School closing protesters take over Chicago board meeting

By Julie Woestehoff, PAA-Chicago

TIME Magazine just named “The Protester” their “Person of the Year,” saying, “In 2011, protesters didn’t just voice complaints; they changed the world.” Today in Chicago, parents and teachers are demonstrating just how that happens.

After camping out overnight in frigid rain in front of the Chicago Public Schools central office, people furious about the district’s years of failed, top-down school interventions took over the Board of Education meeting. driving school board members from the room and taking over the microphone to voice their anger.

According to breaking news stories in the Tribune and Sun-Times, protesters said

“Nearly 40 percent of new schools that have replaced ones that closed are performing at the lowest levels. We see through the sound bites. You have betrayed the public trust. You have failed Chicago’s children.”

“Today we stand before you to demand that the Board of Education immediately end all of its moves to push school actions upon the community. We also are asking them to stop charter expansion and to stop handing over these schools to politically connected, under-performing charter networks.”

“We need to stop targeting those in the community that are of color and are of cultural diversity. We need to support our schools, not close them. We can function if the board and the legislature gives us the funding we need to make our schools great.”

CPS security escorted at least 10 people from the Board chambers.

Under mayoral control, Chicago has closed more than 80 district schools since 2002. More than 100 charter schools have opened, some in shared facilities with existing schools and others in buildings CPS emptied when they closed a neighborhood school. Some 20 schools are undergoing turnaround interventions in which all staff are fired and replaced.

The result?

Chicago charter and turnaround schools do just about as well as CPS schools overall, and many carry federal and/or local failure labels.

And yet, last month, Chicago Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard announced 18 more closures, turnarounds and other interventions, and, this week, a plan to open 12 new charter schools, giving contracts to charter networks that already run some of the system’s worst schools.

A statement posted on the CPS site by spokeswoman Becky Carroll “explained” their action today this way: “We can no longer accept a status quo that has allowed so many schools to fail our students year after year.”

My statement? CPS’s 10 year slash-and-burn campaign against regular public schools, teachers, and communities is the status quo. It has failed and it has to be stopped.

Posted on by Julie Woestehoff Posted in Uncategorized

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