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Groups Call For CPS Boycott Wednesday

By aaroncynic in News on Aug 26, 2013 4:30PM

Photo Credit: Milosh Kosanovich

Education activists are planning a one-day boycott as Chicago Public School students return to class Monday and thousands begin the semester at either welcoming schools or schools affected by drastic budget cuts. On Wednesday several community groups, parents and students plan to protest outside the Board of Education's headquarters and will later march to City Hall. The groups called for the boycott to highlight what they say are discriminatory practices by CPS against low income and communities of color. In a press release, the Alliance for Education Justice said:

“The Chicago Board of Education has cited budget issues as one of the primary reason for the mass closings and layoffs. However in just a few short months since the closings were announced and divestments made in low-income communities of color, CPS has followed with an RFP to open 11 new charter schools in ‘priority communities.’”

Sarah Simmons, a member of Parents 4 Teachers, one of nearly a dozen organizations helping to organize the boycott told the Chicago Tribune last week students “will learn more about democracy in the streets of Chicago than they would in a month of classes.” Parrish Brown, a senior at Dyett High School told the Sun-Times:

“We will have a citywide expression of rage next Wednesday and appoint every person of voting age toward a solution for our suffering — an elected school board in the city of Chicago.”

CPS officials have urged parents to not pull their children out of school Wednesday and once again blamed budget problems on the State’s pension crisis. School Board Vice President Jesse Ruiz told WLS Friday:

“Our deficit is largely driven by our ballooning pension obligations that are just out of control. Each of the last several years we've had to go to the cap. And that's one of the things we're doing to find revenues, but again, we can't keep up with our costs of inflation and pensions.”

The groups involved in the boycott plan to stay away from the board meeting itself, and have planned a “people’s board meeting” instead. Jitu Brown from the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO) told Progress Illinois:

“What’s the point of speaking at a board meeting where you voice isn’t being heard? We can’t get anything we need from them. We are definitely boycotting that school board meeting and we are hoping and we are working toward enough young people showing up that we can boycott the entire system.”