Cultural Revolutions

Rockford Schools Controversy

The Rockford schools controversy, approaching its tenth anniversary, is taking on the mythic stature of the Little Rock, Cleveland, and Kansas City cases. While still in its infancy (as desegregation cases go) and relatively inexpensive (only $166 million through the end of the 1997-98 school year, compared to $2 billion in Kansas City), the Rockford case is notable for both the determination of its opponents and the rapidity with which the city is being destroyed.

The determination of its opponents was evident at The Rockford Institute's second annual "Rally for Rockford" at the Rockford Woman's Club in February. Over 500 people braved a late winter rainstorm to join Rockford Institute president and Chronicles editor Thomas Fleming, Congressman Don Manzullo, legal scholar Stephen Presser, local lawyer Michael O'Brien, and three Rockford School Board members in their call for an end to judicial taxation. Despite attempts by the local chapter of the NAACP to scuttle the rally-including intimidating the school board members —enthusiasm was high, as audience members sported buttons reading "Welcome to Occupied Rockford—P. Michael Mahoney, Presiding."

Pleased with the response to his speech at the previous rally. Congressman Manzullo requested to be on the program again, to update Rockfordians on his legislative efforts to restrict the ability of judges to raise taxes. In...

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