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Chicago Teachers' Union Plans to Oust Mayor

From guest blogger Alyssa Morones

Frustrated that its calls to prevent school closings seem to have fallen on deaf ears, the Chicago Teachers' Union has now set its sights on the 2015 mayoral election, where it will seek to oust current Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other elected officials, reports the Chicago Tribune.

The school board is expected to vote on the 53 school closings on May 22. CTU President KarenLewis said that the union will commence its political efforts on May 23.

This is just the latest in the union's ongoing efforts to prevent the city's school closures. Last month, teachers, activists and community members came together in Chicago to protest the closings, which are an effort to alleviate the Chicago Public Schools' $1 billion budget deficit.

In a news conference on the release of a new CTU report that examines the outcomes of a previous school closure, Lewis announced that the union plans to register new voters before the election and will work to replace not only Emanuel, but also aldermen and members of the Illinois General Assembly "who have failed to listen to the voices of thousands of parents, educators, students, school employees, and activists." To do this, it will host "boot camps" for candidates, use its political action committee to fund campaigns, and canvass neighborhoods.

While hearings for each of the planned school closings are still taking place, Emanuel says he will no longer negotiate.

Lewis said, "If the mayor and his handpicked corporate school board will not listen to us, we must find those who will."

The union conducted a bus tour last month to show elected officials the neighborhoods that school closings over the last few years have hit and to spotlight the extended, possibly more dangerous, routes that students would have to walk to get to their schools, should their neighborhood school be closed.

Chicago isn't alone in its school closings. Earlier this year, protestors from 18 different cities gathered at the U.S. Department of Education in Washington in an effort to make officials aware of the real effects of school closings on their communities. They called for a moratorium on school closings and for action on civil rights complaints against the closings, which would disproportionately affect minorities.

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