Of Schools and Socialists
Two for the Price of One
Closure Meeting on Tuesday, April 5
most not from those who taught me, but from those who talked with me.
It takes a
village to raise a child.
Francisco School Board will discuss school closures on April 5 at 6 p.m.
at 555 Franklin.
students will be out of school this week for spring break, the San
Francisco Unified School District's administration appears to have made a
bad choice by selecting the day after school is back in session for a
meeting to begin finalizing the schools that will be closed in June.
Parent groups, teacher groups, and others will be busy this week with
their SF Unified School scholars out of school and having a bit of fun in
the beautiful spring weather.
decision follows a meeting scheduled by the San Francisco Unified School
District for 11 p.m. — yes, 11 p.m. — on Tuesday, March 22 to talk
about what criteria should be used to select the final list of schools to
be closed. Public testimony on what the public thought about the criteria
was opened at 11:15 p.m. There were 20 people in the audience. For obvious
reasons, there were only two parents left to speak. After all, it was a
school day. Parents had to get children to finish their homework and get
into bed. Only one teacher spoke. Teachers had to get up early to start a
brand-new day of successful academic achievement for those same scholars.
One of the
Board members responded that the meeting was really about hearing the
staff's report on the schools that are currently on the list to be closed.
But the mission of the School District is to involve parents and teachers
in the issues surrounding the education of our city's children.
the schools that are on the list of possible closures:
- Golden Gate
DeAvila Elementary School
- Dr. William
Cobb Elementary School
- Starr King
Elementary School, 1215 Carolina
McKinley Elementary School, 14th and Castro
Traditions Elementary School, 2049 Grove
Peabody Elementary School, 215 6th Avenue
Franklin Middle School
Burbank Middle School
Maxwell Middle School
The ones on
the "hot list" (as in the most likely to be closed) are:
- Golden Gate
DeAvila Elementary School
Franklin Middle School
Interestingly, all of these "hot" schools are located in the
Haight-Ashbury/Fillmore district (District 5).
District has not released the information that it gave to the Board
members on these schools — i.e., decrease in enrollment, number of
students who have applied to attend the schools, the number of students
enrolled in the school who live in the school's attendance area, and the
after-school programs that these schools offer.
District has said that the incoming kindergarteners and incoming 6th
graders will be given preference by other schools that they put down on
the school selection list. But there do not appear to be any plans as of
yet for the students in grades 1-5 and 7-8 who are already attending the
targeted schools. Nor has the School District advertised any meetings to
talk with the parents/teachers/staff/students of these impacted schools.
BOE President Eric Mar has visited several of the schools and is planning
to visit most, if not, all of them on his own. Good job, Eric!!
District is facing a $15 million deficit in 2005-2006. According to the
School District, each elementary school that is closed will save the
School District $250,000-$350,000. A middle school will save slightly
understand that schools may need to be closed, my complaint is that the
School District has not engaged parents, teachers, and the community in
the process. The superintendent announced that there may be closures in
January 2005. Here we are in April 2005. The SFUSD’s Public Engagement
Office has not yet publicized any meetings with the community, talks with
the very people that the District will need support from — parents,
teachers, staff, and students.
recommendation is that (1) the School District schedule public outreach
meetings at the impacted schools (especially the three that appear to be
on the chopping block) at least two weeks ahead of time — to give busy
parents time to arrange daycare (SFUSD could also provide daycare for
those busy parents), (2) the School Board create a committee of teachers,
staff, parents, and yes, students to look at the criteria for possible
school closures in upcoming years, and (3) the School Board create a
committee of parents, teachers, staff, and retired financial officers to
look into what savings the School District could achieve in order to avoid
school closures in the future.
Socialists, Marc, Not Communists
vote for what I want and not get it, than for what I don’t want and get
is a lower class, I am in it. While there is a criminal element, I am of
it. While there is a soul in prison, I am not free.
stereotypical Midwesterner is plain-spoken and neither progressive nor
Darrow, Paul Wellstone, Humbert Humphrey, and Eugene Debs were all
citizens of the Midwest — and all brought populist or progressive ideas
into American politics.
five-time presidential candidate (1900,1904,1908,1912, and 1920) for the
American Socialist Party, got his first experience in politics as the city
clerk in Terre Haute, Indiana. He soon became famous for refusing to fine
prostitutes because the police didn't arrest their johns or pimps as well.
Debs then was elected as a Democrat to the Indiana General Assembly in
When he was
a teenager, Debs had worked on the railroad. As an adult, he remained
active in the union. When the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen began to
occupy much of his time and energy, he left the General Assembly and led a
nationwide boycott of railroads in support of the Pullman Strike of 1894.
activists and organizers under Debs tied up the railroad system and burned
hundreds of railway cars. President Cleveland called out the army, which
used bayonets and rifle fire on a crowd of 5,000 strike sympathizers in
Chicago. Seven hundred were arrested and 13 people were killed. Debs was
jailed for violating an injunction prohibiting him from doing or saying
anything to carry on the strike. But in the end, the strike was
instrumental in getting workers' rights recognized by the railroads, one
of labor’s most hated monopolies.
experience of the Pullman Strike taught Debs that major changes in the law
were necessary if workers’ rights were to be advanced. After his release
from jail, his efforts became more political. He eventually joined the
American Socialist Party and tirelessly campaigned for its initiatives.
Socialist Party has now faded into the background of American politics, it
was the first to bring up topics such as women suffrage, workers' right to
join a union, workplace safety, and restrictions on child labor.
political parties, the Socialists were divided into fighting factions. But
they united to nominate Debs as their presidential candidate for five
campaigns. Debs became known as a mesmerizing speaker, a tireless
campaigner, and a "man of the people." Even practical, Midwestern
businessmen attended his rallies. He also contributed editorials to
various newspapers, including the "Appeal to Reason," which was published
in a small town in Kansas.
War I, Eugene Debs used his considerable talents to rally against the war.
In a 1918 speech in Canton, Ohio, he stated, "Wars throughout history have
been waged for conquest and plunder.... And that is war, in a nutshell.
The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has
always fought the battles." Because of these words, he was arrested and
sentenced to ten years in prison for "war-time espionage." His citizenship
was also stripped from him.
Since he was
convicted of a federal offense, he was jailed in the Atlanta Prison. From
there, he ran his final (and most successful) presidential campaign,
capturing nearly one million votes. The victor of that presidential race,
Warren Harding, released Debs on Christmas Day 1920.
reports that during his last term at the Atlanta Prison, Debs worked for
his fellow inmates and refused to take any special privileges. According
to Zinn, on the day of Debs' release, the warden allowed more than 2,000
inmates to gather in front of the main building. As Debs left the prison,
a roar arose from the gathering as a final goodbye.
it is difficult for third parties to participate in our nation's two-party
system, they are critical to breaking the "set" thinking of the two major
parties. Even though we may not agree with all of their ideas, they have
brought to the American politics "radical" ideas that we now embrace.