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.
had posted the first lengthy report on the events and a video that is nearly 15 minutes long. The URL for the video is: http://www.ctunet.com/blog/parents-teachers-and-community-leaders-hold-sit-in-at-city-hall 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 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
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.
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:
Emanuelâ€™s South American vacation â€˜unbelievably goodâ€™
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporterfirstname.lastname@example.org 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 Chicagoâ€™s new first family. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, his wife, Amy Rule, and their three children â€” Zach, Ilana and Leah â€” 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: â€œWhat I did on my Winter Break.â€
â€œThe 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 Yearâ€™s Eve in Buenos Aries,â€ the mayor said.
â€œEvery year, we try to take the kids to a different part of the world to see. When you â€¦ grow up again, you want to be an Emanuel child. Itâ€™s unbelievable.â€
When a reporter asked the mayor to â€œtell us about your vacation,â€ Emanuel was initially tight-lipped.
â€œIt was good,â€ he said.
Pressed to â€œtell us more,â€ he said, â€œIt was really good.â€ Pushed further, he said, â€œIt was unbelievably good.â€ He offered the more lengthy explanation, only after being asked, â€œWhereâ€™d you go? What did you do?â€