Chicago's Bishop Trotter joins school boycott effort

August 31, 2008 On the Sunday before the first day of school, Bishop Larry Trotter issued a call to action to the 8,000 members of Sweet Holy Spirit Church on the city's South Side.

The boycott demands an end to unequal school funding in Illinois, but CPS leaders argue the move will do more harm than good.

Until Sunday, Trotter had been reluctant to speak out about the boycott being organized by his good friend, State Senator and Rev. James Meeks. However, Trotter says he was offended when Governor Rod Blagojevich refused to meet with Meeks during the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

"That raised an insult level because it said it wasn't a priority for him," Trotter said.

The bishop's support gives a big boost to the boycott, adding about 100 churches in the Chicago area to it because Trotter is also presiding bishop over the United Covenant Churches of Christ.

Reverend Meeks also is showing no signs of backing down from the boycott he has called for on the first day of school in Chicago, Tuesday, September 2.

After services at the House of Hope Sunday, where Meeks is the pastor, church members went door-to-door through several South Side neighborhoods, urging parents to take their children on buses to Winnetka and try to register them for school, in protest of what they say is an unfair system for funding schools.

"This is not about kids missing one or two days of school. I say this is about kids missing an education," Meeks said.

Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan and School Board President Rufus Williams also brought their back-to-school message to several South Side Sunday. Both say the funding system is indeed flawed, but skipping school is not the solution.

"We absolutely need more funding. We are working together on behalf of that. We just don't want children missing school," Duncan said.

"Our children really need to be educated," said Williams.

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