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Teachers take anti-school closing message to commuters

by CTU Communications  |  01/04/2013

ILLUSTRATION: Moselean ParkerCHICAGO—Chicago teachers, paraprofessionals and education activists hit the streets on the South and West sides this morning and delivered a message to commuters against pending schools closings by the Chicago Board of Education in these predominantly African-American communities—closings that will destabilize neighborhoods and disproportionately impact Black students and teachers. The action comes a week after the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) filed a federal law suit alleging discrimination by the school district.

“This outreach, which was organized by the union rank and file, is to get out and talk directly to taxpayers and raise awareness among residents of our city that we’re going to take action and demand an end to the privatization of public schools,” said Chicago Teachers Union organizer Brandon Johnson.“

Nearly 4,000 flyers were distributed to commuters at El stops on the Green and Red lines during the morning rush hour at Austin Avenue and Lake Street, Ashland Avenue and Lake Street, 95th Street and the Dan Ryan and the Roosevelt Road stop on the Red Line. The action continues later today during the Friday evening rush hour.

Chicago Public Schools plans to close up to 100 neighborhood schools due to underutilization while simultaneously opening 60 new charter schools. Many of the closings are slated African-American communities, which will adversely affect thousands of students and lead to a decrease of minority educators in the city’s teaching force.

“CPS’s school actions appear to be an arbitrary real estate plan and not a school improvement plan that will benefit our students,” said CTU President Karen GJ Lewis. “These closings destabilize neighborhoods and lead to the layoffs and firing of experienced educators.”

More than 42,000 students have been directly impacted by CPS School Actions since 2001. Black students represented 88 percent of students affected. Schools that are more 99 percent students of color have been the primary target of CPS school actions—representing more than 80 percent of all affected schools. Black communities have been hit the hardest—three out of every four affected schools were economically poor and intensely segregated African-American schools.

Chicago Teachers Union