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If you’re wondering what the mayoral candidates think about our recommendations….

16 Feb

For one thing, you won’t get an answer from Rahm Emanuel or Gery Chico, both of whom declined the invitation to participate in a candidate’s forum on violence against women, girls and LGBTQ youth.  The forum was held last night, co-sponsored by several of our partner organizations – Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network, Rape Victim Advocates, Center on Halsted and CAASE – as well as the Chicago Foundation for Women.

Once you were able to get past the odd terms used for the LGBTQ community — Carol Moseley Braun referred to “nontraditional people”, and William “Dock” Walls insisted he was referring instead to panhandlers when he used the phrase “people with unusual lifestyles” — there was some useful information on how they feel about our recommendations to end violence against girls.

WHAT THEY THINK ABOUT PREVENTION EDUCATION

One of the Taskforce recommendations is for Chicago Public Schools, and the candidates were asked if they support it:

“The CPS policy on Dating Violence (08-0625-P02) currently does not set requirements for dating or sexual violence prevention education, but states that teachers “may” access lesson plans and partner with local anti-violence organizations. This should be changed to a requirement.”

So what did they have to say?

Miguel del Valle was the first to answer, and he said: “Absolutely.”  He added that the Board of Education needs to adopt the policy, and make sure the topics will be addressed in an “appropriate manner.”  Asked to define this further, he said he meant in the appropriate classes, and with a range of methods from counseling, to group discussions, to traditional classroom work.  He stressed the need for a mechanism to ensure discussion and student participation.

William “Dock” Walls agreed that this was necessary and said that he saw it as part of civics education.  Putting aside the more specific discussion of teen dating and sexual violence, he spoke at length about the need for civics education, to build stronger citizens who will “understand boundaries.”

Carol Moseley Braun felt the issue was “more complicated.”  She stressed that there is a lack of school nurses at Chicago Public Schools, with 1 nurse for every 725 students, and that remedying this should instead be the focus.  She referred to the “uphill battle” to get sex education in our schools, and felt that making education on these issues mandatory would be making it a “poison pill.”  Her answer instead is to restore the proper number of nurses at schools, and make the teen dating violence and sexual violence curriculum part of comprehensive sex ed – with an option for families to have their children “opt out” if they are opposed to the classes.

Patricia Van Pelt Watkins agreed with the recommendation, and spoke of the need for subjects to be interrelated.  “If you put the students in a room and give them a dose, they won’t absorb it.  It needs to be part of their lifestyle, so it sticks with them.”  She also stressed professional development and in service learning for staff.

Rahm Emanuel and Gery Chico declined the invitation to attend the candidates’ forum to discuss these issues.

A SPLIT ON THEIR APPROACH TO BULLYING

When the Taskforce discussed bullying in our Roundtable discussion, the organizations unanimously agreed that implementing anti-bullying legislation need to be tied to restorative justice practices.  Our goal is not to have young people kicked out of school or criminalized.  Our goal is safety.  Here’s our recommendation:

The Task force supports implementation of the Illinois Safe Schools Act and encourages the implementation of Restorative Justice practices to curtail bullying in schools, when appropriate, rather than criminalization of young people. We understand that the organizations that proposed and advocated for this Act share these values.

So I listened carefully when the candidates were asked how they would implement anti-bullying legislation in Chicago Public Schools.

Now, here the candidates split.  Miguel del Valle and Patricia Van Pelt Watkins both committed to the use of restorative justice practices.

On the other hand, Carol Moseley Braun and William “Dock” Walls both committed to using zero tolerance policies.  Here’s a quote from Walls:  “Zero tolerance with absolute certainty has to be the mandate of Chicago Public Schools.”

Rahm Emanuel and Gery Chico declined the invitation to attend the candidates’ forum to discuss these issues.

The Taskforce does not endorse any particular candidate; we are committed to making sure the public is informed about these issues.  Wherever you stand on these issues, we urge you to go out and vote, and have your voice be heard!

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2 Comments

Posted by on February 16, 2011 in Bullying, Public policy, Schools, Violence

 

2 responses to “If you’re wondering what the mayoral candidates think about our recommendations….

  1. Julia

    February 16, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    Thanks for covering last night’s debate, Melissa. I found Braun and Walls’ terms not only odd but downright offensive.

     
  2. melissaspatz

    February 16, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    I agree 100%, Julia, and thanks for the correction. There was a lot of smirking in the room when the terms were used, but it was instructive and disheartening to have candidates use such offensive and oppressive language at a forum on LGBTQ rights.

     

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