Successful CORE Event Raises Hopes Of Stopping Closings

Contributor Ben Strauss filed this account of today's CORE event at Malcolm X:

Opposition to Renaissance 2010 took a new shape on Saturday when around 500 parents, teachers, students and community activists

came together to share their experiences with Ren10 and hear a plan to

respond to this week's announcements of school closings.

Contributor Ben Strauss filed this

account of today's CORE event at Malcolm X. Feel free to add your own

observations and analysis in the comments section:

Opposition to Renaissance 2010 took a new shape on Saturday when around 500 parents, teachers, students and community activists

came together to share their experiences with Ren10 and hear a plan to

respond to this week's announcements of school closings.

Despite inches of snow piling up outside, a standing room-only

crowd of the frustrated, angry, and curious packed a Malcolm X

cafeteria for the CORE-sponsored citywide forum that could, organizers say, slow the planned closings of schools.

"This is

bigger than Arne Duncan, bigger than Barbara Eason-Watkins and bigger

than Mayor Daley," said Jitu Brown of the Kenwood Oakland Community

Organization to open the public hearing.

Several schools such as McPherson, Peabody, Kelly, Robeson, Julian,

and Senn were represented by groups of teachers. But it was the

appearance of different factions within the Chicago Teachers Union

(CTU) that was perhaps the most striking development of the event.

CTU president Marilyn Stewart was featured on the welcome panel.

Her bitter rival, Debbie Lynch, of Proactive Chicago Teachers (PACT)

was also on hand.

"Sometimes you have to work with opposition," said Stewart. "It's not a time to blame someone, but to do something about it."

The crux of CORE's mission is to bring these factions together as a unified force to take on the Board and Ren. 2010.

"We want to light a fire under the sleeping giant that is the CTU," said Jackson Potter, one of its founders.

For the event, at least, it appears to have been successful. The

activism amongst teachers is what gives Julie Woestehoff, a member of

Parents United for Responsible Education (PURE), hope that this wave of

momentum is different than those that have fallen short in the past.

"I haven't seen this kind of effort since 1987," she said, referencing the last CTU strike.

CORE

is planning to protest the January 28 Board meeting and to hold a

January 31 event. Bolstered by a successful event, CORE leader Potter

expressed confidence that actions such as these could change the course

of events.

"I'm confident that we have built something here that will be a

tremendous obstacle to corporate reform for years to come," said

Potter. As for the planned closings, Potter said that he thinks growing opposition "can

stop some of them."

Strauss is a freelance writer who was raised in Chicago.

Filed under: Communities & CBOs

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