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<v Announcer>Production funds for this program were provided in part by the Lloyd A. <v Announcer>Fry Foundation. <v Parent 2>[music] If this council doesn't work with this school, you will not have this school. <v Speaker> To uphold the duties and the responsibilities <v Speaker>of the local school councils. <v Willie Bond>They are as intelligent as you are. <v Speaker>If we fight among one another, how are we gonna help these children? <v Speaker>We wanna teach 'em. We can't teach. <v Speaker>What is this council really going to be designed for? <v Speaker>What is your purpose? <v Parent 3>Only thing that is worth while saving is the children. Let everything else go to hell. <v Speaker>Tonight on WTTW Journal, a trip through Chicago school reforms, <v Speaker>first year. All power to the parents. <v Royal Kennedy>Good evening. I'm Royal Kennedy. <v Royal Kennedy>In the fall of 1989, 6000 Chicagoans began a revolution in American <v Royal Kennedy>education. They were the elected members of Chicago's brand new local school councils,
<v Royal Kennedy>one for every public school in the city, each with two teachers, two community <v Royal Kennedy>representatives and six parents. <v Royal Kennedy>Who with their principal were given unprecedented power to reform their children's <v Royal Kennedy>failing school system. Tonight, we followed two of these councils through their first <v Royal Kennedy>year. We won't learn tonight whether school reform will succeed. <v Royal Kennedy>That might take years. And we won't see many students or even hear much talk about <v Royal Kennedy>education. For mostly, this is a story of pure grassroots democracy. <v Royal Kennedy>How parents, average people, struggle with power and politics in their new roles <v Royal Kennedy>as public officials in Chicago schools. <v Royal Kennedy>The schools we followed are located in two of Chicago's poorer neighborhoods because <v Royal Kennedy>the students here really have no other choice but public education. <v Royal Kennedy>And if school reform is to work, it must work here. <v Royal Kennedy>[music] <v Sylvia Peters>I've been the principal of the school since January 19. <v Royal Kennedy>October 18th, 1989. <v Royal Kennedy>The first meeting of the Alexander Dumas Elementary Local School Council.
<v Sylvia Peters>Schools are much better when parents <v Sylvia Peters>and community people are involved. <v Royal Kennedy>Sylvia Peters is a longtime supporter of school reform. <v Royal Kennedy>For the past six years, she's been principal at Dumas in the South Side's Woodlawn <v Royal Kennedy>community. <v Sylvia Peters>In a sense, we really are empowered as a group to be to be in control of <v Sylvia Peters>what happens to these children. <v Royal Kennedy>And tonight, the 11 new members of the Dumas Council share their vision for those <v Royal Kennedy>children. <v Veronica Kyle>That every child has the opportunity to compete for the best <v Veronica Kyle>high schools in the country. <v Royal Kennedy>Veronica Kyle has a son in the seventh grade at Dumas. <v Regina Pettis>I want it to be vibrant. I want it to be alive, loving, creative. <v Regina Pettis>There's so many programs and things we can do. <v Royal Kennedy>Regina Pettis is a community representative. <v Peggy Bartlett>I'm here because I don't know any other place to be. <v Peggy Bartlett>[laughs] This is my home. <v Royal Kennedy>Peggy Bartlett is a mother of two, who volunteers in the Dumas Kindergarten every day. <v Royal Kennedy>Tonight, Bartlett is elected council chair.
<v William Ayers>I think that Dumas is a school that is poised to take advantage of school <v William Ayers>reform. That is to say- <v Royal Kennedy>In the 60s and 70s. William Ayers and fellow radical Bernadine Dorn were members <v Royal Kennedy>of the Weather Underground. <v Royal Kennedy>Ayers is now an assistant professor of education and helped write the school reform act. <v William Ayers>And one of the things you notice about Duma's right away is that they have <v William Ayers>they they have a sense of value at the core of what they do and they have a sense <v William Ayers>of high expectations. <v Sylvia Peters>Do you think we could open up the meeting a little more so that we could hear more from <v Sylvia Peters>our parents about what they want the local school council to do? <v Sylvia Peters>Because I think-. <v Royal Kennedy>But Sylvia Peter's efforts to involve other parents soon backfires. <v Parent 1>And not to sound like I'm, you know, I want to be a troublemaker, but I'm genuinely <v Parent 1>concerned about what goes on with my child. And I feel that I should be able to do that. <v Parent 1>So, you know, when I ask you that question, what is this council really going to be <v Parent 1>designed for? What is your purpose? <v Veronica Kyle>Any parent sitting out here who has a concern about their child
<v Veronica Kyle>and want to make sure that this council hears your concern, <v Veronica Kyle>that you rise up and serve on the committee. <v Veronica Kyle>Be involved working. <v Parent 1>Right now I'm not exactly employed right now, so I have plenty of time to come to these <v Parent 1>meetings. But doing an average day when I'm working. <v Parent 1>I don't have no time to come down here and piddany around um committees and all your <v Parent 1>so-called whatever fundraisers might come up. <v Parent 2>This is not a petty situation. <v Royal Kennedy>But others in the audience say parents must support the council. <v Parent 2>If this council doesn't work with this school. <v Parent 2>You will not have this school. <v Parent 2>You will not have any black school. Any minority school. <v Parent 2>You'll only have what other people want you have. <v Parent 2>So don't just start here tonight and start this petty stuff. <v Parent 2>If you got a chip on your shoulder, get it off. <v Royal Kennedy>Sylvia Peters is disgusted that the meeting has gotten out of hand. <v Royal Kennedy>Though Peggy Bartlet is now the chairperson, it is Peters who tries to get the meeting <v Royal Kennedy>back on track. <v Sylvia Peters>Now, I think there are things that we need to rally around
<v Sylvia Peters>tonight. And we're sitting here arguing about nonsense. <v Sylvia Peters>We We're not even respecting each other. <v Sylvia Peters>Why do you want to to gather around adversarial concerns? <v Sylvia Peters>That is what keeps us divided as a race of people. <v Sylvia Peters>Come on, get it together. <v Sylvia Peters>I don't permit the children to carry on this way. <v Parent 3>Reason I got on this council is for one reason only. <v Parent 3>It's about a brother, 20 years ago, named Marvin <v Parent 3>Gaye said, what's going on? <v Parent 3>That our children, what a shame. <v Parent 3>What a way to live. <v Parent 3>If we do not save our children, there will be no tomorrow for us. <v Parent 3>This is why we're in this position right now. <v Parent 3>This system has taken us up in the air like a eagle, and taken <v Parent 3>us off the nest which we have been sitting in for the last 40 years.
<v Parent 3>He said you fly or you die. <v Parent 3>So I'm saying the only thing worth while saving is the children. <v Parent 3>Let everything else go to hell. [applause] <v Royal Kennedy>It's a very different scene at the first meeting of the local school council at George <v Royal Kennedy>Collins High School in the West Side's Lawndale community. <v Willie Bond>A majority of the full membership of the local school council shall- <v Royal Kennedy>Willie Bond has been principal at Collins since 1985 and has taught and <v Royal Kennedy>worked in Lawndale schools for 30 years. <v Willie Bond>Is Monday a problem for anyone? <v Willie Bond>What about Tuesday? <v Royal Kennedy>But there are no pep talks about school reform at tonight's council meeting. <v Royal Kennedy>Only time to schedule meetings and elect officers. <v Speaker>Yes, I'd like to nominate Mrs. Gloria Harris as our chairperson. <v Willie Bond>Ms. Gloria Harris. <v Royal Kennedy>Besides Gloria Harris, two other parents are nominated for chairperson, but they <v Royal Kennedy>declined. <v Willie Bond>Eleven to zero. <v Willie Bond>Mrs. Harris congratulations Miss Harris. [congratulations]
<v Royal Kennedy>Gloria Harris has a daughter at Collins and another who recently graduated. <v Royal Kennedy>She's been active at the school for years, as have many others on the Collins Council. <v Royal Kennedy>As chairperson, Harris will face some tough challenges, including poor morale <v Royal Kennedy>among Collins teachers. <v Coretta McFarren>I know that Collins has been plagued with problems. <v Coretta McFarren>I'm hoping- <v Royal Kennedy>Coretta McFarren is a leader in the city's school reform movement. <v Coretta McFarren>There was never an opportunity for a staff to come together and and <v Coretta McFarren>just coalesce around uh any particular problem in this school, <v Coretta McFarren>or they never had an opportunity to have input on the curriculum or the structure <v Coretta McFarren>of the school day and that kind of thing. <v Coretta McFarren>So this provides, this opens all new avenues. <v Royal Kennedy>That may be why teachers outnumber parents in the audience at tonight's council meeting, <v Royal Kennedy>but they won't get a chance to talk tonight. <v Willie Bond>The move by Ms. Hardaway and second by Mrs. Fredrickson that the meet stand adjourned <v Willie Bond>and so ordered. Congratulations. <v Royal Kennedy>The meeting ends after only 45 minutes, but the new council members feel
<v Royal Kennedy>truly empowered. <v Clementine Hardaway>We have like firsthand stuff what we can do now, you know, really get involved, like I <v Clementine Hardaway>said hiring and firing principals, and that kinda thing, I don't know if we're gonna get <v Clementine Hardaway>involved in that but we'll actually be able to do some real hands-on kind of things for <v Clementine Hardaway>the school. And I think it's important to all of us, not just the parents that are here. <v Clementine Hardaway>Everybody is excited. <v Gloria Harris>Yes. I think reform will work. It may not. <v Gloria Harris>You know, I don't know all about reform. <v Gloria Harris>I have some idea about reform and some <v Gloria Harris>of it I don't understand. <v Gloria Harris>But I think even if it doesn't work, it should put something on the minds <v Gloria Harris>of the parents. <v Gloria Harris>So it makes me want to come out and work. <v Gloria Harris>[music] <v Royal Kennedy>To many the massive Board of Education headquarters on Pershing Road is a symbol of <v Royal Kennedy>what's wrong with Chicago's schools. <v Royal Kennedy>By comparison, Chicago Catholic Schools in 1987 had just one administrator <v Royal Kennedy>for every 6000 students. <v Royal Kennedy>The board had 48 for every 6000.
<v Royal Kennedy>And while the bureaucracy was bulging, the number of students was dropping and test <v Royal Kennedy>scores were plummeting. <v Royal Kennedy>In a competitive global economy, Chicago schools were lagging far behind their <v Royal Kennedy>counterparts in other industrialized nations. <v Royal Kennedy>Teacher strikes were already routine and the U.S. <v Royal Kennedy>secretary of education had a low opinion of the system. <v William Bennett>It's not the worst. It's too darn close to the worst. <v William Bennett>I mean I don't know one worse. <v Royal Kennedy>It was time for a radical change, and that's just what the School Reform Act provided. <v Royal Kennedy>A shift of substantial control from this centralized bureaucracy to 540 <v Royal Kennedy>local school councils. These L.S.C.'s Would be dominated by parents <v Royal Kennedy>newly empowered to make decisions at the local school level. <v William Ayers>What's going on in Chicago is absolutely unique. <v William Ayers>It's the most far reaching and fundamental change that's ever been envisioned in a big <v William Ayers>city public school system. <v Dan Lewis>The Chicago reform is the most democratic <v Dan Lewis>of any that's been tried in the last 25 years.
<v Royal Kennedy>Education Professor Dan Lewis says school reformers were out to break the back of the <v Royal Kennedy>bloated bureaucracy. <v Dan Lewis>They saw a system that was insulated. <v Dan Lewis>They saw a system that excluded. <v Dan Lewis>They saw a system that was not responsive to outside pressure. <v Dan Lewis>And the new system is an attempt to do something about that. <v School Board Speaker 1>Today- <v Royal Kennedy>The success of this new system depends largely on the interim Chicago school board <v Royal Kennedy>in which the law has put in place to get reform on track. <v Royal Kennedy>This early November day, members of the interim board are frustrated with the Pershing <v Royal Kennedy>Road staff. <v School Board Speaker 2>Are you using every person here who has these skills? <v School Board Speaker 3>Every person that I can find, yes. <v Royal Kennedy>Nearly three weeks after the local school council elections, the staff has yet to <v Royal Kennedy>complete a printed guide to help the 540 LSC's get started. <v Royal Kennedy>This information is crucial to council members who know little about how schools operate, <v Royal Kennedy>and who often have little education themselves. Without the guide, the council's momentum <v Royal Kennedy>has ground to a halt.
<v Joseph Reed>We went from just feeling that some of the key <v Joseph Reed>players in the administration were inept <v Joseph Reed>to the fact that um we thought some of them were literally <v Joseph Reed>sabotaging the effort. <v Royal Kennedy>It's a battle that will be fought all year. <v Royal Kennedy>Council members seeking help from bureaucrats whose jobs are now threatened by reform. <v Royal Kennedy>George Munoz knows the school system inside out. <v George Munoz>All of a sudden, all the calls for decisions have never been <v George Munoz>greater. The demand for action at the central office has never been greater. <v George Munoz>And at the same time, people are being moved around, jobs eliminated, people removed out <v George Munoz>a central office. So the chaos was only natural. <v Royal Kennedy>Back in the trenches of school reform, local school councils are feeling their way as <v Royal Kennedy>they get down to business in November. <v Royal Kennedy>But for the council at Collins High School, the working session is cut short this night <v Royal Kennedy>when members are caught in the middle of a dispute between some staff members and <v Royal Kennedy>Principal Willie Bond.
<v Penny Earl>Position number 64- <v Willie Bond>Is closed. <v Penny Earl>051, and I have a right to know why it was closed. <v Royal Kennedy>Penny Earl until October, a library assistant at Collins wants to involve the council <v Royal Kennedy>in an appeal for her job. It was eliminated by Bond, who'd given Earl an unsatisfactory <v Royal Kennedy>review. By law the council isn't supposed to deal with hirings and firings <v Royal Kennedy>of staff. That's the principal's job. <v Royal Kennedy>But though this council wants to move on to other matters, it can't, as some staff <v Royal Kennedy>members in the audience take up Earl's cause. <v Mr. Bodie>Does Collins High School at this point, wait, does Collin High School at this point need <v Mr. Bodie>a position of library assistant? <v Willie Bond>I will never discuss administrative matters at a board meeting with people <v Willie Bond>that I supervise. That would be inappropriate. <v Peggy Bartlett>I'd like to call this order to meeting. <v Peggy Bartlett>This meeting to order. I'd like some order for our meeting, okay? <v Peggy Bartlett>[laughs]. <v Royal Kennedy>At Dumas in November, the council gets a good turnout for its meeting, which is scheduled
<v Royal Kennedy>the same day parents pick up their children's report cards. <v Royal Kennedy>As with Collins and many other councils, the Dumas chairperson, Peggy Bartlett, <v Royal Kennedy>is struggling with parliamentary procedure. <v Peggy Bartlett>Call for the question, all those in favor of <v Peggy Bartlett>moving on to new business say aye. <v Crowd>Aye. <v Peggy Bartlett>All those opposed. <v Royal Kennedy>Tonight's new business comes from council member Timothy Thompson, the father of two <v Royal Kennedy>Dumas students. Brother Tim, as he is known, makes a stunning proposal <v Royal Kennedy>that the council adopt the so-called affirmation of thanks to the creator to <v Royal Kennedy>be said by students every day. <v Timothy Thompson>The children get to high school they have no resistance from the negativity <v Timothy Thompson>that that that this society uh puts on them, because <v Timothy Thompson>we have not taken the time to give them a sense of <v Timothy Thompson>identity with their maker. <v Timothy Thompson>And what I'm saying-
<v Royal Kennedy>Brother Tim reads the affirmation he wants spoken in school each morning just before the <v Royal Kennedy>Pledge of Allegiance and the Black National Anthem. <v Timothy Thompson>Thank you, God. Thank you, Father. <v Timothy Thompson>Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Lord. <v Timothy Thompson>Thank you, mother. Thank you, Allah. <v Timothy Thompson>Thank you, Jehovah. Thank you, ?Eloween? Thank you, Yahweh, for this wonderful <v Timothy Thompson>and glorious day. <v Timothy Thompson>Every burden is now released. Every need is now fulfilled, every desire <v Timothy Thompson>is glorified and brought into perfect manifestation. <v Timothy Thompson>We give thanks for perfect life expressing within every cell, atom, muscle- <v Mr. Bodie>Does Collins High School- <v Willie Bond>Mr. Bodie. <v Mr. Bodie>need a library assistant? That's all. <v Willie Bond>Mr. Bodie. <v Mr. Bodie>Yes or no? <v Willie Bond>Mr Bodie, are you, do you believe that these 11 people here, including <v Willie Bond>this principal, is almost as intelligent as you and Miss Earl? <v Mr. Bodie>Don't insult me now. <v Penny Earl>You are insulting me. <v Willie Bond>We are just as intelligent as you are. <v Willie Bond>Stop, you keep try to tell these people how they supposed to act.
<v Willie Bond>That you got all the sense. They are as intelligent as you are. <v Willie Bond>[crowd arguing over each other] <v Clementine Hardaway>Make 'em stop now, Gloria now. Make 'em stop now. <v Timothy Thompson>Thank you Father God, Mother for your love, peace, joy, courage, <v Timothy Thompson>power, truth, patience, faith, and for the opportunity <v Timothy Thompson>to serve the Father, God, Mother lovingly and <v Timothy Thompson>cheerfully. <v Royal Kennedy>At Dumas some parents support the concept of Brother Tim's affirmation, though <v Royal Kennedy>most council members are tentative. <v Speaker>We are serving in an institution that is slightly less costly on the issue of separation <v Speaker>of church and state. <v Timothy Thompson>No such thing. <v Speaker>And I don't want to debate it, Brother Tim, and I'm just seeing. <v Royal Kennedy>Brother Tim will persist all year on the afformation, but the council will essentially <v Royal Kennedy>leave it tabled. <v Speaker>Explain to me. <v Royal Kennedy>And at collins' the council stays out of the Penny Earl affair, but they are driven from <v Royal Kennedy>their meeting. <v Gloria Harris>I have to move to adjourn.
<v Council Member>You wanna move to adjourn whatever you want to do, I'll second it. Year somewhere. <v Council Member>[crowd talking] <v Willie Bond>Miss Harris, since the meeting is adjourned you have. <v Penny Earl>I'm talking to Mrs. Harris. <v Willie Bond>I'm talking to her. You have demonstrated that I made a great decision. [music] <v Royal Kennedy>If public education has failed in Chicago, its neighborhoods like Woodlawn, where Dumas <v Royal Kennedy>Elementary is located, that have suffered the most. <v Royal Kennedy>This is one of the city's poorest areas. <v Royal Kennedy>More than two thirds of Dumas's 650 students are poor enough to qualify for <v Royal Kennedy>free lunches. Yet there is at Dumas, an opportunity for academic nourishment <v Royal Kennedy>uncommon in Chicago schools, especially those in impoverished African-American <v Royal Kennedy>communities. Schoolchildren here can learn Spanish and Latin. <v Royal Kennedy>[violin] Suzuki violin and cello are taught side by side with social studies and <v Royal Kennedy>spelling, and while reading scores are generally low.
<v Royal Kennedy>The 2nd and 8th grades are now reading at their grade levels a real accomplishment <v Royal Kennedy>for an inner city school. <v Royal Kennedy>Many people believe its principal, Sylvia Peters, who's made the difference and with her <v Royal Kennedy>experience in the Chicago school system, Peters has an innate advantage that allows <v Royal Kennedy>her to lead the Dumas Local School Council in these early months, as a result, she <v Royal Kennedy>can shape its direction. <v Royal Kennedy>[choir singing] On this particular day, the children of Dumas are entertaining several <v Royal Kennedy>dozen Chicago principals who've come to learn about a cornerstone program at the school. <v Royal Kennedy>It's called Character Education, teaching children high moral values, <v Royal Kennedy>perseverance, integrity and self-respect. <v Sylvia Peters>The real turning point came at a time when I went to a conference and somebody <v Sylvia Peters>told me that black children didn't have any values. <v Sylvia Peters>I hit the ceiling. <v Sylvia Peters>I will not tolerate people talking about children, any kind of child. <v Sylvia Peters>Because they are not midget adults.
<v Sylvia Peters>They are to be shaped and formed and molded and cracked <v Sylvia Peters>and released and allowed to fly. <v Royal Kennedy>And in the midst of change, Peters reminds these visitors to keep their eyes on <v Royal Kennedy>the prize. <v Sylvia Peters>I do not care what the Board of Education does about school <v Sylvia Peters>reform. <v Sylvia Peters>I care about these children. <v Sylvia Peters>And if you show that you seriously care about <v Sylvia Peters>these children. <v Sylvia Peters>Can't do anything but win. <v Sylvia Peters>And you have to become a maniac with a message. <v Sylvia Peters>We need more maniacs with messages. <v Sylvia Peters>To me, school reform is going to be good for the city, and if you feel it's going to fail <v Sylvia Peters>that's what you're going to get is failure. <v Sylvia Peters>And if you feel it's gonna work, that's what you're gonna get. <v Sylvia Peters>You're gonna get something that works and something that looks good. <v Willie Bond>There's nothing in reform that brings anything to Collins that we didn't have <v Willie Bond>before reform, other than the council, but.
<v Royal Kennedy>Across town and the community of Lawndale, Collins' Principal Willie Bond is also the <v Royal Kennedy>dominant member of his local school council. <v Royal Kennedy>But having spent 30 years in the Chicago public school system, Bond is also suspicious <v Royal Kennedy>of reform. <v Willie Bond>Intent may not have anything to do with, <v Willie Bond>in its present form, with improvement of education. <v Willie Bond>I think there was some other intent here. <v Royal Kennedy>What's the intent? <v Willie Bond>Well, my gut feeling is there were too many black people in too many places at the <v Willie Bond>Board of Education. <v Willie Bond>Too many contracts going in the wrong direction and they need to adjust that. <v Willie Bond>The other thing, the reason I view it with <v Willie Bond>suspicion, the traditional black groups <v Willie Bond>that have been involved in everything that have happened in Chicago, <v Willie Bond>we're not involved in this process. <v Willie Bond>And I don't believe that's an accident. <v Royal Kennedy>Collins High School is by no means the worst school in the city, but going to it
<v Royal Kennedy>is, to say the least, a challenge. <v Royal Kennedy>Nearly two thirds of its students are poor. <v Royal Kennedy>Two out of every three fail one or more classes each semester. <v Royal Kennedy>One in three drops out for good. <v Royal Kennedy>But those who do come to school can take a variety of classes to enrich their education, <v Royal Kennedy>such as auto shop, business or an impressive graphic arts program. <v Royal Kennedy>And while some may look sadly at Lawndale's high rates of crime, poverty, drugs <v Royal Kennedy>and teenage pregnancies, Willie Bond is far more optimistic. <v Willie Bond>Everybody in Lawndale is not living in Lawndale because to have to. <v Willie Bond>There's an awful lot of people out there who chose to live in Lawndale by their choice. <v Willie Bond>There's an awful lot of kids who go to this school by choice. <v Royal Kennedy>And despite his suspicions of reform, Bond is hopeful. <v Willie Bond>I think any time any process that involve parents, <v Willie Bond>the possibility of good things happening is <v Willie Bond>there. The question will be,
<v Willie Bond>can we make it happen? <v Royal Kennedy>As the new year dawned, local school councils across the city were confused and <v Royal Kennedy>frustrated with administrators here at the school board headquarters. <v Royal Kennedy>Council saw this as a stubborn bureaucracy, obstructing, even sabotaging <v Royal Kennedy>local school council's efforts to gain the power the new school reform law was <v Royal Kennedy>supposed to give them. <v Ted Kimbrough>Ya know, coming to Chicago is a homecoming for me. <v Royal Kennedy>Enter Ted Kimbrough. The brand new superintendent of Chicago schools. <v Royal Kennedy>He has been brought here for more than 175000 dollars a year from Compton, <v Royal Kennedy>California, where he ran a school system less than 1/18th The size <v Royal Kennedy>of Chicago's. Hopes are high that Kimbrough can cut inefficiency and <v Royal Kennedy>nurture reform along. <v Speaker>So there is a matter of some urgency to have it done. <v Royal Kennedy>On this January day, Kimbro is here at schoolboard headquarters, attending his first <v Royal Kennedy>school board meeting. <v Royal Kennedy>Sylvia Peters is here, too.
<v Royal Kennedy>She's emerged as a citywide leader in the school reform movement. <v Royal Kennedy>And today she's come to speak for a coalition of groups which are fed up with the foot <v Royal Kennedy>dragging at Pershing Road. <v Sylvia Peters>Right now, there is a great deal of a confusion that exists. <v Sylvia Peters>We are told that schools. <v Royal Kennedy>Peters recites a litany of frustrations with the school board's central office <v Royal Kennedy>books sitting in warehouses when they're needed in classrooms, not useless paperwork, <v Royal Kennedy>textbooks that ignore all but white culture and an administration that <v Royal Kennedy>refuses to help. <v Sylvia Peters>It's like we have empowerment without <v Sylvia Peters>a clear way of being empowered and we need that and we <v Sylvia Peters>look to the Board of Education for that sense of empowerment. <v Sylvia Peters>Sir, you have a big job, but we're going to help you. <v Sylvia Peters>Truly, we are. <v Royal Kennedy>There is optimism at this first meeting of Kimbrough and his constituents. <v Royal Kennedy>But on the front lines, some councils are preparing for battle. <v Gloria Harris>Hello, Ms. [inaudible], How you doing? <v Gloria Harris>You ready to come to the meeting tonight?
<v Royal Kennedy>On this Friday afternoon, Chairperson Gloria Harris sits with her two daughters as she <v Royal Kennedy>prepares for a special meeting of the Collins Local School Council. <v Royal Kennedy>Harris wants to discuss what she calls Mr. Bond's tactics, namely Principal <v Royal Kennedy>Willie Bonds hiring of counsel Secretary Clementine Hardaway as a community <v Royal Kennedy>liaison at Collins. Hardaway has sent a letter of resignation to the council. <v Royal Kennedy>But Harris and others are angry that Bond never notified them that Hardaway had been <v Royal Kennedy>hired. <v Gloria Harris>It's like we are not being acknowledged as a council. <v Gloria Harris>So it made me very angry. <v Gloria Harris>We were friends before we became a council. <v Gloria Harris>He makes enemies of us, he's doing a lot of things to us and we feel, <v Gloria Harris>I think it's all Mr. Bond's doing. <v Gloria Harris>Ms. Brewer, would you please do a roll call for me, please? <v Royal Kennedy>The council meets that night and accepts Clementine Hardaway's resignation. <v Royal Kennedy>By law, she must step down since she now gets a salary from the Board of Education. <v Royal Kennedy>But then the meeting takes a bizarre turn.
<v Royal Kennedy>Harris is upset because the words rollcall appear on tonight's typed agenda prepared <v Royal Kennedy>by teacher and council member Tyrone Jordan. <v Gloria Harris>If it's up to me to put out the agenda, I want it put out as I write it as ?staying? <v Gloria Harris>And this agenda I did not put roll call. <v Tyrone Jordan>Maybe I'm responsible for that. <v Tyrone Jordan>I just followed the previous one. I didn't mean to mean any harm by puttng roll call. <v Gloria Harris>Previous ones don't have roll call. <v Tyrone Jordan>In the book that we found, I'd just said roll call but if you want it <v Tyrone Jordan>I'll never put it in there again. I've sinned. <v Tyrone Jordan>I'm sorry. Call the meeting going to roll call. <v Royal Kennedy>Harris thinks that Jordan went behind her back to bond with the controversial agenda. <v Gloria Harris>Mr. Bond is not the chairperson. <v Gloria Harris>He is not responsible for this agenda. <v Tyrone Jordan>Really you should give me some credit for trying to help you. Don't sit up here and slam <v Tyrone Jordan>me in front of all these people. Trying to act like I went to Mr. Bond and changed the <v Tyrone Jordan>agenda. <v Gloria Harris>I didn't say you changed. <v Tyrone Jordan>Just putting something down there, just roll call. <v Tyrone Jordan>I mean, that's kind of small, don't you think? <v Gloria Harris>I think it's very small the way the whole thing was handled.
<v Tyrone Jordan>It is and I don't even understand this. You come to me and you say you're the only one <v Tyrone Jordan>trying to help me. Now you're gonna attack me. <v Gloria Harris>That's true. <v Tyrone Jordan>That true? You said that and now you gonna publicly attack me because I <v Tyrone Jordan>put roll call. <v Gloria Harris>I am publicly attacking you because you took the agenda to Mr. Bonds. <v Royal Kennedy>Though, several members tried to change the subject, the heated argument over roll call <v Royal Kennedy>continues for more than a quarter of an hour. <v Gloria Harris>I mean. <v Willie Bond>No one has ever requested. <v Willie Bond>This is my first time to see the agenda. <v Royal Kennedy>Finally, they get onto the main order of business. <v Royal Kennedy>The showdown over Mr. Bond's tactics. <v Gloria Harris>The meeting was called because Mr. Bonds has on one occasion <v Gloria Harris>he closed a position. On a second occasion, he opened one without <v Gloria Harris>informing the council. <v Royal Kennedy>The law doesn't require a principal to consult council members on most hirings and <v Royal Kennedy>firings, but it soon becomes clear that the school's hiring of Hardaway <v Royal Kennedy>and the earlier closing of Penny Earl's position in the library are not the fundamental
<v Royal Kennedy>issues here. This meeting is about mistrust. <v Royal Kennedy>Mistrust among council members. <v Royal Kennedy>Suspicion between council members and principal bond. <v Royal Kennedy>And deception among the LSC, Bond and Collins' demoralized <v Royal Kennedy>faculty who, as usual, outnumber parents in the audience. <v Gloria Harris>And we feel insulted by his tactics because, too, <v Gloria Harris>he's causing deceit between the council members and staff. <v Gloria Harris>His tactic should have a procedure to hiring, <v Gloria Harris>firing or whatever. <v Royal Kennedy>But parent, Shirley Deere, up to now, Gloria Harris's close ally, says <v Royal Kennedy>she believes the job Clementine Hardaway got was wanted by certain council members <v Royal Kennedy>who are now jealous. <v Shirley Deere>It is a position that was open, and if any of us wanted it, we could <v Shirley Deere>have gotten it. <v Royal Kennedy>And this is not just a difference of opinion, but a family matter about Clementine <v Royal Kennedy>Hardaway is Deere's own sister,. <v Shirley Deere>And I am sick and tired of this mess that's going on up here in this school.
<v Shirley Deere>How can we put signs up versin' this principle here? <v Shirley Deere>And the children are seeing it and they going around talking about it. <v Shirley Deere>If we fightin among one another how can we help these children? <v Shirley Deere>If we upset the teachers upset and the children are upset so let, you know what we gonna <v Shirley Deere>get? Zip. <v Shirley Deere>We can not help it, no I'm not finished. We- <v Gloria Harris>Thank you, Miss Deere. <v Shirley Deere>That's right. This is a true fact. <v Shirley Deere>Wait a minute. I'm not through now. I'm not through. Y'all asked me if I had anything to <v Shirley Deere>say. So let me get through. <v Shirley Deere>Let me get through. Everybody done talked and they done fussed. <v Shirley Deere>Let me talk. Let me talk. <v Shirley Deere>Well, well, if you didn't say nothin' then that's your problem. Truthfully, Miss Harris <v Shirley Deere>and I have been friends and I want it to stay like that, but no one never called <v Shirley Deere>me and told me about this meeting. So I know that everybody had got together and talk <v Shirley Deere>among one another. <v Royal Kennedy>Finally Willie Bond says the job was approved by a parent advisory group the previous <v Royal Kennedy>spring, but Bond is also frustrated. <v Willie Bond>Whatever information you want, you may have it. <v Willie Bond>But you have provided me only one opportunity to give you information, and that's at the
<v Willie Bond>monthly meeting, which mean most of the thing that transpired from day to day. <v Willie Bond>How do I come communicate that to you? <v Willie Bond>If you give me a procedure I would love to follow. <v Royal Kennedy>Still reeling from the earlier skirmish over the agenda, teacher Tyrone Jordan <v Royal Kennedy>advises the council to get its act together. <v Tyrone Jordan>Local school council sets policies. <v Tyrone Jordan>The principal carries out the day to day operations of the school. <v Tyrone Jordan>I really asked other principals and tried to find out what was going on in their schools. <v Tyrone Jordan>And I think as it's a it's a willing for power. I think people are kind of tripping. <v Tyrone Jordan>And there are some things that if we don't sit down and really <v Tyrone Jordan>start respecting one another and appreciating each other, it'll be better. <v Tyrone Jordan>I think that we're going to have some serious problems. <v Tyrone Jordan>We have an opportunity to do something for these kids. <v Tyrone Jordan>Please, let's try to do that. <v Royal Kennedy>The stormy meeting wraps up with a motion requiring Willie Bond to post job <v Royal Kennedy>openings and notify the council when he phases out a position.
<v Royal Kennedy>It passes unanimously. <v Royal Kennedy>But after this night's meeting, friendships between certain council members will never be <v Royal Kennedy>the same. [music]. <v Royal Kennedy>With February comes the most crucial decision that many local school councils in Chicago <v Royal Kennedy>will make this year, whether to keep their principals for another four years <v Royal Kennedy>or fire them. [school children chanting] <v Donald Kriz>The entire school is out on the street. There were over 950 youngsters and <v Donald Kriz>they wouldn't go in until I arrived. <v Royal Kennedy>Donald Kriz is principal of Burns Elementary School in Chicago's Little Village <v Royal Kennedy>neighborhood here. Like it, half the schools in the city, the local school council <v Royal Kennedy>must now decide whether to keep its principal or let him go. <v Royal Kennedy>The remainder of the schools will decide next year. <v Royal Kennedy>Like many councils, the Burns LSC members view this as a chance to flex their political <v Royal Kennedy>muscle for the first time as public officials, after years of frustration <v Royal Kennedy>and powerlessness.
<v Royal Kennedy>Burns students are almost all Hispanic from low income families here, as in other <v Royal Kennedy>Hispanic neighborhoods, the sense of grassroots empowerment is intense. <v Royal Kennedy>Faced with overcrowded schools, groups like the United Neighborhood Organization <v Royal Kennedy>or UNO rally Hispanics to come out and vote in the LSC elections. <v Maria Elena Montes>It's the first time in history that Hispanics will be able to come out <v Maria Elena Montes>and vote in an election without being registered voters and without having <v Maria Elena Montes>to prove that they've got a green card. <v Maria Elena Montes>We are finally going to be able to hold principals accountable. <v Royal Kennedy>The result has been majority Hispanic councils that are now taking full advantage. <v Daniel Solis>It's in our self-interest, there's individually and Hispanics as a whole <v Daniel Solis>to participate in this because it means power, it means money, it means resources, it <v Daniel Solis>means influence. <v Royal Kennedy>And a potential for conflict in the shaky marriages of councils and principals <v Royal Kennedy>from different ethnic backgrounds. <v George Munoz>If the whole push for reform was a dissatisfaction of how things
<v George Munoz>have occurred, the likelihood is that you're going to want to have councils change <v George Munoz>principals. Otherwise, if you had all councils agree with the principals that they had in <v George Munoz>there, you're basically going to say, why did we want reform if everybody was happy? <v Rosemary Romero>We weren't treated with respect at all. <v Royal Kennedy>Rosemary Romero and William Valez are leaders of the Burns School Council, <v Royal Kennedy>and they are angry at Donald Kriz. <v Donald Kriz>The principal is the chief executive officer of the school. <v Royal Kennedy>Kriz has been principal at Burns for the past 10 years. <v Royal Kennedy>Many feel he's done a good job under tough circumstances. <v Royal Kennedy>He went to Burns as a kid, has worked in the school system for 30 years <v Royal Kennedy>and now feels he knows what's best for the school. <v William Velez>The first words that Mr. Kriz told to this council when we took place in the school <v William Velez>was that he was the only one to state policies in that school, that <v William Velez>make the policies and not the council. <v Donald Kriz>Their interpretation of the word cooperation, was that I turn over <v Donald Kriz>the complete control of this school to them.
<v Donald Kriz>That is not my definition of cooperation. <v Donald Kriz>Now now, should their definition prevail, then I will admit that I am non-cooperative. <v Royal Kennedy>George Munoz says that this is a typical stalemate that many new councils and old line <v Royal Kennedy>principals have faced all year. <v George Munoz>They didn't mix well. There was a feeling that of none communication and therefore <v George Munoz>those councils responded accordingly. <v Royal Kennedy>In late February, the Burn's Council tells Kriz that he will not be automatically <v Royal Kennedy>rehired, that if he wants to be principal, he'll have to apply along with other <v Royal Kennedy>candidates. The move angers Kriz's supporters. <v Rosemary Romero>They call, hang up. They're threatening my family and myself if you don't <v Rosemary Romero>change your votes. You're gonna be sorry. Your family's gonna be sorry. <v Royal Kennedy>Violence never materializes. <v Royal Kennedy>But some members windows are broken. <v Royal Kennedy>These council members are also learning a new lesson. <v Royal Kennedy>Their power makes them accountable and now unpopular. <v Royal Kennedy> It is now April 8. <v Royal Kennedy>Only days before the council decides on Kriz's reapplication.
<v Royal Kennedy>Today, he checks attendance after a two day student boycott in support of him. <v Royal Kennedy>A boycott some council members feel he orchestrated. <v Donald Kriz>Who took a couple of days vacation? <v Donald Kriz>Put your hands up. OK. <v Donald Kriz>I'm glad to see you all back. Thanks so much. <v Donald Kriz>Kriz suspects the real reason for the council's conflict with him is because he is not <v Donald Kriz>Hispanic and does not speak Spanish. <v Donald Kriz>It became very apparent with the initial meetings that there <v Donald Kriz>was going to be an agenda that would include my being removed <v Donald Kriz>from the school. <v Royal Kennedy>UNO's Danny Solis says that's ludicrous. <v Daniel Solis>I really don't care who these councils pick pick as long as they pick the best possible <v Daniel Solis>individual to be their principal of that school. <v Royal Kennedy>And eventually, a citywide study shows no pattern of racism in the selection of <v Royal Kennedy>principals. But many still think it's unfair that there are no set guidelines <v Royal Kennedy>a council must follow to judge its principals performance. <v Royal Kennedy>Under the School Reform Act principals lost their tenure, but are now suing to get it
<v Royal Kennedy>back. Bruce Berendt of the Chicago Principals Association <v Royal Kennedy>suggests that an LSC support of a principal may depend more on politics <v Royal Kennedy>than merit. <v Bruce Berendt>This is one of the things I think that the sort of governance plan <v Bruce Berendt>lends itself to to become political power basis for various groups <v Bruce Berendt>rather than dealing with whether or not this person is a good quality principal. <v Royal Kennedy>Even so, 80 percent of the city's LSC's have voted this month to automatically <v Royal Kennedy>rehire their principals. <v Royal Kennedy>Longtime education reporter Linda Lenz says there's a reason. <v Linda Linz>I think there are many councils that were looking to their principal for leadership and <v Linda Linz>guidance, and they didn't want to get rid of that individual because they needed him or <v Linda Linz>her. <v Royal Kennedy>In fact, at Dumas Elementary School this February, council members make it clear they <v Royal Kennedy>need Sylvia Peters and vote unanimously to renew her contract. <v Willie Bond>My assumption was the rest were satisfied with the response they got from the teachers. <v Royal Kennedy>The decision on Collins principal Willie Bond won't come until a year from now.
<v Royal Kennedy>Like Donald Kriz it's a case of a veteran principal facing increasing scrutiny <v Royal Kennedy>from a council that will ultimately have the last word on his job. <v Donald Kriz>Everybody have a good weekend now. <v Donald Kriz>We're going to give it a shot. We'll see. It's up to uh, up to the people now. <v Royal Kennedy>At Burns that last word arrives in early spring. <v Royal Kennedy>His application for principal is turned down. <v Royal Kennedy>And despite no formal evaluation, Donald Kriz is out of a job. <v Royal Kennedy>Voteu out by the Burns Local School Council. <v Donald Kriz>OK, guys, take care. <v Donald Kriz>See you later. <v Royal Kennedy>March 17th, Dumas Council members are at a weekend retreat learning <v Royal Kennedy>how to work as a group. <v Joan Jeter Slay>Some people fought hard for you to have this oppportunity. <v Royal Kennedy>The retreat is led by Joan <v Royal Kennedy>Jeter Slay, a member of the interim school board and the leader of Designs for Change, <v Royal Kennedy>a school advocacy group that's pushed long and hard for school reform.
<v Joan Jeter Slay>And legislator said lady you crazy. You can't hand parents this kind of power. They don't have the education, they can't do it. <v Royal Kennedy>Slay is here to teach the Dumas Council about their roles <v Royal Kennedy>and responsibilities under school reform and about laws and regulations that apply to <v Royal Kennedy>schools. This is the kind of guidance that all school councils have needed from day one. <v Speaker>Below are listed the fifteen items left intact and undamaged after <v Speaker>landing. <v Royal Kennedy>This morning, the Dumas Council members go through an exercise in group decision making. <v Royal Kennedy>They pretend to be astronauts who have crash landed on the moon. <v Royal Kennedy>Slay gives the group a list of 15 items things like oxygen, water, <v Royal Kennedy>a heater and a gun. <v Royal Kennedy>Together they must rank them in their order of importance as survival tools. <v Timothy Thompson>So if we have water, we have an opportunity to reach our objective <v Timothy Thompson>through reasoning, see if we lose our water we sorta short <v Timothy Thompson>circuits ourselves. <v Royal Kennedy>This is not easy. <v Royal Kennedy>It takes the group more than an hour to compromise on a final list.
<v Tyrone Jordan>Now we're down to twelve and eleven. <v Tyrone Jordan>So which one? The milk or the gun? <v Multiple Members>Eleven. Eleven for the gun. Eleven for the gun. <v Multiple Members>You can tell we live in the city. [laughs] <v Royal Kennedy>The real lesson here is the process of deciding things together. <v Royal Kennedy>And after the group is finished. Slay finds some fault with the way it handled that. <v Joan Jeter Slay>You started out declaring concensus [coughs] and that's just what happens in meetings. <v Joan Jeter Slay>People say, uh well maybe six people say <v Joan Jeter Slay>yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. <v Joan Jeter Slay>And these are the articulate people and they say that's right, until a person says, <v Joan Jeter Slay>okay, moving right along. <v Joan Jeter Slay>And somebody like this lady is sitting right there didn't open her mouth. <v Joan Jeter Slay>Hadn't said a word. And we just going marching along. <v Joan Jeter Slay>See we have a tendency to say, okay, <v Joan Jeter Slay>majority rule.
<v Joan Jeter Slay>And as a minority person, that bothers me, hey, wait <v Joan Jeter Slay>a minute. Somebody's speaking over here. <v Joan Jeter Slay>I think that people have to become conscious of that. <v Speaker>I heard a lot of "we's" at the end of this that I didn't hear the beginning, including <v Speaker>with myself, because I said, how am I going to survive? <v Royal Kennedy>And if local school councils are going to survive Slay says, they must listen and <v Royal Kennedy>learn from every member. <v Joan Jeter Slay>Your mommas probbaly tould you as my momma did, two heads are better than one. And I though all junk, it's not all junk. It's the truth. Cooperation. Collaboration. Is essential. <v Speaker>What we would like to do is break up instead of going <v Speaker>into new business. We'd like to break up in committees now and <v Speaker>see can we get your input, suggestions, or comments? <v Royal Kennedy>And sure enough, at the monthly council meeting, the retreat's effect is clear. <v Royal Kennedy>Parents and council members break into committees to talk about specific school projects.
<v Royal Kennedy>There is a fundraising committee. <v Speaker>People buy the those. <v Speaker>They costs us a quarter we sell for 50 cents and they go fast. <v Royal Kennedy>One for parental recruitment. <v Speaker>Uh textbook selection. <v Royal Kennedy>And one for the affirmation. <v Timothy Thompson>We're not affirming a prayer, OK, we're just affirming praises and thanksgiving to a positive and unification of the family. That's all we doing. <v Royal Kennedy>The council tonight is trying to build a consensus about the things it wants to do. <v Royal Kennedy>Now, the question is, can it keep up this momentum? <v Royal Kennedy>[music] <v Royal Kennedy>With spring blooming and graduation day fast approaching, the picture of school reform <v Royal Kennedy>continues to develop controversy. <v Royal Kennedy>First, there are calls for the deputy mayor of education, Lourdes Monty Goudeau, to <v Royal Kennedy>resign after she's quoted as saying, "Chicago public schools aren't good enough <v Royal Kennedy>for her daughter," who attends a private school. <v Royal Kennedy>Then protesters camp out at city hall after Mayor Daley <v Royal Kennedy>rejects most nominees for the new Chicago School Board, which are scheduled to be in
<v Royal Kennedy>place by May 15th. <v Ted Kimbrough>I am announcing today that. <v Royal Kennedy>And finally, Superintendent Ted Kimbrough announces he'll move hundreds of school <v Royal Kennedy>administrators to new district service centers around the city. <v Royal Kennedy>Reformers say Kimbrough hasn't cut the bureaucracy, simply rearranged it. <v Royal Kennedy>Meanwhile, the city's local school councils are about to tackle a major duty, their <v Royal Kennedy>school improvement plan, an educational roadmap for the next three years. <v William Ayers>That's where the whole question of vision and where you want to go, how you want to spend <v William Ayers>your resources comes in. And I think that that's that's a critical <v William Ayers>moment in the process that people kind of leap off and take advantage of of this <v William Ayers>time. <v Royal Kennedy>At rCollins High School, as at every other school, the principal drafts the school <v Royal Kennedy>improvement plan with suggestions from his local school council. <v Royal Kennedy>All spring, the Collins' LSC has been struggling to stay together. <v Royal Kennedy>Tyrone Jordan, who has had his problems with Chairperson Gloria Harris, has stopped <v Royal Kennedy>attending meetings and it's rumored he may quit teaching.
<v Royal Kennedy>Another member has died, and Gloria Harris's frequent clashes with Principal <v Royal Kennedy>Willie Bond have split the council further. <v Royal Kennedy>That is why what happens in May at Collins becomes all the more astonishing. <v Royal Kennedy>Members finally come together and make some real progress as a school council. <v Royal Kennedy>At a series of special meetings, the Collins LSC examines <v Royal Kennedy>line by line Principal Bond's draft of the school improvement plan, the summer <v Royal Kennedy>school program, the budget and various government programs. <v Willie Bond>Many of our young ladies have medical and social problems related to pregnancy. <v Royal Kennedy>For the first time council members are brimming with ideas not just to improve <v Royal Kennedy>bonds proposals, but to change school policies. <v Royal Kennedy>K. <v Denise Ferguson>Know that Mount Sinai has a Parents to Soon program right on Ivan, so you could actually <v Denise Ferguson>tap into them. And that puts someone onsite here in the school. <v Royal Kennedy>Leading the way is Denise Ferguson, head of the Council's Finance Committee. <v Royal Kennedy>Elected as a community representative at Collins. <v Royal Kennedy>Ferguson also chairs the LSC at her son's grade school.
<v Denise Ferguson>And if kids are not going to study then you could bring in speakers <v Denise Ferguson>or something where this time is not. <v Willie Bond>I agree. I agree. <v Royal Kennedy>The new assertiveness is not Ferguson's alone, but even extends to some of the council's <v Royal Kennedy>quietest members. Parent Katie Wade wants to tighten collins' policy <v Royal Kennedy>for participating in graduation ceremonies. <v Katie Wade>They shoudn't deserve to march if they two credits behind. That goes for my son or anyon else son. I mean other students can work all this time to march <v Willie Bond>That's local policy and if the, that can be changed. <v Royal Kennedy>The group discussions are no longer the acrimonious bickering of past meetings. <v Royal Kennedy>Personality conflicts have been put aside and the Collins Council and Willie Bond <v Royal Kennedy>are now engaged in positive group policymaking. <v Willie Bond>And what they do with me is what they supposed to do. <v Willie Bond>I should have the ability to convince them if my <v Willie Bond>stuff is right. <v Willie Bond>So when I think I'm right, I proceed to try to convict. <v Willie Bond>But sometimes they make good suggestion then I use my skill to find
<v Willie Bond>a way to incorporate their suggestion into what we're doing. <v Royal Kennedy>And tonight, the Collins Council finally unites. <v Royal Kennedy>They approve plans for the coming year that include many of their ideas. <v Royal Kennedy>The vote is unanimous. <v Royal Kennedy>But across town, things seem to have taken a step backwards. <v Sylvia Peters>We're trying to meet a lot of deadlines that have been <v Sylvia Peters>forced upon us for this school improvement process. <v Royal Kennedy>Principal Sylvia Peters informs the LSC that school board deadlines forced <v Royal Kennedy>her to submit a school improvement plan without significant parent input. <v Sylvia Peters>I said this is submitted for your conditional approval <v Sylvia Peters>with a consideration that there will be a schedule of serious meetings <v Sylvia Peters>for serious input. <v Royal Kennedy>And there are other problems. <v Royal Kennedy>The camaraderie of the council evident at the March retreat is showing signs of erosion. <v Royal Kennedy>Veronica Kyle has stopped showing up at meetings, apparently disillusioned <v Royal Kennedy>with the council's leadership and member Reginald Hudson becoming increasingly
<v Royal Kennedy>critical of Sylvia Peters. <v Royal Kennedy>Tonight Hudson is miffed that Peters submitted next year's school budget, even <v Royal Kennedy>though the Central Budget Office had made several mistakes figuring it. <v Royal Kennedy>Councils throughout the city are facing similar budget frustrations because they have <v Royal Kennedy>little power to make changes. <v Reginald Hudson>So are you saying that we had to submit something that was incorrect because there was a <v Reginald Hudson>deadline? <v Sylvia Peters>I think that we would have along with the other 500 some odd schools. <v Reginald Hudson>So I'm more concerned about the 500, I'm talking about this particular school, okay? <v Reginald Hudson>We had to submit something that was incorrect <v Reginald Hudson>and what we supposed to do? Change it as time goes on? <v Reginald Hudson>She's used to being <v Reginald Hudson>the big shot. She may feel a little put off that uh now she <v Reginald Hudson>has to deal with certain personalities. <v Reginald Hudson>And, you know, being that the council hires or fire, <v Reginald Hudson>you know. <v Reginald Hudson>She may feel that a little intimidated by that. <v Sylvia Peters>I wish that at times that people on the council who
<v Sylvia Peters>were disgruntled um would also follow <v Sylvia Peters>through with their responsibilities and obligations. <v Sylvia Peters>But that's neither here nor there. <v Sylvia Peters>I don't intend to be a crybaby about that. <v Sylvia Peters>I just intend to do to keep right on moving. <v Sylvia Peters>[music] <v Royal Kennedy>As the mercury climbs in June, discussions are heated and tempers are short at <v Royal Kennedy>the Collins Local School Council meeting. <v Teacher>The school is in utter chaos. Whether you believe me or not, the school is in utter <v Teacher>chaos. <v Royal Kennedy>A dozen teachers have come tonight to blame Principal Willie Bond for low morale at the <v Royal Kennedy>school and for intimidating those who dared to speak out against his policies. <v Teacher>These people are terrified, folks. <v Teacher>These people are scared for their job. <v Teacher>[laughter and applause] They are scared for their job and they are. <v Teacher>You are scared for your job. I'm going to get a job teaching because if I leave here, <v Teacher>somebody gone see me and say do you wanna teach my kids, I'm going to teach 'em.
<v Teacher>And I will teach kids somewhere if not here. <v Teacher>We all will. We want to teach. <v Royal Kennedy>Willie Bond chooses not to answer the charges of intimidation, but the council itself <v Royal Kennedy>gets some harsh criticism from the few parents who bother to show up at tonight's <v Royal Kennedy>meeting. <v Parent 4>Its something wrong in a situation where tonight, all you all talked about was <v Parent 4>when you was gon' meet next. <v Parent 4>What concrete thing did you do? <v Parent 4>Nothing. <v Parent 5>This is not funny. This is the only school that I have come to we don't get a <v Parent 5>agenda. We don't get any minutes. We don't get anything. <v Parent 5>It's just like we just come here to sit up and listen to y'all arguing with and among <v Parent 5>y'allself. We have no idea what's going on. <v Royal Kennedy>What's going on is that the cooperation between council members and Willie Bond, <v Royal Kennedy>which had recently looked so promising, has again regressed into the suspicion and <v Royal Kennedy>divisiveness of prior meetings. <v Royal Kennedy>And one teacher finds a sad similarity between the Collins LSC and the school's <v Royal Kennedy>disillusioned staff. <v Teacher 2>They fuss, argue, fight and divided out here.
<v Teacher 2>And I've come to every meeting and I watch you guys up there fuss, fight, argue and <v Teacher 2>are very divided. <v Teacher 2>If you want this group out here to get together, that group up <v Teacher 2>there must get together. And you know you are together. <v Council Member 2>Well, then quit callin' our houses, okay? <v Council Member 2>See it's a lot of things that you don't know to be going on. <v Council Member 2>It's enough to give you a heart attack, okay? <v Council Member 2>Okay and let me tell you something else. <v Council Member 2>It's hard, honey. It's hard working on a on a local school council. <v Council Member 2>It's not an easy job. And then when people are calling you on the phone and trying to get <v Council Member 2>you to go to this side, to that side, and you have to listen to that. <v Council Member 2>I mean, if you're going to be polite, I mean, it's a serious situation. <v Royal Kennedy> Finally, Lerner Brewer, a teacher and the council secretary gets her chance to speak. <v Royal Kennedy>Though Bond must take responsibility for some of Collin's problems, she says others <v Royal Kennedy>must also. <v Lerner Brewer>I believe there's enough blame to go around. <v Lerner Brewer>And know morale is low.
<v Lerner Brewer>I know it's low. And think Mr. Bond should address that. <v Lerner Brewer>Remember when we used to come in the morning and stay all day? <v Lerner Brewer>It's a shame that on any given day we got twelve, thirteen, <v Lerner Brewer>fourteen, fifteen staff members out. <v Lerner Brewer>Now tell me that tell me education's going on. <v Lerner Brewer>What happens to these kids? <v Lerner Brewer>These finals we gave, what a farce, and you know it? <v Lerner Brewer>You know, we just graduated a bunch of kids that you wouldn't hire. <v Lerner Brewer>Now let's get real. <v Royal Kennedy>And so the first year of reform at Collins High School ends much as it began <v Royal Kennedy>the education of children overshadowed by the battles of adults. <v Willie Bond>First year I expected what took place. <v Willie Bond>I was not surprised. It's new to everyone. <v Willie Bond>And anytime there's something new and it's political then people want <v Willie Bond>to have some influence on what's going to happen.
<v Willie Bond>So that's, I enjoy it. <v Gloria Harris>I can't say it is all his fault, but I blame him because he's the head <v Gloria Harris>administrator and it's not what happens next year, I blame <v Gloria Harris>him for this year. <v Denise Ferguson>We've gotten involved in these fights and it seems like there's no way out of it. <v Denise Ferguson>And I don't know anything that's been gained from the fighting. <v Denise Ferguson>I don't know one thing that has been achieved. <v Sylvia Peters>So I accept this award. <v Royal Kennedy>At Dumas, June has brought a crowning achievement for Sylvia Peters. <v Royal Kennedy>She wins a Whitman award, a $5000 prize given to 20 Chicago <v Royal Kennedy>principals who have made a major difference in their schools. <v Royal Kennedy>With the other winners, Peters is invited to discuss education with President Bush during <v Royal Kennedy>his visit to Chicago. <v Royal Kennedy>But back at Dumas, there is trouble. <v Royal Kennedy>Some students and parents are picketing the school furious because Peters abruptly <v Royal Kennedy>canceled the Dumas graduation luncheon after fighting broke out among eighth graders.
<v Royal Kennedy>When the local school council meets that night, it faces the largest turnout of the year. <v Royal Kennedy>Peters tells the parents that children must learn the consequences of bad behavior. <v Royal Kennedy>And that's why she's canceled the luncheon. <v Sylvia Peters>Because are we going to allow the children to grow like wild vines doing <v Sylvia Peters>whatever or are we going to say we need to have some standards? <v Royal Kennedy>But the ongoing behavior problems have had a more disturbing consequence. <v Royal Kennedy>Peters announces that an award winning science teacher, William Mitchell, is resigning. <v Royal Kennedy>Mitchell says student disrespect for him has now escalated into racial taunts. <v William Mitchell>But I can no longer stay with racism. <v William Mitchell>And I will say it. I feel racism here at Dumas. <v William Mitchell>I have seen the children harassed <v William Mitchell>and harangued teachers on the third floor for no apparent reason <v William Mitchell>except that they are white. <v William Mitchell>It is being taught by your faculty. <v William Mitchell>It is here. It is in your parents also you not necessarily,
<v William Mitchell>but in the parents. <v Royal Kennedy>Mitchell's resignation leaves the parents stunned. <v Speaker>Mr. Mitchell, I implore you, okay. <v Speaker>This school is moving. And if you leave, it's going to hurt us alot, okay. <v Speaker>We need you. <v Speaker>I fight racism because I don't like it perpetrated against me and if <v Speaker>I don't like it, if it's unfair when it's being perpetrated against me. <v Speaker>It is unfair when it's being perpetrated against you. <v Speaker>And that is not the way of the world. <v Speaker>That is not the way of the world. It is not okay to for children to disrespect you or <v Speaker>anybody else. It is no okay. <v Speaker>I'm not ready to say that this is a racist issue because I am black. <v Speaker>These students need to understand that there are some things they must come to school <v Speaker>with. And these are not necessarily things that we as teachers can give them. <v Speaker>We can make an effort, but we have to have something when they come here. <v Speaker>In terms of values. <v Royal Kennedy>But one mother questions the attack on parents.
<v Parent 6>If the children's behavior was so appalling, I expect <v Parent 6>a note home or something. <v Parent 6>The parent needs to know, the parent needs to know that their child conduct is <v Parent 6>unacceptable. <v Speaker>But it is a parent's responsibility to get up to that school and find out. <v Speaker>We have had a meeting every month since October and we <v Speaker>have not had such a turnout. <v Speaker>But I'm glad you're here because you need to know that you're welcome and you need <v Speaker>to come back here. If this needs to be a better place you need to make sure this is going <v Speaker>on. <v Royal Kennedy>At Dumas, the furor over the luncheon cancelation is a blessing in disguise, for it <v Royal Kennedy>represents what the council and Chicago school reform is all about. <v Royal Kennedy>Parents becoming directly involved in school policies and in their children's education. <v Royal Kennedy>This is the foundation upon which Dumas and other councils must build <v Royal Kennedy>if reform is to save Chicago's public schools down the road.
<v Sylvia Peters>These parents are not going let the schools slide down the tube. If everything <v Sylvia Peters>went along well, you would begin to question what is their real life <v Sylvia Peters>in this school? And th-that that that situation, let me know that there is real, <v Sylvia Peters>genuine, serious life in the school. <v Timothy Thompson>It's almost like a seed trying to break through the soil. <v Timothy Thompson>It takes a minute to deal with the struggle, but we're moving rapidly toward the <v Timothy Thompson>sunlight. <v Peggie Bartlett>To be able to govern ourselves, to be able to manage our building, to to fit <v Peggie Bartlett>a make a program that's tailored for purely for us. <v Peggie Bartlett>Nothing wears like a tailor made suit, something that's made just for <v Peggie Bartlett>you, just for your community, just for your students. <v Royal Kennedy>But can't communities like Woodlawn and Lawndale take advantage of the power that <v Royal Kennedy>school reform provides? <v Royal Kennedy>Many say no. That Pershing Road and government regulations still make it difficult <v Royal Kennedy>to make bold changes. <v Royal Kennedy>Others say the councils will give birth to a new leadership whose power will be felt
<v Royal Kennedy>not only in the schools but in Chicago political circles as well. <v Royal Kennedy>Who is right won't be known for years as the law is studied, fine tuned <v Royal Kennedy>and studied again. But one thing is certain Chicago school reform <v Royal Kennedy>is a revolution that the whole world is watching. <v Royal Kennedy>[graduation processional music] <v Ted Kimbrough>I think the getting in to the actual education of students <v Ted Kimbrough>is going to be the big awakening. <v Ted Kimbrough>We've been talking about governance now and dealing with governors for the past year. <v Ted Kimbrough>Now, how do you go about making education better for children? <v Ted Kimbrough>That's going to be the big question in the second year. <v George Munoz>You're going to get a lot of conflict. You're going to get some local school councils <v George Munoz>that are going to feel quite irritated and frustrated that they were <v George Munoz>sold a bill of goods, that they were told that they have a lot of power and say, over <v George Munoz>that lost over that school. <v George Munoz>They find out that the budget is pretty much fixed, that they really can't do much about
Making the Grade
Chicago School Reform: All Power to the Parents?
Producing Organization
Public Broadcasting Service (U.S.)
WTTW (Television station : Chicago, Ill.)
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The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia (Athens, Georgia)
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Episode Description
Episode 4 of Making the Grade focuses on implementing the new process of Chicago public school reform while focusing on how the parents handled their new roles and navigating the bureaucratic school system. This documentary follows the newly formed school councils of Collins High School and Alexander Dumas Elementary School. Prominent figures mentioned: Principal Sylvia Peters, Principal Willie Bond, President George Bush Sr., Ted Kimbrough, and Royal Kennedy as host.
Series Description
"MAKING THE GRADE was a year-long, ongoing project of WTTW/Chicago aimed at showing the range of existing approaches to the education crisis, including the need for citizen involvement in school reform. "In 1991, MAKING THE GRADE included SHOPPING FOR SCHOOLS, SCHOOL REFORM: ALL POWER TO THE PARENTS', TEACH ME!, and individual profiles of people who make a difference in education called MAKING THE GRADE MINUTES. Also incorporated into the series was a special edition of Chicago's weekly forum for independent producers, IMAGE UNION. "SHOPPING FOR SCHOOLS explores the national issue of 'educational choice,' with education experts and representatives of communities in which working choice plans are in place. SCHOOL REFORM: ALL POWER TO THE PARENTS? follows members of the local school councils as they work through their first year of this new system in school reform. TEACH ME! introduces viewers to new concepts in educational research and to teachers who are implementing them in the classroom. The IMAGE UNION SPECIAL featured videos shot by high school students about their perceptions of school and of the issue of school reform."--1991 Peabody Awards entry form.
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Producing Organization: Public Broadcasting Service (U.S.)
Producing Organization: WTTW (Television station : Chicago, Ill.)
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The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia
Identifier: cpb-aacip-66d2e6a49cd (Filename)
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Chicago: “Making the Grade; Chicago School Reform: All Power to the Parents?,” 1991, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 26, 2022,
MLA: “Making the Grade; Chicago School Reform: All Power to the Parents?.” 1991. The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 26, 2022. <>.
APA: Making the Grade; Chicago School Reform: All Power to the Parents?. Boston, MA: The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from