Labor News Staff
Thursday, May 16, 2013
CHICAGO — The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) announced that as the city braces itself for the largest assault on public education in the country, thousands of parents, students, teachers, clergy, citizens and community leaders are preparing for a march against school closings on May 18, 19 and 20.
Many of the neighborhoods along the South and West side routes that marchers will travel already have been adversely affected by rising crime during Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s first term, in addition to the long-term impact of massive home and business foreclosures and steady unemployment. Mass school closings will further decimate and destabilize these minority communities.
“The devastation that the neighborhood schools faced came long before the latest list of school closures came down the pipeline,” said CTU President Karen Lewis in a press conference at Mayo Elementary, a South Side school slated for closure.
The 30-plus mile march is themed, “Our City. Our Schools. Our Voice,” and will include simultaneous routes from the West and South sides of the city. Protestors intend to walk each day past many of the 54 school communities slated for closure and their efforts will culminate in a mass demonstration in Daley Plaza.
It is sponsored by the CTU, the Grassroots Education Movement, SEIU Local 1, Unite Here Local 1 and Chicago PEACE, an interdenominational coalition of clergy leaders from across the city. Donations are pouring in from across the country.
“Despite the testimony of thousands of parents, teachers and people who work and living in the school communities impacted, Rahm Emanuel is dedicated to entering the history books as having destroyed the most public schools in one year than anyone in history,” Lewis said.
“He refuses to listen to independent judges, law enforcement officials, educators, researchers and the students themselves. We have no choice but to use power of organizing to engage in what will be a long fight to restore sanity to our school district.”
The march kicks off at 10 a.m. May 18 on the South Side at Jesse Owens Elementary School, 12450 S. State St., and on the near West Side at Jean de Lafayette Elementary School, 2714 W. Augusta Blvd.
“School closings hurt children academically and the mayor’s plan will also put thousands of students’ safety at risk and many public school employees may lose their jobs,” Lewis said.
“We must do whatever is necessary to stop this assault on the working class and the poor. In the midst of getting angry, we must organize. We want to tell Emanuel, the Board, the school CEO and their corporate sponsors that this is our city, these are our schools and we will use our voice to fight for justice.”
The mayor’s hand-picked Chicago Board of Education will vote on school closings on Wednesday, May 22. Shortly thereafter, a massive voter registration drive will commence throughout the city.
Jennifer Rice’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.