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PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
4:31pm
Fri Sep 9, 2016

Chicago Activists To Rally For Education Policy Changes At First Presidential Debate

Education activists from Chicago and other U.S. cities will rally outside the first 2016 presidential debate later this month in Hempstead, New York in hopes that the candidates will embrace their seven-point public education policy agenda.

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
8:01pm
Thu Apr 14, 2016

Fight For $15 Ralliers Take Aim At McDonald's, Ken Griffin & Bank Of America (VIDEO)

The Fight for $15 campaign came out in force Thursday night to protest against McDonald's, Bank of America and Illinois billionaire Ken Griffin. Progress Illinois provides highlights from the downtown demonstration. 

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
10:55pm
Tue Oct 13, 2015

Byrd-Bennett Pleads Guilty To Fraud; Calls Increase For An Elected Chicago School Board (VIDEO)

The same day former Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett pleaded guilty to her role in a multimillion-dollar kickback scheme, education activists and local lawmakers on Tuesday stressed the need for an elected school board in the city.

"We're here because we want every position on that school board elected by the people of Chicago," Action Now's Executive Director Katelyn Johnson said during a morning press conference at Federal Plaza before Byrd-Bennett's arraignment. "We have a right to democracy. We have a right as parents and community members to voice our opinions about our schools, and we have a right to a better school system. Our children deserve it."

Quick Hit
by Op-Ed
3:51pm
Tue Jul 28, 2015

Op-Ed: NY Wage Board Raises For 200,000 Fast Food Workers - Another Legacy of Jon Kest, Famed New York Organizer

The following was written by Keith Kelleher, president of SEIU* Healthcare Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and Kansas.

Breakfasts with my friend, progressive icon Jon Kest, were always lively. We'd talk about organizing, progressive politics and life. But when we met at a Brooklyn diner three years ago, even I couldn't believe what he wanted to discuss this time: an audacious plan to win raises and union rights for 200,000 fast food workers in New York, and help spark a movement calling for $15 an hour for hundreds of thousands of home care, child care, airport and other underpaid workers across the United States.

If you don't know Jon, he was one of New York's - and the nation's - premier community, political and labor organizers until his life was tragically cut short by liver cancer in December, 2012.

We didn't know about his diagnosis that morning. But we did know that we were on the ground floor of a potentially transformative movement.  Jon and his staff at the New York Communities for Change (NYCC) in New York, and Madeline Talbott and her staff at Action Now in Chicago, working with SEIU, had been experimenting with organizing underpaid fast food workers in New York and Chicago.

I was somewhat disbelieving when Jon unveiled the idea of helping fast food workers in New York organize and take action on a grand scale to help win historic raises. I organized fast food workers in Detroit in the 1980s. The work was hard and victories were few and far between. Although Jon and I worked in different regions, our experiences were similar: the hard working men and women in those jobs were excited and highly motivated by the idea of forming a union to win better wages that would support their families.

Still, the odds seemed long.

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
2:19pm
Wed Jun 10, 2015

CTU Members, Allies Rally For Fair Contract, Progressive State Revenue Options (VIDEO)

Progress Illinois provides highlights from the Chicago Teachers Union's Tuesday rally for a "fair contract," during which participants also called for "fair-share" revenue solutions to tackle the fiscal issues facing the city and state.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
6:07pm
Fri Apr 10, 2015

Report Outlines Reforms To Strengthen Illinois Charter School Oversight

The oversight system of charter schools in Illinois contains "fundamental flaws" that need to be revamped in order to prevent fraud, argues a report by Action Now and the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD).

The report -- which pointed to the scandal involving insider deals at the charter school operator United Neighborhood Organization (UNO) as a more recent example of the need for stronger oversight -- noted that over $13 million in charter school fraud, waste or abuse has been uncovered in Illinois since the legislature passed a 1996 law allowing charters to open in the state.

As a result of the state's "lack of transparency and necessary oversight," there are likely more instances in which funds were inappropriately used in the Illinois charter system than has been reported, the researchers claim. According to their estimate, charter school fraud in Illinois tallied up to nearly $28 million in the last year alone.

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
1:13pm
Thu Apr 2, 2015

Chicago Fast Food Workers Call McDonald's Wage Increase A 'Slap In The Face' (VIDEO)

Chicago fast food workers and their allies from Action Now protested Thursday in response to McDonald's announcement that it will soon raise wages, but only for some employees.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
11:30am
Fri Mar 20, 2015

Chicago 16th Ward Candidate Responds To Residency Questions, Criticism Over Ownership Of 'Unsafe' Vacant Home

South Side aldermanic candidate Stephanie Coleman, who's vying for the Chicago City Council's 16th Ward seat, is taking heat over an "unsafe" vacant home she owns with her father in Englewood. 

Questions are also being raised over whether Coleman is truly a "lifelong 16th Ward resident," as she claims.

Coleman's campaign, however, says critics are "making false claims" against the 27-year-old aldermanic candidate and are "trying to deflect from real neighborhood issues."

Coleman, who bills herself as a "daughter of Englewood," is set to go head-to-head with progressive Ald. Toni Foulkes (15th) in the 16th Ward's aldermanic runoff contest on April 7. The 16th Ward, which covers the Chicago Lawn, Englewood, Gage Park and West Englewood neighborhoods, was previously represented by Ald. JoAnn Thompson, who died suddenly of heart failure on February 9. Foulkes is running in the 16th Ward as a result of the ward remap. The 15th ward was previously a predominantly black ward, but is now majority Latino following the 2012 remapping process.  

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
1:07pm
Tue Jan 27, 2015

CTU, Allied Groups Call For Quazzo's Resignation From Chicago Education Board (VIDEO)

Members of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and other allied organizations increased their calls on Tuesday morning for an elected school board and the resignation of Chicago Board of Education member Deborah Quazzo, who has come under scrutiny over her business interests following a recent Chicago Sun-Times investigation.

Chanting, "Quit, Quazzo. Quit," about 30 CTU members, parents and organizers with Action Now, the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, More than a Score and other groups picketed outside the offices of GSV Advisors, an investment firm of which Quazzo is the founder and managing partner. The company's offices are located in the John Hancock Center, 875 N. Michigan Ave.

According to an investigative report published late last month by the Chicago Sun-Times, five educational tech companies in which Quazzo has invested have allegedly tripled their business with the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) since Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed her to the board in June of 2013. The firms have reportedly been paid nearly $3 million by CPS since Quazzo's board appointment. The CPS inspector general launched a probe into the matter in light of the newspaper's findings.

The CTU maintains that "Quazzo's seat on the board represents an unethical conflict of interest" and demonstrates the need for an elected, representative school board.

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