Direct Action In Action: Occupy Piccolo

Occupy PiccoloAaron Cynic writes at Diatribe Media:

A group of parents, students, teachers and activists occupied an elementary school in Chicago over the weekend to protest what the city calls a “turnaround,” which would shake up the staff and put the school under the authority of the Academy for Urban School Leadership, a private organization opponents say fails to produce results. Parents of students at Piccolo Elementary School in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood voted overwhelmingly against the proposed turnaround measures and developed a counter proposal, but their voices were ignored by City and Chicago Public Schools officials.

About 15 people stayed inside the school, while more than 100 helped to set up tents out front to show solidarity. Despite the cold, a few dozen stayed in shifts throughout the night, and well more than 100 supporters came back the next day to show their solidarity. Despite being denied food and in one person’s case, much needed blood pressure medication, the parents and activists inside remained until Education Vice President Jesse Ruiz met with them to listen to their demands. The action managed to secure the parents a meeting with board members of Chicago Public Schools, where they will be able to present their counter proposal which Ruiz said he hadn’t even heard of, though they had developed it more than a month prior.

After the occupants emerged from the school, Cecile Carroll, a spokeswoman for the group, said on the steps to a crowd of cheering supporters and media “This engagement was satisfying, but it illustrated the community engagement process though, is flawed. It should not have to take drastic measures like an occupation for real engagement … parents and community members need to be communicating with decision makers before things like this happen.”

Carroll’s words and the actions of the parents and their supporters, including members of Occupy Chicago, illustrate the exact reason why peaceful direct action is so necessary to reinvent our democratic system. The power imbalance in American politics has become so wide that signed petitions, marches in the streets, or even voting officials out of office can be completely ignored by the political elite. Campaign promises became little more that public relations bargaining chips during an election season long ago. While not all public officials are corrupt, the idea that a majority of them can be corrupt and ignore the will of their constituents shows that our democratic process has become corrupt. When the Congressional approval rating barely reaches 10%, it’s a glaring statement that the will of the American public has been almost completely ignored.

Occupy movements across the country have engaged in a multitude of peaceful direct actions, from shutting down traffic during protest marches, to fighting home foreclosure, aiding community organizing groups, and here in Chicago, assisting a struggling school in finding a better way to succeed than giving in to privatization. Such peaceful, non-violent direct actions have become necessary because merely stepping into a ballot box once every few years or flooding the phone lines have produced negligible results in stopping the downward spiral our society has been in.

Read the full post at Diatribe Media

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  • Mr Willow

    A shame the highest authorities in this country just send out riot cops to pepper spray the crowds. 

    Perhaps they could take a couple of hints from a situation like this. It could prevent catastrophe. . . 

    • eyeoftheaxis

      As a side note -To how Chicago has been dealing with Occupy, it has been pretty much free of violence & pepper spray as far as I know. Arrests made but in a very “OK your turn to get arrested”sort of way. At first it seemed Rahm Emanuel was using the Mayor Daley II play book of “warm fuzzy marginalization”. However, with NATO/G8 coming in the spring, city hall and the CPD are vowing to serve and protect. Of course the local news hypes every angle so much that now, building owners are getting instructed by city hall on how to keep the tear gas out, and install windows with a special vinyl film to protect the shit on the other side if they get smashed. They even bought body armor for the horses with out as much as a peep over the cost from the various aldermen. / I’m holding on to my hat.

      • guest

        there is no occupy movement in chicago. dead city so far. we’ll see what’s up in may but i doubt there will be so many local  people involved in protests with all this media hype about the CPD preparations. and if there will be some going to protest, definitely outsiders will make the majority. yuppies don’t protest because of credit cards&mortagages?!, poor people were bought out by section 8 and welfare programs, rich people for obvoius reasons, not many left put there.

  • Jin The Ninja

    all education should be community-oriented, and parents and teachers and students in coalition should “control” a school. the ridiculous market-oriented neo-liberal test/results pedagogical model has resulted in the death of critical thinking.

    • Mr Willow

      It isn’t just critical thinking that’s slowly being snuffed.

      Students are slowly having their curiosity strangled, and constantly being conditioned to obey authority implicitly, through coërcion and lack of dialogue. 

      For example, a course in History is rife with intricacies: motivations of the people involved determined by basic human conditions, economics, conflict, and the social status and mentality of the individuals involved. Consider a student asks a question concerning the fall of Rome. The teacher’s response? 

      “Oh, we don’t have time to cover it.” 

      If the student persists, “You don’t need to know it for the test.”

      If the student persist further, “You’re disrupting class, go to the office.”

      This achieves nothing but to dissuade the student from asking questions, both because they know they won’t receive anything for their inquiry, and because they’re punished for it. And that not only applies to that one student, but to everyöne in the class, who see the teacher’s adverse reaction to curiosity. 

      Also, because there is no interaction—the students are expected to sit quietly and take notes on what is dictated to them—that is what they associate ‘learning’ with, so they are less likely to self-educate in their free time. A ridiculously sad cycle, slowly turning every succeeding generation into sheep to be led. 

      • Jin The Ninja

        utterly agree.

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