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Freezing Chicago overnight campout for public education... Protesting against Chicago's expansion of charter schools

Its 9:30 PM on Tuesday, January 21, 2014. The temperature is two degrees below zero. Do you know where a handful of representatives from the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) is? Outside, camping out in front of 125 S. Clark Street, the headquarters of Chicago Public Schools (CPS). They are making a statement and taking a stand for real public education in Chicago. It is expected that they might be covered in 1-2 inches of snow by morning.

Chicago Teachers Union leaders camped out in front of the Chicago Board of Education on one of the coldest nights of the century on January 21, 2014, to oppose the proposed expansion of the city's charter schools. Left to right: Sue Garza, Kristine Mayle, Sarah Chambers, and Nate Goldbaum. Kristine Mayle is the Financial Secretary of the 26,000-member union; one of the four officers who negotiated the current contract during the 2012 strike. Chambers, Garza and Goldbaum are among the leaders of CORE, the "Caucus Of Rank and file Educators. Substance photo by Susan Zupan.They are sleeping overnight in front of the Chicago Board of Education, where the members of the Bored of Education are expected tomorrow, on January 22, 2013, to rubber stamp Mayor 1% Rahm Emanuels continuing, assaultive, charter school takeover agenda at their monthly so-called public meeting. The agenda for the meeting includes more than a dozen "Board Reports" to add new charter schools, or to expand existing ones by adding what Chicago calls "campuses."

It's less than a year since the same Board organized show trials against nearly five dozen of the city's real public schools, claiming the problems facing the school system were because some schools were, by the Board's definitions, "underutilized." Despite the fact that more than 30,000 parents, teachers and students showed up at "hearings" to protest the proposed closings and expose the lies in the way the Board decided "underutilization," the Board members voted at their May 22 meeting to close 49 of the city's real publlc schools.

The members of the Board of Education have probably already drawn straws to see whose turn it is to feign a no vote or two, and they might possibly eliminate one or two charters from the list, At the time of their May 22, 2013 vote, the two "Latino" members of the Board, Jesse Ruiz and Carlos Azcoitia, voted against closing Von Humboldt Elementary School, knowing that the Board's majority was going to close it anyway. Ruiz and Azcoitia knew that if they hadn't voted that way they would never be able to go to Humboldt Park, where they claim some of their roots, again.

Without waiting more than three months, the Board members began talking about the next "real" problem facing the schools -- OVERCROWDING. During the entire year when the Board focused on UNDERUTILIZATION the only people talking about overcrowding were parents, some of whom had endured it for years (in a couple of cases, decades).

A few empty rhetorical questions might be asked or be fake-cared about.

But no matter what, one way or the other, the winning bet to make is that real, neighborhood school, public education - "the Civil Rights issue of our time" - in Chicago and in America will be further slaughtered by the night of January 22, 2014.

Among the defenders of real public education in Chicago out there supporting the campers tonight is CTUs Vice President Jesse Sharkey. Among the campers are: Recording Secretary Kristine Mayle, CTU Staff Coordinator Jackson Potter, and Nathan Goldbaum, CTU Member Communications. All are also leaders of CORE, the Caucus Of Rank and file Educators, which is leading the Chicago Teachers Union.

Other CTU campers include Sue Garza, CTU Delegate from Jane Addams Elementary School, and Sarah Chambers, CTU Delegate from Maria Saucedo Scholastic Academy. Altogether there are about 10 individuals, barely recognizable under coats and blankets and hats and scarves and ski masks. They are surrounded by approximately 15-20 supporters, along with 4-5 Chicago Police Officers (well, one is outside, the others are inside where is it warmer). To the left of the campers is a pile of donated hot coffee and donuts.

They have left their comfort zones to draw attention to what is happening to real public education. Are they crazy? Yes. Good crazy. But ya wanna know what? Thats what Chicago needs more of good crazy. How much more bad crazy can anyone tolerate in Chicago and CPS?

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