With guest, Louder Than a Bomb poet Nate Marshall

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Another summit

Daley calls for a police surge

From Webster: Summit--the topmost level attainable ; a dizzying and often insecure height

As expected, here comes the post-Copenhagen hand-wringing, speech making, and soul-searching by Chicago politicians, topped off with a Mayor Daley-called summit, in the wake of the violence and Darrion Albert's death outside of Fenger High School.

Also as expected, comes the apology (of sorts) from schools chief Ron Huberman for the chaos caused by neighborhood school closings and shipping hundreds of kids across the city to receiver schools like Fenger that are unprepared to deal with the consequences. We heard the exact same apology several years ago from Arne Duncan, after he closed Austin High School and shipped kids over to Clemente, sparking a similar outbreak of violence.

In the largely African-American Austin neighborhood, about half of the 7,000 high school-aged students were forced to travel outside the community to other schools after Austin High School was shuttered in 2007. Some ended up at the mostly Latino Roberto Clemente Community Academy High School, where school officials weren't given "any kind of a warning," said Idida Perez, a community organizer with West Town Leadership United. The result was near daily fights between the newcomers and the neighborhood kids, she said.

"You have a trail of blood and tears ever since they launched (Renaissance 2010)," said Tio Hardiman, director of the anti-violence organization CeaseFire Illinois. "There's a history of violence associated with moving kids from one area to another." (AP Wire)
Obama is sending Arne Duncan back to Chicago to solve the problem. Isn't that like sending the arsonist back to the scene of the fire?

The predictable results of the summit: it's a "gang problem" with a police surge solution. What about the worsening of neighborhood conditions, easy accessibility to guns, school closings, busting up small schools, and misguided turnaround policies?

The question remains: who will take responsibility for the kids? Right now all we hear from the summit buck-passers is--it's nobody's fault (it's everybody's fault). It's society's fault. It's parent's faut. It's good kids vs. bad kids (thugs). It's rap-music.

Resembling a kind of obscene game of Russian Roulette research, Huberman is spending $30 million to guess which of the city's 400,000 public school students will most likely be killed this year, notify their parents and get them to "change their life styles."
The 200 students assessed as being in the "ultra high risk" category were deemed to have greater than a 20% chance of being shot over the next two years. An additional 1,000 students had between a 7.5% and 20% chance of being shot, and an additional 8,500 had a 1% to 7.5% chance of being shot. (Wall Street Journal)
He's offering some counseling and minimum wage, after-school jobs to a few kids. Silly, but better than the surge.

Where's the student/youth voice in all this summitry?

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