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The Devastating Voices of Children

By Marian Wright Edelman

NNPA Columnist

In an act of civil disobedience, more than 120 members of the protest organizing unions UNITE HERE Local 1, SEIU Local 1, the Grassroots Education Movement and the CTU staged a sit-in in the southbound lanes of LaSalle Street outside of City Hall during Thrusday’s rally and march. Among those led away by police and issued citations for “pedestrian failure to exercise due care,” according to attorney Pat Calihan, were SEIU Local 1 President Tom Balanoff and nearly 40 members of the CTU, including Vice President Jesse Sharkey and Recording Secretary Michael Bru
Here are a few words from the detainees:

“It is an obscene travesty for them to refer to what they’ve been doing as a civil rights movement, so now, we are going to show them what a real civil rights movement looks like, and what a real civil rights movement feels like.” —CTU Recording Secretary Michael Brunson

“The Board of Education and the mayor’s office are making these unilateral decisions without really coming to the people that are on the ground level. It’s the teachers, the teachers’ assistants and clerks that really know our buildings—that really know our schools and the needs of our kids. And I think that’s just shameful, that they’re not even talking to us about what’s best for our kids. Engage the people that truly do the work with kids and that really want to improve the school system, because we do it every day, and there’s no better expert than those of us on the ground doing it.” —Joshua Marberger, teacher at hit list school Fermi Elementary

“I don’t believe that anything’s being done to benefit the kids. Talking to the teachers at my school, I know that the schools that they’re sending out students to are not performing as well as our school. They’re sending our kids around, not caring about the distance they have to travel and not caring about their reception once they get into these buildings. Are they going to be welcome—are they even going to take the teachers? So yet again, African-American teachers are losing their jobs, and they don’t care. Do something to make the public believe that you’re doing something to benefit all students equally and equitably in Chicago.” —Tammie Vinson, teacher at hit list school Emmet Elementary
“When is this going to stop? If we do not fight now, we’re going to pay later. We must make sure that our community schools are not destroyed—our neighborhoods are not destroyed. If we sit idly by, all of this stuff comes tumbling down.” —Finola Burrell, CPS teacher and parent.

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