Rally outside ran during the same time as the massive rally inside the Auditorium Theater

At the overflow rally outside of the Auditorium Theater, thousands of teachers, other Board of Education workers, and their supporters stood across Michigan Ave. from Roosevelt University and cheered as speakers listed reasons to stand up and fight to preserve unionized public education. As the buses kept arriving at the massive Auditorium Theater across the street, the "overflow" people were being told to join the crowd of teachers, parents and students gathered on the east side of Michigan Ave. for a companion event.

The careful planning by the Chicago Teachers Union leadership for what was to become the largest teacher march and protest in the city's history was evident by three o'clock in the afternoon, above, as the sound stage waited in Grant Park east of Michigan Ave. for the overflow crowd from the Auditorium Theatre to create a second rally in the bright sunlight of one of the most beautiful spring days in the city. Substance photo by Susan Zupan.The area was prepared with a sound stage and a huge banner proclaiming the union's slogan about the schools Chicago's students deserve, and there was plenty of room for the surging crowd, which grew to several thousand by the time the main event across the street let out.

Arguing against the Board's claims that its cutbacks were forced by tight finances, Michael Brunson, Chicago Teachers Union Recording Secretary, pointed out that the Board members always find money for their pet projects. "A budget is a moral document," he declared.

Another CTU official,Vice President Jesse Sharkey, listed the four "pretty simple" things the union is asking for:

— Smaller classes;

— A better day — not just a longer day — for students, with art, music and other classes that have been cut in the Board's focus on raising test scores;

— Fair compensation for all employees, and

— Job security for veteran educators.

While the outside crowd waited for the inside crowd to being the massive march, union officials and teachers spoke about the issues. Above, CTU vice president Jesse Sharkey (barely visible to the right near the light pole) outlined once again what the CTU was demanding for the city's real public schools under the slogan (and with the book) "The Schools Chicago's Students Deserve." Substance photo by David Stone.Sharkey is one of several prominent union officials and staff whose children are currently attending the city's real public schools.

The crowd then sang the famous union song "Solidarity Forever" in both English and Spanish while waiting for the march to begin. One of the song leaders said the song grew out of labor struggles almost exactly 100 years ago, and was written right here in Chicago.

When the rally inside finally ended and the huge crowd poured out on to Congress Parkway and then turned north on Michigan Ave., the scene became the largest teacher march in Chicago's memory.

At the front of the march from the Auditorium Theater to the headquarters of the Chicago Board of Education, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis celebrated the display of union solidarity by exchanging a "high five" with American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten while the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. looked on with a smile. Earlier in the day, Rev. Jackson had spoken again to the Chicago Board of Education, which has been rejecting his suggestions since the new Board was appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel a year ago.

CTU President Karen Lewis high fives with American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten while Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. looks on during a pause in the huge march in front of Chicago's Art Institute on Michigan Ave. Substance photo by David R. Stone.Karen Lewis, Jesse Jackson Sr., and Randi Weingarten led the huge march, which went for more than a mile through the city's famous Loop, beginning on Michigan Ave, heading west down Adams St. past the Board of Education's headquarters, and ending just before dark at the foot of LaSalle St. where a sit-in was held briefly in front of the Board of Trade, one of the symbols of the plutocratic priorities of the administration of Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Jackson has been hosting meetings for union members at his South Side Chicago headquarters for since his son, PUSH executive Jonathan Jackson, took up the case of Holmes school three years ago. Weingarten came from AFT headquarters in Washington, D.C. to demonstrate the nationwide support that is building for the Chicago Teachers Union.


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