North Side Students, Parents to Join CPS Boycott, Protest

By Adeshina Emmanuel on August 27, 2013 9:52am 

 Protesters from various Uptown schools conducted a demonstration outside the former Stockton School, now Courtenay School, in the spring.
Protesters from various Uptown schools conducted a demonstration outside the former Stockton School, now Courtenay School, in the spring.
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DNAinfo/Daryll Holiday

UPTOWN — When a school bus scoops up kids and parents at four North Side schools Wednesday morning and heads Downtown for the Board of Education headquarters — it won't be for a field trip.

North Side school activists say the experience should be educational all the same.

Peeved about 49 school closings and massive school budget cuts, activists across Chicago are calling for a one-day boycott of Chicago Public Schools on Wednesday, which happens to be the third day of classes and the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.

North Side Action for Justice, a group founded by residents from Uptown and Rogers Park, said it has a bus picking up parents and students at James McPherson, John McCutcheon, Joseph Brennemann and Mary Courtenay elementary schools Wednesday morning for a rally outside the Board of Education and a march to City Hall.

The group is encouraging North Side parents to keep their kids out of school the day of the boycott, something that some critics of the boycott have called irresponsible.

Education activist Karen Zaccor, a teacher at Uplift Community High School in Uptown and longtime resident of the neighborhood, echoed other activists' arguments for urging students to skip school, saying "that one-day experience will be a lesson in itself to the children."

“A lesson in democracy, a lesson in how people fight for things that are priorities but aren’t made priorities by the city,” said Zaccor, a longtime organizer with North Side Action for Justice. “We think that it’s potentially very empowering for parents and children to go and make their voices heard on that day.”

Among other demands, Zaccor and other activists are pushing for an elected school board and for the city to use surplus Tax Increment Financing funds to restore CPS budget cuts that have hurt art, music and library programs at some schools.

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