CHICAGO
05/20/2013 04:16 pm ET Updated May 20, 2013

Chicago School Closing Protests: Teachers Union Leads Final Day Of Marches As CPS Plays Defense

The Chicago Teachers Union will wrap its three-day march in protests of Chicago Public School closings with a Monday afternoon rally in Daley Plaza.

The rally comes just two days before the school board votes on whether it will shutter 54 schools, the largest public school closure of any district in U.S. history.

Monday's marches took school closing opponents to City Hall downtown where protesters demanded a one-year moratorium on school shutdowns. Shortly before 3 p.m., Sun-Times reporter Jon Seidel tweeted of protesters clashing with police:

The marchers are set to converge on Daley Plaza at Washington and Dearborn at 4 p.m. While the CTU has been well-organized in its protests of the closings, CPS sprang to action over the weekend, trying to combat the union's efforts with a series of robocalls and emails trying to dissuade students from skipping school to protest.

Calls saying "Chicago Public Schools had been made aware that a non-CPS organization has distributed a flyer to high schools throughout the district that your child may have received" were sent to parents, according to DNAinfo Chicago, adding the protest "is not planned nor endorsed by either the student's school or CPS."

The union-led protest kicked off Saturday at Jesse Owens Elementary, where the Tribune reports some 100 people — including local teachers, parents and students — chanted and carried signs reading "Hands off our schools".

Police-escorted processions continued Sunday and Monday through numerous neighborhoods, making stops at each of the schools slated for closing, the Associated Press reports.

March organizers estimate that as many as 7,000 people may have participated in the marches by the time all three days are through, according to MSNBC.

Amid the protests, Catalyst Chicago reported outspoken CTU President Karen Lewis handily won reelection for a second term in a Friday vote.

The district and Mayor Rahm Emanuel have put up a unified front in support of the closings, arguing they're necessary if the district is to close a nearly $1 billion budget shortfall. Meanwhile, various reports — including WBEZ's excellent fact check of the school closures — suggest real savings will be far less than the district is projecting.

Monday, CPS tried a little PR spin of their own, posting a photo of smiling kids around a lunch table with the caption:

"Students at McCutcheon, a proposed welcoming school, enjoy lunch in the school's cafeteria." McCutcheon is among the proposed welcoming schools to receive a fractured student body should Trumbull shutter.

The mayoral-appointed school board will vote on the closures at their May 22 meeting.

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