Huffpost Chicago

CPS School Closing Protest: Michigan Avenue March Draws Hundreds From CTU, Community

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Chicago Tribune/WGN
Chicago Tribune/WGN

A throng of Chicago Public School teachers and community groups several hundred strong hit the streets early on Veterans Day, Monday, to protest looming school closures.

This time, however, protesters took the fight beyond the CPS brass and to the doorstep of prominent business executives.

The march began at Cityfront Plaza and traveled up Michigan Avenue where it ended at the Hyatt Hotel on N. St. Clair Street. There, protesters called for businesswoman Penny Pritzker, who sits on the Chicago Board of Education, to give back $5.5 million in TIF funding, reports the Tribune.

A mock classroom was staged before the protesters left the lobby to re-organize outside, says NBC Chicago.

The protesters had alleged the Pritzker family-founded Hyatt Hotels Corp. tapped TIF development funds to build a hotel in Hyde Park, according to the Tribune. Penny Pritzker is currently a board member of the hotel corporation.

The Chicago Teachers Union, which co-organized the protest, said on their website they were against TIFs, corporate tax cuts and charter school expansions. The union also opposes any school closings.

"The Board of Education is considering closing over 100 schools in our neighborhoods, partly to pay for millions of dollars going to downtown businesses, corporate fat cats and Rahm’s political supporters," reads the event on the CTU website.

CPS has not confirmed any schools to close or "phase out" as of yet, though WBEZ notes "rumors have been flying for weeks that school leaders want to shutter up to 100 schools, but district officials insist that is not the case."

CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett has asked for an extension of the Dec. 1 deadline to submit a list of proposed closures so the district can gather more community input for the decision-making process.

NBC summed up the heart of the protest: "Some believe it's a battle over resources, pitting struggling public schools against charter schools."

On Nov. 2, protesters staged a sit-in at Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office in City Hall in protest of the proposed school closures. Emanuel never came to meet with protesters, and several were arrested.

Earlier on HuffPost:

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