Censorship of parent voice in Chicago+Share
In my past, I was an immigrant rights community organizer in Chicago. A movement that is rife with backlash from all sides. As a young organizer, accusations from both the left and the right enraged me, but I was always able to remain focused because of the immigrant leaders I worked with and the realization that our cause was on the right side of history. And at least we had a voice.
Now, at Stand for Children, every day I work with parents who want the best public education for our children in Chicago. We educate, empower, and act on our convictions. I don’t apologize for this behavior and for taking positions that are in the best interest of kids regardless of the political forces that may have a difference of opinion.
Yesterday, the online petition site Change.org announced that they have decided not to work with us or anyone who disagrees with their larger clients.
In Change.org’s own words, “At the heart of Change.org mission is an open, democratic philosophy: we believe our platform should be open to people from a range of viewpoints who share a common interest in changing their world for the better.” Yet, under pressure from entities who disagree with us, they shut down our petition that simply implored the Chicago Board of Education and the Chicago Teachers Union to stay at the negotiating table and work out a deal that will ensure our kids stay in the classroom come September. (You can see the language of our petition here.)
I would hardly say that not wanting 400,000 kids on the street is that controversial. All this represents is censorship, pure and simple.
With this decision, Change.org has decided to say, ‘if you disagree with us, we’re going to find ways to silence you’. This is disrespectful to parents as it prevents them from being able to consider different viewpoints.
There are many roads up the same progressive mountain, and I find it shameful that Change.org has kowtowed to larger interests and made a business decision that squashes the very reason their platform exists.
We hope Change reconsiders as they are telling the world that those who have a difference of opinion are not welcome on their site. They are telling the world that parents shouldn’t have an option in how to take action on education. They are telling the world that they are willing to sell out to those who give them more money.
We don't hide who we are.
We don't expect everyone to agree with us, but we expect to have the right to debate because public education is so important to us.
We will not stop doing the important work of ensuring every one of the 400,000+ students on the Chicago Public Schools receive an excellent education. We will not be bullied by Change.org, the unions, the district, or anyone else. We will stand our ground and do what we think is best.
Progress means advocating for an education system that gives our children the best opportunity for success. I don’t judge someone for their route to get there and welcome the debate.
I just wish everyone else welcomed it.
Juan José González
Stand for Children Illinois