Heated Debate Closes CPS Board Meeting - NBC Chicago
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Heated Debate Closes CPS Board Meeting



    Heated Debate Closes CPS Board Meeting

    After camping outside overnight, parents and union members shouted the school board right out of their own meeting. (Published Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011)

    Parents braved the wind, cold and rain and even spent the night in front of Chicago Public Schools headquarters to attend a board meeting meant to consider proposed action against under-performing schools.

    In the end they weren't allowed to listen in on the full meeting. Debate during the 10:30 a.m. session became so heated CPS board members voted to go into closed session.

    Beforehand, dozens of angry teachers, parents and union leaders camped out to protest proposed closures, consolidations and phase-outs of 17 schools.

    "They're disrupting the lives of our students," said teacher Ed Hershey, who spent the night, "they're disrupting our lives."

    Union reps and concerned members of the community said they attended Wednesday's board meeting to make sure they're not excluded from the discussion.

    "Today we stand before you to demand that the Board of Education immediately end all its moves to push school actions upon the community that go directly against our interests," said Jackson Potter during a pre-meeting CTU press conference.

    The board is expected to approve 12 charter schools while closing public schools based on poor performance and implementing turnarounds at local schools, providing new teachers and a new administration.

    "We don't want our schools to be turned around," said teacher Hanna Richardson, "we want our schools to continue on that path that [they are], where we are increasing scores all the time, increasing academic achievement every day."

    The school board also planned to discuss more than $600 million in capital investments to make improvements in 439 Chicago schools. Parents say all schools need a chance.

    "And then when they close these schools, what does it say to a child?" said one parent who slept in front of CPS headquarters.

    The school board released a statement saying their decisions are for the good of kids' education.

    "We make no excuses for taking action on some of the worst performing schools in the district, " said CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll in a statement. "We can no longer accept a status quo that has allowed so many schools to fail our students year after year."