Education

Protests at Mayor Emanuel’s doorsteps

Logo of the Chicago Teachers Union.

Logo of the Chicago Teachers Union. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hundreds of anti-school closing protesters marched past Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s house Monday, Feb. 20 days before the days before the Chicago Board of Education votes to close or restructure failing schools.

This protest followed a weekend sit-in at Piccolo Elementary, which finally produced a meeting with School Board Vice President Jesse Ruiz Sunday afternoon.

The protesters will be asking for a meeting with the mayor to discuss the seven school closings or phase-outs and the record 10 school “turnarounds” scheduled for a school board vote this Wednesday, said Jitu Brown of the Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

“People are fed up,” Brown said. “The hope is that the mayor understands that his constituents are serious, which is why we are doing it the way we are doing it, and that he gives audience to the people who elected him.”

The numbers of protesters, which appeared to be more than 500, moved from an angry rally at Lakeview High School, west along Irving Park and then down the mayor’s quaint Hermitage block.

This year’s list of schools proposed for shakeups by new Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard has triggered an unusual number of protests, some of them highly organized, like the one at Piccolo Elementary.

Brown said parents are angry that community plans for schools have been ignored while CPS has pushed forward with shakeups that, over the years, have turned some neighborhood schools into charter schools or selective schools where students of color no longer have guarantee of a seat according to The Chicago Sun-Times.

Brown added that of all the schools closed over the years and replaced with new schools, today only 18 percent are high-performing and half of those have competitive admissions requirements.

Parents and activists said they will fight to preserve Wendell Smith Elementary, which is one of the 10 schools that could face “turnarounds.” School was not in session Monday; however, parents and teachers from the school were on hand to protest its turnaround with Save our Schools according to Fox Chicago.

CPS officials were at the protest handing out press releases that responded to the complaints the Chicago Tribune reported.

Some of the signs that reported being seen at the protest included the headline “CPS statement on CTU rally” implying the rally had been staged by the teachers union.

Chicago Teachers Union spokeswoman, Becky Carroll, said in the statement: “CPS is breaking away from a status quo that has failed our students year after year. What has been tried in the past has not worked and going back to the same failed policies is not in the best interest of our students.”

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