Ames continues fight against militarization despite Board of Education vote, mendacity from Alderman Roberto Maldonado

Despite the vote of the Chicago Board of Education on December 18, 2013, to change Ames Middle School into a military academy featuring the United States Marine Corps, parents, teachers, students and neighbors of the Ames community continue the fight.

Save Ames people have been getting additional support from local businesses. Substance photo by Leticia Barrera.The Chicago Board of Education faces its worst nightmare: people who reject its decision, and who refuse to roll over and play dead. The Board's outrageous decision to convert Ames Middle School into a Marine Military Academy, in face of strong community opposition, is not being passively accepted. And the claims by Alderman Roberto Maldonado and a handful of supporters (from outside the community around Ames) are providing people with the words that can be debunked no matter how lengthily they were spoken.

David Stone gave the background to the struggle in his excellent report of January 26 (�ion=Article). Ames parents and supporters have placed a question on the ballot for the March 18th Democratic primary for the eight precincts closes to Ames, and held a press conference last Wednesday to announce a renewed voter registration drive in the area. They had said they would have people going out into the community on Saturday, January 25, and I showed up to see if they really had the support or if they were bluffing.

They clearly had the support. Sixteen people showed up to Ames on a cold Saturday morning this past weekend. These volunteers ranged from young college students to older folks in (apparently) their 50s and 60s. They were Latino and white, some who spoke Spanish but some didn't. People were briefed on latest developments, given prepared material, told how to register voters, and went out in teams, joining Spanish and English speakers. (Ames, at 1920 W. Armitage Avenue, is in Logan Square, a predominantly Latino area, so while most everyone can speak English, many are much more comfortable expressing themselves in Spanish.)

I went out with two Latinas, and we walked down Armitage. The area we visited was mainly comprised of small businesses, so we went in and talked with whoever we could find. The two women were very eloquent and passionate in their effort to build support for Ames to remain a neighborhood school. They visited a hair salon, and then a barber, and then even went into a auto repair shop. At each place, people were interested, and listened to them intently, many seeming to agree with the women's pleas to keep Ames as a neighborhood school. When asked if they would put a sign in their window indicating their support for the parents of the school, they readily agreed.

"We want you to know that Ames is working; it's NOT a dysfunctional school. We have many programs for the students, and parents are engaged in their children's education. We want good educational programs for our kids," they told people.

We also went into an apartment complex. They spoke to a woman who was quite supportive, even telling them to get permission so they could go speak to other residents; she didn't want them to get hassled and expelled. Not everybody, however, was interested. One elderly man simply wasn't interested: "I'm not concerned." He was kind of disdainful. But when the two women started talking about the cold, and asking how he was dealing with it, he warmed up a bit. No indication if he'd support them, but at least he eventually was willing to listen to their talk.

Unfortunately, I had other commitments so I couldn't stay long with them. They had a purpose, and they were enjoying themselves: "We like talking with people. And once people understand the issue, they agree with us."

Obviously, it's hard to tell what will happen, but initial impressions are that these enthusiastic parents will build even more support in the community. Something's happening here and, to coin a phrase, "it ain't exactly clear." Yet what seems exactly clear is that these parents are not willing to let the Board of Education to run roughshod over them. Like I said, the Board's worst nightmare.


Add your own comment (all fields are necessary)

Substance readers:

You must give your first name and last name under "Name" when you post a comment at We are not operating a blog and do not allow anonymous or pseudonymous comments. Our readers deserve to know who is commenting, just as they deserve to know the source of our news reports and analysis.

Please respect this, and also provide us with an accurate e-mail address.

Thank you,

The Editors of Substance

Your Name

Your Email

What's your comment about?

Your Comment

Please answer this to prove you're not a robot:

2 + 2 =