Whittier struggle update: Oct 4-8

click on image for video of Press Conference at Occupied fieldhouse October 8:

From press conference of the Whittier Moms on Oct 8, day 24 of the occupation:

“This is a call-out to the remaining 160 Chicago public schools who still do not have their own library — STAND UP !!”

Updates from this week at La Casita, the occupied fieldhouse at Whittier Elementary School:

Mon, October 4: Chicago Public Schools (CPS) turn off the gas leaving parents and children with no heat. As temperatures drop and school officials still refuse to meet with parents, it is clear their strategy is attrition.

Tue, Oct 5: Mothers testify at the Illinois Facilities Taskforce, an independent state commission to oversee school closures and capital improvement allocations for public schools. Taskforce stunned; shame CPS for turning off gas and demand a report.

Weds Oct 6: City council passes ordinance ordering CPS to turn gas back on and to halt demolition; Illinois Facilities Task Force charged with establishing recommendations on how to repair/rebuild. “I don’t know what genius at the board of education made this decision, but whoever it is ought to see what it’s like to live overnight in a 35-degree dwelling place,” says Alderman Edward Burke, 14th ward. CPS CEO Ron Huberman announces his plans to resign. Former Obama Chief of Saff Rahm Emanuel begins his campaign to run for mayor of Chicago. Whittier parents and kids surround his car and interrupt his “listening tour”. He does not listen.

Thu, Oct 7: a small group of 7 representatives from la Casita meet with Alderman Solis to demand his full support in maintaing the Casita open and continuing with its program, allocating the TIF money that was going to be used for demolition toward renovation instead. Embattled Moms challenge the records Solis presents in the meeting. In the evening Solis stops by the occupied fieldhouse personally to meet with the rest of the group. He tries once more to present a generic letter of support. Mothers say: not good enough and demand Solis rewrite to include their specific demands. After patient dictation, Solis includes word-for-word demands in his official letter. Solis also demands meeting with Chicago CEO Ron Huberman on Oct 13 to reach official resolution.

Friday, Oct 8: Jose Alvarez, former deputy chief of staff to CEO Arne Duncan, currently director of operations of CPS “New Schools” unit (ie man in charge of tearing down existing facilities to make way for privatized schools), comes by to deliver an official letter stating there will be a 6 moth halt to the demolition. Mothers surround him and tear up the letter: “not good enough!”. They then proceed to scold Mr Alvarez and, in an amazing display of Mother Power, sit him down to dictate his homework: he handwrites a letter committing to a meeting between Solis, the parents and Huberman. Mr Alvarez, powerful Mr Alvarez, is then unwelcomed with stern warnings about any future misbehavior. At 10:30 PM, gas is turned back on.

CPS must not have realized what happens when you threaten the kids of militant mothers.

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