Parents, supporters occupy Chicago's Piccolo Elementary School as Chicago Board of Education agenda shows Brizard remains firm on 'turnaround' portion of Hit List

According to a late afternoon Chicago Teachers Union "E Bulletin" — Breaking News! Piccolo parents defend their school, children and teachers, protest "Turnaround" "This afternoon Piccolo Elementary parents held a Press Conference to defend their school. They announced that they will occupy Piccolo to protest the Board of Education's plans. The Board plans to vote on Wednesday to turnaround Piccolo and hand over management of the school to AUSL, Academy for Urban School Leadership, a privately connected firm with ties to City Hall. > To support the parents of Piccolo, go to Piccolo School, 1040 N. Keeler (4200 W. and 1000 N on Chicago's West Side). Bring friends, food, blankets, and water. Support Our Schools, Don't Close Them!

Parents and supporters of Piccolo Elementary School (above) hold a press conference to announce their occupation of the school as the sun set on February 17, 2012. In mid-afternoon, after a six hour delay, the Chicago Board of Education published the agenda for its February 22, 2012 meeting. The agenda, which sources told Substance was delayed because the Brizard administration had feared sit-ins at the schools, included the proposal by Brizard that all ten schools slated for "turnaround" be put into "turnaround" despite the fact that the CPS case against each of the schools had collapsed during the hearings held in late January and early February. Substance photo by Martin Ritter.Late in the afternoon of February 17, the Chicago Teachers Union issued a statement in support of the Piccolo Occupy protesters. At that time, protesters were holding a sit-in inside the building and pitching tents "Occupy Style" in front of the building.

The CTU statement follows:

"(CHICAGO) - The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) released the following statement regarding this evening’s report of a dramatic “school occupation” by parents from Piccolo Elementary School, 1040 N. Keeler. At 5:30 p.m. a group of demonstrators announced a sit-in inside the school in protest of the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) intent to turn over the campus to the Academy of Urban School Leadership (AUSL). :

As the protest began, some protesters began bringing tents to use outside the school while parents and students held their sit-in inside the building. Photo by Kenzo Shibata, Chicago Teachers Union.“''For months now, Piccolo parents have wanted their voices heard, but the mayor, CPS and members of the Board have given them a deaf ear,' said CTU President Karen GJ Lewis. 'Tonight these courageous parents have decided to dramatize their efforts to save their school by engaging in non-violent protest. We stand in solidarity with them, as well as the thousands of parents and community leaders from other targeted communities, in our ongoing education justice fight. We call on CPS to invest in our under-resourced neighborhood schools and halt its plans to turn them over to AUSL or shut them down all together.'"

Some of the protesters are talking about ways to link the sit-in with the Black History Month reviews of the importance of the Civil Rights movement's sit-ins of the 1960s.

For the time being, you can follow what's happening on Occupy Chicago's UStream


As the occupation of Piccolo began, CPS tried to deploy its inexperienced media people with the usual talking points. The story that appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times on February 18, 2012, was typical. Not only has Jean-Claude Brizard refused to face the press with questions about the Hit List, but now CPS is sending out the newest-hired "Communications" people with lame talking points. Substance has confirmed that Robyn Ziegler, quoted in the Sun-Times article, has been at CPS less than three months and knows virtually nothing about the complex issues facing the schools in challenging communities like Piccolo.


Parents occupy school, demand to talk with Rahm. BY STEFANO ESPOSITO Staff. Reporter/ February 17, 2012 10:44PM

Updated: February 18, 2012 2:08AM

Just days before the Chicago Board of Education is expected to vote whether to replace the staff at 10 under-performing schools, angry parents occupied one of those schools Friday night, saying they would refuse to leave until Mayor Rahm Emanuel agrees to discuss their objections to the board’s “turn-around” plans.

About 30 parents occupied Brian Piccolo Elementary Specialty School in Humboldt Park, after showing up outside the mayor’s office earlier in the day and failing to get a meeting with him.

The Board of Education’s vote on the turn-around plans for 10 schools and the closure of two other schools is set for Wednesday.

A group of parents set up a half-dozen tents Friday night outside the school at 1040 N. Keeler, while others remained inside. The parents object to the mayor’s plan to hand over management of the school to the privately run Academy for Urban School Leadership.

They held signs that read, “We do not need AUSL.” Another one plastered to the front door read, “Stop Playing Politrix With Our Schools.”

“They have a new principal,” said Shronda Wilson, whose two kids, ages 5 and 7, attend the school. “They haven’t given her a chance. She has come here from the beginning of the school year and done a tremendous job. They have good teachers here.”

Late Friday, CPS officials said they had not decided whether to evict the parents.

“We really respect the parents’ passion for their children’s education,” said CPS spokeswoman Robyn Ziegler. But “year after year Piccolo has failed students. Its our responsibility . . . to put the academic needs of the students first.”


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