A Teacher's Day

The day in the life of an inner city large urban school district teacher after the high stakes testing ends and there is still three more months left before summer vacation.

Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

I have taught school for over thirty years always in the inner city and for the most part always upper grade students. I have two children and I have been married for twenty years.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Dorothy Tillman and How We Change History

I’m not a big fan of Dorothy Tillman, the alderman of the third ward, the ward where my school is located. It’s hard for me to want to meet someone who reconstructs her history depending on her audience. We celebrated Nike Day at my school last Friday, a grand celebration. We had over a hundred volunteers from all over the Midwest come to our school to assist us in so many projects, I can’t name them all. They helped plant the garden, repainted our playground and removed some really nasty graffiti. They tutored, reorganized the library, and cleaned out our infamous bookroom.

It was great day.

So why am I writing about Dorothy Tillman? Simple. At the end of the day we had an assembly where Nike presented us with a check and a pledge of five hundred volunteer man-hours. She showed up for that. And she made a speech.

Over the years I have heard her say she marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. when she was as young as sixteen. In her bio, she states he asked her to come to Chicago to assist in changing things. Her speech on Friday did not state any of this. I wish it had. More than once I’ve heard her speak changing crucial timelines—sixteen became twenty-one, for example. I’m not even sure she ever met Dr. King.

During her brief speech on Friday she said, “If it hadn’t been for M_____, I might never have been known. Almost everything I have is due to my work at M_____.”

I always thought Dr. King was her ticket to everything good that happened in her life.

Yes, she became famous because of my school. She went against the white principal when the school offered enrichment classes and one of her children was not allowed to enroll. She began a one-woman protest—which is her right—and soon others began to join her. Was it really about her child not getting into enrichment classes or was it instead her wish to show how she could control the school. (One of the main instigators of the major fight last week is on our school’s Local School Council—a position that can fire a principal. Enough said.)

In the end, the principal, Dorothy Stevens, lost her job, even though she won in court. My school—though I wasn’t teaching there yet—fell into turmoil and great confusion becoming one of the lowest performing and most dangerous schools on the Southside of Chicago. A number of principals tried to change the school. Andrea Kerr, the woman who hired me, was the first to succeed, but because of her success, the Board bumped her upstairs.

We are still trying to change everything. Our scores are higher. Things are better. My seventh grade classes scored over 97% on the science portion of the Illinois standardized test—but I probably mentioned this a few times too many.

I’ve had more than a few run-ins with Dorothy Tillman, almost every one of them negative. (During the big fight last week, for example, as the police interviewed me, she came into the gym and interrupted. "Let the parents speak," she demanded, but the police officer told her to be quiet so she could finish taking my testimony.) I’ve worked with one of her sons and I taught another. It always interested me that she would take a major grant and spend it on revamping King Dr. when the neighborhood needed—and still needs—serious help, but perhaps it’s because now her alleged real estate holdings can appreciate—condos are everywhere on King Dr.—and her office at the corner of 47th and King (even though police are needed to keep a 24 hour watch on it because someone keeps breaking out her window) has retail shops paying rent to—can it be?—Dorothy Tillman herself.

I don’t know.

Anyways, I have made a link to the actual ruling on the case that made Dorothy Tillman famous.


Anonymous Donor said...

A classic example of scum rising to the top. I read the transcript from the court and it appears to me that there was race bias involved in the instruction of the judge. These people let a mob make decisions, a mob to take over and beleive they can do it again by the issuance of this unjust verdict. Now the courts and police have a dangerous, lunatic, mob ruler on their hands, a tiger by the tail. They, the courts, created her and will have to deal with her. Hopefully one day true justice will prevail.

3:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just like Micheal Brown said in Nov. 30th Chicago Sun-Times."Just seeing the name Dorothy Tillman send some white men into a tizzy" Tsk..Tsk..talk about white male entitlement syndrome. Your blog is full of lies. I doubt if you print this.

10:11 AM  
Blogger A Teacher's Log said...

This is for anonymous--Guess you were wrong. I did print it. Please read the transcript of the court papers. Please know also when you state something is full of lies, you should be able to document where the lies are. Is this one blog full of lies or the entire blog? If it is only this one blog that is full of lies, then where is your proof? I linked to the court papers. Please send me evidence and I'll print that too.

Dorothy Tillman sending me into a tizzy. No. But then you don't know me. But then I don't know you either. I mean you didn't even have the guts to sign your name, but my name is prominently displayed on my blog.

Your turn.

Michael H. Brownstein

1:15 PM  

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