CITY HALL — An array of grassroots groups announced the formation of what they called the "People's School Board" Tuesday, in a push for an elected Board of Education for the Chicago Public Schools.
In a demonstration outside Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office at City Hall, Janette Taylor, the president of the Local School Council at Mollison Elementary, declared "a vote of 'no confidence' in the appointed school board that gets its directives from right here on the fifth floor."
The so-called People's School Board will meet on days the Chicago Board of Education meets, Taylor said, except "they'll be in the community in the evening time when people can actually attend."
The regular Chicago Board of Education meeting will be at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at CPS headquarters, 125 S. Clark St. The People's School Board has set a meeting at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Mount Carmel Missionary Church, 2976 S. Wabash Ave.
Taylor said that, while the people's board is set up in opposition to the board appointed by Emanuel, it was not intended to be critical of teachers and school administrators, but instead to work with CPS. It will funnel complaints to CPS, and it will set up "accountability committees" at schools to report complaints to CPS and Local School Councils.
"The people in the community are cleaning up CPS' mess, as usual," Taylor said.
"We will make sure that, if our children are underserved, CPS will not get a moment's rest," said Steven Guy, a grandparent of students at Fuller Elementary. He said the independent groups were necessary because CPS "has earned our suspicion and deserves our mistrust."
Without pledging to work with the rival board, CPS spokeswoman Keiana Barrett said, "The district values community and parental input and partnerships, particularly those that are solution-orientated and designed to ensure that every student in every community has access to a high-quality education."
The People's School Board is being organized by community groups like Action Now and the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, as well as Communities Organized for Democracy in Education, the Grassroots Education Movement and the Chicago Peace Clergy Coalition.