A protest against the CAC election

To the Editor:

A Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Action Council (HP-K CAC) election recall is requested. Wednesday, Feb. 19, the HP-K CAC elections were held at Kenwood Academy for two co-chairs and two secretaries with three candidates each, but I contest the HP-K CAC elections. I was one of three candidates who ran for co-chair of the HP-K CAC to assist  community and parents to create Level 1 schools through family and community engagement. I became temporary leadership by attending HP-K CAC meetings: planning, e-mailing and discussing crucial educational issues with the intent of creating a three-point plan to save our traditional neighborhood public schools — Canter and Dyett — from closing. Our community needs and deserves neighborhood public schools in walking distance of their homes —elements of  citizenship and democracy should not be compromised.

Before we started the HP-K CAC, we mobilized at Canter school — next door to Kenwood Academy — then we held meetings at Kenwood Academy King Room and Little Theatre. Though the HP-K CAC formed from a “Save Canter and Dyett” theme, there was less interest in saving these schools and a three-point plan over time. Instead, the HP-K CAC kept looking for business interests and somewhat disregarding education interest. For instance, when I submitted my suggestion for the three-point plan, the CAC liaison told me that there was not enough interest in my three point plan because the CAC was not fully formed, even though this liaison told me that we were an official CAC at the All-CAC meeting. HP-K CAC also introduced the group as the 9th CAC to form city-wide.

As my temporary leadership role in the CAC continued, I noticed that more and more favoritism was being shown toward another candidate for co-chair. The candidate called a meeting at her home. Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference (HP-K CC) leaders initially started the organization of the CAC, but were not invited. Later I was told by a HP-K CC Schools Committee representative that the HP-K CC did not want that meeting held without them present. As we met the “winning” candidate was given the position as point person to the CAC liaison (while she and I were serving as Temporary HP-K CAC leadership) by a CAC member at a meeting with only four CAC members attending. Afterward I sent an e-mail for my interest in being a point person to the “winning candidate” and she did not agree with me being point person along with her. She took on the point person position as CAC liaison without a vote of the full CAC. This was in a sense “gerrymandering,” and taking power that was not approved by well-organized community organizations.

Later, the “winning candidate” was told to present the agenda before and for the election  on Feb. 19 by a member of the CAC. Again, the full CAC did not vote on her being point person while running for the position of co-chair. There were no vote watchers assigned to watch the vote counting. There were only about 40 voters in attendance. The CAC liaison told us that all could vote.

At the Feb. 5 meeting held at the “winning” co-chair’s home, it was said that they were going to disregard dates set for CACs citywide to achieve certain goals, not mentioning all the e-mails I sent with my website targeted at helping parents to build their child’s reading skills and meet those goals — my suggestion for the three-point plan on my website. They never commented on it through e-mails, at meetings, or in person —  it was as though I was a “ghost” CAC member when it came to visiting my website and participating in planning and tasks.

More importantly I suggested that we needed an “agent of change” — improve level 3 schools — that could be ownership of reading levels (reading more on independent reading levels for mastery while preparing for instructional levels and never being tested on frustration levels) as testing on frustration levels is unreliable and invalid in the school community.

I have contacted CPS Network 9 out of the 13 networks city-wide to file a complaint. They are preparing the complaint as of this moment. I ask for another election that is fair and democratic without favoritism, and all candidates be allowed vote watchers or poll watchers to verify count.

Patricia A. Breckenridge
Hyde Park-Kenwood
Temporary HP-K CAC Leadership