafo.
Os adultos são a maioria dos frequentadores e também os mais desconfiados. Já perguntaram se havia câmeras escondidas ou se era pegadinha. Chegam tímidos, mas no fim sempre escolhem um título. Vários se comprometem a trazer seus livros para doar, embora poucos o façam de verdade.
O movimento varia e depende muito do clima. Nesse domingo frio e cinzento, Gigi doou apenas 5 dos 41 livros à disposição. Em dias mais ensolarados, relata a menina, não sobra nenhum exemplar. Eros, o cão da família, também é um bom garoto-propaganda. Quando ele vai junto, a visita aumenta. “O pessoal chega para brincar com ele e acaba pegando um livro”, conta a garota, ciente da empatia causada pelo animal.
Há quem peça para tirar fotos com a menina. Outros querem uma dedicatória no título escolhido, caso de Eliana Raposo, que passeava com o marido e aproveitou para dar uma olhada nas opções. Ela escolheu Trem-Bala, de Martha Medeiros, presente para a mãe. “Ela está querendo esse livro há tempos e encontrei aqui”, comemora Eliana. O marido, Wilson Rodrigues, até pensou em levar o poeta chileno Pablo Neruda, mas mudou de ideia e escolheu A Cidade dos Bichos, texto infantil de Arlette Piai. Dará a uma criança. Prova de que gentileza gera gentileza, como dizia o poeta carioca. 
Aos leitores Gigi e Pampolin só pedem um favor: a manutenção da corrente de doações. “O ideal é que o livro circule, não só troque de estante”, explica o fotógrafo. Para quem tem dificuldade em se livrar de seus livros (discos etc.), a menina aconselha: “Desapega”.
Pai e filho têm um tratoGigi ganha livros quando quer. Outro tipo de presente só em datas muito especiais (aniversário, Dia das Crianças e Natal). Depois de sorver cada página, a menina coloca o exemplar na lista de doações. É o que acaba de fazer com O Pequeno Príncipe, do francês Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, clássico preferido das aspirantes a miss. Encomenda, aliás, de um frequentador da página no Facebook.
Apesar de leitora voraz, Gigi não abre mão de um momento de prazer: a leitura noturna feita pelo pai antes de ela dormir. A voz a conecta com sua mais tenra infância. Só não valem histórias tristes. 
Fotografia do Facebook: A Menina que doa livros.