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CTU leads balloon-filled protest against CPS cuts in schools, teachers

One of the signs at the August 25 Chicago Teachers Union protest was relevant to the day when Illinois learned it had not qualified for "Race to the Top" funds even though state leaders had changed the laws to violate teacher tenure and to force charter schools on school districts across the state. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Joined by parents, children, community leaders, and a very vocal group of high school students from Paul Robeson High School, the Chicago Teachers Union led a spirited protest against the Board of Education's cuts in teachers across the street from CPS headquarters prior to the Board's August 25, 2010, meeting. The protest, which at its peak had between 150 and 200 people participating, featured chants, signs, and balloons. Signs and chants were in English and Spanish.

Various union and community speakers explained the latest news from the schools during the event, which lasted from a little after 9:00 a.m. until the starting time for the Board meeting, which was 10:30 a.m. At the regular monthly meeting of the Chicago Board of Education, the Board was poised to pass its $6.6 billion annual budget, while leaving more than 1,000 teachers and other educators without jobs.

"Culture of Chaos" refers to a federally financed Chicago program touting the creation of a "Culture of Calm" under Ron Huberman. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The protest was held across the street from the Board of Education's headquarters at 125 S. Clark St. in front of the Bank of America building (formerly the LaSalle Bank building) because window washing and building repair scaffolding on the Board's headquarters building effectively blocks the sidewalk for protests. Chicago police watched over the group, which was non-violent albeit loud and spirited.

When CPS security announced that balloons were not permitted inside the Board's headquarters building, those in the protest who were not going home with the balloons as souvenirs for their children began popping their balloons, creating a cacaphoney of loud bangs between the Board of Education and Bank of America.

Speakers at the rally and march included Chicago Teachers Union officers (Jesse Sharkey, vice president), student, and parent leaders. A number of teachers who had had their jobs taken away by the Board since June 1 marched, spoke, and protested later inside the Board meeting. 



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