February 14, 2012
Labor Beat: Parents and teachers protest "show trial" hearings they say are being used close their Chicago schools
Watch full multipart Students Demanding Justice
During January and February of 2012 the Chicago Public Schools, pressured by recent state law to do so, held open hearings on the question of whether to close or turn-around targeted schools in minority and low-income areas of the city. But, as George Schmidt (Substancenews.net) points out, "the hearings are basically show trials...in a way [they] are a cruel joke played upon the people from the community." Adding to the fact that CPS has already secretly made their decisions before the 'hearings', another underhanded scheme has been exposed. Paid 'protesters' were bussed in to support the school board's view that the schools should be closed or turned around. The rent-a-protester ploy was originally unearthed by Substancenews.net in September of 2011, and then in January, 2012 it was picked up by Chicago's corporate media, as the scandal could no longer be ignored.
We present dramatic footage exposing the rent-a-protesters, along with scenes from the hearings and demonstrations defending public education. Interviews and speeches include: George Schmidt, reporter for Substancenews.net; Karen Lewis, President of Chicago Teachers Union; Marcy Hardaloupas, teacher at Marquette School; Chris Beauford, Generation Y/Southwest Youth Collaborative Center for Change; Katrina Richard, teacher at Dyett H.S.; Rico Gutstein, Prof. in Curriculum and Instruction at University of Illinois-Chicago; Martin Ritter, organizer, Chicago Teachers Union; Mark Carter, community activist.