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Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
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 Aaron Cynic
Fri Nov 1, 2013

SEIU Security Officers Hold Halloween-Themed Flash Mob To Call For A Fair Contract (VIDEO)

Nearly 100 SEIU* Local 1 security officers and their supporters staged a rally and flash mob at the Thompson Center Wednesday to bring attention to their campaign for better wages and affordable health care. Presently, full time security officers can pay up to $1,543 a month for health insurance coverage for a family of four. In some cases, that could be more than 80 percent of an officer’s monthly income.

“We’re just asking for fair wages, health benefits and [that they] just treat us with integrity and respect,” said Kenyatta Sinclair, a security officer who has been on the job for five years. Sinclair, who makes $13.60 an hour, does not currently have health benefits.

“I would have to buy my own plan, and I don’t make enough to buy one,” Sinclair explained.

Quick Hit
by Aricka Flowers
Thu Oct 24, 2013

Teachers Rally For Stolen Wages Outside TEFL Institute

Some 30 protesters, including teachers and their advocates, rallied outside of the TEFL Institute in Chicago's North Center neighborhood demanding payment for the instructors' work. The teachers, who carried signs and chanted "Teachers, teachers 1,2,3. TEFL make me work for free!", allege that the school owes them a collective total of $18,000 in stolen wages.

"I worked as an online instructor and was not paid," said Noreen Haque Colombe, who taught students who are planning to teach English abroad. "It's been over a year. I'm part of a group and we're all waiting for our paychecks. This is an extremely difficult position for us to be in."

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Thu Oct 24, 2013

Chicago Clergy Leaders Join The Push For Better Wages, Workplace Conditions At Walmart (VIDEO)

A group of Chicago clergy leaders gathered with Walmart employees and their supporters Wednesday, calling on the mega retailer to improve work conditions and provide better wages so its workers do not have to rely on public assistance programs to cover their basic needs.

At a news conference outside a Chatham neighborhood Walmart, pastor Walter Turner with the New Spiritual Light Missionary Baptist Church on the South Side said the community will not tolerate the world's largest retailer "pimping the employees."

"Walmart workers deserve to be treated with dignity and respect," he said. "They deserve better working conditions which ensure they earn at least $25,000 a year, so they can take care of their family and not have to rely upon taxpayer dollars to survive."

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
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.”

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
Thu Sep 5, 2013

Walmart Workers Rally In Chicago For Better Jobs, Higher Wages (VIDEO)

More than 100 Chicago Walmart workers and their supporters rallied outside the retail giant's West Loop location Thursday afternoon, calling on the company to boost wages and reinstate illegally fired and disciplined workers. Progress Illinois was there for the demonstration.

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
Thu Aug 29, 2013

Chicago Fast Food, Retail Workers Join National Strike For Higher Wages (VIDEO)

Hundreds of Chicago fast food and retail workers walked off the job Thursday to take part in a national, one-day strike for higher wages and the right to form a union without retaliation. Progress Illinois was there for the morning and afternoon actions.