Chicago Sit-in for an Elementary School Library
Sometimes it's easy to forget that I live in a world of relative privilege. No, I'm not a millionaire or getting ready to jet off to any exotic location for the holidays (though I did see some interesting "wildlife" in South Beach while attending a recent conference!).
In my suburban neighborhood, even with cutbacks and belt-tightening, we've got good schools, libraries and lots of resources for our children. In many inner city neighborhoods in America, that's not the case, and it's often the fault of adults who have other agendas.
I was shocked when my political gal pal Veronica Arreola, aka Viva la Feminista, told me the story of a handful of moms in Chicago who have been waging a sit-in to prevent the demolition of a field house next to their children's school, Whittier Dual Language Elementary School. It's a not-so-fancy building that families have been using in connection with their kids' school programs, but which the City of Chicago has decided is going to be torn down in order to build a sports field that supposedly will be leased to a local private school, instead of being renovated to be used as a library for the children in that neighborhood -- a library they desperately need and that parents have been begging and fighting for for over seven years.
These are some serious Mothers of Intention. And it made me wonder -- would I have the fortitude to do this, knowing the odds were seriously against me, in order to give my child a better shot at a good education and access to books that many other kids have at their fingertips? I'd like to think so, but these parents are facing the wrath of Chicago politics -- not always a pretty prospect.
Parents, mostly moms, have been staked out at the field house since the middle of September so the demolition can't proceed. When the Chicago Public School system got tired of the sit-in, they ordered that the heat and electricity to the building be turned off (it gets cold on Chicago evenings even before the official start of fall), apparently in an attempt to get the parent protesters to go home and allow the building to be torn down. The Chicago City Council ordered last week that services be restored to the building.
These are families who've been fighting to get their children a library for years. And they're not waiting for "Superman." They've decided to be superheroes on their own. I don't know exactly what we can do to help them other than get the word out. I don't live in Chicago and I've never met anyone involved in Chicago politics.
But there are a few high profile people in Washington, D.C. who I hear used to have some connections there. I wonder what it would take for one of them to step in --- Barack? Michelle? Valerie?
Rahm, you want to be that city's next mayor. I'm betting you could get all kinds of votes if you took up this cause, which shouldn't be a controversial one at all.
You can also find Joanne Bamberger writing on lots of other topics at the intersection of politics and parenthood at her place, PunditMom.