Community activists used today’s meeting at which Jean-Claude Brizard was to be approved to head Chicago Public Schools to advocate on behalf of a school consolidation bill that has been stalled in the state legislature.
The bill that would make it more difficult to close public schools in Chicago is expected to be heard in House Speaker Mike Madigan's Executive Committee today. Activists say it's opposed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CPS.
"We ask Rahm Emanuel, why do you oppose a good accountability bill," Gema Gaete, with the Whittier Parents Committee, said at a press conference prior to the board meeting. "What about transparency? Rahm's acting just like (former mayor Richard) Daley. We want real change."
The bill, called the School Action and Accountability Master Plan Act, originated with a legislative task force to address parents' concerns over school closures, turnarounds and inequitable spending on facilities. It would require CPS to develop a five-year capital improvement plan and a 10-year facility master plan.
It also would force CPS to follow a process – of public comment and nine months’ advance notice -- before determining school closures, consolidations or phase-outs.
The bill passed the state senate in April, but has stalled in the House.
With the outgoing CPS board expected to approve Brizard as schools’ CEO today, activists called on him to visit neighborhood schools and meet the community.
“[Brizard] says he's about meeting with people in the community. Come on. We're ready."
Parents at Whittier have been fighting for a library at the school and staged a sit-in earlier this school year. The matter remains unresolved.