Stories from on the ground in Chicago

That’s great news! We need encouragement…even though spirits are still high. Today, I was at two schools…Wells HS, on the north side, where there was, of course, the teachers out there picketing and we were then joined by about 75 youth from a youth network in Chi (VOYCE). Together, we had a student-led press conference and rally emphasizing the destructive nature of testing, destructive to students, teachers (getting evaluated by students’ performance), and schools (getting shut down for “poor performance”). The youth had many thousands of pencils linked together to represent the 11,700 hours of testing suffered by Wells HS students over a year, a powerful visual (will try to send a picture).
Then I went to a much larger rally at Dyett HS, which is in historic Bronzeville, the epicenter of school closings in Chi. We couldn’t even get across 51st St., there were so many people. Addressing a crowd of 1,500-2,000 mainly Black teachers and their supporters, community members told of the devastating way CPS has destabilized, disinvested in, and disenfranchised Dyett and other schools, overwhelmingly in low-income Black communities, and how this union is in solidarity with the community in the fight-back. Being in Bronzeville, this was part revival meeting, part rally, militant and spirited, w/ song and speech and more.
At both places, students from the Social Justice HS (“Sojo”) spoke and told about the attack on their school and their resistance, organized with parents, alumni, their teachers, community members, and the CTU. This is the school “Born Out Of Struggle” through the 2001 hunger strike in Little Village that lasted 19 days. And they are still fighting. Check out Jaisal Noor’s (of Democracy Now! and FSRN) reporting on our struggle at Sojo,
So we are inspired and exhausted, exhausted by having to fight this dying beast, and inspired by the tens of thousands of red-shirted teachers and the hundreds of thousands of honks of support and cheers of solidarity from students, parents, community members, LSC members, truck drivers, ordinary people on the sidewalk, and more. This IS beginning to feel like a social movement.
TSJ Chicago


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