Chicago Mayor's Plea to Parents: Don't Boycott School

Planned boycott Wednesday comes amid budget vote, renewed call for elected school board

By BJ Lutz and Natalie Martinez
|  Wednesday, Aug 28, 2013  |  Updated 7:44 AM CDT
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Mayor Emanuel makes an emotional appeal to parents to keep their kids in school.
 He is asking them to ignore calls for a boycott to protest school closings and other budget cutbacks on Wednesday.
 Community leaders and parents say the demonstration is a way for them to take a stand for their rights.
 The group will meet in front of CPS Headquarters at 8:30am.
 NBC5’S Natalie Martinez has the story.

Mayor Emanuel makes an emotional appeal to parents to keep their kids in school. He is asking them to ignore calls for a boycott to protest school closings and other budget cutbacks on Wednesday. Community leaders and parents say the demonstration is a way for them to take a stand for their rights. The group will meet in front of CPS Headquarters at 8:30am. NBC5’S Natalie Martinez has the story.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel called on parents to ignore calls for a school boycott and send their kids to class on Wednesday as planned.

"You have a disagreement? The court has spoken to that. You don’t like something? There’s another way to speak of it. Do not take the kids out of school and harm them and their future," Emanuel said Tuesday. "Do not use the kids that way. They don’t have a day to waste when it comes to their education."

The boycott in protest of the recent school closures was scheduled to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. It's also scheduled to happen at about the time the Chicago Board of Education votes on a $5.58 billion budget and comes amid another call by protesters for an elected school board.

Michelle Young of the group Action Now said the boycott will make a statement that parents are standing up for the rights of their children.

"I feel [Chicago Public Schools] is using our children," she said. "They're using them as pawns. We're asking for much. We're asking for a new, elected school board that has our children's education at heart."

Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said the boycott sets a bad example for children.

"Removing children from the classroom for even one day is unacceptable," Byrd-Bennett said in a statement. "Our students belong in the classroom with their teachers getting the instruction they need to be on a path to a successful and bright future."

Mother Katrina Martin, who has four children in CPS, insisted Tuesday night that all of her kids will be in classes. She said she feels a boycott will do more harm than good.

"What would make a difference? If we keep all of them out of school for that one day to attend ... what are they doing to get out of it?

Her son agreed.

"I need to be in school to get everything out the way and get my word done," he said.

Action Now and other groups say their protest for change will begin at 8:30 a.m. They'll gather at CPS Headquarters, at 125 S. Clark St., and march to City Hall, at 121 N. LaSalle St.

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