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PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
9:58am
Tue Dec 10, 2013

Chicagoans Deliver Coal, Candy Canes To Politicians Based On Public Education Votes (VIDEO)

A few hundred public education activists took to City Hall and the Thompson Center Monday evening to deliver their holiday list of demands as well as lumps of coal and candy canes to the offices of naughty and nice elected officials. Progress Illinois was there for the protest.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
3:25pm
Tue Nov 5, 2013

Ames Middle School Officials, Parents Demand Meeting With CPS Over Military School Plan

Logan Square parents, residents and the Local School Council (LSC) at Ames Middle School say they want Chicago Public Schools (CPS) officials to meet with them about the district's plan to affiliate their neighborhood school with the Marine Corps next year. 

Ames LSC members stressed at their meeting Tuesday morning that those from nearby feeder schools should also have an opportunity to weigh in about the decision to convert Ames, located at 1920 N. Hamlin Ave., into a military academy. Those feeder schools include John Barry Elementary, Laughlin Falconer Elementary, Kelvyn Park High School, Sharon Christa McAuliffe Elementary and William P. Nixon Elementary.

No CPS officials attended Ames' morning LSC meeting, although several school district representatives were reportedly invited to attend.

"Nobody has had the courtesy to come to us, the parents, constituents and, most importantly, the students that will be most affected [by this decision]," said Ames LSC member Jose Jaramillo. "We are tired of trying to fight a battle of people making decisions for our school when we are the ones that are vested and give all our time for the excellence of our community and school."

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
11:36am
Wed Oct 23, 2013

On 50th Anniversary Of CPS Boycott, Activists Prepare To Mobilize Against Educational Inequalities (VIDEO)

The 1963 boycott of the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) wasn’t just about achieving the rights for black children to sit next to white children in classrooms. The fight against educational segregation was also about gaining equal access to resources so that every student was given the same opportunity to learn. A group of panelists who analyzed the parallels between educational access in 1963 and the present day on the 50th anniversary of the boycott say the fight for equality still rages on.  

In Chicago, many African American students still attend “separate but unequal” schools, according to members of the Tuesday night panel.

“Today we’re still fighting for educational equity, albeit in a different political climate,” said Elizabeth Todd-Breland, a professor of history at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “Our children today still do not have equal access to state resources and this is not primarily a question of diversity, but a problem of economic and racial justice.”

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
7:34pm
Mon Oct 21, 2013

Chicagoans Urge DePaul University President To Reject $55 Million In TIF Funds For Basketball Arena (VIDEO)

Chicagoans fed up with the mayor's decision to use public funds to help finance a controversial DePaul University basketball arena near McCormick Place urged the college's president Monday to refuse the $55 million in tax increment financing (TIF) funds set aside for the project.

About 40 education activists picketed outside a City Club of Chicago luncheon at a downtown Maggiano's where DePaul University President Rev. Dennis Holtschneider was speaking. The protestors said the private and profitable college does not need taxpayer dollars for the project, arguing that TIF money would be better spent on public education.

"Accepting city money from schools and from people who need it the most is not in the light of the tradition of St. Vincent DePaul," said Roderick Wilson, executive director of the Lugenia Burns Hope Center, an organization represented at Monday's protest. "They're not living up to their legacy, and we want to remind him of that ... This is not acceptable, and we want [Holtschneider] to refuse that money and let it go back to our schools."

Quick Hit
by La Risa Lynch
11:39am
Tue Sep 3, 2013

Activists Strategize After Senate Immigration Reform Bill Alienates Blacks, LGBT Community

Activists from the African and LGBT communities joined forces to hold a teach-in Saturday to discuss how efforts to overhaul U.S. immigration policy negatively affect their communities.

At issue are the diversity visa lottery program and the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA). Both programs provided a legal pathway for Africans and foreign-born gay spouses to come to the U.S. But the U.S. Senate bill eliminates the diversity visa program when it passed its version of the immigration bill back in June, and the UAFA was cut from the legislation.

Kim Hunt, executive director of Affinity Community Service (ACS), said the Senate could have passed “a really good bill” if it did not throw a lot of people under the bus, including the LGBT community. ACS is a social justice organization advocating for the Black LGBTQ community.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
7:49pm
Fri Aug 23, 2013

Chicago Freedom Riders To Demand Jobs & Justice At Washington’s ‘Realize The Dream’ Rally

The more than 150 activists and Chicago public service workers who are set to take part in Saturday’s “Realize the Dream March And Rally” to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington say their message will be the same as the thousands of people who rallied at the nation’s capital in 1963: jobs and justice.

“Fifty years ago it was unimaginable that the United States could have an African- American president. Today that unimaginable thought is a reality,” said Tonya Pugh-Rizer, an SEIU* Healthcare Illinois and Indiana member who boarded a bus to Washington Friday evening with other workers and activists, who are calling themselves the "Chicago Labor Freedom Riders." 

“But even with an African-American president who has worked hard to address issues that impact working people, we are still marching for jobs and justice,” she said.

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
1:49pm
Thu Aug 22, 2013

Education Activists Call For CPS Boycott (VIDEO)

A group of Chicago education activists are hoping thousands of students take part in an August 28 boycott of a school system, they say, is acting as a destabilizing force in low-income communities of color.

Next Wednesday, the Chicago Board of Education is scheduled to vote on a proposed budget for the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) district, which has proposed some $68 million in school budget cuts. Next Wednesday is also the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous speech calling for equality for African Americans. The March on Washington was one of the largest political rallies for human rights in U.S. history.

“Part of our democracy is speaking up when you are being dealt an injustice, part of our history in this country is being able to peacefully express your frustration when policies do not treat you right,” said Jitu Brown, an education organizer for the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO). “Young people will definitely get a lesson in representative democracy on this day.”

At a press conference on Thursday outside of the mayor’s office, Brown and approximately 50 education activists announced plans for the city-wide, one-day school boycott. The group also plans to stay away from the Chicago Board of Education meeting.

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
12:46pm
Tue Aug 20, 2013

Town Hall Meeting Calls For 'A New Roseland', Increased Access To Health Care (VIDEO)

Jessicia Morris (pictured right) said if she hadn’t been able to go to Roseland Community Hospital for medical treatment when she was shot in 2010, she probably would have lost her leg — or worse.

“Doctors said I made it to the hospital just in time,” said the 21 year–old former gang member who was shot in the knee at the age of 17. “My knee-cap was shattered and I lost a lot of blood. They said I was about to lose my leg, or I wouldn’t have been able to walk again.”

Morris was born and raised in Chicago’s often embattled Far South Side neighborhood of Roseland, and said she joined the Black Disciples gang at the age of 13.

“All we see out here is violence,” she said. “I didn’t know I could do anything else.”

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