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Chicago 'Walk Ins' at hundreds of schools in coordination with other major cities... Parents and teachers largely ignore threats by Forrest Claypool despite letter distributed to almost everyone...

Students, teachers, parents and others participated in one of the largest mass actions in recent Chicago Public Schools history on the morning of February 17, 2016, in a coordinated effort called the "Walk In." Chicago schools that participated in the event stretched across the city from the far Northwest Side (near O'Hare Airport) all the way to the far Southeast Side (a few miles from the casinos of Northwest Indiana). Reports available late in the morning of the event indicate there were no incident. Also, many principals simply ignored Claypool's demand that they report the names of participants.

By noon on February 17, it was clear that more than 100 schools had participated in the Walk In despite attempts by leaders of CPS to discourage parent participation.

Participants in the "Walk In" on February 17, 2016, at Steinmetz High School cheered and chanted under the leadership of the school's Chicago Teachers Union delegate, librarian Bernice Eshoo (in from with hand raised). Substance photo by Sharon Schmidt.At Steinmetz High School, on the far Northwest Side, the group utilized the walk in to continue educating the community on the fact that CPS has been depriving the city's public schools of needed resources. At Steinmetz College Prep (the current name for the 82-year-old high school), the gathering at 8:15 a.m. read information from the Chicago Teachers Union and a handout from the Grassroots Education Movement (GEM). Participants chanted, then marched into the building, and chanted inside the building, according to Sharon Schmidt, Associate CTU delegate and an English and journalism teacher at the school.

"Standing Together for our Schools," the GEM material proclaimed.

-- All students deserve a great neighborhood school and a world class education.

-- We need resources for fully funded Special Education, libraries, art, music, full-time nurses and after - school programs.

-- We need smaller class sizes, less testing, and racial equity across our schools.

-- We need supports for our most vulnerable students, and programs to help struggling students become successful learners.

-- We need to retain experienced educators and and end to the the loss of teachers of color from our schools.

Participants were urged to call their legislators and ask them to vote YES on HB 556 for an Elected Representative School Board. Protesters noted that the bill number recently changed. Protesters were also asked to call Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel at 773-744-3300. "Tell him to end the cuts to our schools by declaring a TIF surplus and suing bankers that were paid hundreds of millions for fraudulent deals," Walk In materials stated.

Everyone was also urged to wear red on Fridays to "support public schools and our educators."

At other Northwest Side schools, the Walk In was coordinated with community activists and community organizations.

After beginning their Walk In in the bitter cold in front of the schools, protesters at Steinmetz High School took their Walk In inside the building, as planned across the USA. Substance photo by Sharon Schmidt."On a very cold morning at Von Steuben High School, 50 teachers and staff were out in front of the school before 6:45 a.m.," according to Neal Resnikoff. "They had CTU signs about school money going to bankers, special education students being hit hard. They chanted and waved at passing cars and got a lot of honks. They passed out leaflets. About 50 students joined in, and all walked into school together. Anyone who was not a student or staff had to sign in at security, as is the usual procedure. Three police cars were stationed in front of the school with their blue lights on, but the cops stayed in their cars and there were no incidents."

Similar actions took place at nearby elementary schools.

"At Patrick Henry Elementary School, teachers concentrated on getting contact information from parents, explaining to them the attacks on the schools and teachers by Mayor Emanuel's school board," Resnikoff reported. "The teachers were very angry at the lying and threatening letters CEO Forrest Claypool has been putting out and trying to get home via students, through letters addressed to parents."

"Albany Park, North Park, Mayfair Neighbors for Peace and Justice participated with a placard urging unity in the face of attacks on public education, and urging the stand of Make the Rich Pay," said Resnikoff. "The group passed out newsletters (For Peace & Justice or Para La Paz y La Justicia) featuring an article opposing the attacks on public education. We were warmly welcomed by all teachers and staff--as well as parents and students."

The Walk In at Moos Elementary School, on California Ave. near Armitage Ave., began slowly in the cold, but grew and received widespread support from passing cars. "The walk in at Moos school started with approximately 22 people (mostly teachers and a few parents and grandparents)," reported Jean Schwab, a Substance staff member who is also grandparent of a Moos child.

The Walk In outside Moos Elementary School in Humboldt Park grew to nearly 40 people, including teachers, children, parents and grandparents. A parent noted the large number of cars driving past the protest and honking to show their support. Substance photo by Jean Schwab."As parents began to drop off their children and more teachers came, the Walk In grew to 30 or even maybe 40," Schwab continued. "Even though the group was small, the enthusiasm was high. My daughter, Patricia Jaimes, a parent at Moos commented that she joined the walk-in because she believes in community schools. She also mentioned that, 'it was awesome the number of people honking horns and joining us.'"

An early news article published by DNA Info, a Chicago news service, noted the large number of North Side schools participating and included parent and teacher responses to threats by Forrest Claypool and "Chief Education Officer" Janice Jackson.

DNA INFO EARLY STORY:

CPS Parents Plan Mass 'Walk-Ins' at Schools Wednesday Morning. By Patty Wetli | February 16, 2016 6:23pm LINCOLN SQUARE Dozens of school communities across Chicago are planning to take part in a nationwide "walk-in" on Wednesday, raising heightened safety concerns within CPS. In a letter sent home with students and signed by CPS CEO Forrest Claypool and Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson, parents were warned:

"[Chicago Teachers Union] has organized a 'walk-in' at many schools. This means CTU members and their supporters may gather outside the school building in the morning to voice their concerns about the ongoing contract negotiations. They may then attempt to walk into the school building as a group in a form of civil disobedience."

CPS' Office of Safety and Security is working with principals to develop a response, the letter stated, particularly as some of the participants may be "unknown to either the organizers or to the school community."

The letter to "families" from Forrest Claypool and Janice Jackson was distributed in print and via email on February 16, 2016.While many parents appreciated CPS' preparedness, some were offended by the note, and its presumption that those taking part in the walk-in wouldn't include moms and dads.

"So they're protecting us parents by warning us that us parents may try to walk into our kids schools, which we are welcome to do every every day, but if we pick a day and come in together, that is civil disobedience?" one parent questioned on the Facebook page of Raise Your Hand.

Others objected to the characterization of the walk-in as a contract negotiating tactic or form of protest.

Organizers of the walk-in at Waters Elementary, 4540 N. Campbell Ave., encouraged participants to bring coffee and hot chocolate, enjoy some camaraderie and "show our love for Waters."

As a nod to safety and out of respect for the school's learning environment, organizers at Waters also specified that the group would not be entering the building.

Depending on a school's starting time, the walk-ins are set to take place as early as 6:30 a.m. at some high schools or 7:45 a.m. at some elementary schools, and last for 30-45 minutes.

Walk-ins are expected everywhere from selected enrollment high schools including Lane Tech, Whitney Young and Walter Payton to North Side elementary schools like Waters to a broad coalition of South Side schools. Also included are walk-ins at Vaughn Occupational High School and Hitch Elementary School in Jefferson Park, and Zapata Academy in Little Village.

Swift Elementary in Edgewater held an individual walk-in back in November attended by the school's principal, teachers, parents and Ald. Harry Osterman (48th) to call for an elected school board and increased state funding.

According to the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools, which is coordinating walk-ins across 30 cities, the intent is to provide a "positive action that says that these are our schools and our communities."

In Chicago, the walk-ins are taking place not only during ongoing contract negotiations between the teachers union and CPS, but also in the midst of a state budget impasse and following in the wake of another round of school budget cuts.

Rallying cries include "Fair funding," "We love our schools" and "We love our teachers."



Comments:

February 18, 2016 at 8:18 PM

By: George Cruz

Labor Board Ruling Thursday

According to latest news...the CTU lost a case against Board of Ed. by the labor relations board today . Looks like teachers forgo any raises this year for steps/lanes. The big picture is will the labor relations board vote against the CTU for the unfair labor practice/ pension pickup cancellation ? If so, that could push back any chances of a strike till May. This is the calm before the storm .

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