Chicago Teachers Union march starts at Daley Plaza at 4:40 p.m., loops around City Hall, then south on Clark toward CPS HQ

March 27, 2013 2:25:27 PM PDT
Hundreds of people are rallying in Chicago's Loop in protest against the plan to close 54 Chicago public schools.

DOCUMENT: List of 54 schools to close

The rallywas held in Daley Plaza, with the march at 4:40 p.m. through the Chicago Loop, and past City Hall. They expect to finish around 5:45 p.m. at the Chicago Public Schools Headquarters.

    The marching route:
  • Clark to Randolph
  • Randolph to LaSalle
  • LaSalle to Washington
  • Washington to Clark

Teachers and parents who don't want the consolidation and closings of CPS schools will be joined by sympathetic unions, ministers and community organizers.

Fourth-grader worried about being 'new kid' after Paderewski closes

One of the 54 schools slated to close is Paderewski Elementary School, where Jainiqua Byrd is a fourth-grader.

"I don't want to leave the school because that school is important to me. It's like a family school to me," Jainiqua said.

Byrd's school family is in the midst of a breakup. The Chicago Teachers Union and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and fighting over what's best for Chicago Public Schools schools- and its students. Those students, like Jainiqua and her sister, Tanequa, are caught in the middle.

"People went to CPS, they spoke really loud and really clearly and fluently- but I guess it didn't work if they're closing the school down," Jainiqua said.

What are the girls most worried about?

"If I'm going to learn new things," fifth-grader Tanequa said. "If people are going to treat me fair."

Paderewski Elementary is the only African-American majority school in the largely Latino Little Village neighborhood.

"I feel our children won't be safe because they're crossing boundaries," Darlene Williams, parent, said.

CPS says Paderewski is less than-a-third full and has declining enrollment. The plan calls for Paderewski students to be split into two other schools. Cardenas Elementary on the next block - and Castellanos School, which is five blocks away.

"I worry about them, like I worry about Jaylin and Khalil, my grandchildren. I want the children most impacted by this consolidation to have everything those two little boys have. I'd blame myself if they didn't," Barbara Byrd-Bennett, CPS CEO, said.

For the 30,000 kids effected, the fear is real and understandable.

"I worry about being a new kid and not fitting in," Jainiqua said.