thumbnail of School Reform: All Power to the Parents?
Hide -
<v Announcer>Production funds for this program were provided in part by the Lloyd A. <v Announcer>Frye Foundation. <v Woman>If this council doesn't work for the school, you will not have a school. <v Man>All the duties and <v Man>responsibilities of the local school councils. <v Man>They are as intelligent as you are. <v Woman>If we fight among one another, how can we help these children? <v Man>We wanna teach 'em. We can't teach 'em.We have these deals we want <v Man>to teach. <v Woman>What is this council really gonna be designed for, what is your purpose. <v Man>The only thing that's worthwhile saving is the children. Let everything else go to hell. <v Announcer>Tonight on WTTW Journal, a trip through Chicago school reform's first <v Announcer>year: all power to the parents. <v Royal Kennedy>Good evening. I'm Royal Kennedy. <v Royal Kennedy>In the fall of 1989, six thousand 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 who, with their principal, were given unprecedented power <v Royal Kennedy>to reform their children's failing school system. <v Royal Kennedy>Tonight, we follow two of these councils through their first year. <v Royal Kennedy>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. Mostly, this is a story of pure grassroots democracy, <v Royal Kennedy>how parents average people's 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 and if school <v Royal Kennedy>reform is to work, it must work here. <v Sylvia Peters>I've been the principal of the school since January 9th... <v Royal Kennedy>October 18th, 1989. <v Royal Kennedy>The first meeting of the Alexander Dumas Elementary Local School Council.
<v Sylvia Peters>The 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 and 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>This is my home. <v Royal Kennedy>Peggy Bartlett is a mother of two 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 70sm 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 Dumas 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 Speaker>But Sylvia Peters' efforts to involve other parents soon backfires. <v Councilmember>And not to sound like I'm you know, I want to be a troublemaker, but I'm genuinely <v Councilmember>concerned about what goes on in my town. And I feel that I should be able to do this. <v Councilmember>So, you know, when I ask you that question, what is this council really going to be <v Councilmember>designed for? What is your purpose? <v Councilmember>Any parent sitting out here who has a concern about their child
<v Councilmember>and want to make sure that this council hears your concern, that you <v Councilmember>rise up and serve on the committee. <v Councilmember>Be involved, working. Right now, I'm not exactly employed. <v Councilmember>Right now, so I have time to come to these meetings. <v Councilmember>But during an average day when I'm working I don't have no time to come down and <v Councilmember>any meetings and all your so-called whatever fundraisers might come up. <v Councilmember>This is not a petty situation. <v Royal Kennedy>But others in the audience say parents must support the council. <v Councilmember>If this council doesn't work with the school you will not have the school. <v Councilmember>You will not have any black school, any minority school. <v Councilmember>You'll only have what other people want you you have. <v Councilmember>So don't just start here tonight and start this petty stuff. You <v Councilmember>got a chip on your shoulder, get it off. <v Royal Kennedy>Sylvia Peters is disgusted that <v Royal Kennedy>the meeting has gotten out of hand. <v Royal Kennedy>Though Peggy Bartlett 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 are sitting here arguing about nonsense. <v Sylvia Peters>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>We don't permit the children to carry on this way. <v Councilmember>The reason I got on this council is for one reason only. <v Councilmember>It's about a brother 20 years ago <v Councilmember>named Marvin Gaye. Say, what's going on <v Councilmember>that our children, what a shame. <v Councilmember>What a way to live. <v Councilmember>If we do not save our children, there will be no tomorrow for us. <v Councilmember>This is why we in this position right now. <v Councilmember>This system has taken us up in the air like a eagle and taken <v Councilmember>us off the nest, which we have been sitting in for the last 400 years.
<v Councilmember>He said, you fly, or you die. So I'm saying only <v Councilmember>thing that's worthwhile saving is the children. <v Councilmember>Let everything else go to hell. <v Speaker>[Council applauds] <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... <v Royal Kennedy>Willie Bond has been principal at Collins since 1985 and has taught <v Royal Kennedy>and worked in Lawndale schools for 30 years. <v Willie Bond>Is money 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 Royal Kennedy>Yes, I'd like to nominate Mrs Gloria Harris as our chairperson. <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>Congratulations, Gloria.
<v Royal Kennedy>Gloria Harris has a daughter at Collins and another who recently graduated. <v Royal Kennedy>And she's been active at the school for years, as have many others on the Collins <v Royal Kennedy>council. As chairperson, Harris will face some tough challenges, <v Royal Kennedy>including poor morale among Colins 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 <v Coretta McFarren>just coalesce around any particular problem in the 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 Speaker>The move is how to win a second Leibniz's fragrance and that the meat stand adjourned <v Speaker>and saw 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 first hands we can do now know really get involved like, say, <v Clementine Hardaway>hiring, firing, principals and that sort of thing. I don't know if we gonna get involved <v Clementine Hardaway>in that but we'll actually be able to do some real hands-on kind of things for the <v Clementine Hardaway>school. And I think it's important, all of us, not just the parents today here. <v Clementine Hardaway>Everybody excited. <v Gloria Harris>Yes. I think reform may work. <v Gloria Harris>It may not. 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, but I think even if it doesn't work, <v Gloria Harris>it should put something on the minds of the parents. <v Gloria Harris>So it makes me want to come out and work. <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, the Chicago Catholic schools in 1987 had just one administrator <v Royal Kennedy>for every six thousand 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's 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 don't know one worse. <v Royal Kennedy>It was time for a radical change. <v Royal Kennedy>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. <v Royal Kennedy>These LSCs would be dominated by parents newly empowered to make decisions <v Royal Kennedy>at the local school level. <v Speaker>What's going on in Chicago is absolutely unique. <v Speaker>It's the most far reaching and fundamental change that's ever been envisioned in a big <v Speaker>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 by education.
<v Royal Kennedy>Professor Dan Lewis says school reformers were out to break the back of the bloated <v Royal Kennedy>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 today. <v Royal Kennedy>The success of this new system depends largely on the interim Chicago school board, <v Royal Kennedy>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 <v Royal Kennedy>Pershing Road staff. <v Board Member>Are you using every person here who has these skills? <v Bureacrat>Every person I can find, yes. <v Royal Kennedy>Nearly three weeks after the local school council elections staff has yet to <v Royal Kennedy>complete a printed guide to help the 540 LSCs 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. <v Royal Kennedy>Without the guide, the council's momentum has ground to a halt.
<v Joseph Reed>We went from just feeling that some of the key players <v Joseph Reed>in the administration were inept to the <v Joseph Reed>fact that we thought some of them were literally sabotaging <v Joseph Reed>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 <v George Munoz>out of 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 Colins 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 Earle>Position number 64 - <v Willie Bond>Is close. <v Penny Earle>Oh fifty one. And I have a right to know why it was close. <v Royal Kennedy>Penny Earle, 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 Earle 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 Earle's cause. <v Speaker>Does Collins High School at this point - wait - does Collins High School at this point <v Speaker>need 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 Speaker>I'd like to call this order to meeting this meeting <v Speaker>to order. Would like some order for my meeting, okay? <v Speaker>[Laughs] <v Royal Kennedy>At Dumas in Novembe, the council gets a good turnout <v Royal Kennedy>for its meeting, which is scheduled the same day parents pick up their children's report
<v Royal Kennedy>cards. As with Collins and many other councils, the Dumas chairperson <v Royal Kennedy>Peggy Bartlett is struggling with parliamentary procedure. <v Peggy Bartlett>Call for the question. <v Peggy Bartlett>All those in favor of moving on to new business <v Peggy Bartlett>say aye. <v Speaker>[Chorus says "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. Its brother, Tim, as he is known, makes a stunning proposal <v Royal Kennedy>that the council adopt a 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. <v Timothy Thompson>They have no resistance from the negativity that that <v Timothy Thompson>this society puts on them, because we have not <v Timothy Thompson>taken the time to give them a sense of identity <v Timothy Thompson>with their maker. <v Royal Kennedy>Father Tim reads the affirmatio he wants spoken in school each morning
<v Royal Kennedy>just before the 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, Elohim. 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. <v Timothy Thompson>Every desire is glorified and brought into perfect manifestation. <v Timothy Thompson>We give thanks for perfect life. <v Timothy Thompson>Expressing within every cell, atom, muscle. <v Speaker>[Overlapping chatter] do you believe that these eleven people here, including this <v Speaker>principal, is almost as intelligent as you mister? <v Speaker>Don't insult me. <v Speaker>You are insulting me. <v Speaker>We are just as intelligent as you are. <v Speaker>You keep trying to tell these people how they are supposed to act, that you got all the <v Speaker>sense. They are as intelligent as you are.
<v Speaker>All I'm doing - <v Speaker>[?inaudible?] <v Speaker>Stop Lori now. Make them stop now. Yeah. <v Timothy Thompson>I thank you, Father God, Mother, for your love, peace, joy, <v Timothy Thompson>courage, power, truth, patience, faith. <v Timothy Thompson>And for the opportunity to serve the Father God Mother <v Timothy Thompson>lovingly and cheerfully. <v Speaker>At Dumas, some parents support the concept of Brother Tim's affirmation, though most <v Speaker>council members are tentative. <v Woman>We are serving in an institution that is reminding us constantly on the issue of <v Woman>separation of church and state. <v Timothy Thompson>No such thing. <v Woman>And I don't want to debate Brother Tim -. <v Speaker>Brother Tim will persist all year on the affirmation, but the council will essentially <v Speaker>leave it tabled.And at Collins, the council stays out of the Pinny <v Speaker>Earl affair, but they are driven from their meeting. <v Woman>I have to move to adjourn. <v Speaker>[Overlapping chatter]. <v Woman>Since
<v Woman>the meeting adjourned you - <v Man>I'm talking to his parents. <v Woman>We haven't discussed. <v Man>You have demonstrated that I made a great decision. <v Royal Kennedy>If public education has failed in Chicago, it's neighborhoods like Woodlawn, <v Royal Kennedy>where Dumas Elementary is located and 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' 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. [Bell rings] Schoolchildren here can learn Spanish and Latin. <v Royal Kennedy>Suzuki violin and cello are taught side by side with social studies and spelling, <v Royal Kennedy>and while reading scores are generally low, the second and eighth grades are now reading <v Royal Kennedy>at their grade levels. A real accomplishment for an inner city school.
<v Royal Kennedy>Many people believe its principal Sylvia Peters who's made the difference. <v Royal Kennedy>And with her experience in the Chicago school system, Peters has an innate advantage that <v Royal Kennedy>allows her to lead the Dumas Local School Council in these early months. <v Royal Kennedy>As a result, she can shape its direction. <v Speaker>[Chorus of children singing]. <v Royal Kennedy>On this particular day, the children of Dumas are entertaining several dozen Chicago <v Royal Kennedy>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 <v Royal Kennedy>on 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 and if you show <v Sylvia Peters>that you seriously care about these children, you can't <v Sylvia Peters>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. <v Sylvia Peters>And if you feel it's going to fail, 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 going to get. <v Sylvia Peters>You're going to 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. <v Royal Kennedy>But across town in the community of Lawndale, Collins' principal Willie Bond is also <v Royal Kennedy>the 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>The intent may not have anything to do with, in its present form, with <v Willie Bond>improvement of education. I think that was some of the intent here. <v Royal Kennedy>What's the intent? <v Speaker>Well, my gut feeling is there were too many black people in too many places at <v Speaker>the Board of Education. <v Speaker>Too many contracts going in the wrong direction and they need to adjust. <v Speaker>The other thing, the reason that I view it with suspicion. <v Speaker>The traditional black groups that <v Speaker>have been involved in everything that have happened in Chicago were <v Speaker>not involved in this process. <v Speaker>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's not living in Lawndale because they 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 parent, <v Willie Bond>the possibility of good things happening is <v Willie Bond>there. <v Willie Bond>The question will be, 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 councils efforts to gain the power the new school reform law was <v Royal Kennedy>supposed to give them. <v Ted Kimbrough>You know, coming to Chicago is a homecoming for me. <v Royal Kennedy>Enter Ted Kimbro, a brand new superintendent of Chicago schools. <v Royal Kennedy>He has been brought here for more than one hundred and seventy five thousand dollars a <v Royal Kennedy>year from Compton, California, where he ran a school system less than one <v Royal Kennedy>18th the size of Chicago's. Hopes are high that Kimbro can cut inefficiency <v Royal Kennedy>and nurture reform along. <v Board Member>So that is a matter of some urgency to have it done. <v Royal Kennedy>On this January day, Kimbro is here at school board 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 Royal Kennedy>Right now, there is a great deal of confusion that exists. <v Sylvia Peters>We are told that - <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, 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. <v Sylvia Peters>And we 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 Kimbro and his constituents, but on the front <v Royal Kennedy>lines, some councils are preparing for battle. <v Gloria Harris>Hello, how are you doing? You ready to come to the meeting tonight? <v Royal Kennedy>This Friday afternoon, Chairperson Gloria Harris sits with her two daughters as she <v Royal Kennedy>prepares for a special meeting of the Colins Local School Council.
<v Royal Kennedy>Harris wants to discuss what she calls Mr. Bond's tactics, namely Principal <v Royal Kennedy>Willie Bond's hiring of council 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, it's doing a lot of things to us and we feel, <v Gloria Harris>I think it's all Mr. Bond's doing. <v Councilmember>Miss Brew, 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 roll call appear on tonight's typed agenda prepared <v Royal Kennedy>by teacher and council member Tyrone Jordan.
<v Gloria Harris>It's up to me to put out an agenda. <v Gloria Harris>I want to put out as I write it and ascertain this agenda - I <v Gloria Harris>did not call. <v Tyrone Jordan>Maybe I'm responsible for that. <v Tyrone Jordan>I just followed the previous one. I didn't mean any harm. <v Gloria Harris>The previous ones don't have roll call. <v Tyrone Jordan>In the book that we follow - I just said, roll call. <v Tyrone Jordan>If you want to - I'd never put it in again. <v Tyrone Jordan>I'm sorry. <v Royal Kennedy>Harris thinks that Jordan went behind her back to Bond <v Royal Kennedy>with the controversial agenda. <v Royal Kennedy>Mr. Bonds is not the chairperson. <v Royal Kennedy>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, try 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>Isn't it based off - Just roll call. <v Tyrone Jordan>Right. I mean, that's kind of small. Don't you think? <v Tyrone Jordan>Roll call? <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. <v Tyrone Jordan>You come to me earlier and say you were the only one trying to help me. Now you're gonna <v Tyrone Jordan>attack me and all that. <v Gloria Harris>That's true.
<v Tyrone Jordan>Is that's true? You say it then. Now you want to public to attack me because I haven't <v Tyrone Jordan>done it. <v Gloria Harris>I am publicly attacking you because you took the agenda to Mr. <v Gloria Harris>Bond. <v Royal Kennedy>Though several members trying 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: the showdown over Mr. Bond's <v Royal Kennedy>tactics. <v Gloria Harris>The meeting was called because Mr. Bonds <v Gloria Harris>has on one occasion, he closed the position on a second occasion, he <v Gloria Harris>opened one without informing the council. <v Royal Kennedy>The law doesn't require a principle 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 earle's position in the library are not the fundamental <v Royal Kennedy>issues here. This meeting is about mistrust and mistrust <v Royal Kennedy>among council members, 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>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 through hiring, <v Gloria Harris>firing or whatever. <v Royal Kennedy>But parent Shirley Deer, 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 Deer>It is a position that was open, and if any of us wanted it, we could <v Shirley Deer>have gotten it. <v Royal Kennedy>And this is not just a difference of opinion, but a family matter. <v Royal Kennedy>Clementine Hadaway is Deers' own sister. <v Shirley Deer>I am sick and tired of this myth that's going all up here. <v Shirley Deer>How can we put signs up, verse in this principal here, and the children are seeing it <v Shirley Deer>and they goin' around talking about it. If we fightin' among one another, how could we
<v Shirley Deer>help these children? If we upset, the teachers upse,t and the children are upset <v Shirley Deer>so that, you know what we don't get? Zip. <v Shirley Deer>We can not -. <v Speaker>Thank you Ms. Deer. <v Shirley Deer>No I'm not finished. That's right, this is a true fact. Wait a minute, I'm not through, I'm not through. <v Shirley Deer>Y'all asked me if I had anything to say so let me get through. <v Shirley Deer>Let me get through - everybody gonna talk, make a fuss. <v Shirley Deer>But let me talk. <v Shirley Deer>Let me talk. Well, well, you can say that, that's your problem. <v Shirley Deer>Truthfully, Ms. Harris and I have been friends, and I want it to stay like that, <v Shirley Deer>but no one never called me and told me about this meeting. <v Shirley Deer>So I know that everybody here got together and talk 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>With yearly information you want, you may have it, but you have <v Willie Bond>provided me only one opportunity to give you information, and that's at the monthly <v Willie Bond>meeting, which means most of the thing that transpired from day to day. <v Willie Bond>How do I 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 Tyronne Jordan <v Royal Kennedy>advises the council to get its act together. <v Tyrone Jordan>The 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 at school. <v Tyrone Jordan>You know, I think it's a willing for power. <v Tyrone Jordan>I think people were kind of tripping. And there are some things that if we don't sit down <v Tyrone Jordan>and really start respecting one another and appreciating each <v Tyrone Jordan>other a little bit better, we're going to have some serious problems. <v Tyrone Jordan>We have 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. <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. <v Speaker>[Students 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 at 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. Burns students are almost all Hispanic from low income <v Royal Kennedy>families. Here, as in other Hispanic neighborhoods, the sense of grassroots
<v Royal Kennedy>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, theirs individually and Hispanics as a whole, <v Daniel Solis>to participate in this because it means power and means money and means resources. <v Daniel Solis>It means influence. <v Royal Kennedy>And a potential for conflict in the shaky marriages of councils <v Royal Kennedy>and principals from different ethnic backgrounds. <v Speaker>If the whole push for reform was a dissatisfaction of how things <v Speaker>have occurred, the likelihood is that you're going to want to have councils change <v Speaker>principals. Otherwise, if you had all councils agree with the principals that they had in
<v Speaker>there, you're basically going to say, why do 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 Vélez 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 Mister Kriz, told to this council when we took place in that school <v William Velez>where that he was the only one state policies in that school, <v William Velez>make policies, and not the council. <v Donald Kriz>Their interpretation of the word cooperation was that I turn over the complete control of <v Donald Kriz>this school to them. That is not my definition of cooperation. <v Donald Kriz>Now should their definition prevail. Then I will admit that I am noncooperative.
<v Royal Kennedy>George Munoz says that this is typical of the stalemates that many new councils and old <v Royal Kennedy>line principals have faced all year. <v George Munoz>They didn't mix well. There was a feeling that of non communication, and therefore <v George Munoz>those councils responded accordingly. <v Royal Kennedy>In late February, the Burns Council tells Krizthat he will not be automatically <v Royal Kennedy>rehired if he wants to be principal, he'll have to apply along with other candidates. <v Royal Kennedy>The move angers Crist's supporters. <v Rosemary Romero>They call, they hang up. They're threatening my family and myself. <v Rosemary Romero>If you don't change your votes, you're going to be sorry. <v Rosemary Romero>Your family's going to be sorry. <v Royal Kennedy>Violence never materializes, 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. <v Royal Kennedy>And now unpopular. <v Donald Kriz>Says one of our -. <v Royal Kennedy>It is now April eight, 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. <v Donald Kriz>OK. I'm glad to see you all back. <v Donald Kriz>Hi. Thanks so much. <v Royal Kennedy>Kriz suspects the real reason for the council's conflict with him is because he is not <v Royal Kennedy>Hispanic and does not speak Spanish. <v Donald Kriz>It became very apparent what the initial meetings that 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 Danny Solis>I really don't care who these councils pick pick as long as they pick the best possible <v Danny Solis>individual to be their principal of that school. <v Royal Kennedy>And eventually, a city wide 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>the council must follow to judge its principals' performance. <v Royal Kennedy>Under the School Reform Act, principals lost their tenure, <v Royal Kennedy>but are now suing to get it back. <v Royal Kennedy>Bruce Berendt of the Chicago Principals Association suggests that an <v Royal Kennedy>LSC support of a principal may depend more on politics 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 bases 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 LSCs 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 Lenz>I think there are many councils that were looking to their principal for leadership and <v Linda Lenz>guidance, and they didn't want to get rid of that individual because they needed him or <v Linda Lenz>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 with the rest was satisfied with the response they got from -. <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 <v Royal Kennedy>scrutiny from a council that will ultimately have the last word on his job. <v Royal Kennedy>
<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 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>voted 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 opportunity. <v Royal Kennedy> The retreat is led by Joan Jeter Slay, a member of the interim <v Royal Kennedy>school board and the leader of Designs for Change, a school advocacy group <v Royal Kennedy>that's pushed long and hard for school reform. <v Joan Jeter Slay>They say well you raise 'em. Many of these parents can't [?inaudible?] 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 and responsibilities under <v Royal Kennedy>school reform and about laws and regulations that apply to schools. <v Royal Kennedy>This is the kind of guidance that all school councils have needed from day one. <v Councilmember>Below are listed 15 items left intact and undamaged after <v Councilmember>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 Councilmember>So if we have water, we have an opportunity to reach our objective <v Councilmember>through reasoning, see if we lose our water we sort of <v Councilmember>short circuit ourselves. <v Royal Kennedy>This is not easy. It takes the group more than an hour to compromise on a final <v Royal Kennedy>list. <v Councilmember>Now we're down to twelve and eleven. <v Councilmember>So which one? The milk or the gun?
<v Councilmember>Eleven. Eleven for the eleven. <v Councilmember>Alright. Eleven for the gun. <v Councilmember>You can tell we live in the city [Audience 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 find some fault with the way it handled that. <v Joan Jeter Slay>You started out declaring consensus. <v Joan Jeter Slay>And that's just what happens in meetings. People say, say, yeah, <v Joan Jeter Slay>yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. These are the articulate people and they say that's right. <v Joan Jeter Slay>The chairperson person says, OK, moving right along. <v Joan Jeter Slay>And this lady right there didn't open her mouth. <v Joan Jeter Slay>And we just go marching along. <v Joan Jeter Slay>See we have a tendency to say, OK, majority <v Joan Jeter Slay>rule. And as a minority person, that <v Joan Jeter Slay>bothers me. Hey, wait a minute. Somebody's speaking over here.
<v Joan Jeter Slay>I think that people have to become conscious of that. <v Councilmember>I heard a lot of we's at the end of this that I didn't hear the beginning, including with <v Councilmember>myself, because I said, how am I going to survive? <v Speaker>And if local school councils are to survive, Slay says, they must listen and learn <v Speaker>from every member. <v Joan Jeter Slay>Your mama's probably told you as my mama did, two heads are better than one. It's the truth. <v Joan Jeter Slay>Cooperation, collaboration is essential. What <v Joan Jeter Slay>we would like to do is break up instead of going into new business. <v Joan Jeter Slay>We'd like to break up in committees now and see can <v Joan Jeter Slay>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 councilmembers break into committees to talk about specific school projects. <v Royal Kennedy>There is a fund raising committee. <v Man>People buy those. <v Woman>They cost us a quarter, we sell them for 50 cents. <v Royal Kennedy>One for parental recruitment.
<v Man>Uh, textbook selection. <v Royal Kennedy>And one for the affirmation. <v Timothy Thompson>We we're not affirming a prayer. <v Timothy Thompson>We're just affirming praises and thanksgiving to a positive and unification <v Timothy Thompson>of the family, that's all. <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>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 Montague Goodo, 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 rejects most <v Royal Kennedy>nominees for the new Chicago school board, which are scheduled to be in place by May <v Royal Kennedy>15th. <v Mayor Daley>I am announcing today... <v Royal Kennedy>And finally, Superintendent Ted Kimbro announces he'll move hundreds of school
<v Royal Kennedy>administrators to new district service centers around the city. <v Royal Kennedy>Reformers say Kimbro 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. <v Royal Kennedy>Their 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 Collins High schools, 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>Tyronne 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' frequent clashes with Principal <v Royal Kennedy>Willie Bon have split the council further, he warned.
<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 line-by-line <v Royal Kennedy>principal Bond's draft of the school improvement plan, the summer school program, the <v Royal Kennedy>budget and various government programs. <v Willie Bond>Many of our young ladies have medical and social problem related to pregnancy. <v Royal Kennedy>For the first time, council members are brimming with ideas not just to improve <v Royal Kennedy>Bond's proposals but to change school policies. <v Denise Ferguson>I know that my Sinai has a parents program right on Ogden, so you could actually tap into <v Denise Ferguson>them in essence with someone on site here in the schools. <v Royal Kennedy>Leading the way is Denise Fergusson, head of the Council's Finance Committee. <v Royal Kennedy>Elected as a community representative at Collins, Ferguson also chairs the LSC <v Royal Kennedy>at her son's grade school. <v Denise Ferguson>And if kids are not gonna study, then you could bring in speakers <v Denise Ferguson>or something.
<v Willie Bond>I agree. But that wouldn't be - 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>quietist members. Parent Katie Wade wants to tighten Collins policy <v Royal Kennedy>for participating in graduation ceremonies. <v Katie Wade>They shouldn't deserve to march if they're two credits behind, that goes for my son and anyone else's son. <v Willie Bond>That's. <v Katie Wade>I mean the other students work all this hard to march. <v Willie Bond>That's local policy and 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>What they do with me is what they're 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 convince. <v Willie Bond>But sometimes they make good suggestions, 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 column's council, finally unites, they approve plans for the coming <v Royal Kennedy>year that include many of their ideas. 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 the 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 is becoming increasingly <v Royal Kennedy>critical of Sylvia Peteris. Tonight Hudson is miffed that Peters submitted
<v Royal Kennedy>next year's school budget, even though the Central Budget Office had made several <v Royal Kennedy>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>Why am I concerned about the five hundred schools? I'm talking about this particular <v Reginald Hudson>school, okay? we had to submit something that was incorrect <v Reginald Hudson>and what we suppsed to do, change itaAs time goes on? <v Reginald Hudson>She's used to being the big shot. <v Reginald Hudson>She may feel a little put off that now she has to deal with certain personalities. <v Reginald Hudson>And, you know, being that the council hires or fires, <v Reginald Hudson>you know, she may feel that a little <v Reginald Hudson>intimidated by that. <v Sylvia Peters>I wish that at times that people on the consult <v Sylvia Peters>who were disgruntled would also have followed
<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 tend to be a crybaby about that, I just did tend to try to <v Sylvia Peters>keep right on moving. <v Royal Kennedy>As the mercury climbs in June, discussions are heated and tempers are short at <v Royal Kennedy>the Colins 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>They are scared for their job. And they are. <v Teacher>They are scared for their job. <v Speaker>[Audience laughs] <v Teacher>I'm going to get a job teaching because if I leave here, somebody's gonna see me <v Teacher>and say do you wanna teach my kids? I'm gonna teach 'em. And I will teach kids somewhere, if not here.
<v Teacher>We all will. We wanna teach. <v Teacher>We can't teach. <v Royal Kennedy>Willie Bond chooses not to answer the charges of intimidation. <v Royal Kennedy>But the council itself gets some harsh criticism from the few parents who bother to show <v Royal Kennedy>up at tonight's meeting. <v Teacher>All I'm sayin' is something wrong in a situation where tonight all you all talked about <v Teacher>was when you was gonna meet next? What concrete thing did you do? <v Teacher>Nothing. This is not funny. <v Teacher>This is the only school that I have come to. <v Teacher>We don't get agenda, we don't get any minutes. <v Teacher>We don't get anything. It's just like we just come here to sit up and listen to yall <v Teacher>argue and whisper among yourself. <v Teacher>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 under 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 schools <v Royal Kennedy>disillusioned staff. <v Teacher>They first argue, fight and divide out here. <v Teacher>And I've come to every meeting and I watch you guys out there first fight and are
<v Teacher>very divided. If you want this group out here <v Teacher>to get together, that group up there must get together. <v Teacher>And you know you are. <v Speaker>[Audience applauds] <v Councilmember>Well, now, look, it's a lot of things that you don't know that be going on It's enough to <v Councilmember>give you a heart attack, okay. <v Councilmember>Let me tell you something else. It's hard. <v Councilmember>It is hard working on it on a local school council. <v Councilmember>It's not an easy job. And then when people are calling you on the phone and trying to get <v Councilmember>you to go to this side, to that sde, and you have to listen to them. <v Councilmember>I mean, if you're going to be polite, I mean, it's a serious situation. <v Royal Kennedy>Finally Lerna Brewer, a teacher, and the council's 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 Lerna Brewer>I believe there's enough blame to go around. <v Lerna Brewer>I know morale is low. <v Lerna Brewer>I know it's low. <v Lerna Brewer>And I think Mr. Bond should address that.
<v Lerna Brewer>Remember when we used to come in the morning and stay all day? <v Lerna Brewer>It's a shame that on any given day we get twelve, thirteen, <v Lerna Brewer>fourteen, fifteen staff members out. <v Lerna Brewer>Now tell me that, tell me education's going on. <v Lerna Brewer>What happens to these kids? <v Lerna Brewer>These finals we gave were a farce and, you know it, you know, we just <v Lerna Brewer>graduated a bunch of kids that you wouldn't [?inaudble?] Now <v Lerna Brewer>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>Frankly 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 that 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? <v Gloria Harris>I blame 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 five thousand dollar prize given to 20 Chicago <v Royal Kennedy>principals who've made a major difference in their schools. <v Royal Kennedy>With the other winners, peters is invited to discuss education with President <v Royal Kennedy>Bush during his visit to Chicago. <v Royal Kennedy>But back at Dumas, there's 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? <v Sylvia Peters>Doing whatever? Or are we going to say we need to have <v Sylvia Peters>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 and I will say <v William Mitchell>it. I feel racism here at Dumas. <v William Mitchell>I have seen the children harassed and harangued teachers on the third floor <v William Mitchell>for no apparent reason 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. <v William Mitchell>Not necessarily, but in the parents.
<v Royal Kennedy>Mitchell's resignation leaves the parents stunned. <v Parent>Mr. Mitchell, I implore you. <v Parent>This school is moving. <v Parent>And if you leave, it's gonna hurt us a lot. <v Parent>OK. We need you. <v Speaker>I fight racism because I don't like it perpetrated against me and I <v Speaker>don't like it. If it's unfair when it's being perpetrated against me, it is unfair what <v Speaker>is being perpetrated against you. And that is not the way of the world. <v Speaker>That is not the way of the world. It is not okay for children to disrespect you or <v Speaker>anybody else. It is not 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 <v Speaker>to school with and that these are not necessarily things that we as teachers <v Speaker>can give them. We can make an effort. <v Speaker>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>If the children's behavior was so appalling, I expect
<v Parent>a note home or something. <v Parent>The parent sneed to know that their child's contact is unacceptable. <v Parent>But it is a parent's responsibility to get up to that school and find out. <v Parent>We have had a meeting every month since October and we <v Parent>have not had such a turnout. <v Parent>But I'm glad you're here because you need to know that you're welcome and you need <v Parent>to come back here. If this needs to be a better place you have to make sure <v Parent>that this is going on. <v Royal Kennedy>At Dumas, the furor over the luncheon cancelation is a blessing in disguise, <v Royal Kennedy>for it represents what the council and Chicago school reform is all about. <v Royal Kennedy>Parents becoming directly involved in school policies and <v Royal Kennedy>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 gonna let the school slide down the tube.
<v Sylvia Peters>If everything went along well, you would begin <v Sylvia Peters>to question what is their real life in this school, and that <v Sylvia Peters>situation let me know that there is real, 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 Peggy Bartlett>To be able to govern ourselves, to be able to manage our building, to <v Peggy Bartlett>to fit a make a program that's tailored for purely for us. <v Peggy Bartlett>Nothing wears like a tailor made suit. <v Peggy Bartlett>Something that's made just for you, just for your community, <v Peggy Bartlett>just for your students. <v Royal Kennedy>But can 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. <v Royal Kennedy>Chicago school reform is a revolution that the whole world is watching. <v Speaker>[Pomp and Circumstance plays] <v Ted Kimbrough>I think the 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 governance 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 that <v George Munoz>loss over that school. <v George Munoz>They find out that the budget is pretty much fixed, that they really can't do much about <v George Munoz>non-performing people and that their students aren't doing any better.
School Reform: All Power to the Parents?
Producing Organization
WTTW (Television station : Chicago, Ill.)
Contributing Organization
The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia (Athens, Georgia)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip-526-w08w951w4j).
Program Description
"After Secretary of Education William Bennett called the Chicago public schools the 'nation's worst,' lawmakers, community leaders, and corporate heads got together to save the schools. "The results of their work was a sweeping reform of the system which put parents in charge of their children's schools. National attention refocused on Chicago as the bold experiment began during the 1989-90 school year, but that attention waned when there was no instant transformation. "Rather than sit back and wait, the producers of School Reform: All Power to the Parents' spent a year following two local school councils as they struggled to understand their role and to exercise the power they had been given. This story of the evolution of local school councils shows the parents discovering problems common to all nascent democracies and their growing sense of empowerment. "By watching as the parents dealt with [bureaucracy], recalcitrant principals, and each other, School Reform gives a realistic and important portrayal of the work needed to make Chicago's bold experiment work."--1990 Peabody Awards entry form.
Broadcast Date
Asset type
Media type
Moving Image
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Producing Organization: WTTW (Television station : Chicago, Ill.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia
Identifier: cpb-aacip-55daaf86687 (Filename)
Format: U-matic
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “School Reform: All Power to the Parents?,” 1990-09-20, 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 28, 2022,
MLA: “School Reform: All Power to the Parents?.” 1990-09-20. 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 28, 2022. <>.
APA: 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