Protesters filled Daley Plaza, marched through the Loop and rallied again in front of Chicago Public Schools headquarters to protest the board’s plan to close 53 schools on Wednesday. More than 100 of those protesters were detained and ticketed after staging a sit-in outside City Hall.
Union leaders, education activists, Rev, Jesse Jackson, and even students criticized Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the board and the process for selecting which schools should close at the end of the school year.
The protest began with a rally in Daley Plaza before marching to City Hall and on to CPS Headquarters at 125 S. Clark Street for another rally.
Chicago Police said they detained and cited 127 protestors who were staging a sit-down outside City Hall on LaSalle Street.
Greg Simmons was part of the sit-down on LaSalle.
“We need to protect our children and save our school,” Simmons said.
At the rally in Daley Plaza, CTU President Karen Lewis told the protesters, “Our schools are under attack. What do we do? Fight back. So let me tell you what you’re going to do. On the first day of school, you show up at your real school. You show up at your real school. Don’t let these people take your schools.”
Sarah Larkin of Andersonville was walking by the Daley Plaza rally with her daughter, who’ll be going into kindergarten. She says she understands why the schools need to close.
“Being somewhat business-minded, I understand the need to do this,” Larkin said. “Our neighborhood school is closing and feeding into three separate schools. We don’t know which school she’s going to yet so it’s a little frustrating on our end. But we’ll figure it out.”
On Monday, there was a smaller rally in the Loop, when a group of 50 to 70 students from various high schools marched from CPS headquarters to the mayor’s office at City Hall, to express their concerns about overcrowding and safety.
CPS CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett released a statement saying, “…as a former teacher and principal who has lived through school closings, I know this is not easy for our communities. +But as CEO of this District, I need to make decisions that put our children first…”
CPS has said closing and consolidating schools can be emotional and difficult for everyone involved, but said the closings are necessary because too many schools are half-empty.
The district said the closings will free up resources to improve the schools where students are relocated, and help trim a projected $1 billion budget shortfall.