Schools Chief Hears from Protesters

January 28, 2009

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Activist Wanda Hopkins dresses as The Grim Reaper to protest school closings at today's board meeting.
On his first full day on the job as head of Chicago Public Schools Ron Huberman got a taste today for what his new position will be like.

When Huberman showed up at the Board's monthly meeting today, the room filled with boos. Most of the parents, students and teachers in the overflow crowd came to protest the district's plan to close or consolidate 22 schools.

The meeting was charged with anger and emotion, with teachers dressed in black. Teacher Daisy Sharp will lose her job at the end of the school year—when everyone from the principal to the custodian is let go from Holmes Elementary.

She chastised the board for making decisions without public input.

TEACHER: We need the parents to have the right to speak what they want from their communities. Why should you decide? You never even come and visit! What? Are you afraid to?

Opponents are calling for Huberman to place a moratorium on closings. They want an independent auditor to find out whether kids are better off after schools are closed or reconfigured.