Creating The Flowers:
GUARD-IN At Millennium Park:
Paper Mache Schools ‘Protest’ Hits Millennium Park
By Darryl Holliday on May 27, 2013, DNA INFO
DOWNTOWN — Parents and activists described Monday’s meeting in Millennium Park as a reprieve from the high-energy actions surrounding school closings in recent weeks.
About 100 kids and their parents arrived at “The Bean” to play games and blow bubbles.
“It’s a non-protest protest, just very chill,” said event organizer Ellen Gradman, a visual artist and teacher of 30 years.
Gradman’s influence as an artist could be seen in the laid-back event — paper mache flowers and art supplies were part of an program that also featured communal discussions focused on how kids felt about their schools closing.
“It’s a time for us to breathe. A time to just be with our kids,” Gradman said.
Former Stewart Elementary music teacher, Reggie Spears, was on hand to participate, despite the school’s official closure and the loss of his job.
“My thoughts haven’t changed,” Spears said. “The closure was absolutely wrong, but we won’t let them back us down.”
Spears said his former students are disappointed and worried about their school transitions, but noted that the kids “didn’t understand we had a chance” before the official closure list was announced, so, to them, the closure of Stewart was all too real weeks ago.
Despite his arrest last week at a South Side “die-in” in protest of school closures, activist Greg Goodman, of Occupy CPS, said Monday’s event was a time for parents, teachers and students to recover before further protest in the coming weeks.
On May 15, Goodman and other activists were arrested and charged with obstructing traffic and reckless behavior when they laid down along Cottage Grove Avenue to call attention to gang lines that transferring students will have to cross when schools reopen.
“[This is] a good chance for everyone to get back together after the burn-out of last week,” he said of the Millennium Park event. “It’s good that this is happening in a very public part of the city.”
In Chicago: The Every School Solidarity Picnic
May 28, 2013, Network For Public Education
By Michelle Strater Gunderson
In Chicago we have food deserts, large patches of our city where there is not a grocery store in sight. We also have transportation deserts, outstretches of our town where you cannot get anywhere without a car. Now, with the closing of 50 schools we have education deserts. What does a community do when it has been systematically devastated?
This was our overarching question when we met with parents, students, educators and activists. Our conclusion – we need to plant gardens, an act of hopefulness and awareness. That was the thinking behind our Every School Solidarity Picnic held on Memorial Day in the heart of our city, Millennium Park.
The flower garden installation was the brainchild of activist and art educator, Ellen Gradman. She explained its significance. “Our schools need to be guarded from the reformers that are destroying education. I want observers to stop and think about the community that nurtured and cared for their school. I want to acknowledge the families that will be uprooted – like a flower pulled from the earth and discarded.”
During the action families shared a picnic meal together, sang freedom songs, played with bubbles, and wrote with sidewalk chalk. The cornerstones of the action were the letters and flowers created by participants that will be sent to Illinois legislators and Governor Quinn asking them to support the passage of the School Closing Moratorium Bills. There were also deputized voter registrars on hand to register new voters.
Despite the objections of more than 30,000 people who spoke against school closings at public meetings and hearings held throughout the city since December last year, the unelected CPS Board of Education on Wednesday voted nearly unanimously to close 50 schools. This action affects more than 40,000 students – nearly one out of four African American children in our city.
Our actions today are in response to this scorched earth education policy. We refuse to sit by and watch our neighborhoods crumble and public education become inaccessible to large segments of our city. This action is built on hope, on solidarity, and the overwhelming commitment of our community to continue to demand support for our public schools.
After The Event The Following Was Sent To Springfield:
(We never reiceved an answer.)