Loop rally, march targeting Chicago Public School closings lead to 127 detained

Ellen Jean Hirst and Bridget Doyle
The Chicago Tribune

On a day when Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the time for negotiations on school closings was over, the Chicago Teachers Union led hundreds of supporters in a highly orchestrated downtown rally and march as part of its continuing efforts to derail the district’s plan to shut 53 elementary schools.

[Chicago Teachers Union] President Karen Lewis was cheered when she took the microphone at Daley Plaza late Wednesday afternoon and repeated her argument that the Chicago Public Schools’ decision to close schools with predominantly African-American enrollments is racist.

“Let’s not pretend that when you close schools on the South and West sides, the children affected aren’t black,” Lewis said. “Let’s not pretend that’s not racist.”…

…The school closing issue has been controversial for months. After hearings that the district said were attended by more than 20,000 people, CPS last week unveiled a plan to shut down 53 elementary schools and one high school program.

The district said it needs to close underenrolled schools to deal with a looming $1 billion budget deficit…

…Rochelle Ingram, a 28-year CPS veteran, is a second-grade teacher at Delano Elementary, one of the schools slated to be closed. It would be taken over by Melody Elementary, which is slated move into Delano’s building on the West Side. She repeated one of the key fears of school closing opponents, that the plan will jeopardize student safety.

“Melody’s in another gang territory and they’re going to make our kids intermix,” Ingram said. “It’s cruel.”

Among those who were sitting on LaSalle Street in front of City Hall hoping to be arrested in an act of civil disobedience was Tom Balanoff, president of the Service Employees International Union Local 1. He said he was demonstrating to show that massive school closings are “not the right direction. This is not the way to really solve the problem in education.”

Balanoff said he had been arrested in acts of civil disobedience “many times over the years.”

“It’s as American as apple pie,” he said.

Read the entire article at The Chicago Tribune.

H/T iOwnTheWorld


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