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Thousands prepare for a three-day march against school closings

by Stephanie Gadlin - CTU Communications Director   |  05/09/2013

Mayor Rahm Emanuel continues his assault on working-class people under the guise of education reform

CHICAGO – As the city braces itself for the largest assault on public education in the country, thousands of parents, students, teachers, clergy, citizens and community leaders are preparing for a “long march” against school closings on May 18, 19 and 20. Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) President Karen Lewis said the non-violent demonstration is necessary because “we have a mayor who refuses to listen to reason, research and logic,” in his campaign to destroy 54 school communities which will impact about 50,000 children.

CTU President Karen Lewis discusses school closings on the Real News. 

The 30-plus mile march is themed, “Our City. Our Schools. Our Voice,” and will include simultaneous routes from the West and South sides of the city. Protestors intend to walk each day past many of the 54 school communities slated for closure and their efforts will culminate in a mass demonstration downtown. It is sponsored by the CTU, the Grassroots Education Movement, SEIU Local 1, Unite Here Local 1 and Chicago PEACE, an interdenominational coalition of clergy leaders from across the city. Donations are pouring in from across the country.

Click here to sign up for this historic march against CPS school closings. 

“Despite the testimony of thousands of parents, teachers and people who work and live in the school communities impacted, Rahm Emanuel is dedicated to entering the history books as having destroyed the most public schools in one year than anyone,” Lewis said. “He refuses to listen to independent hearing officers, law enforcement officials, educators, researchers, parents and the students themselves. We have no choice but to use the power of organizing and direct action to engage in what will be a long fight to restore sanity to our school district.”

The march kicks off at 10:00 a.m. on May 18 on the South Side at Jesse Owens Elementary School, 12450 S. State St., and on the near West Side at Jean de Lafayette Elementary School, 2714 W. Augusta Blvd.

“School closings hurt children academically and the mayor’s plan will also put thousands of students’ safety at risk and many public school employees may lose their jobs,” Lewis said. “We must do whatever is necessary to stop this assault on the working class and the poor. Instead of just getting angry we must organize. Tell Emanuel, the Board, the school CEO and their corporate sponsors that this is our city, these are our schools and we will use our voice to fight for justice.”

Independent hearing officers reviewed the Chicago Public Schools’ list of 54 slated closings and have recommended removing 14 from the list saying those schools don't meet the state standards and are in violation of the law. The mayor’s hand-picked Chicago Board of Education will vote on the issue on Wednesday, May 22. Shortly thereafter, a massive voter registration drive will commence throughout the city.

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The Chicago Teachers Union represents 30,000 teachers and educational support personnel working in the Chicago Public Schools, and by extension, the more than 400,000 students and families they serve.  The CTU is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers and is the third largest teachers local in the United States and the largest local union in Illinois.  For more information please visit CTU's website at www.ctunet.com .  

Chicago Teachers Union