The Chicago Public Schools is installing a Naval Academy in Senn High School. Hundreds of teachers, students, parents, and activists from the neighborhood and beyond spoke out to oppose this military takeover of a wing of our school. Now we continue to fight against the militarization of our schools and for the kind of community high school that will meet our needs.

May 2009 Anchors Away

May 9th, 2009

Senn Students Speak Out: Senn Student Views on U.S. wars, immigrant rights, the naval academy, politics, May Day*

Jorge Cruz, junior– May Day is a big day to protest so Mexicans and other immigrants have papers and rights. We are all united on this issue, and want to show everyone that we are united and support the immigrants. I also think we should stop the U.S. wars in Iraq and other places because too many people are killed. And we need to continue the struggle at Senn to get the Navy Out.

Darlin Sabillon, junior– Having May Day is important, as people should not be afraid to express themselves. I say we need to stop the U.S. wars because they are wasting money on things that are not important. Use the money for other things such as in our school. Right now, the Navy is taking over much of our school, which is not right.

Kwame Freeman, senior– I’m not an immigrant, but I support their cause and struggle for equal rights. All people deserve an equal place in society. I also say to stop the U.S. wars, which are not helping anyone.

Sulema Garduno, freshman– I agree that there should be legalization for all immigrants now. The May Day march is a good start on that. Obama needs to do more things, and this is one of them. Also, we need more jobs. We all need to have a voice on the issues.

Jose Hernandez, junior– I think it is important to help the undocumented get legalized and to take up other issues. For example, in our school building, the Navy makes it too crowded. They’re taking over and taking up too much space.

From a Former Senn Student–

Christian Marroquin, a Senn student from 2004-2007 speaks about why he is for Navy Out of the Senn High School building–

“2004 was when the RNA was established. In its first year, there was division between the Senn and Navy students. Some Senn teachers had to give up their regular classrooms, and some left the school because of the RNA and Senn students lost out on some good teachers. One thing that was really disturbing was the yellow line that divided Senn and RNA. It showed so much difference between Senn and RNA. You could see the difference from the walls and classrooms. RNA had their own private gym that was taken from Senn H.S. RNA had all new technology that was not seen in Senn H.S. It made you feel lower than the RNA students, that if you were in RNA you would have better attention and quality of education.

I feel the reason why a military school moved into our neighborhood school was to pull the students into the military way and make them believe what the military would be like. The military is trying to show you that you will get a better education with their way of education if you come to a military school. The military is trying to show you that if you stay with the military, you can get more of this kind of education. They are trying to fool you into becoming a part of the military in the future and fool you into thinking that you can be better than Senn students.”

*ON MAY DAY– These Senn H.S. students spoke to us in the context of May Day, that is, International Workers’ Day on Friday, May 1. This year over 3,000 workers, students and others marched in Chicago. May Day is in honor of the workers who fought and died in Chicago and elsewhere in the U.S. for the 8-hour day in 1886, and in other struggles since then. It is a day for raising important issues for the working class. May Day in recent years in Chicago has had the main demand of legalization of all undocumented immigrants, and pointed out there cannot be equal rights for workers unless all win equality under the law. It also spoke about the need to oppose U.S. wars of aggression and occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere, and militarization of the Chicago public schools.


Senn High School will soon be benefiting from two grants of money that total nearly three quarters of a million dollars.

Some $400,000 will be going to help the AVID college-prep program. The money will go towards professional development, strengthening parental involvement, tutoring and other college readiness activities, and trips and connections to colleges and universities.

Another $381,000 is going for two new state-of-the-art science labs. This was announced by Representative Jan Schakowsky at a press conference at Senn H.S. on April 16.

This money for labs is a start on the equality needed with the Rickover Naval Academy which, with 1/3 of the number of students as Senn, will still have higher quality lab equipment and facilities.

These two grants are signs that Senn High School can be a quality general community public high school open to all students in its attendance boundary. This is important at a time when the corporations are trying to destroy public education and replace it with various forms of selective private schools, known as charter schools or by other names such as Renaissance 2010 in Chicago.

Senn High School students, faculty, parents, and community have been fighting to save and improve Senn High School.

One part of this has been to demand that Rickover Naval Academy leave the Senn High School building, and leave enough room for the continually growing Senn High School program to expand.

Another focus has been to demand that Senn High School have facilities that equal the high quality equipment provided to Rickover Naval Academy. One result is that some additional money will now be spent on the school.

The lesson remains that we have to persist in our struggle to maintain and improve the high quality programs for all at the open enrollment Senn H.S.

Senn High School will present an Art Festival on Saturday, May 16, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the Front Campus. The Festival will feature piano solos, poetry recitals, clay art building demonstrations, student artwork, face painting and henna tattoos. Bring the family.

Are the Cadets Right When They Say RNA Is Not a Recruiting Program for the Military?

Many Naval academy cadets say to our distributors that their JROTC program is not recruiting them into the military. What they are missing is that the government law for JROTC is for the program to try to recruit them. As we know from marketing, the method can be a soft sell, as it may be in RNA.

For those not convinced, perhaps they can answer the following question? If JROTC is not for recruiting into the military at a time when the military is having a hard time getting recruits for its illegal and unjust and unpopular wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, then why is the huge JROTC budget for 2009-10 listed under “Recruiting and Other Training and Education?” See “Department of Defense FY 2009 President’s Budget Exhibit O-1,” p.31–

One way JROTC can involve military recruiting is described by a former Chicago high school student. He told us how he was taken on a field trip with other JROTC students “for a fancy dinner and program to meet a lot of military people talking about how proud they were to be in. They talked about their experiences in going to war. Officers would shake your hand and ask you how you felt about the military and ask you what you thought. They tried to convince you to join up, which felt like pressure because they asked a lot of questions and said things about getting better physical stuff and insurance to try to convince you, to try to brainwash you to join up.”

News and Updates

April 2009 Anchors Away

May 9th, 2009

Senn H.S. Students Continue to Rally Against Injustice

Twenty students from Senn H.S. participated in the lively march and rally on Saturday March 14th in Little Village and Pilsen on the occasion of the 6th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

The students joined in with people of all ages and nationalities to: ● oppose the illegal and unjust U.S. government’s occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan, ● oppose U.S. attacks on Pakistan,
● oppose the occupation of Palestinian land,
● oppose the injustice of the immigration raids and deportations and break up of families.

One of Senn’s sophomores expressed his view of the U.S. in Iraq this way: “I think this war is illegal. First it was all about the lies with the weapons of mass destruction, then it was about terrorists, then it was about Saddam. But I think it is all about the oil in Iraq. The U.S knew there were no weapons of mass destruction or terrorists in Iraq, but America is trying to push their values on everyone else. Not everyone we try to ‘help’ wants our help. We really shouldn’t try and force them and that’s what we do a lot of the time. We ‘help’ people and then want them to change their rules to follow our example.”

Senn High School students have a very good record of opposing injustice– ● opposing the government’s forcing the naval academy into the Senn H.S building over student, parent, teacher, and other community opposition. ● opposing ongoing to attempts to break up Senn High School, ● opposing unjust U.S. wars,
● supporting immigrants’ rights.

Last year Senn High School students took part in the May 1st May Day march for workers’ and immigrants’ rights. There is another action coming up this year Friday, May 1st.

Once again we encourage participation– Friday, May 1, rally at 10 a.m. at Union Park, Ashland and Lake, with a march beginning at noon and heading downtown to Federal Plaza for a rally there. For more information, call 250.3225

Join Senn Strategic Planning

Student voices are particularly important in building a plan for their school. The Senn Strategic Planning Committee– students, parents, faculty and other people from the community– continues to meet and work on the long range plan for Senn. .

This committee projects a growing student enrollment with increased class offerings. It includes stronger student voice and participation, and an ongoing assessment of Senn High School’s needs to better reach and enrich all students. The Senn Green Initiative is gaining community support and involvement including elected officials, local businesses, Loyola University, the ECC (Edgewater Community Council) and the Art Institute.

The next Senn Strategic Planning meeting is Saturday, April 18 at 9 a.m. in Room 115. All are welcome. Your voice and vision is needed.

Senn H.S. People Take Part In the Protests against School Closings

Jesse Sharkey, a Senn High School teacher, member of the Chicago Teachers Union and union delegate from Senn High School, describes how a new coalition challenged the plans of Mayor Daley and his Board of Education to close or reorganize almost two dozen schools:

“Hundreds of parents, teachers, community activists and students [including protesters from Senn High School] held an angry picket in front of the Chicago Board of Education (CBOE) offices on February 25 in a last attempt to influence the vote on the future of 16 public schools. The event marked the third large protest by activists during this round of attacks by the Board. Like they have each year in the past, the CBOE voted unanimously to close, consolidate, phase out or ‘turn around’ the targeted schools. But shortly before the Feb. meeting, the board announced reprieves for six schools originally on its hit list…

“In January a hearing attended by 500 people linked the attacks on public schools to the city’s Renaissance 2010 plan–a blueprint for school privatization and union-busting. The protest changed the mood in the city, and for the first time put Mayor Richard Daley and his allies on the defensive. For example, when Ron Huberman, a career cop and former head of the Chicago Transit Authority, was named to replace Schools CEO Arne Duncan after he was drafted to be President Obama’s Education Secretary, Huberman was booed in board chambers. The removal of six schools from the chopping block marks the first time that the board has backtracked on its announced plans since Renaissance 2010 school closings were implemented….

“The 16 schools and the activists who made this issue a dinner-table conversation throughout Chicago will keep fighting. A piece of legislation sponsored by Illinois state Rep. Cynthia Soto that would put a moratorium on school closings and reorganizations has made its way out of committee.”

Students Oppose the Military Line of Clothing at Sears

A number of high school and other young people in Chicago have decided to oppose Sears’ new military line of clothing by mounting a peace fashion show.

Ruby Avina from Kelly High School told her school, “The fashion show is our answer to military-related clothing, whether it’s the camo or the boots, hats, and army jackets. Most people when they wear it don’t even know they are promoting war.”

The participants are preparing to tell Sears what they think of their new clothing line with postcards saying “We believe that your new ‘1st Infantry Division’ clothing collection helps to promote the militarization of society and glosses over the reality of war and violence to make it ‘in style.’ Put an end to the sales of military-inspired clothing.”

Because the U.S. government has been having trouble recruiting enough young people into the military for their wars of aggression and occupation in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, they have been hatching up all sorts of methods to try to encourage young people to think the military is cool. The Sears method, along with promotion of GI Joe and other war toys, are advertising campaigns to lure young people into joining the military and to market acceptability for U.S. war.

We congratulate the young people who see through the deceitful lies and stand up to say, “No More!”

Is the U.S. Really Ending Its Iraq War & Occupation?

Many students and others think they can relax about U.S. occupation in Iraq, that it will be over soon. But what are the facts about the plans for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq? • The withdrawal of the largest number of U.S. troops from Iraq will not take place until the end of August of 2010.
• Up to 50,000 troops will remain in Iraq at least through August 2011. These will be combat troops. Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell has said this (http://www. msnbc.msn. com/id/29395816/). • Tens of thousands of U.S. troops may stay in Iraq after August 2011. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters this on February 27.

All of this is in the context of the U.S. illegal invasion of Iraq six years ago. International law (such as the UN Charter, which the U.S. signed) prohibits one country attacking another without being attacked first. Iraq did not attack the U.S. Students– don’t be fooled if recruiters tell you the Iraq war is over. And don’t forget more troops are now being sent to Afghanistan.

March 2009 Anchors Away

May 9th, 2009

Active Defense of Community Schools

The movement against the Board of Education’s attacks on public schools has been very active this past month.

Parents and others camped out all night and held a candlelight vigil in front of Board of Education headquarters on the night of February 24-25.

People gathered in the hundreds inside the Board of Education building as the Board was about to vote on closing 22 schools. Speakers denounced the Board members for not attending public hearings on the matter, and for even thinking about closing the schools and disrupting students’ educations.

Teachers, students, and parents cheered the news that six of these schools would not be closed, but still joined the hundreds who rallied and marched through downtown. They called on the State Legislature to support Rep. Cynthia Soto’s bill to put a moratorium on school closings in Chicago and to have an expert panel of educators study the devastating effects of the arbitrary closings that have been made so far.

Senn High School teachers, students, parents and community residents know well how the people in power (Mayor Daley, backed by big corporations and the military) have been trying for several years to replace general community schools with privatized schools under a program known as Renaissance 2010. They have used the Board of Education and its CEOs, who lack background in education– from Valles to Duncan and now Ron Huberman.

The insertion of the Rickover Naval Academy into the Senn High School Building– over the objection of parents, teachers, students– and the community, has been part of this effort, as well as other attempts to break up Senn High School.

So it is with a great sense of solidarity that we have joined in the outpouring of resistance these past months. We are very happy to see the work of the recently organized Caucus of Rank and File Educators (CORE) in the teachers’ union. We are happy to unite with them and the community organizations in the Grassroots Education Movement (GEM). The Save Senn Coalition has voted to be part of such efforts, and has participated in the forums and demonstrations. Please join us in this effort. Call 250.3335 or reach us through And–

Join the Senn Strategic Planning

The Senn Strategic Planning Committee continues to meet and work on the long range plan for Senn High School. This committee projects a growing student enrollment with increased class offerings. It includes stronger student voice and participation, and an ongoing assessment of Senn’s needs to better reach and enrich all students. The Senn Green Initiative is gaining community support and involvement including elected officials, local businesses, Loyola University, the ECC (Edgewater Community Council) and the Art Institute of Chicago.

The next Senn Strategic Planning meeting is Saturday, March 21st at 9am in Room 115. All are welcome. Your voice and vision is needed.

A Professor to the Board of Ed– You’re Closing the Wrong Schools. Close Rickover

I am Kenneth Saltman, Associate Professor of Education Policy at DePaul University. I join with those calling for a moratorium on school closings because there is no scholarship or evidence that makes the case for these closings. Please notice that all of the education policy scholars who have appeared here today have asked for a moratorium.

The other reason I am here today is because I am opposed to CPS continuing its contract with the Pentagon for the operation of the Rickover Naval Academy.

Critics of Rickover and the other military academies have been calling for the closure of these schools because they target kids for military recruitment at a young age, because they target racial and ethnic minorities for military recruitment, because they deny a high quality public education in favor of a military curriculum and model, because the military discriminates based on sexual orientation, because CPS financially subsidizes the Pentagon which is a financial drain on the other CPS schools, and because Rickover has a direct adverse effect on Senn High School by robbing physical space, causing teacher turnover and having a significant unmistakable effect on Senn’s achievment scores.

The investment in Rickover has come at a high cost to the students of Senn, to CPS, and to the ideal of universally-provided quality civilian public schools. Has the high cost been worth the sacrifices? No.

Rickover has demonstrated poor academic performance in traditional terms. Under No Child Left Behind it has failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress in 2008. Test scores are bad with Rickover scoring only 40.3% on all tests in comparison to a district average of 60.4% and a state average of 74.8%.

Apologists for Rickover and the other military academies have contended that the alleged high quality, racial equity, and parental demand justify the sacrifices. Well, despite being selective enrollment Rickover is well below district average. What is more, Rickover’s overall poor scores in reading and math show a vast racial and ethnic achievement gap indicating that the justification of educational access and opportunity falls flat. Parents make choices not in a vacuum but based on other available choices. When community schools are short-changed to fund military academies this is not choice – it is a hostage situation. If student achievement and access are the main concerns then it is time to rethink Rickover and the other military academies and consider closing them and using their physical sites for top quality open enrollment civilian community schools.

You are closing the wrong schools!

The Military Is Not the Way to Go

As the U.S. government continues its illegal and unjust wars, there is a lot of pressure to join up. But, it is important to consider the rights and wrongs of the matter.

Chris Inserra, long-time member of the Save Senn Coalition just lost a dear friend, Peter DeMott, to a fatal accident, and submitted the following to Anchors Away.

Peter was a military veteran who, after graduating from high school, joined the Marine Corps. He spent most of 1969 in Vietnam as a communications specialist.

In a 2005 personal biography, DeMott summed up his experience with words to the wise:

“Upon completing my enlistment in the Marines I joined the Army where I received training as a linguist and an assignment to a NATO post in Ankara, Turkey. My experience in the military convinced me of the futility of war and of the sad misallocation of resources which war making requires….”

Peter then became an activist for peace and justice, with the view that “To the extent that we sit passively by during these challenging times—when the fate of the earth and all its life forms hangs in the balance, to that very extent we give our tacit approval to the forces amassed to destroy us.”

Join in. Rally & March– Demand – On the 6th Anniversary of the U.S. Invasion of Iraq:
–End the occupations NOW! Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine! –Stop the Government’s War on Immigrants!
You are invited to join in the Chicagoland protest to oppose continuing U.S. wars abroad and war on immigrants at home on Saturday, March 14. Rally at 12 noon at Marshall Boulevard & Cermak Road (2 blocks from the “California” stop on the Pink Line “el”), and then march into the Pilsen area for a rally there. Join in too the weekend of Saturday, March 21 in Washington, DC to march on the Pentagon! Chartered buses will leaving Chicago 5 p.m. Friday, March 20 and return by Sunday morning, March 22. Tickets will be about $105, with money available for those who are short of funds. Call 250.3225 for information.

February 2009 Anchors Away

May 9th, 2009

No to Attacks on Community Schools

The Chicago Board of Education is continuing its attacks on public education. Instead of improving schools, it is attacking community general education schools, and replacing them with various forms of privatized and charter schools.

In response to this, over a thousand teachers, parents, and students turned out in freezing weather on Wednesday, January 28th at the Board of Education to oppose these attacks. They spoke at the Board meeting, booed Mayor Daley’s appointment of a new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) with no background or experience in education–Ron Huberman, most recently head of the CTA, and then marched in the streets.

The march was from the Board of Education to the Commercial Club of Chicago– sponsor of privatizing the public schools known as the Renaissance 2010 plan. The march then went to City Hall to target Mayor Daley as the government official running the schools while not allowing the voice of people power to be heard via Local School Councils or other forms of grassroots control. Main chants included “Save our Schools!” and “Hey, hey, ho, ho – Renaissance 2010 has got to go!”

Senn Teacher Speaks to the Board– More Resources for Senn. Navy Out

Brian Roa, a science teacher at Senn High School, spoke at the 1/28 Board of Education meeting about the inequalities that often exist between Renaissance 2010 schools and traditional public schools. As an example, he said, “Rickover Naval Academy (RNA) began occupying our school four years ago despite unified student, parent, teacher, and community opposition, just another example of the undemocratic process of Renaissance 2010.” He offered a quick list of inequalities that exist within the two schools:
• Since RNA came took over a wing Senn High School, Senn has lost nearly 40 positions. Arne Duncan (former CEO, now Secretary of Education), told us we would lose none.
• RNA got all new science labs “which are nicer looking labs than what I had in college. At Senn, even though I am a science teacher, I teach in a regular classroom with no science lab equipment in my room. How are students expected to get an equal education in a separate and unequal environment?” • RNA students get preferential treatment in the lunchroom and the hallways. RNA students can walk through Senn’s hallways, but Senn students cannot walk through RNA hallways. Senn students feel like second class citizens in their own school. • Finally, RNA dumps the students they don’t want. “We have received several RNA students who have been removed from the RNA enrollment.”

Why does RNA get better resources and preferential treatment? “CPS wants to inflate the perception of a certain type of school (Ren 2010 schools) and demonize the others in order to justify schemes to privatize education, bust the teacher’s union and support gentrifying neighborhoods which push out currently enrolled students. CPS expects schools like Senn to have the same test scores as schools which are given preferential treatment. RNA receives better resources and is allowed to dump the students they don’t want while Senn is expected to pick up the slack.

“You, as CPS Board members, are complicit in the destruction of equitable educational opportunities for all students. By promoting Ren 2010’s growth, you deny equal opportunities and thus success for thousands of young people.”

Join in. Rally & March– Demand – On the 6th Anniversary of the U.S. Invasion of Iraq:
–End the occupations NOW! Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine! –Stop the Government’s War on Immigrants!

There are plans for a Chicagoland protest to oppose continuing U.S. wars abroad and war on immigrants at home on Saturday, March 14. You just need to double check the date with us since the City is challenging our right to have a protest on that date. Call 250.3225 to get an update, or check the web site.

The plan is to rally at 12 noon sharp with a short rally at Marshall Boulevard & Cermak Road (2 blocks from the “California” stop on the Pink Line “el”), and then to march into the Pilsen area for a rally there.

Join in too the weekend of Saturday, March 21 in Washington, DC to march on the Pentagon! Chartered buses will leaving Chicago 5 p.m. Friday, March 20 and return by Sunday morning, March 22. Tickets will be about $100, though money is available for those who are short. Call 250.3225 for information.

Military Recruitment Is Not Going Smoothly And Soldiers Are Speaking Out

Recruiting for the military is not going well even with the economic crisis. The National Priorities Project (NPP) says that the government figures on recruitment are false. The Defense Department announced at the end of January that more people are signing up to join the armed forces, with plans being to boost the active-duty Army by 65,000 soldiers, to a total of 547,000, by 2010. An NPP study found that not be the case when the numbers who actually showed up for duty were counted.

The military has spent hundreds of millions of on recruitment, but with growing opposition to the illegal and unjust U.S. wars, enrollment is down.

To get more direct information on reasons to not join the military, consider attending Acts of Valor: GI Resistance to the “War on Terror,” Wednesday, February 18, 6-8 p.m. at Roosevelt University, 430 S. Michigan, Congress Lounge. Hear from conscientious objectors , AWOL GI’s, and other GI resisters against “The War on Terror.” This is an Iraq Veterans Against the War panel, to be followed by discussion.

Military suicides continue to rise

For those thinking about joining the military, there is a lot to consider– the legality of U.S. wars, innocent civilians killed or maimed, and other risks. One such is risk is shown in a new report– that the suicide rate is continuing to rise in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force. The Army rate is now the highest in its history. Army Brig. Gen. Loree K. Sutton says active-duty service members are under tremendous strain– “They’ve been exposed to the most corrosive environment known to warfare– physically, psychologically, spiritually and morally.” ( “Military suicides continue to rise” by Courtney Kube and Alex Johnson, NBC News and, 1/29/09)

One Soldier: Courage to resist unjust war “I served in the Army as a Photojournalist until being honorably discharged last summer after over four years of service in Afghanistan, Japan, Europe and the Philippines…. I received a letter from the Army ordering my return to active duty, for the purpose of mobilization for Operation Iraqi Freedom…. This occupation is unconstitutional and illegal and I hereby lawfully refuse to participate.” —Matthis Chiroux Another Soldier: Resisting involuntary activation “The question for IRR (Individual Ready Reserve) members is whether or not they should leave their new civilian lives behind so soon after being discharged to fight in illegal aggressions and occupation. The benefit is certainly not for veterans who, if they have not already been so, stand only to get wounded, killed or sustain psychological trauma in the form of PTSD. I encourage all IRR service members to start questioning what they are being told by a military system that will tell them anything to fill its quotas.” –Benjamin “Benji” Lewis, Marine IRR member facing June 2009 recall.

December 2008 Anchors Away

May 9th, 2009

Successful Meeting for Senn’s Green Program On November 25 there was a meeting to develop community support for a Green Program at Senn High School that has been initiated by the Senn Strategic Planning Committee. This is part of efforts to save Senn High School as a general community high school.

State Senator Heather Steans hosted the kickoff, which included 37 invitees from 17 different organizations.

After a warm welcome from the Senator, Principal Richard Norman provided background about Senn, followed by a good update on Senn’s environmental projects from students Erick Molina and Sandra Diaz and science teacher Eleanor Flanagin. Then, Chicago Public Schools Environment Program Manager Suzanne Carlson shared the citywide efforts to go green, and Alderman Joe Moore talked about green work in Rogers Park and how great it is for Senn to be pursuing a Green program.

After introductions around the room, those at the gathering broke into three discussion groups to share ideas and commitments for helping Senn go green, and several new partnership opportunities emerged. In addition, 10 participants volunteered to attend the first Senn Green Advisory Committee meeting, probably to be scheduled for early in the new year.

Several people who were invited and were unable to attend sent supportive notes, stating they wanted to help out in the future.

Senn High School was well represented by Erick and Sandra as well as several staff members. And the students and science teachers did an excellent job pulling together, on short notice, a Senn Green brochure to share with attendees.

Victory for Watada, Highest Officer to Refuse Iraq Duty

U.S. District Judge Benjamin H. Settle declared on October 21 that the government could not retry 1st Lieutenant Ehren Watada on charges of missing his unit’s deployment to Iraq in June 2006 and for denouncing President Bush and the war. His first court-martial ended in a mistrial in February 2007.

“He dismissed the heart of their case,” Watada lawyer Jim Lobsenz said. “We’re very pleased. It’s taken a long time.”

The judge kicked back to the military trial court for further consideration two other conduct unbecoming an officer charges against Watada, opening the door to further court proceedings. Both of those charges involve public interviews Watada gave to reporters. Judge Settle said the military court should consider whether there are “constitutional defects” to retrying Watada on those charges before a civil court does.

Lt. Watada contended that the war is illegal and that he would be a party to war crimes if he served in Iraq. He said, “I hope that actions such as mine will continue to help expose the truth behind the fundamental illegality and immorality of the war…The reason I spoke out, I saw that what was being done in terms of this war was so illegal and so immoral, and not being checked. It was a danger to our troops and a danger to our country. So, I think what needs to be done is some kind of accountability in Washington (D.C.) and also investigations into how this war was started in the first place.”

Lt. Watada has also reported that “almost every day, someone from the military or the outside sends me some kind of correspondence or approaches me in person to render support or their respect.” And reports are that many, many other resisters to illegal and unjust wars are also receiving great support, around the country and abroad, including here in Chicago. So don’t be afraid to stand up for peace and justice. Learn from Lt. Watada.

Articles by Senn Students

In this issue of Anchors Away we have two articles written by Senn High School students. We are very happy about this development, and encourage other students to write an article or a letter-to-the editor. All views are welcome. This next article is an example of that. It does not necessarily represent the views of the Save Senn Coalition or any of its members. But we print it because we think it has important views for you to consider.

Report: the After-School Speaker from Iraq, Mr. Raed Jarrar

On November 14, 2008 we learned about Iraq’s war from Raed Jarrar’s perspective. He is a man who was arrested in the U.S. for wearing a shirt which said “We will not be silent” in Arabic.

Mr. Jarrar’s perspective about Iraq’s war was very different to the ones we have always heard from our media. Mr. Jarrar’s speech concentrated on how it affected the Iraqi people’s lives.

One of his answers to a question from the audience really had a big impact on us because it’s related to life itself. The question was: “What do you think about Osama bin Laden?” He responded, “How can I respond about someone that I don’t know or have never met before.”

The media never fully explains why bin Laden did what he did. It is wrong to kill civilians, but those words were really interesting because it is not only in war that we judge everyone in a group by a single person that we have heard about, but in everyday life.

A Muslim killed many civilians, but that doesn’t mean that all Muslims are bad. But our media tells many stories to reinforce the idea that Muslims are bad. This idea makes it ok in some people’s heads for the U.S. to be at war with Iraq.

Iraq’s war is full of pain for the people that live there and Raed talked a little bit about it. His perspective is not consistent with what all people believe but that is what life is about. We may never think of each other as equal but we have to learn to accept each other as we are!

Senn Students Win An Award in Opt-Out Contest

What is opt out? Opt out is a letter that the schools get so the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines can’t get a student’s phone number and address. The Opt Out letter helps students so the military cannot get their information from the school and call them or go to their house and knock at their doors. No Child Left Behind lets military recruiters get personal information unless the opt-out letter gets signed by a student, or a parent or guardian.

United Senn Students wanted to let students know about this. We were mad that recruiters got our information. So we made an effort to let students opt-out if they wanted. At the same time we entered into a competition about opt-out letters. We got to compete against schools in New York City!

The project started in October. United Senn Students with Mr. Roa and Ms. Boatman planned this project and we divided ourselves into 4 groups. We went to different divisions and talked to students about the opt-out letter. At the end we did what was good for the students. United Senn Students won 2nd place, and to tell you the truth it was not only for the competition but for what we won for the school. We won tickets to the movies for what we did!


FROM CONTACTING YOU AT HOME–OPT OUT Send a letter like the following opt-out form (or this form) to Office of High School Programs, Chicago Public Schools, 125 S. Clark St., 9th floor, Chicago, IL 60603— I request that the name, address, and telephone number of the following student not be given to the military for recruitment purposes.
Student’s name______________________________ Student ID number____________________
Parent/guardian OR student signature__________________________

Articles from the January Anchors Away

May 9th, 2009

Why We Say Navy Out Why we are for removing Rickover Naval Academy from the Senn Building

For those of you who were not around when the naval academy was forced into the Senn H.S. building over four years ago, here are the facts– The naval academy was placed into the Senn building over the objection of students, faculty, parents and the community. Several hundred people gathered in the Senn H.S. auditorium and later at a local church to oppose this, for one or more of the following reasons– • The decision was made undemocratically, over the objections of the people. • Forcing the new school into the Senn building would squeeze existing Senn H.S. programs.
• The military academies are training students and recruiting for illegal and unjust U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and elsewhere. • The military follows a policy of discrimination against gays and lesbians. • Military academies hurt public education and deprive students of necessary resources.

A Senn Student Hits the Nail on the Head

Mohammed Hameed, a Senn High School senior, made clear what the problems are of having the naval academy inside the Senn High School building in a speech he gave this past Saturday. Mohammed spoke to an audience of over 400 teachers, students, parents, and community people at a public hearing called by CORE (the Caucus of Rank and File Educators of the Chicago Teachers Union) on the privatization and militarization of the Chicago Public Schools, and unequal treatment of various kinds of students.

Here is what Mohammed said: “I am here to talk to you about the differences that Senn students have to endure since the Rickover Naval Academy has been instituted in our building.

There are differences in science equipment. They have enough, and we don’t. For example, we have only 12 microscopes and have to share them, while the naval academy has enough for all. Our science teachers come to a point where they must have us share equipment if they want to teach us.

The textbooks aren’t the same either. We have about 20 year old editions of textbooks, and they have fairly new editions. This affects the amount of things we learn.

Physical structure is drastically different as well. At Senn, we have paint chipping off the walls and cracks in them. Some lights are not working. When we take a peek at the Navy side of the building, everything seems to be new compared to the Senn side.

I say ‘When we take a peek’ because Senn students aren’t allowed to go to the Navy side. But, the cadets are not compelled to follow the same restriction as we are.

Ever since the Navy has been imposed on Senn, the class sizes of Senn have increased significantly. We have 30-40 students in some of our classes, which really affects things and the amount we learn.

Another thing that affects me especially is the sports equipment. We have very old equipment and they don’t. I don’t mean to say they shouldn’t have all those things, but if they can have them, then so should we. We all should receive equal education, equipment, and school environment in general.”

A Senn Student Speaks about Selective Schools

Alpha A. Diallo, a senior at Senn High School, also spoke to the public hearing of CORE on Saturday. He spoke about his experience as an immigrant with the Renaissance 2010 program. This is a program that has shut down many Chicago public schools and replaced them with privatized selective schools that choose their students through testing, such as charter schools, or started military academies such as Rickover Naval Academy.

Among the things Alpha said was, “As for those charter schools, a student like me, when I first came here, I couldn’t get into those schools because they require a hard test for enrollment. And a bilingual student like me cannot pass an ESL test. So if immigrants can’t go to charter schools, and there aren’t others, how many immigrant students won’t be able to have their high school diplomas because they couldn’t speak English? Then going to the streets will be the consequence, and I think that’s more of a problem for the city.

Closing our schools for such new schools is like a man who doesn’t know his past. We have to always have better public schools. But closing schools is, for parents, the community, and teachers a way of losing their savings and starting all over. Please don’t close our schools. Make them better.”

Please read the following story– See how a former JROTC student, who joined the Army and served two tours in Iraq, and ended up with a severe case of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, experienced the Army breaking its promises and duty to him, even forcing him to return his re-enlistment bonus. Can you trust their promises when you see what happened to this former JROTC student? (“PTSD Victim Booted for ‘Misconduct,’” The Army Times, January 8, 2009,

What About Obama’s Choice for Dept. of Education?

Barack Obama chose Arne Duncan to be Secretary of Education. Who is he? Duncan is someone who Mayor Daley put into place as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) for seven years even though he had no college courses in education or experience in a school system before becoming an assistant for a few years to the previous CEO. Daley directed Duncan to carry out the Renaissance 2010 plan of the corporate Commercial Club of Chicago for privatizing and militarizing the schools.

When Obama picked Duncan, the media described him as a “reformer” who did wonders for Chicago schools. But, Chicago teachers, parents, and students can warn America– watch out for a program giving the public schools to corporations, relying on discredited standardized testing, and opening “charter” schools without elected Local School Councils, public accountability, teacher unions, or teacher input into school decisions.

After 7 years as CEO, Duncan has not improved public education for the 90% of Chicago students from the working class. Dozens of neighborhood schools have been replaced by schools directed in large part by private corporations or the U.S. military– paid for out of the people’s tax money.
Duncan can point to “failed schools” that he closed and programs he forced on teachers, but he can’t point to progress. Over 50% of high school students still don’t test at grade level or graduate. And one out of ten students are in military programs being trained by military personnel and often recruited into active military service.

Duncan took up the nation-wide program of the Business Roundtable, imposing a top-down method of governing, and meeting corporate needs: • Cutting Chicago Public School budgets, which means lack of current materials and other problems for all but students with high test scores, who go to selective schools with the best labs, computers, etc. There is promotion of charter schools with low paid teachers, in which only 50% need to be certified, with no check up by the State for 5 years. .• In most schools, emphasizing memorization, rote learning and test-taking, with dumbed down lesson plans that teachers must follow– all at the expense of not teaching critical thinking and preparing students to see through lies and mis-information.
• Eliminating elected local school councils and governance by parents, teachers, and communities. What can we do? (1) Let everyone know about Duncan degrading public education and using public schools to recruit youth into the military. (2) Support and improve existing public schools.
(3) Accept the invitation from CORE to join with them to oppose privatization of the public schools and, instead, use all funds to advance public education. (

Public education is a public trust. It should not be in the hands of Big Business.

For more on this issue, we urge you to read “Obama’s Betrayal of Public Education? Arne Duncan and the Corporate Model of Schooling” by Henry A. Giroux and Kenneth Saltman, 12/17/08. See