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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
1:11pm
Fri Jan 31, 2014

Chicago Housing Activists Picket Logan Square Building Owner Over Evictions, Rent Increases

Chanting "No more evictions!", a group of about 60 Chicago housing activists picketed outside the office of a Logan Square property management firm Thursday evening to call out the company for allegedly displacing tenants from one of its apartment buildings.

Last fall, M. Fishman & Company, which describes itself on its website as “Chicago’s premier property management company,” took over a 50-unit apartment building in Logan Square at 2536 N. Sawyer Ave. According to current tenants, the company in October sent most of the residents who did not have an existing lease a 30-day notice to vacate the building. 

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
7:07pm
Wed Jan 22, 2014

Chicago Board Of Ed OK's New Charters; Might Join Forces With CTU Against IL Charter Commission

At its monthly meeting Wednesday, the Chicago Board of Education approved seven new charter schools scheduled to open over the next two years. Also on Wednesday, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis and Chicago Board of Education President David Vitale said they might "join hands" to push back against the Illinois State Charter School Commission.

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
6:11pm
Wed Nov 13, 2013

Chicago Aldermen Fail To Discharge TIF Surplus, Elected School Board Proposals From Rules Committee

The Chicago City Council's Progressive Reform Caucus made an effort Wednesday to bring up for a full vote two pieces of legislation that have been stuck in the Rules Committee for months, but their efforts were thwarted. Progress Illinois was at Wednesday's city council meeting and details how the attempt flatlined.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
4:25pm
Mon Nov 11, 2013

High Schoolers Critical Of New CPS Student Advisory Council, Say It's 'Just For Show'

Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett announced the creation of a new Student Advisory Council last Friday. The initiative is meant to provide students the opportunity to discuss important issues with district officials.

Some Chicago student leaders called the new advisory council an important first step in opening the dialogue between students and CPS. But they also said the new advisory council is "just for show," because students wouldn't have a direct vote when it comes to deciding CPS policy.

"We do view this advisory committee as a good base step," said Ross Floyd, a junior at Jones College Prep and a Chicago Student Union (CSU) leader. "We think there's a lot of work to do, but it’s better than before. Before, there was no student voice. The more student voice in educational policy, the better that policy is going to be."

Floyd, however, went on to say that the new council seems like a "puppet show." CPS says a goal of the council is to empower students' voices in district policy decisions, but "in reality they're giving the students no power at all," he stressed.

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
3:32pm
Mon Nov 4, 2013

CPS Students Dress Like Zombies, Protest The 'Death Of Public Education' (VIDEO)

Excessive testing is taking the life out of education, according to a group of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students who dressed like zombies and marched from the district’s headquarters in Chicago to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office at city hall Friday evening.

Calling themselves “the learning dead,” the students, organized by the Chicago Student Union (CSO), protested the “death of Chicago’s public education system.”

While proponents of standardized testing say it helps to close the achievement gap, roughly a dozen students claimed on Friday that high-stakes testing takes up valuable instruction time and negatively impacts student learning.

“I love to learn, but because education officials put so much emphasis on standardized testing — they use it to measure school success, measure teacher success, measure student success — teachers are forced to teach to the test and that really limits what we can do in the classroom,” said Charlie Murphy, 16, a junior at Lane Technical College Prep High School and member of the CSO.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
12:38pm
Wed Oct 30, 2013

Chicagoans Demand Aldermen Release Crucial Legislation From Rules Committee (VIDEO)

Chicagoans took to City Hall Tuesday afternoon to demand that aldermen resurrect critical ordinances from the Rules Committee, also known to some as the place "where good legislation goes to die."

About 50 organizers with the Grassroots Collaborative, a coalition of labor and community groups, staged a "burial protest" highlighting the various measures stalled in the rules committee, putting a specific focus on a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Surplus Ordinance Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) introduced back in July.

The ordinance calls for any TIF surplus funds to be sent back to government agencies, including the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) district, which would help ease recent school budget cuts. The measured garnered support from 32 out of the  council's 50 aldermen, but it's been pending in the Rules Committee since it was introduced.

TIF funds come from a portion of collected property tax dollars from those living inside a TIF district. TIF dollars are typically used for economic development projects in the city. The activists, however, said the "buried" TIF Surplus Ordinance would release millions of additional dollars that could be used for the struggling public schools system as well as expanded community services, including the reopening of six city mental health clinics that closed last year.

"But instead of being debated and voted on, this ordinance is stuck in [the] Rules Committee," stressed Grassroots Collaborative Executive Director Amisha Patel. "There it's buried along with many other good ordinances."

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."

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