Leader of “Bad Ass Moms” Speaks Out
CHICAGO, IL—“How can you celebrate anything when you kill schools and over-test our children… Stop threatening students and teachers, stop over-testing and closing schools… stop making it rain with our tax dollars!” These words took aim at Mayor Rahm Emmanuel at a public event on March 4 to celebrate Chicago’s 177th birthday. Rousemary Vega, a mother of four children and a leader in the battle to save our public schools, was forced to use this method to address the mayor with grievances she shares with thousands of parents and teachers across the city. “This was an action of frustration,” she explained during an interview for Momenpopcast,* “because the mayor is not listening, and he needs to know what he is doing to the community.”
The movement to “opt out” of taking yet another test (in this case the ISAT) grew into a citywide protest with over 80 schools reporting that parents were refusing to let their children be tested. “This vigorous testing is taking away the children’s creativity and their ambition of wanting to be educated. Our schools are becoming testing camps. We’re crying over this money we don’t have, and yet we have tests raining on our children. Why can’t we make good use of this money we are spending on tests?”
Rousemary became active, attempting to stop the city from closing Lafayette Elementary, in the Humboldt Park neighborhood, where her children were happy and doing well, and taking advantage of a great music program. The heartbreak of losing that battle has prompted Rousemary to deepen her commitment to seeing this struggle through to the end. She is a founder of the group Bad Ass Moms (BAM), a group of moms with diverse backgrounds and coming from all parts of the city. “We believe in equality for the children.”
Momenpopcast talked to Rousemary about the present inequality in education and the process of sucking the funds from public schools and selling schools to corporations (charters). She said, “What they are creating is hunger games in education… a competitive environment.” She explained that the charter schools attempt to “weed out” children they deem problematic or not able to get college and career ready. “ How many of these jobs will be around when our children become college and career ready. We tell our kids to get an education if you don’t want to work at McDonald’s and now we are telling our kids, “Hey, McDonald’s is working–it’s the only job available.”
Explaining the misuse of our tax dollars, Rousemary said, “TIFF money is given to corporations for all this job creation that we never see… We have all these companies coming to the South Side, yet the South Side is still starving for needing jobs. All they are creating are factories completely full of machines—eliminating the workers.”
Parents like Rousemary are the hope of the future in education for our children. Her message to you is to get involved and informed, join your local school organizations, and prepare to lock arms with each other to see this fight through till victory is won.
*Momenpopcast is a podcast you can listen to online at:
www.buzzsprout.com/12831 or go to Momenpopcast on Facebook.