Whittier parents to hold Friday June 17 press conference to push demand that La Casita house the Whittier library

Parents and community leaders from Whittier Elementary School on Chicago's southwest side are holding a press conference on Friday, June 17, 2011, to demand that the Whittier library be housed inside the La Casita building which was the site of the famous Whittier sit-in that led to the agreement by the Chicago Board of Education not to demolish the exterior structure. Since the sit-in ended in November 2010, Chicago Public Schools officials have been trying to place the library inside the already crowded Whittier main building and not inside La Casita. The parents thought that the new Board of Education and new CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard would listen to their demands, but apparently that is not the case. Chicago Public Schools is now on the third Chief Executive Officer since the Whittier struggle began. At the time of the sit-in, Ron Huberman was CEO. He was followed by Terry Mazany (after Mayor Richard M. Daley announced that he would not run for mayor). Mazany left office in May 2011 following newly elected Mayor Rahm Emanuel's announcement that he wanted to put Jean-Claude Brizard, whose most recent job had been as superintendent of Rochester New York, as his CEO. Brizard was at his first Board of Education meeting at the special meeting held on June 15, 2011.

The Whittier parents have put out a press release regarding their June 17 media event. The following was forwarded to Substance by Teachers for Social Justice:

Sorry for short notice on things...this is also for your info, so that we can continue the struggle in support of the Whittier School community

Forwarded email:

New Chicago schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard is refusing to allow parents to spend money which they raised to create a library. Instead, Brizard wants to create the library inside of the school. This would displace the special ed students.

The parents are having a prss conference tomorrow and need people to show up if they can

Press conference to demand parents get to use their money the way they see fit

PRESS CONFERENCE: Friday, June 17, 9:30 am, 1900 W. 23rd St!/notes/gabriel-cortez/call-to-action-solidarity-with-whittier-parent-committee/10150217192029936

Dear Friends and Allies,

Many of you stood with the Whittier Parents this past fall when we spent 43 days and nights in the fight for the parents' demands to save La Casita and to have it renovated into a school library. Some of you heard about the struggle and joined us more recently. The fight continues to keep CPS accountable to its agreement with the parents, and we need your continued solidarity and support.

We are currently facing a new CPS Chief Executive Officer as well as a new Board of Ed. While the Whittier Parents wish to work with the new administration to implement their agreement with CPS, the latter has made decisions regarding the future of the library at Whittier without the parents' input. They have overridden the parents' unequivocal dissent and decided to construct the library inside the main school building, something the parents have vehemently opposed due to the already overcrowded conditions. Such a plan would require the demolition of special education space, resulting in the displacement of students.

This action threatens to throw everything the parents and allies have worked and fought for out the window. The Whittier Parent Committee in conjunction with students, community members and a design advocacy group has created an award winning design proposal to renovate La Casita into an accessible and green building for a library, but no one in the new CPS administration or Board of Ed has given the parents an opportunity to present their proposal. CPS may start implementing their plan to demolish the special education space in the next few days, and we must act quickly to ensure that students are not displaced and that the Whittier Parent Committee has their voices heard.

Here are two immediate actions you can do to support the Whittier Parents.

1) Call CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard TODAY at 773-553-1500 and tell him to support the Whittier Parent Committee's award-winning plans for a library and to halt CPS's plans to remove the special education space in Whittier School. We need to get as many calls in as possible so CPS knows we are serious and have support.

2) Come out to La Casita (1900 W. 23rd St) today (Thurs 6/16) for a day of sign/banner making. There will be two sessions: 11am-3pm and 6pm-10pm. This will also be a good time to ask questions and to get caught up on what's been going on at La Casita.

If you have any questions, please call Gema Gaete at 773.431.1431.


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