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Meeks focuses on mayor in boycott

September 3, 2008 4:25:03 PM PDT
Hundreds of Chicago Public School students lobbied downtown for school funding on Wednesday. Makeshift classes were held inside the lobbies of buildings, including the hallway outside Mayor Richard Daley's office at City Hall. The protest follows an attempt on Tuesday- the first day of school- by some to enroll in suburban schools that, according to the boycott organizers, are better funded. Their leader, Senator Rev. James Meeks took aim at Mayor Richard M. Daley for talking the talk of school funding reform but not taking strong enough action.

"We need the mayor more actively involved in the school funding fight," said Rev. Sen. James Meeks, (D) Chicago.

Senator Meeks said the boycott is aimed at getting state lawmakers to pass a bill to re-write the funding formula for public education in Illinois.

"I have carried school funding bills for the last six years. Mayor Daley has never spoken out on one of them," said Sen. Meeks.

The mayor -- who was attending a Navy Pier luncheon--says he came out years ago in support of school funding reform.

"Recently, the first time in Illinois that the mayors ever got together in supporting a income tax block for real estate taxes," said Mayor Daley.

On Wednesday, Meeks criticized Governor Rod Blagojevich for not doing enough. Today, the governor said Meeks pointed the finger in the wrong direction.

"I can't re-write the school funding formula. The legislature has to that. and I'm with him, we should get the legislature to do it," said Governor Rod Blagojevich.

Meanwhile, African American lawmakers announced their support of a related civil rights lawsuit filed by the urban league to force the state to pay for public education using a higher, but consistent income tax as opposed to real estate taxes that vary from school district to school district.

"The issue is we haven't had the political will in Springfield to make the necessary changes," said Cheryl Jackson, Urban League president.

Meeks contends the political will isn't there because the politicians will not move from supporting the concept to supporting specific legislation.

"Mayor Daley doesn't support the 'concept' of an Olympics he supports the Olympics. And we need him to support an actual school funding bill, which he has not in six years," said Meeks.

No word as yet on how many kids boycotted classes Wednesday. On Tuesday, the New Trier district reported that 950 children attempted to register for classes.

Senator Meeks is calling the boycott a success because of all the attention it has drawn to the issue. But the mayor and governor continue to insist the kids should be in school and not involved in the protest.


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