By Carl West
I’ve received some phone calls and emails after announcing theEducation Forum I’m producing and presenting with Mrs. Karen Lewis as featured speaker. I’ve even had silly adults unsubscribe to the news service because of their position against the message that Mrs. Lewis attempts to deliver. I say God bless the unsubscribers, they’ll miss out on relevant news and information that will appear now and in the future. I explained to the callers the importance of this discussion and my position on the side of education, which I can’t see why anyone will discount this conversation, regardless where it comes from. And those who unsubscribed are offset by the over 100 people who subscribed over the last week.
I have no likes versus dislikes on any organization at the center of the educational debate. I explained last week that I’m a product of Chicago Public School. CPS has been my backbone and life support to my emerging career and personal status. I met most of my great friends and past lovers (mainly my high school sweetheart) who I’ve learned an enormous amount of life lessons from. I believe in public schools and its progress. But those advances want and can not happen without the leadership of the best and brightest teachers and administrators walking the halls with the desire and intent to EDUCATE!
My praise for Chicago Teachers’ Union is not really about the union itself. Actually, I’m not a major fan of unions. Especially the ones that have locked Blacks out of any real advancements and opportunities, like the construction unions for instance. They’ve failed in their mission to incorporate the best and brightest and they should be targeted and denounced by political operatives and other unions and voters.
My excitement is about Karen Lewis and the tens of thousands who stood up to the boogie man and decided that they wanted more, deserved more and was not going to accept anything less than what was once promised. Even if the present mayor didn’t make most of the promises, it’s his responsibility to honor the commitment made by his predecessor. And the former mayor of Chicago is totally to blame for the mess that Chicago Public Schools find themselves in. He never should have taken over the system and embedded it into City Hall. The system should have stayed as a stand alone entity. But the former mayor needed the hundreds of millions of dollars generated by the CPS system to divert to his cronies and political allies.
I love the fact that the underdog (CTU and Lewis) took on the massive school system, and defeated its failed leaders (emanuel and brizard). I’m a by-product of the Civil Rights Movement led by Dr. King. I’m a distant offspring of people like Harriett Tubmanand the Underground Railroad, Malcolm X’s fight for acceptance, Medgar Evers, A Phillip Randolph, Frederick Douglass, Ida B. Wells, Madame C.J. Walker and so many more who fought for the advancements of humanity. This is my movement and I feel obligated to stand with a woman who also is battling for the life blood of hundreds of thousands of little Black and brown boys and girls and the leaders who’ll oversee their development and freedom.