CHICAGO CITY HALL SIT-IN DAY ONE: Community, teachers begin sit-in outside Mayor Emanuel's City Hall office demanding an end to threatened school closings, turnarounds, phase outs and other attacks on public schools

More than 200 people ranging in age from infants to senior citizens in their 70s began a sit-in outside the fifth floor City Hall office of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel at noon on January 4, 2012. The sit-in, organized by KOCO (the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization) and a number of allied community groups, teachers, parent and religious leaders, promises to remain at City Hall until Emanuel rescinds the threat of school closings and turnarounds this school year.

KOCO education organizer Jitu Brown (above right, wearing KOCO shirt) spoke with reporters before helping lead the chants as the January 4, 2012 sit-in began outside Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office on the fifth floor of Chicago's City Hall. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The more than 200 people heard from a variety of teachers and parents from schools facing closing or "turnaround" under plans released early in December by Jean-Claude Brizard, Mayor Emanuel's hand-picked "Chief Executive Officer" of Chicago's Public Schools.By early afternoon Chicago Teachers Union editor Kenzo Shibata had posted the first lengthy report on the events and a video that is nearly 15 minutes long. The URL for the video is: Although many expect that the closings and turnarounds are already a "Done Deal", Chicago-style, the protests against the plans have turned out the largest number of protesters and some of the most militant demonstrations in recent Chicago history. On the night of December 13, 2011, dozens of protesters slept out in the cold and rain in front of CPS headquarters at 125 S. Clark St., and on the morning of December 14 people halted the meeting of the Chicago Board of Education and held a two-hour "Peoples' Board" meeting after the Board members and the city's top education bureaucrats fled.

The January 4 event began at 11:00 a.m. with speeches and comments. First to explain the history and purpose of the event was Shannon Bennett of KOCO. Bennet told the crowd and the press who were attending that KOCO and leaders across the community had worked for two years to develop a plan for the schools of Bronzeville, and instead of adopting the plan, Chicago Schools CEO Brizard, after meeting with the community and being presented with the plan, release the 2012 Hit List to include more Bronzeville schools than schools from any other community. Dyett and Price are to be closed, and Fuller Elementary is slated to be turned around, despite the fact that the most recent turnaround in Bronzeville, the AUSL Phillips High School "turnaround" has been a failure.

A number of the protesters were young elementary and middle school students. Above, a group were wearing "Push Back Against Push Outs" tee shirts. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. Bennett told the crowd, which grew during the press conference and speakers, that the event had the support of several community organizations including community leaders from North Kenwood, Oakland, and the Greater Bronzeville community and activists from the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO). Additional support was coming from the Chicago Teachers Union, UNITE HERE, Action Now, the Albany Park Neighborhood Council, The Logan Square Neighborhood Association, and Stand Up Chicago. Bennett and other speakers told the crowd that some of the demonstrators had traveled to successful school districts around the country during a two-year period to meet with education leaders to develop the "Bronzeville Global Achievers Village School Improvement Plan." The plan is being ignored by CPS officials and Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Among the speakers were Jitu Brown, of the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO), which issued an explanation of the event and a fact sheet challenging CPS claims about schools on the city's South Side.

One of the more unusual notes made public during the event was the account, by Mayor Emanuel, of his family's recent vacation in South America, which the participants in the sit-in used to demonstrate just how out of touch Emanuel is with the real problems of the real people of the city he governs. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, ion a report by Fran Spielman, Emanuel advised every child to be a member of the Emanuel famile. The complete Sun-Times story is below:

Emanuel’s South American vacation ‘unbelievably good’

BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter/ January 3, 2012 2:04PM. Updated: January 4, 2012 2:13AM

A tanned Mayor Emanuel talked about his family's winter vacation to South America during a news conference on the city's recycling efforts. | Al Podgorski~Chicago Sun-Times

Some people go to Florida, Arizona or Mexico over Christmas break. Others go skiing. Most stay home and celebrate with family and friends.

Not Chicago’s new first family. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, his wife, Amy Rule, and their three children — Zach, Ilana and Leah — spent an exotic holiday exploring South America in a way that most people could not afford.

Tanned, rested, but no less driven, Emanuel returned to work on Tuesday and offered up an oral report: “What I did on my Winter Break.”

“The family went to Chile and Argentina. We went on a white-water rafting trip. Did about 70 miles of whitewater on the Futaleufu [River] down in Chile. Then, we went up in the Patagonian area and went fly fishing and hiking, then spent New Year’s Eve in Buenos Aries,” the mayor said.

“Every year, we try to take the kids to a different part of the world to see. When you … grow up again, you want to be an Emanuel child. It’s unbelievable.”

When a reporter asked the mayor to “tell us about your vacation,” Emanuel was initially tight-lipped.

“It was good,” he said.

Pressed to “tell us more,” he said, “It was really good.” Pushed further, he said, “It was unbelievably good.” He offered the more lengthy explanation, only after being asked, “Where’d you go? What did you do?”


January 4, 2012 at 8:33 PM

By: Susan Ohanian

Sit-in at City Hall

Those kids in the green "Push Back Against Push Outs" t-shirts at City Hall are getting a much more important education that Emanuel's kids got rafting in Chile.

January 5, 2012 at 11:35 AM

By: John Whitfield

Dylan's "The Times they are are a Changin"

Come gather 'round people

Wherever you roam Bob Dylan

And admit that the waters "The Times

Around you have grown they are a

And accept it that soon Changin"

You'll be drenched to the bone.

If your time to you

Is worth savin'

Then you better start swimmin'

Or you'll sink like a stone

For the times they are a-changin'.

Come writers and critics

Who prophesize with your pen

And keep your eyes wide

The chance won't come again

And don't speak too soon

For the wheel's still in spin

And there's no tellin' who

That it's namin'.

For the loser now

Will be later to win

For the times they are a-changin'.

Come senators, congressmen

Please heed the call

Don't stand in the doorway

Don't block up the hall

For he that gets hurt

Will be he who has stalled

There's a battle outside ragin'.

It'll soon shake your windows

And rattle your walls

For the times they are a-changin'.

Come mothers and fathers

Throughout the land

And don't criticize

What you can't understand

Your sons and your daughters

Are beyond your command

Your old road is

Rapidly agin'.

Please get out of the new one

If you can't lend your hand

For the times they are a-changin'.

The line it is drawn

The curse it is cast

The slow one now

Will later be fast

As the present now

Will later be past

The order is

Rapidly fadin'.

And the first one now

Will later be last

For the times they are a-changin'.

since the 1960's there has been a lot of changes in so many different ways. but it's true that the average americans are still struggling just to get by, and the wealthy and powerful are still just as greedy as ever. pretty soon there will be no middle class, it's just going to be upper and lower classes.. which if that happens, i wouldn't be surprised to see another revolutionary war.

the above comment I found after googling the song, it was posted below the lyrics, and thought you might like it, John w.

January 5, 2012 at 11:49 AM

By: Clara Fitzpatrick

What is wrong with the two pictures you show

Does anyone notice anything from the two pictures that is indicative of whose schools are being closed and "turned-around" or corporately chartered?

January 5, 2012 at 3:23 PM

By: David R Stone

The CPS "Hit List"

Below is a list of the elementary and high schools the Board of Ed is proposing to close or "turn around" in the coming school year. (In case you want to comment on these proposed actions, a separate article posted on Substance lists the times of official Board hearings for each of these schools.)

CPS “Hit List” 2011-12

Six elementary schools slated for CLOSING in June 2012:

1. Doolittle East Elementary

2. Guggenheim Elementary

3. Lathrop Elementary

4. Nash Elementary

5. Price Elementary

6. Reed Elementary

Four high schools slated for closing in June 2012:

1. Austin HS

2. Best Practice HS

3. Crane HS

4. Dyett HS

Eight elementary schools scheduled for TURNAROUND (all staff fired, but schools will remain open next year):

1. Casals Elementary

2. Fuller Elementary

3. Herzl Elementary

4. Marquette Elementary

5. Piccolo Elementary

6. W. Smith Elementary

7. Stagg Elementary

8. Woodson South Elementary

Two high schools scheduled for TURNAROUND (all staff fired, but schools will remain open next year):

1. Chicago Vocational Career Academy (CVCA) HS

2.Tilden HS

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