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Chicago protest demands: "Support our schools, don't close them”

By staff |
February 21, 2012
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Feb 17 protest at Brian Piccolo Elementary Specialty School
Feb 17 protest at Brian Piccolo Elementary Specialty School (Photo by Jhonathan Fernando Gómez Hernández)

Chicago, IL - Yellow buses from across the city arrived with students, parents, staff and community members for a rally at Lake View High School, Feb 20. Their message to Mayor Rahm Emanuel: "Support our schools, don't close them.”

This call rang true for the people on the bus from Brian Piccolo Elementary Specialty School, of West Humboldt Park, where they occupied their school Friday night, Feb. 17. On Saturday morning they announced the end of their occupation. Their school, like Paollo Cassals School

and others, is currently on the chopping block for a privatizing move that Chicago Public Schools (CPS) calls a “school turnaround" and which will be voted on at the Board of Education meeting Feb. 22.

The Piccolo student spokespeople triumphantly told the crowd of hundreds of supporters that they confirmed face to face with Vice President Jesse Ruiz and Jamika Rose of the CPS Board of Education that the community, students and parents would present their case before the board on Feb. 22.

After a night of being locked into the building by the CPS and police without access to food, heat or medicine, these protesters were successful in adding their story to the months of protests, showing that the CPS has wasted millions of dollars with closing, phasing out and ‘turnaround’ policies. In reality these CPS hack jobs tear communities apart and hurt students, particularly in Black and Latino neighborhoods already locked out of resources.

The fight for quality education is at a fever pitch here and the coming Feb. 22 Board of Education meeting (at 125 South Clark) will show the depth of people's frustration. The scene is set to make sure that the vote is stopped. The Chicago Teachers Union call has a call out to pack the meeting, picket outside and to arrive at 4:00 a.m. to get on the speaker's list.