How much have we really asked for?

Lost in the glare of so many non-issues in these presidential convention weeks has been a student strike in Chicago city schools. Hundreds of inner-city students have been skipping class in their own schools and attempting to enroll in wealthier suburban schools (such as New Trier High, the filming location of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off). Although you always wonder if someone’s trying to make a name for himself by mobilizing kids, this caught my eye because inequities in school funding are a frequent topic of discussion in Syracuse, with high hopes put into programs that would give city students incentives to achieve despite the challenging atmosphere at some city high schools.

Frederick Douglass said (and I think this is a real quote),

Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them.

What have we really asked our state and local leaders for (not just on schools, but on other things too)? A little bit of money, here and there? That does seem to be granted; we read about it in the paper all the time. What would happen if we asked for more than cash?

As of today, the Chicago boycott has been called off. I don’t know if “calling the governor’s bluff” is really going to work — not when suburban school officials are still pleasantly serving cookies to errant city students, confident they won’t be knocking on their doors much longer. If you’re going to ask, you can’t just say pretty please — you have to have the wherewithal to demand. Not sure that can (or should) be done with one politician and a children’s crusade, but who else is going to do it?

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