Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Ummm . . . do the people in the community get a say? (Update on the Military Coup at Ames)

Several weeks ago I wrote about the recent developments in the saga of the neighborhood school that Chicago politicians want to militarize. (See The Militarization of Ames: The Real Meaning of the DREAM Act )

I am frequently reminded that the case of Ames is not just an isolated matter. For instance, just yesterday, I attended a talk at the 8th Day Center for Justice in Chicago, where activist and educator Prexy Nesbitt helped us zero in on how American militarism works, and to connect the dots between the war on communities of color domestically and around the world. (He calls it "race-ing guns and militarism at home and abroad.") Is it a coincidence that the Ames proposal involves militarizing a school that is predominantly Spanish-speaking?

Now this morning, I learned that the community group in the Ames neighborhood has just presented data at the meeting of the Chicago Public Schools Board, showing that the community overwhelmingly demands that Ames continue to be a regular academic school, and that they reject the proposal that it be militarized. The data is below. It seems to me that the only remaining question is: who controls the city, the citizens or the politicians?


The Results Are In!

Maldonado's Military Coup at Ames Even Less Popular than Anticipated

97% of Parents and 94% of Students Vote to Keep Ames as a Neighborhood School, not Military School

Last week, Ames Middle School LSC members held a vote among parents and students on the future of Ames.  Alderman Roberto Maldonado and Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced a plan in October to convert Ames into a 7th-12th grade Marine Academy-affiliated school.

The alderman’s plan got a powerful shellacking at the ballot box. The 808 voters sent a clear message – converting Ames into a selective enrollment military school goes AGAINST the will of the community.

Votes of parents and other adults from Ames and the two main feeder elementary schools, McAuliffe and Nixon, during Report Card Pick-Up on November 12: 

For Community School – 309 (96.5%)
For Military School – 11 (3.5%)

Votes of Ames students: 

For Community School-459 (96%)
For Military School-29 (6%)

In addition, 2,481 parents from across all schools in the 26th Ward and Logan Square signed a petition to keep Ames as a neighborhood school open to all students, not convert Ames into a military school.  These numbers blow away the 300-person survey that Alderman Maldonado purports to have.

Ames parents will present the ballots and the petitions to the Chicago Board of Education at the November 20th meeting.

What the Ald. Maldonado and the Mayor’s Office Say…
The Reality
Alderman Maldonado supposedly held “public forums,” but…
Maldonado has NOT ONCE come to Ames Middle School to meet with Ames parents. Maldonado’s one “forum” was 2.3 miles away from Ames Middle School.
Alderman Maldonado conducted a survey of 300 people, but…
Ames parents surveyed 357 Ames neighbors and found that 87% opposed a military high school at Ames. Maldonado’s robocalls targeted residents over a mile away from Ames.
The alderman says he is concerned about academic performance, but…
Ames outperforms the Marine Academy. In 2012, according to the State Board of education, Marine had only 26.6% of its students meeting or exceeding standards in reading and 32.9% in math. Compare this to Ames, which had 59.7% meeting or exceeding standards in reading in 2012, and 73.3% in math. 
“All CPS Military Academies have college acceptance rates over 90%.” But really…
The CPS website states that only 58.4% of Marine students enroll in college, less than CPS average. 
“Military academies have an 80% graduation rate,” but really…
Marine is a push-out factoryMarine graduated only 56.5% of the 122 students who entered as freshman 4 years ago.
Leticia Barrera, Logan Square Neighborhood Association (773) 727-9941
Emma Segura, Ames parent and LSC member (773) 531-9666
Delia Bonilla, Ames parent and LSC member (773) 708-9603 (Spanish preferred)
Maria Patino, Ames and Nixon parent (773) 410-3717 (Spanish preferred)
Ana Espinoza, Ames parent (773) 216-0539

Related posts

Ames serves a largely Spanish-speaking community. Is the militarization of Ames anything other than a signal of what the Democratic party means by equitable treatment for immigrants?

(See The Militarization of Ames: The Real Meaning of the DREAM Act )

For those not already familiar with the situation in Chicago: at a time when the City cannot be bothered to figure out how to run its own schools, but is instead closing dozens at a time, our leaders somehow think it's appropriate to let branches of the U.S. military have the run of the school and recruit kids -- and in some cases outright convert the school into a military academy. Parents in the Logan Square neighborhood are fighting a valiant effort to stop that from happening to the Ames School.

(See Stop Playing "Ender's Game" With Chicago's Young People)

A big Hollywood production of Ender's Game is scheduled for release on November 1. It's a perfect opportunity for us to ask: Are we happy seeing our schools turned into "Battle Schools"?

(See "Ender's Game" and the Militarization of Youth: Can We Talk About This? )