Occupy Chicago has joined with a group of parents and students who are occupying the Piccolo school in the Humboldt Park neighborhood.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the protest started at 5 p.m. with no arrests as of 10 p.m. The parents and students are protesting the closure of the school, one of 16 in the city being closed for poor performance.
At 1:13 a.m. Saturday morning, the Occupy Chicago Press Committee sent out this press release with the demands of the protesters.
“We, the Piccolo Occupation, are putting our childrens’ education first. Piccolo has failed because CPS has refused to invest in public education. The school has struggled for years but you have taken out all the programs, classes and opportunities to learn. We have had 3 principals in the last five years.We have not been able to work with anyone on a long-term basis to address the chronic disinvestment in our school. CPS and City Hall have failed us and our children. Your goal is to privatize the education system by giving it to corporations that support the mayor. We have been ignored, you have ignored our children and now you are trying to make money off of them.
The Chicago Public Schools is in violation of its own remediation and probation policy. CPS is in violation of the Illinois School Code and the Illinois Civil Rights Act. CPS is in violation of Illinois Senate Bill 630. Because of this, a moratorium has been introduced in the Illinois Legislative Assembly by the School Facilities Taskforce. We are enacting our moratorium for ourselves with this sit-in do to the fact that CPS not once has laid out the necessary corrective action for Brian Piccolo or Paolo Cassals along with the Local School Councils for getting them off of probation during the last five years. The School Improvement Plans for Academic Achievement (SIPAA) at these two schools have lacked the budgetary resources to bridge the achievement gap of our student populations. Furhter, the SIPAAs along with the budgets at the time of their signings have not had real community input. Therefor, these actions could very well be civil rights violations. At the recent CPS hearings, the former principal of Cassals testified that not once in the last five years had CPS met with her nor with the LSC about any of the necessary corrective action for Paola Cassals to be removed off of probation.
Because CPS has been not willing to meet with or listen to us, this is
what we want:
1) A meeting with Mayor Rahm Emanuel
2) A meeting with at least five of the Chicago School Board members present
3) The removal of Piccolo and Cassals from the turnaround list”
The closure of the schools across the city has generated controversy, especially since WBEZ Public Radio reported that some of the pro-closure attendees of meetings were paid to attend and testify for closure.