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THE CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOLS: ALLERGIC TO PARENT, STUDENT, TEACHER, UNION, & CITIZEN ACTIVISM (PART II) BY

LUIS GABRIEL AGUILERA

THE CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOLS: ALLERGIC TO PARENT, STUDENT, TEACHER, UNION AND CITIZEN ACTIVISM (PART II) By: Luis Gabriel Aguilera Original: 09/18/12 Revised: 09/24/12

I am going to shine the light on some elephants hereso much of them that its going to look like one big flying
circus. But instead of smiles and cheers, I will probably upset some people. Hopefully more. My mother certainly didnt like the scent of the elephants. Im thinking of the time when she and my father once took my brothers and me as kids down to see them after the show on a trip to the circus. I didnt mind it. My thoughts and sentiments were concentrated elsewhere as my boy eyes looked on with part interested delight at the magnificent wrinkly creatures and part displeasure at seeing them also shackled at the front and back legs as they were trooped around the concrete floor. I wasnt sure how to take it at first. But then I started feeling juvenile wonder being overrun by the stark reality of irreverence. I was growing upset. Despite my musings, I did catch my fathers stoic response to my mothers wincing over what she perceived as foul odors and her discomfort with watching a man with a large push broom clean up the mess. He bluntly said to her in Spanish, Someone has to do it, meaning that there was just no way around it and thats that, someone eventually has to clean up t he mess. As we all walked away from the scene, one thing I took away was an early impression that there can be questionable things that lie behind a show. Future experiences would confirm this to be the case. Today its dancing elephants and asses Im staring at. Laugh if you will. Its therapeutic. But soon some of you are going to get very angry. Ive learned in life (the good -old-fashioned hard way) that once youve calmed down from whatever emotional trip youve been on and have done some meticulous as sessing of a complex situation; once youve done some real reflecting on possible solutions and such, that you have a struggling chance to be pragmatic and strategic enough to take care of things correctly without resorting to tossing a brick or emotionally short-circuiting yourself, in both cases losing it altogether. But first the painful truth

CHICAGO Evidently the big picture on what brought about the teachers strike in Chicago isnt exactly clear to some. So I decided to do a follow-up to a piece I wrote almost two years ago and broaden things a bit, for others and myself. The hope is to clarify matters that should make all who care about quality public education very uneasy and provide at least some workable solutions. Unless we really wish to plunge into fullscale mediocrity or worse, we should treat the nurturing of quality of education and equal access to it with great care and utmost importance. Dont be fooled; the strike in Chicago wasnt just about teachers fighting over salary increases. No, this strike was a backlash to the abuse that has been ongoing and increasing over the years from a disastrous Chicago Public Schools central office micromanagement culture that today permeates the district and is coupled with close and faraway chieftains simply calling the wrong shots on education reform. Add to

this that local and central office systemic corruption has made teaching in this nations third largest public school district more difficult with each passing year, to the point of making things unbearable for students, parents and teachers alike. And the teachers here (those who can) leave in droves. As one can imagine, it is difficult to do the house cleaning when ones ho me is in a perpetual tornado. In a June 2009 study by the Consortium on Chicago School Research at The University of Chicago titled The Schools Teachers Leave: Teacher Mobility in Chicago Public Schools, the study reported that On average, teacher stability rates in Chicago are not substantially different than the rates seen nationally; about 80 percent of CPS teachers remain teaching in their school from one year to the next. This is only slightly lower than the national average of 84 percent. However these one-year stability rates hit a sobering statisticwithin five years, the typical CPS school loses over half its teachers. Many schools turn over half of their teaching staffs in three yearsAbout 100 CPS schools suffer from chronically high rates of teacher turnover, losing a quarter or more of their teaching staff every year. In all of these schools, all students are low-income. But while the authors of the report understand that the vast majority of schools with chronically low teacher stability struggle with very low levels of student achievement and wisely explain that school leadership must dedicate extraordinary time to recruiting and mentoring teachers year after year if they are to provide their students with effective new teachers, this naively assumes that the school leaders entrusted with carrying out such support for their teachers along with their administrative functions are dutifully doing so. A few of us know better than that. As someone who taught in CPS and came to the field via an alternative certification program, Iand many of my fellow alternative cohorts--have seen things bizarrely out of place at the administrative level. For those of us who have done or are doing the good work, it isnt the children who drain usits the adults. And, as we shall see here, if you want to track down whos principally running these schools to the ground, take a close look at the top administrators and mid-level bureaucrats. Its said, the devil is in the details; but equally, the devil is in the bureaucracy. So the Chicago Teachers Union strike, with a whopping majority of teachers in favor, wasnt just about salary increases. The abuse, in one form or another, just got to them. The last straw was Democrat Mayor Rahm Emanuels attempts to ram through his woeful education reforms. What is so wrong with Rahms brand of education reform? The Washington Posts Valerie Strauss formidably pointed out how bad these reforms were in a recent articleone of the best pieces on the subject to date. She further enlightened readers in another post by correctly pointing out that using student test scores primarily to evaluate teacher performance, as reformers like Rahm would like to do, is severely flawed in that it dismisses other factors that also contribute to student achievement, factors such as class sizes instructional time home and community supports or challenges individual student needs and abilities, health and attendance specific tests used etc. These arent excuses for the teachers. These are very good reasons why some students arent doing as well as others or better than others. Imagine that, taking into account factors like parents and administrators as part of the package for how well a student performs in school. Now imagine, for example, blaming Mother Theresa for poverty in Calcutta, the same Mother Theresa who used her Nobel Peace Prize of $192,000 dollars to help the poor in India. Ridiculous, eh? Or lets blame firemen for 3

allowing a house to burn down as a result of being ensnarled in rush hour traffic and being provided only fire extinguishers to fight the fire. How fair would that be? Teachers are facilitators to the great exercise of learning, but they are not the super women or men that anyone would like to paint them to be. We cannot ask everything of them regarding student performance as they are not the only major factor that determines student performance. But in Rahms world, student testing would make up 50% of teachers evaluation. Forget all other details. Why scapegoat the one group that is up to its ears in work rather than address complex issues in a workable way? That is a very good question. It certainly is a good way to handle not only the teachers by putting them on the defensive but also manipulate public thought and conversation. Well, if that was the intent, it backfired. No, what this Chicago teachers strike was about was no less than putting the proverbial foot down. These waves of wrongful education reform and the various types and levels of corruption born of unsound policies coupled with pre-existing corrupt conditions is doing (and has done) severe damage to public education in this city. Theres the heart of the matter. And the teachers jumped off the rickety bus in Chicago to try to stop the current political and privateer drivers from running the kids over once and for all. I mean, really, as one woman told me as we watched the thousands of rank and file of red shirts, mostly women, pass us by on the streets of downtown Chicago, these are teachers. It takes a lot to upset a teacher. I know, I responded. I used to teach at CPS. For now, it seems that the teachers have won. Though I suspect this is just a battle among many more to come. Its a bigger picture here. And what exactly does that big picture look like? With a masters degree in teaching, some experience in the field teaching successfully on the South Side of Chicago with the Chicago Public Schools before I was wrongfully terminated, and having spoken over the years with various educators across the country, it is my estimation, and that of many other educators I know, that neither the Republican nor Democrat administrations have done a good job of elevating the quality of public education for the last ten years. It appears the reverse and intentionally so. I learned a little bit about circus acts at The University of Chicago where I completed my undergraduate studies. Beyond the thin veil of their public antagonistic bickering that riles their constituents at their pleasure for voting points as well as for maintaining distractions, it is apparent that the leadership of these two sides of the same coin are simply trying to tell educators what to do from many miles away without having a clue as to what is really needed at the local levels. Even worse, I do think they do know what is terribly needed to truly upgrade our public schools, but as my students used to say to me, They just dont care, Mr. Aguilera. On the Democrat side, for example, we have sitting in this country Arne Duncan as our Secretary of Education, a man who has been given an F by noteworthy education expert Diane Ravitch and strongly rejected by other genuine educators at the top of their game. Duncan, by the way, provokes rolls of the eyes here in Chicago among our teachers, parents and students of the system then alike. You would think that Obama would have selected someone a bit more qualified from the education realm than someone who merely set up a charter school with his friends at Ariel Investment Funds and then moved on to become CEO of the Chicago Public Schools where he paved the way to further grease the wheels to his same pals at Ariel and moved on voraciously with charter school expansioncharter schools that suck up public taxpayer dollars with questionable results as studies have shown (more 4

on this later). And how else did Duncan fare as CEO of the CPS? Well, what happened to the $5.4 billion dollars of unfunded Chicago Teachers Pension Fund (CTPF) money that was coming straight out of the paychecks of teachers between FY2001-FY2010 when Duncan was CEO of the CPS from 2001-2008? How and where was it then leaking away into then Democrat Mayor Daleys failed Renaissance 2010 reforms that amounted to much ado about nothing for the kids? I have a snapshot of what happened, but would like the full photo album. Maybe, Arne, a former professional basketball player, longtime friend to Obama, and someone who did some tutoring for some poor kids some time ago did do a great job as CEO of the CPS. But for whom and what is the question. And there is Americas education czar provided to us by the Democrat party and their subordinates dictating to teachers. The Chicago police and firemen I know joke about this type of authoritarian pestilence, as they know how leadership likes to rule from afar in some cozy setting, differing to numbers and stats at best, differing to ego at worst, without knowing or experiencing the perils of the job on a day-to-day basis, as if every fire is one and the same. I cant tell you the number of complaints I heard from my cop friends over Ron Huberman when he was fast-tracked by then Mayor Daley to become Assistant Deputy Superintendent at the Chicago Police Department. Huberman went on to be appointed by the same mayor to the position of President of the Chicago Transit Authority. And then he was appointed to the Chicago Public Schools by Daley again to become its CEO. Now theres a superman. But you certainly wont find large crowds publically supporting Hubermans so-called accomplishments anytime soon. And today, surprise-surprise, with his revolving door credentials, Huberman works at an investment firm. There are plenty of local stories on teachers careers being disrupted or even destroyed because central office officials get it viciously wrong in their climate-controlled confines, never admitting their mistakes. Perhaps we should include sociopathic detector tests when it comes to leadership positions. In any case, I defer to individual and collaborative education (of the transparent and cooperative kind) and individual and collaborative quality research that has been show to work in the varied classrooms that are out there. What we as Americans have received from our leadership is another story. Apparently, the joke is really on us. And what a joke of education reform it has been for the last seventeen years. Well stick to the last ten just for times sake. The bipartisan policy of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) put into play in 2002 under George W. Bush has at its core a policy that pushes standardized testing with a one-size-fits-all approach, the worst aspects of it being both a perpetuation of a culture that emphasizes teaching to the tests and a whittled down curriculum so that subjects such as the arts, history, language and music are sacrificed for math, reading, and the sciences. This is a major disservice to learners who operate at different modes: linguistic mode (i.e., via communication, reading and watching), non-linguistic mode (i.e., via mental pictures, smell, kinesthetic, tactile, auditory, and taste) and the affective mode (i.e., via feelings, emotions, and mood). Not surprisingly, the one-size-fits-all approach is also a cheap way of going about education. So much for quality public education as a national treasure. Unfortunately, the Democrat leadership has not halted the disastrous NCLB policy, but has instead provided their version of a choice via waivers if states go along with their own rubbish to the education solution with Race to the Top. As reported by USA Today, The Obama administration has begun doling out extra money to the states that tie teacher evaluations to test scores, despite the fact that there are better methods for teacher evaluation. Race to the Bottom, er, Top (a Duncan masterpiece) has placed extreme emphasis on teacher accountability (with ineffective measuring tools instead of like those mentioned above from the Strauss article) and corporate style competition with their high-stakes testing culture (just a re-mix of teaching to the tests). This leads to much tension in the classrooms. Stressful classrooms are not where the magic of good learning occurs, 5

especially if your students are coming from very stressful living situations. But apparently none of these Democrat education reformers got the memo on Nel Noddings and placing care in the classroom as the vehicle to success. I would be less cynical. But I really think a stronger wake-up call is needed. Still, our politicians and policymakers are not solely to blame. I havent been this provoked by these waves of wrongheaded education reform since I read Bill Readings The University in Ruins in the late nineties regarding reforms happening at the university level. The publishers blurb for the book is candid on what such reforms were about: Increasingly, universities are turning into transnational corporations, and the idea of culture is being replaced by the discourse of excellence. On the surface, this does not seem particularly pernicious. The author cautions, however, that we should not embrace this techno-bureaucratic appeal too quickly. The new University of Excellence is a corporation driven by market forces, and, as such, is more interested in profit margins than thought. I had already gotten a whiff of this great transition from nation-state governance of the university to corporate-state governance Readings spoke about in his work at The University of Chicago while I was an undergraduate student there between 1991-1995. 1993 was the telling year of the uninspiring changes to come as corporate money began gaining ground on the campus itself at a school where, as fellow classmates and I would say, fun would come to die and the life of the mind was the way of the moment. Community bank ATMs were being switched out for their megabank corporate counterparts and the proliferation of fast food enterprises on sacred campus ground began springing up. The school, a place beyond geekdom, had never been a spot for such transitory commercial riff raff, so it was a bit of a shock. Of course, beyond the symbolic cosmetic changes on campus, like gangbangers strategically claiming their drug territory with their emblematic graffiti, there were deeper fundamental changes at play. I still have a paper that was dispersed to the campus community written by one of the most ardent critics of then university president Hugo Sonnenschein who, like some injured dictator, was ramming his own reforms like the current Chicago mayor. The paper was from rascally professor emeritus Marshall Sahlins, who would later be quoted in The Chicago Magazine as saying that Sonnenschein gave us no intellectual plan for the University. He only spoke about money. At the time, I was as disgusted as I am with todays education reform at the public schools level. But it was more than just about expanding undergraduate enrollment. It was more than just about increasing endowments to compete with what the Ivy Leagues were raking in. It was more than just raising the level of hype and making money off of it. It was also about dumbing the place down. In the end, the schools famed Common Core curriculum suffered as The Core was whittled down from 21 to 15 classes in 1999. Hugo Sonnenschein would go on to resign in 2000. (I still remember hollering in the student quads while I watched him pass by one day in his last days as president, Hugo! And after he waved back, my yelling, You go, Hugo!) The truth is that such corporate educational reforms are movements in the very wrong direction. The ever-streamlining corporate culture that is more concerned with net earnings than anything else is not well-suited in that the corporate culture is not well versed on genuine education matters. It is too narrowly focused on accruing wealth, and it is hopelessly attempting to make a uniform product out of very different types of people in a technological society that continues to create mash-up societies on the spot. Corporate education reformers dramatically reduce the variables that make a quality education.

Despite my schooling at the U of C and in addition to the quality education I received from kindergarten and on, I can honestly say that I could not comprehensively describe what quality education looked like and how it becomes so until after I received my masters degree in teaching and entered the trenches myself. Even today, with all that I have read, studied and experienced, I am still learning this art of teaching and what makes quality education. Ironically, this general lowering of education comes at a time when educators have learned a great deal of how to educate. In my field of teaching languages, for instance, you have a wide spectrum of how to teach a second language that can be roughly said to run from the communicative approach on one end to the grammar-based approach on the other. Depending on how creative the teacher is and how skillful the teacher is in assessing the circumstances of the students being taught, the reality is that the spectrums line is neither that straight nor fixed but varied and flexible to adaptation depending on the mentioned circumstances. One really has to think out of the box to get it. But with education reform of the corporate-state kind, good luck in getting anything so remotely fine-tuned and localized. So current education reform is about money. As a friend of mine from the private sector commented on the current assault of public education , they want it all, Lou. And without mincing words, Big Business, Big Corporate, Big Money is about making money. Meetings are held to do this. Agendas are set. And bankers and venture capitalists would love to get a hold of public pension money, among other sizable portions of the public education trough, going to great lengths to make a case against current public pension programs by spreading myths about them. Thankfully, there is serious pushback to such nonsense. Now the natives are getting restless, as they now see that there is no room for educating with such reforms. If this is all sounding familiar to some you who teach in, say, Los Angeles or New York, its because this Chicago teachers strike wasnt just a local matter, restricted to just one American metropolis and Illinois politics as usual. Though, from the manner in which the greedy teachers issue was (and has been) sold by some in the citys mainstream media despite the fact that it hasnt been the teachers who have been fattening up their wallets and bank accounts over the years in Chicago with vast amounts of money intended for things like schools but going elsewhere, youd think that plenty of lunchtime arrangements were conducted and its all been Chicago and FIB politics as usual. What this teachers strike was in Chicago is a global conversation really, as it has to do with the future of quality education for many folks in this country and beyond. Because make no mistake, the formula of what makes quality education happen is under major assault as carpetbaggers from the Democrat Party, la The Chicago Way variety, ram through another stage of education reform from state to state, with this one being, as education expert Diane Ravitch (someone whose work you should know if you care at all about education in a serious way) calls, education apartheid, continuing in many ways the practices of their supposed arch-enemies, the Republican Party. Then again, what if I told you that four of the top ten Illinois elementary schools for 2010-2011 were in Chicago from the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and six of the top ten Illlinois high schools for 2012 were also in Chicago, also from the CPS? Would you then think that the CPS does possess a formula of producing good schools, and eventually good students? I would. And it does. The question is why isnt it replicated, duplicated or refined as much? Thats a very good question. Because from personal experience as a successful teacher (this from two education coaches reviews, students evaluations of my work, instructor evaluations, etc.) and giving it some thought, I think a suitable quality education can be offered to those not attending those top schools. It just isnt being done. So what gives? Ill get to that in a bit. I really think its more insidious than a continuance of blocking quality public school education for the vast majority of Chicagos 400,000 public school students, mostly impoverished Blacks and Latinos and the not exactly affluent White, Asian, etc. students that do exist here in the Windy City and dont make it into the top schools either as some suggest. Lets not get so easily divided and conquered here, people, the current waves of education reform 7

and their rippling effects arent just going to negatively affect the poor alone. Im afraid this is all going to lead to a two-tier public education system in America where the majority of its citizens are going to be deprived of a quality education while a small percentage of the wealthy and/or connected will fare well in the short-term but not for the long-term. Business as usual? Yes and no. I think there is a bit of a difference here. Eventually, given the major involvement of Big Money today in education matters, an education bubble will be created that can mean only one thing when it pops: epic fail. Why do I say this? Because, as some of us already know, this current reform that has in part various financial entities salivating to get at the public education trough is made up of no less than what notable American economist Dean Baker writes are a set of policies (that) have been tried and failed, and yet keep expanding! For example, the great miracle of charter schools (a Duncan favorite) has time and again been shown to be not as miraculous as they have been made out to be by their proponents, with the same mediocre results being true in places like Detroit or several other places. And we have already seen in some cases what great lengths these socalled education reformers will go to make themselves look good on paper when in fact theyre not, to the extent of falsifying test scores. This doesnt mean that those kids who continue to fail arent teachable. They are. Ive seen it with my own eyes. Its that the bulls, whether ignorantly or maliciously, have as their foundation for education a corporate approach that will not lead to a type of education that produces creative critical-thinkers, innovators, etc.what this country, this world, really needs more of. The reforms of these education reformers rest on a limited vision at best and at worse, sets of lies. Ultimately, I think those academic pockets of resistance that are scattered across this country will not be able to balance out what greater product is being made and what greater culture is being created in all of this a further dumbed down American population, especially when faced with high teacher turnover rate as worthwhile veterans are forced out and new teachers have a five-year shelf life, keeping the labor cheap and politically unknowing. Eventually, when you dumb it down so much, you run the risk of collapse like that of a house of cards. Remember, these are moneymakers and opportunistic politicians playing with our futures. Havent we seen this before? Except, retrieving the art of educating is not a fifteen-minute recipe that comes from the side of a box. There will be no quick bailout for us. Again. So either we have a narrow-minded and thus incompetent group of people pushing forth education reform; or we have, well, savvy individuals who wish to milk the public education trough and drain the vitality of quality public school education to maintain monopolized power over others, disregarding longterm consequences. I think its a combo package. But certainly underlying and protecting this train is, gasp, hold on to your seats, corruption. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it boils down to corruption. I dont want to get too roots reggae here. And we can argue about pedagogy day in and day out, with only the classroom being the true tester of hypothesis. But one thing that is clearly blocking any healthy and genuine education reform is the corruption, be it in the form of material greed, ignorance, power hunger, chest heaving, etc. And if I have learned anything from living more than thirty-eight years in Chicago is that its now a rainbow coalition of the corrupt that come in various shapes, sizes and forms. This is one characteristic of The Chicago Way: it is diverse. In the state of Illinois weve had four governors go to jail (three Democrats and one Republican), with two recent ones (a Democrat and a Republican) having been convicted in the last six years. And The Chicago Way is notorious for being a cesspool of illegal activity among its politicians. Does anyone seriously think that our school system can be any better with such people in office? But is it that bad at the Chicago Publics Schools and the Chicago Board of Education? Well, you be the judge. A friend of mine who worked at the CPS downtown central office noted to me one day that when the Board president shows up dead in the river and no one from the board or CPS blinks an eye, theres something seriously wrong in there. This friend of mine was of course referring to the bizarre death of former City of Chicago Board of Education president and political fixer Michael Scott, a Daley confidante, 8

found dead in mid-November of 2009 in the Chicago river of what was later ruled a suicide amidst some awry real-estate dealings, interesting expenditures while serving as Board president that got slapped on the taxpayers back, and after being handed a federal grand jury subpoena regarding an investigation into a cloutbased admission list at some of the Chicagos top public schoolsa list over which Arne Duncan presided when he was CEO of the Chicago Public Schools. But Scott has not been alone on corruption at the CPS. Year after year the hits keep coming on from the CPS Inspector General Sullivans office and elsewhere about the districts employee and officials misconduct. More recently in July, the Chicago Tribune reported that twenty principals and assistant principals are among 26 current and former Chicago Public Schools employees who provided false income information on applications to get their children into the federal free or reduced-price lunch program. Readers will notice that no names were given in the report. I have been told by insiders at the CPS that this is done to protect those with political ties, to not embarrass the other end of the link. When there is wrongdoing and nothing gets done about it, the hand washing excuse is its political. Oh, and how many times have I heard that line. At the local school level, at the high school where I taught, I had the unfortunate experience of having our head of discipline be arrested and charged for bank robberythis after a high-speed car chase that resulted in injury to a police officerwhile I was a teacher there at the school. Interestingly enough, none of the various news reports linked this employee to the school where I worked (i.e., Bronzeville Scholastic Institute), nor to his position as head of discipline, but only mentioned him as the DuSable campus football coach. (As a disclaimer, I, via my lawyer, have been fighting a certain manifestation of corruption through litigation that amounts to a 1st Amendment right violation, discriminatory treatment, wrongful termination, etc. Along with the federal suit, there are two discrimination suits in play.) So are we getting a better idea of who and what is truly blocking education? My suggestion: dont go after the teachers; go after the administrators and their bosses. From personal experience, research, and talking to dozens of dedicated teachers, it is they that are really making a mess of things. Schools with high levels of teacher turnover rates are suspect, as are places where the numbers just seem to good to be true. As far as current education reform, what if I were to ask you the question plastered on the photo image of the Matrix character Morpheus in the latest internet meme: WHAT IF I TOLD YOU TEACHERS KNOW MORE ABOUT SCHOOLS THAN BILLIONAIRES DO? Ending greed is not going to happen anytime soon. Neither is ending overall corruption. The key is not to look at the corrupt as strong. Make no mistake, corruption is ultimately weak at the end of the day. It has many holes by which to undermine it. The owners of corruption that use nepotism, patronage, cronyism, etc. to cultivate chaos and prevent good teachers from performing their jobs can be marginalized to the extent that individuals who partake in such activities are given the opportunity to shape up or ship out. Doing so can be as simple as having talks with those minor offenders not in line with the mission of educating others or themselves, letting them know how they are hurting themselves more than anyone else. Personally, for me, its sad to see any animal shackledelephant or ass. In worse case scenarios, where folks are embezzling, stealing, etc., marginalizing can be a collective enterprise of having communities of teachers, parents, etc. gather documents, build formal cases and approach the appropriate authorities over the matter, as well as simultaneously getting the word out to media sources who are also sick of it and civic entities who, like many of us, want a stronger and healthier country to live in. In Chicago, we have a district general inspector, state, local and federal agencies that are only emails away. These initiatives I have seen work. As for the education reformers, well, getting informed is a start. Calling it out is a second step. But activism surely is also key. I will have to give this some more thought. The reality is that marching has its limits. Its really just a start to something more exciting. What awaits us now is to clean up the surrounding mess once the dust settles. Count yourselves lucky if the mess you see can be done with a minor bit of the occasional dusting on your own. Otherwise, now you know what the power of it is in doing it in union with others. So take your pick of the fallen apples. From what I can tell of this life, suffering comes not only from not seeking the good, but suffering also 9

comes from not doing the good when the good is found.

Luis Gabriel Aguilera All photos by: Luis Gabriel Aguilera

Luis Gabriel Aguilera is author of Gabriels Fire: A Memoir, writer, educator, DJ, and electronic music composer of both experimental and underground dance music. He holds a B.A. degree in social sciences from The University of Chicago where he graduated with honors with a concentration in Latin American Studies. Luis also holds a Master of Arts in Teaching from National-Louis University with a concentration in teaching languages. Luis is actively pursuing two discrimination suits against the Board of Education of the City of Chicago and fellow respondents and a federal lawsuit against the Board of Education of the City of Chicago. Donations to his legal defense fund may be made to Luis Aguilera via his pay pall account: fspectrum@yahoo.com. This essay is free, but the litigation has been anything but... When not working, Luis enjoys his free time playing disc golf with family and friends, cooking, and just staying active. Luis can be reached at luisgaguilera@gmail.com for any/all concerns, including public speaking engagements and use of his music for theatrical works, etc.

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