Protesters halt Chicago School Board meeting

December 14, 2011 (CHICAGO)

Protesters, some of whom had been waiting outside CPS headquarters overnight, filed into the meeting and didn't wait their turn to talk about the plan to close some neighborhood schools. They shouted over CEO Jean-Claude Brizard, which prompted board members to go into a closed session for two hours.

The Chicago Teachers Union, which does not support the CPS plan, encouraged protesters to voice their concerns about the closures, phase-outs and "turnarounds" to the empty chairs. Protesters did that.

"I ask the invisible board of education, will you support us, not by closing us, but by investing in us?" one protester said.

The protesters, which included parents, said the CPS plan does nothing but move students from one underperforming school to another.

"We have had children die because they have crossed gang territories. It is harmful. We have children that have dropped out of school rather than going to a school that they have been assigned to that there is not their community or neighborhood school," Chicago Teachers' Union Karen Lewis said.

Some parents also voiced support for those turnaround schools. "Kids don't even want to leave the school. When you show that you care about the child, the child will show you what they're capable of doing," Dimitria Long, who supports turnaround schools, said.

Eventually, the board returned to the room and some of the protesters who remained spoke.

The Chicago School Board will vote on closing schools in February. On Wednesday they voted to add 12 new charter schools.

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