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Community Leaders Excluded from Duncan and Holder Meeting

Not enough tables at the Four Seasons to include community leaders? Or maybe the absence of an invitation was because Altgeld Gardens parents blame Arne Duncan and his Renaissance 2010 program for the tragedy.

Seasons is as opulent a dining room as you will find in the city, with mahogany furnishings, a gaily flowered carpet, brocade armchairs and fresh-cut flowers. Through the foyer, with its grand marble fountain, is a comfortable lounge that is popular for afternoon tea or evening cocktails accompanied by the relaxing sounds of the piano. The seventh-floor location affords a grand view of Chicago's sweeping avenues.

By Dick Johnson and Steve Bryant

Community leaders and parents outside Fenger are in disbelief that they are not at the breakfast table with Arne Duncan and Eric Holder.

Attorney General Holder and Secretary of Education Duncan are in town to speak, ostensibly, with the community about youth violence -- a blight on Chicago neighborhoods so vividly brought to national attention by the videotaped beating of Derrion Albert.

"They are meeting about us without us," said Phillip Jackson of the Black Star Project, a Chicago-based educational reform organization.

Duncan and Holder's meeting at the Four Seasons also includes Mayor Daley, Pastor Michael Pfleger, CEO of Chicago Public Schools Ron Huberman, and Police Superintendent Jody Weis.

"Why Are We Here, And They Are Somewhere Else?"
"Why Are We Here, And They Are Somewhere Else?"

"Why Are We Here, And They Are Somewhere Else?"

Asked specifically if the group would be meeting with students and parents at Fenger, Daley demurred. "Oh I don't know about that," he said.

Meanwhile, community leaders are livid.

"President Obama fueled up Air Force One to fly to Copenhagen to try to win the Olympics. Why can't he fuel up a Greyhound bus and come here?" asked Jackson.

"The Mayor and President want parents to get involved in the lives of their children," Jackson said. "We are here, where are they?"

At Fenger, a dozen parents from Altgeld Gardens arrived by school bus to blame Arne Duncan for the problems here, saying his Renaissance 2010 plan forced their kids to leave Carver.

The parents are demanding their kids be returned to the high school closer to their neighborhood.

NBC Chicago





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