Student assignment vote represented the demographics of Rockford

Two blogs, printed in Sunday’s Rockford Register Star, turned the Rockford School Board’s 5-2 vote for zoned schools and the people at the board meeting who witnessed it, into a power struggle with racial overtones.

Excerpt from Sweeny Report:

The folks in favor of the current, modified choice plan tend to be the poor, the west siders, the voiceless of our community. The front page picture in the newspaper said it all: The people happy with the 5-2 vote were all-white, and all-connected. Even though only 35 percent of District 205 students are white, the other 65 percent are powerless.

Same as it ever was.

Everyone was invited to the focus groups, the open houses and the surveys were sent to all parents including the 65% you say are powerless. Everyone was entitled to show up to the board meetings to speak what was on their minds. The board allowed everyone to speak who signed up, even though it took over one and a half hours. Those, whom you say are powerless, had a choice, they simply chose not to get involved – same as it ever was.

Excerpts from Editor’s Note:

Looked in the mirror this morning. Yep, still white.


I have absolutely nothing in common with two-thirds of the children and their parents in Rockford School District 205. And, frankly, neither do any of the people in this picture, which ran with today’s Register Star story on the school board’s decision to switch to zone (code word for neighborhood) school assignment.


They don’t, however, have a clue, any more than I do, what it’s like to be poor, under-educated, black, Mexican or seriously unemployed.

I also looked into the mirror today. Yep, still white, with age spots, bags under my eyes and lines in my face due to spending my whole life trying to overcome where I was born and my father being laid off year after year, with his 6th grade education. How can you assume that the people involved in that picture “don’t have a clue” or don’t have anything in common with the 65% of the children or their parents in the district?

Play the race card if you must, but at least look at your facts. If 75% of all the children in the district qualify for reduced or free lunch, and 65% meet some minority criterion – that means that 10% or more of the students are white and poor, doesn’t it?

When are some of the Register Star columnists going to admit that the educational achievement has not improved for the 65% regardless of how much they are bused around the district to “good” schools? So, what did the “choice lottery do? At best, it gave some a good “feeling” that something was being done. This is not a racial issue. People get from school, what they put into it – regardless of skin color.

Beside, all the taxpayers pay for the schools and the extra $4M for busing, not just those who attend the schools. People without children in schools, represent 75% of the district’s population, so the demographics of those involved in the zoned school decision were proper and not racist. The schools do not represent the demographics of the population and never will if the district continues to bus students all over town with no discernible educational results.

The two thirds that were less than a whisper represent only two thirds of 25%, or less than 17% of the total population, a demographic that is closer to the norm for Rockford, not just the school district.

Finally, the philosophical question, if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? The answer is no, even if there are vibrations emitted, if there are no ears around to hear it, there is no sound.

It is the same with those who don’t show up to board meetings, where the decisions are being made. If you are not there, if you don’t answer surveys sent to your home, then your voice will not be heard.