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Groups Vow One-Day Boycott Of Chicago Schools

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Upset with school closings and budget cuts, some grassroots community groups are calling for a one-day boycott of the Chicago Public Schools.

WBBM Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports, groups of parents, students and community activists gathered outside Mayor Emanuel’s office to call for an elected school board.

Incoming Dyett High School Senior Parrish Brown says they’ll boycott school next Wednesday–the anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech.

Brown said Mayor Emanuel’s budget cuts are creating what he termed “school deserts.”

Michelle Young, president of the social activist group Action Now, said school closings, budget cuts and teacher layoffs have put Chicago school children under attack.

CPS Supt. Barbara Byrd Bennett told CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine that children have no place in this dispute.

“I think to use children as a protest tool and not to to attend school is reprehensible,” she said. “Our children need an education and need to be in school.

“If we have differences, then the adults should come to the table and have that conversation. I’m old school. Children don’t belong in that conversation.”

While demonstrators at City Hall were protesting budget cuts and schools closings, Mayor Rahm Emanuel was elsewhere, honoring some school principals for their achievements.

A total of 134 principals–the best and the brightest in Chicago Public School system–were rewarded with bonuses of between $5,000 and $20,000 each.

A number of them will be facing new challenges this year as principals of the so-called welcoming schools.

Those are the schools that will be accepting students from the nearly 40 elementary schools that were closed in June.

“I’m concerned about children getting to and from school,” one principal said. “I’m concerned about that and I want all of them in school the first day.”