It's teacher hunting season!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

By now: Chicago primary schools occupied for a week

The specific details of the circumstance vary:
There is a class between a private school and a public school, and the city takes the private school side. This happened during the conflict over access to ball fields and elite schools in New York City. And this has happened several times in the same city between charter schools and regular public schools.

In Chicago, the community supporters have take more assertive direct action: they occupied their school to defend it.
The city's charge that the school building was dilapidated rings reminiscent of local governments and "slum removal" with the 1950s, 1960s demolition of neighborhoods for housing projects.

The one of the latest dispatches from "The Chicago Sun-Times:"
The six-day standoff between Chicago Public Schools officials and protesters demanding a library for a Pilsen elementary school showed no signs of ending Monday, with both sides indicating they were ready for a drawn-out fight.

Parents, children and activists have occupied a field house at Whittier Elementary School around the clock since Wednesday. CPS says the building is unsafe and must be demolished because there is no money for renovations, but protesters insist it could be converted into a library for less than the cost of demolition.

The two sides have not spoken since Friday, when more than 100 parents, students and teachers prevented CPS officials and police from carrying out their threats to remove the protesters and arrest them.

"We're going to stay here as long as it takes," said parent Araceli Gonzalez, whose daughter, Daniela, 10, is a Whittier student. "We've got inflatable mattresses, bathrooms, food and support from the community -- everything we need. Our children deserve a library."

A potential breakthrough came Monday when Ald. Danny Solis (25th) said CPS CEO Ron Huberman had promised not to demolish the school before meeting with protesters. But protesters say they won't end their occupation first, a condition CPS spokeswoman Monique Bond says must be met for the meeting to go ahead.

"Despite our warnings, they are assuming the safety and security risk for the children and adults staying there," Bond said. "There's no rush to demolish."

But protesters say union workers have volunteered to work for free to help transform the building into a library, and that their engineers believe CPS' safety concerns are overstated.

"We've got Huberman paying attention, now," activist Gema Gaete said. "They have to listen to us."

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