Shouting Protesters Drive Chicago School Board To Halt Meeting

UPDATED 12/14/11 4:28 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) – A Chicago School Board meeting was suspended Wednesday morning, as angry protesters jumped up and shouted about plans to close and consolidate some schools.

Board members later approved 12 new charter schools for Chicago.

During the meeting, members of the Chicago Teachers Union teamed with Occupy Chicago protesters to fight against closings and consolidations within the public school system.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Roberts Reports

CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, many parents, teachers and community activists spent the entire morning in front of Chicago Public Schools headquarters 125 S. Clark St., hoping to get a ticket to speak at the School Board meeting. Some camped out in front of the building all night.

But after the meeting began at 10:30 a.m., protesters jumped up one by one and read a statement. Then they were escorted out of the room.

“As a result of your policy, you have produced chaos!” one woman led the crowd in a call and response.

Then the protesters were escorted out of the room.

The board decided to suspend the meeting until order could be restored.

After a two-hour interval, the board returned, agreeing to listen to parents who remained in the crowd.

“I would like to apologize for what took place earlier, on my own behalf, because not all of us are this way,” Julio Cintron told the board after the meeting resumed. “We as parents can’t be heard if you’re not here.”

The board did allow peaceful protestors to remain present to read their statements.

At the end of Wednesday’s meeting the board approved the opening of 12 new charter schools, one of the issues these protestors vehemently opposed.

At a news conference earlier, demonstrators standing outside demanded that their voices be heard.

“I just want to say we need to stop privatizing public education,” said bilingual teacher Claudia Moreno Muñoz.

“The spirit that we are feeling around the city, you will not get in none of those schools,” said education organizer Jitu Brown. “On top of that, parents have submitted proposals to improve their schools, and to show your arrogance, you’ve ignored those parents’ proposals.”

Earlier, the rain did not stop some parents from camping out all night in sleeping bags. When the doors opened Wednesday morning, they got in line and packed the building, in an effort to send a message that school closings, turnarounds and consolidations must stop.

The board was also expected to vote on 12 new charter schools, which the union argues comes at the expense of neighborhood schools.

“I am here today and stand in a gap for a no on a turnaround school. Pour the resources into Stagg Elementary School. Give us what we need in order for our children to be able to do what is needed to be done,” said Erika Jenkins, a parent at Amos Alonzo Stagg Elementary, 7424 S. Morgan St., which is set for a turnaround in which the principals, teachers and staff will all be fired and replaced.

“Now is not the time to break up students, parents, and the teacher community that works together to make this progress. Now is the time to support us with the resources and funding that is so sorely needed,” said Sharisa Lee Baval, a parent at Wendell Smith Elementary School, 744 E. 103rd St., which is also targeted for a turnaround.

Brizard has asked the Chicago Board of Education to close Simon Guggenheim Elementary School, at 7141 S. Morgan St. in the Englewood neighborhood, and Florence B. Price Elementary School, at 4351 S. Drexel Blvd. in the North Kenwood neighborhood.

Targeted for phase-outs are Dyett High School, at 555 E. 51st St. in the Washington Park neighborhood, and Richard T. Crane Technical Preparatory High School, at 2245 W. Jackson Blvd., on the Near West Side. Phase-outs mean the schools would not admit any new freshmen and the school would shut down once the last class of existing students graduates.

In addition to Stagg and Smith schools, also targeted for turnarounds are:

• Pablo Casals Elementary School, 3501 W. Potomac Ave.;
• Brian Piccolo Elementary Specialty School, 1040 N. Keeler Ave.;
• Theodore Herzl Elementary School, 3711 W. Douglas Blvd.;
• Carter G. Woodson South Elementary School, 4444 S. Evans Ave.;
• Melville W. Fuller Elementary School, 4214 S. St. Lawrence Ave.;
• Marquette Elementary School, 6550 S. Richmond St.;
• Edward Tilden Career Community Academy High School, 4747 S. Union Ave.;
• Chicago Vocational Career Academy High School, 2100 E. 87th St.

A total of 92 people signed up to speak at the School Board meeting, but it was expected from the beginning that only about half would have the opportunity, given the two-hour time limit.

  • Jimbo

    And people wonder whats wrong with kids today…it’s not what’s wrong with the kids…it’s whats wrong with the parents and teachers of those kids…thank you for doing nothing all these years Mayor Daley!…

    • teacherz

      i don’t really understand what you’re talking about. these teachers and parents are trying to save their schools from being unfairly shut down.

  • LOTD

    The TWO REAL problems are mentioned right here – “During the meeting, members of the Chicago Teachers Union teamed with Occupy Chicago protesters to fight against closings and consolidations within the public school system.”

    Have fun solving that riddle, it shouldn’t be too difficult.

  • Martha

    There is a high school 2 blocks east of Cottage Grove that constantly misses the hit list. Why?

    • AP

      You’re referring to King H.S. – which became a selected enrollment school about ten years ago (search “Dyett” on the Huffington Post page). Selective enrollment schools accept who they want from the neighborhood, leaving struggling and special-needs students to the neighborhood schools (Dyett). Neighborhood schools then work with this (often difficult) group of students. Until they’re shut down for being “low-performing.”

      When that happens, these “bad” kids are shuffled to different neighborhood schools (Phillips, in Dyett’s case). Phillips has been on probation for…15 years? Longer? It was a turnaround school two years ago and is already on it’s second principal.

      This is obviously not in the best interest of these kids. Charter schools have NO record of success – but they’re cheaper. Research it (remembering they can accept and kick out students they don’t like, or who don’t make them look good).

      Also, look up Dyett in a few years and see who owns the building, then ask yourself how much interest Rahm and his puppet Brizard had in the education of Chicago students.

      Northside – you’re next.

  • Lyndia

    Parents would not have to go through this if they would take on a partime job and place their child in a private school. (That is providing that your child is ready, welling and able to learn.) You will get a smaller class size, better teachers, less discipline problems, a challenging curriculum, and a child that is college material. Additionally, they have scholarships and grants to help defer the costs of tution. I worked like a dog to keep my children in private schools and they turned out pretty good and they know how to read and write very well. My grandchildren are in private schools now and they are award winning students. (honor roll, scholar roll, who’s who among American teenagers etc.)

  • Patricia A. Breckenridge

    Parents and community google UIC Reading Clinic and make the Chicago Board of Education put reading clinics in your schools.

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