Chicago community groups call for CPS boycott

August 26, 2013 2:37:39 PM PDT
Even as the first day of school for 400,000 CPS students appeared to go smoothly some parents are still protesting the closure of their neighborhood school.

These parents want wholesale changes to the school system and hope a boycott will help them reach their goal.

Sidewalks along Prairie Avenue are empty, and so are the sidewalks along 49th Street, which lead to Overton Elementary School. Overton Elementary is of the South Side schools that were closed this year.

"What they're doing is wrong, it's not better. They're sabotaging our children's education," said Irene Robinson, Michael's grandmother.

Michael, Robinson's grandson, should have started Kindergarten today, but instead, his grandmother brought him outside Overton Elementary, along with six other grandchildren to make a statement.

A small group protesting, criticizing the fact that most of the closed schools were in African American and Latino communities.

One community leader, Jitu Brown, of the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, explained the focus of the boycott.

"Thousands of parents and thousands of youth don't know whose butt to kick," said Brown. "That appointed school board needs to be the focus of our angst in the next year; we should focus our energy on removing the school board."

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is also a target of their feeling that too many schools were arbitrarily closed.

"His job is to provide stability first, before choice. You cannot destabilize a community and tell us you're improving it," said Brown.

This group plans to support Wednesday's planned rally to continue the protest against the school closings. The Chicago Teachers Union, according to Brown, is giving them a reason.

"We're making the argument for the need to properly fund public schools," said Jesse Sharkey of the Chicago Teacher's Union. "Right now, a number of schools don't have staff to keep class sizes below 35, I've even heard of classes of 40. We're worried and ask people to support public education."

One local mother, Angela Ross, sent her children from Overton Elementary School to the Mollison Welcoming School, but she's still supporting Wednesday's action.

"I will participate in the boycott to make sure this doesn't happen to other kids in the future, not only mine, but also teachers," said Ross.

Wednesday's event will start at 10 a.m. in front of the Chicago Public School headquarters and will end with a march to City Hall.

Help for Parents:
CPS Official Hotline: 773-553-3223
CTU Complaint Hotline: 773-916-P4T4 (7484)


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