Chicago Teachers, Students, & Parents Rally Against Budget Cuts

“Save Our Schools” was the predominant slogan, as perhaps 10,000 people marched from the Board of Education to City Hall and back.  A crowd large enough to flow into the streets and stop the down town rush hour traffic along Clark Street.  Yet the evening news had no time to report this major event, instead concentrating their journalism on canned reports of an elderly couple trapped inside their home by years of accumulated debris and waste.  As tragic as this story is, it is dwarfed by the anger and actions of the people of Chicago fighting to withstand a government intent on trapping our young people in the debris of their educational system.

Click here for the Substance News reportage on this historic march, and note also other stories on this site of the CTU elections.  Among other things, the reportage from

Part of the crowd estimated by Substance reporters to be as high as 10,000 people jam Clark St. in Chicago during the massive protests against the attacks on public education by the administration of Mayor Richard M. Daley. Substance photo by Garth Liebhaber.

Substance shows that CORE not only wound up in a dead heat with the incumbents in the CTU election May 21;  CORE actually won many of the delegate positions to the AFT convention.  CORE was in the leadership of this demonstration, and, although the CTU did join in the process and swelled the numbers present, they did much to undermine their own supposed call for unity.  One of the partners in the demonstration was Teachers for Social Justice, along with CORE members of a Grassroots Education Movement which have together been putting pressure on the School Board and the Mayor for two years.

Here is TSJ’s report on the march:

Today, May 25, TSJ joined several thousand fired-up teachers, parents, students, and school staff in a huge show of outrage at CPS’s proposed budget cuts. Marching from CPS headquarters to City Hall we took the streets with the demands: Save our Schools! Chop from the Top! Stop investing in Private Schools! The Money is There – Give the TIF $ back to the people! Clark Street was clogged with buses unloading marchers (by our count about 40 buses). As part of the Grassroots Education Movement (GEM), TSJ and other GEM partners (KOCO, Blocks Together, Pilsen Alliance, and others) joined the current leadership of the Chicago Teachers Union and CORE (Caucus of Rank and File Educators) which initiated the rally in the union and is in a run-off for the leadership. This powerful outpouring signalled the power of unity of teachers and community that we will need to defeat the drastic budget cuts hitting

Above, Berenice Salas, TSJ member speaking to the crowd

school districts around the country as politicians, corporations and banks try to dump their financial crisis on our backs.

The rally gave us a taste of the power of the teachers union, a sleeping giant, which if fully awakened as a social justice union in principled alliance with children and communities, has the strength to bring the city and the school district to its knees. This is why it is strategically important to support CORE for the CTU runoff election on June 11!

And finally, from Karen Jennings Lewis, CORE’s  candidate for president of the Chicago Teachers’ Union, comes this comment:

Dear Teachers, PSRPs, clinicians, and supporters,

Tuesday May 25, 2010 will go down in history as the beginning of a new way.

We had thousands of people in the streets telling Huberman “No” to 35 in a class, “NO” to cuts in programs and “NO” to balancing their budgets on the backs of educators and students. What made this possible was that members of all five caucuses came together to show unity.  I would like to thank all the members of PACT, CSDU and SEA for running campaigns that focused on the pressing issues we all face.  We appreciate the expressions of support we have received from the leadership and membership of those caucuses.  It is an honor to be among people who care passionately about the direction this Union must take.

Initially, CORE planned to organize the rally with our GEM partners, but we realized that this was an event that would be bigger than a caucus, and made a resolution at the May House of Delegates meeting for the event to be a Union event; a show of unity against Huberman and Daley. Although it was a political risk to organize members to an all-caucus event while on the campaign trail, we made it a priority to build this event; and it paid off.

A massive rally with thousands people should have been organized six years ago when Renaissance 2010 started with a vengeance, but the leadership remained silent and allowed hundreds of teachers, PSRPs and clinicians to be displaced.  What could have been accomplished, how many jobs saved, if the Union had organized members to aggressively oppose the Mayor’s plan? If we wait one more minute before we change direction, we are all going to lose our jobs, our dignity, and access to public education.

As I rode back on the bus a parent said to me, “And this is just the beginning.”

She was absolutely right.

In solidarity,

Karen Lewis
CORE Candidate for CTU President

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