The New Generation Drill Team from the Boys and Girls Club Fired up a crowd of about 300 students, teachers and parents. Thursday morning's rally, held at Wendell Smith Elementary School on the Far South Side, 744 E. 103rd St., was put together in the last few days with the goal of fighting the threat of a boycott on the first day of class next Tuesday.
"We should have adults deal with adult issues. Let's work it out, let's continue to challenge the funding problem, but adults work on that," said Arne Duncan, CEO Chicago Public Schools.
State Senator James Meeks is organizing the boycott to call attention to the financial differences among Illinois' public schools. He has reserved 125 buses to transport students to schools on the North Shore, including New Trier High School in Winnetka, one of the state's academically strongest and wealthiest high schools.
Meeks says he'll call off the boycott if Governor Blagojevich, House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President Emil Jones agree to a three year, $120 million project to fund low-performing schools. CPS Chief Arne Duncan says he hopes a deal can be worked out in Denver.
"We saw an outpouring of love last night. Some of Springfield's toxicity has gone away and we hope they can figure something out," said Duncan.
If a deal can't be worked out, officials at New Trier High School are preparing for what could be a record number of visitors from Chicago.
Parents at Thursday's rally say they are sympathetic to what Meeks is trying to do but say it's more important for kids to attend class on the first day.
"I understand what Rev. Meeks is saying, but education comes first. We need to have our children in school on September 2nd," said Latrice Thomas, parent.