DOWNTOWN — Activists said a call to "TP" Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett was a hoax, but the underlying issues are all too real.
About 40 parents, teachers and students gathered to protest school cuts Tuesday night outside the downtown Chase Auditorium, where Bennett was discussing the future of Chicago's public schools at a Chicago Tribune Trib Nation Event.
"This evening, anti-school cuts activists are going to pull the ultimate prank: They’re going to TP Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett," NBC Chicago reported Tuesday.
Several toddlers drew chalk lines around a mound of fresh toilet paper rolls as their parents geared up for the event.
TP-ing Bennett "would be a big waste of time because we're going to give this toilet paper right to the schools," said event organizer Cassie Kreswell, a parent at Goethe Elementary in Logan Square.
The cuts are that deep, Kreswell said. To keep their school supplied with essentials like toilet paper, members of her Local School Council have discussed hosting a toilet paper drive, buying the squares out-of-pocket at Costco and asking for toilet paper donations.
"It really is a question of 'should we buy TP or textbooks,'" she said.
Bennett has called CPS' current budget deficit "historic."
"We're talking a b-b-billion," she said during a major public policy speech last Monday.
“We have to make some difficult choices in order to close this $1 billion deficit and avoid devastating cuts at our schools, which is why we must use every available resource to protect investments that support our students and their learning,” she said earlier this month.
Carolyn Brown, a teacher at Kelly High School, said she recently found out that 23 teachers from her school would be laid off when school re-opens. More than 850 teachers and staff were laid off in all.
"I cannot imagine a universe in which losing 23 teachers will not affect kids in the classroom," she said. "I can't imagine the kind of classroom Barbara Byrd-Bennett thinks our kids deserve."