Let the forums begin

Chambanamoms posted an article about the school board candidate forum marathon that starts this Wednesday, 7:00 – 9:00 pm at the Mellon Center:


This first one is put on by the PTA Council and moderated by Brian Minsker. Better yet, it will be televised on CGTV 5 for those who still have cable – not sure if it will go up on Vimeo for the rest of us, but I will ask.


Champaign School Board Forum Flyer 3-9-2015The marathon continues Thursday morning (March 12) at the Hilton Garden Inn ($10 if you want breakfast) from 7:30 – 9:00 am, put on by the Chamber of Commerce. That evening, the LWV, NG and NAACP will host a forum at the City Building from 7:30 – 9:00 pm. There is a bit of a breather until the last one I know of, March 19th from 7:30 – 9:30 at Mount Olive Baptist Church (meet & greet starts at 7:00 pm).


If you know of others, I am happy to post them. However I am thinking the candidates are already hard pressed just with these four events. In fact, some candidates have already mentioned they will be missing at certain forums (pre-existing conflicts).


What I have found from my own interactions with candidates is that we have a very strong pool of good people. I am hard pressed just to choose four of the eight 4-year candidates. Take your civic responsibilities seriously and take the time to at least read about each candidate; you can start on the candidate page I have been putting together:



UPDATE: The time for the forum at the Mount Olive Baptist Church was changed (from 6:30 to 7:30), and I also received a flyer which I attached to this post.

Whirlwinds, bees and cornucopias

There is a lot going on in Unit 4 and I can only scratch the surface. For starters, Meg Dickinson at the News-Gazette has been doing an awesome job covering most of the highlights – the following is the NG aggregation of Meg’s articles:


You will see that we not only have 3 brand new board members, but a fascinating change in board officers as well; Bonnett is president, Brown is the VP, Saveley is the Secretary and Stuckey is the Parliamentarian. Next Monday’s regular board meeting (May 13th) will be interesting to say the least. 🙂

Among other interesting things to read, Meg also has a nice Sunday article about the “Newcomer Academy” (not to be confused with the Novak Academy). This is a basically an intermediate transitioning service to help those who are struggling with English. Apparently, we have a lot of foreign nationals (especially from DR Congo and Mexico) and this is the solution Unit 4 has arrived at to meet those needs head on.

Stephanie Stuart of Unit 4 has also been hard at work populating their facebook page with lots of little goodies:


In addition to highlighting several awesome events and achievements, she also canvasses several opportunities like the annual Garden Hill’s “Resource Day” and the PTA Council’s push for the Summer Reading program, both excellent outlets that reach out to help those in need.

There is also the Unit 4 newsletter which is surprisingly not now on the Unit 4 website. Dr. Wiegand covers the NAACP ACT-SO Awards, a special recognition for achievements of African-Americans excelling in our schools. Several students are heading to Florida with hopes to squash the competition in mid July.

In other news, taxes are going up while at the same time many employees are having to fork over more money for benefits and pensions. Don’t get me wrong, it is not my goal to throw a pity party for myself. Rather, we as a whole community need to be aware that there are those who are already hurting, and it looks like more people will be slipping below the various poverty lines. We have a ton of kids who are homeless and/or living in less-than-ideal situations. Hence stories about various initiatives to provide assistance to these groups are not only “nice” and “feel good”, but in my opinion they are essential, fundamental and critical for the health of us all. In fact, we need to do more. Get involved.

Why the weird thread subject? I just have lots of thoughts swirling around my head and hard to bring them into focus; not updating the blog that much means I have been missing a lot. 🙂

Social democracy: manipulating Facebook to crowdsource ideas for change

Among my other adventures and exploration into “democracy” and what it really means, I came across an interesting email from the NAACP. No matter how you feel about the quality of public education and whether or not African Americans have got a raw deal out of it, the NAACP has initiated an experiment with social media and has set up a facebook page that allows you to comment on “What works”. I personally think it is an amazing concept. The downside is that you get a bunch of riff-raff who do not add much to the conversation at all, but there are a number of comments with sincere thinking behind them.




Now the challenge will be aggregating and reporting back on their findings. I wonder how they intend to do that. And then following the thread from those aggregate ideas to policy ideas, legislation and how that ultimately affects you and me.

Community Conversations: Healing (July 10)

  On Tuesday, July 10th from 6:30 – 8:30, folks from IBARJ and CUAP are teaming up with ACCESS Initiative and the NAACP to host a community dinner conversation around the topic of “Healing”. As space in the Robeson room at the Champaign Public Library is limited, they are asking folks to RSVP.

Healing. Interesting topic, eh? When I first read the flyer, I thought “healing” would be a hard sell so I asked a couple of the ladies who are spearheading this effort some further questions. Leigh Courtney responded with the following (in part):

[…] two main issues: first, the recent series of accidental shooting tragedies that have occurred, and second, the long-term rifts that have grown between neighbors and neighborhoods throughout the recent history of the C-U community.

When I read this, I think about the strained relationships between the African American community and the police department. I think about how many of our homogeneous cultural groups are fractured; you see a ton of people complaining, but not many people working for change and volunteering their time (and those that are, are very passionate and dedicated). I think about the ugly effects of racism, and in general the lack of cross-cultural understanding. I think about the Consent Decree that forms a part of the Unit 4 history. Yes indeed, healing would be good. Necessary, in fact.

What I love about our public school system is that it is one of the largest melting pots (if not the largest) of all our cultures, ethnicity and backgrounds. Our kids, irregardless of their skin color, their accent, their access to technology and what toys they play with, they are all getting together in the same classrooms. This wide variety means some kids thrive while others struggle. For me, the travesty and the pain is in how we attempt to force this living, dynamic miasma into our own mold, our broken mold. If only we could learn from our kids. If only we valued things like conflict resolution, cultural differences and basic, raw respect.