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Coalition holds press conference challenging CPS cuts, budget claims

Chicago Youth Initiating Change (CYIC), the Grassroots Educational Movement (GEM), and the Caucus for Rank and File Educators (CORE) co-sponsored a press conference on Wednesday, April 28, 2010 outside 125 S. Clark Street before the 10:30 a.m. Chicago Board of Education (CBOE) meeting.

Julian High School student Asia Snyder (reading from papers) spoke at the April 28, 2010, press conference. Substance photo by Susan Zupan.Thirteen speakers briefly addressed various aspects of the recently-forecast, educational budget cuts presented by the Chicago Public Schools (CPS). After speaking, each person placed his/her written comments into the front door of a 3-D schoolhouse as the group of 25-30 chanted, "Put the money back in the schools."

Javier Lara Mendez, a student from Social Justice High School, opened the conference with a reference to the April 8 student walk-out over proposed cuts. He expressed the hope that a coalition of students, teachers, and parents offering solutions would finally bring needed changes to CPS.

[img=1573]Karen Lewis, CORE candidate for CTU president, asked why anyone should believe any numbers from CPS. She demanded a line-by-line accounting, adding for them to "name names."

Asia Snyder, high school student, said she thought CPS was supposed to be for the kids not against them. The cuts in sports programs would result in an increase in student violence, gangs, and drug use. "When you take a book out of their hands, you put a gun in its place. When you take a teacher, you take a family."

Alejandra Ibanez from Pilsen Alliance also demanded that CPS open its books and name names. CPS should hold public hearings on the budget in an open, transparent, community process.

Renissa Darling, a student at Uplift Community High School, reiterated that the cuts in sports would increase the crime and violence on the streets because the sports keep the kids off the streets. She asked for Ron Huberman and the Board of Education to "look at us" as if they were their own children.

Shantell Steve from Julian High School added that CPS was telling the students to "win the game," but CPS had them "on a basketball court with no basketball, a football field with no football."

Professor Pauline Lipman (UICC) spoke of the bigger perspective, describing how the Federal Department of Education was using its largest outlay of money not for students, parents, and teachers, but to pressure states for more testing and privatization instead of lower class sizes and after school programs. This was happening particularly in Black and Latino communities across the United States. The CPS budget was "disaster capitalism" being used to rationalize privatization.

Taurence Shorter of Blocks Together asked for Mayor Daley to use his T.I.F. "play money" to bail out the schools.

Jackson Potter of CORE referred to the recent money scandal involving the school chancellor in Washington, D.C. He said that all CPS budget-related communications had been "FOIAed" (Freedom of Information Act requested). But since CPS had consistently not responded in the past, the requests were now also being sent to Lisa Madigan (Illinois Attorney General) for compliance.

Julie Woestehoff, Parents United for Responsible Education (PURE), spoke of the money CPS was not cutting/still using on a department for charter schools with administrative staff and $100 million on their policy of failing children. She said voucher money would cost CPS.

Cielo Munoz, a special education teacher from William Penn Elementary School, related some of the violations against their public school community due to CBOE’s decision for them to share space with KIPP charter school.

John Williams, a student from Social Justice High School, also spoke against the money taken from sports.

Jay Rehak, Pension Board Teacher Representative and member of CORE, demanded that CPS not raise class sizes or cut sports programs since they had just taken $1.2 billion of the teachers' money (referring to recent pension legislation in Illinois).

The press conference was closed as it was opened by Javier Lara Mendez.

[Full disclosure: Substance reporter Susan Zupan is a member of CORE and a candidate for convention delegate on the CORE slate].



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