Teachers union rallies to fight CPS turnaround plan

February 25, 2012 3:33:22 PM PST
The Chicago Teachers Union vows to keep on fighting during at a rally Saturday at Operation PUSH headquarters. They are figuring out the next steps to fight a plan, approved this week, to turnaround or close 17 Chicago Public Schools.

"We need to come together not only as a community but as an entire state and address these issues," said teachers union President Karen Lewis.

The rally at Rainbow PUSH headquarters was a part of the ongoing protest against the recent decision by CPS officials to close or turnaround neighborhood schools. Diamond McCullogh's Dyett High School is among those to be phased out during the shakeup.

"Don't close our schools, improve them," McCullogh said.

The South Side's Kenwood Oakland Community Organization spent months putting together an alternate plan to revive area schools including Dyett. It was rejected.

"With schools being on probation, the district takes control of those schools," said Jitu Brown of the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization. "So if you take control of those schools and they don't do well, who's accountable?"

As the teachers union explores its legal and legislative options, the Rainbow PUSH Coalition plans to file complaints with the Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education over what they call resource disparities for the not-for-profits who takeover.

"They've received over $7.3 million over a five-year period and not one turnaround school is meeting or exceeding standards," Rainbow PUSH director Jonathan Jackson.

CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard issued a statement Saturday that reads in part, "Wednesday's board vote was a victory for our students. The status quo in our education system will no longer be protected at the expense of our students."

Still, some like displaced teacher Joniann Jones-Chaney remain less concerned about herself and more about the children see leaves behind.

"We're telling them one thing, administration is telling them something else," she said. "I feel like they're leading them down a blind path."