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PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
Wed May 8, 2013

During Chaotic City Council Meeting, Emanuel Introduces Parking Meter Deal Changes & LGBT Athlete Resolution Passes

Here's a look at some of the highlights from today's Chicago City Council meeting.

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
Tue May 7, 2013

Community Activists Say Bank Of America Is A 'Destabilizing Force' In Chicago (VIDEO)

Bank of America (BOA) serves as a destabilizing force in Chicago’s blighted communities, according to approximately 50 protesters who took their message to a downtown branch on Tuesday.

Organized by the Grassroots Collaborative on the eve of Bank of America’s shareholder meeting in North Carolina, demonstrators rallied against policies that, according to protesters, has led to Chicago school closures and community devastation.

“We have schools that are closing, homes that are abandoned, and neighborhoods falling apart; this is a time when we need our neighborhoods to be built up and not destroyed,” said Amisha Patel, executive director of the Grassroots Collaborative. “It’s time for Bank of America to do everything they can to strengthen our communities.”

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Fri May 3, 2013

Lewis Elementary Teachers Call For Alternative Turnaround Plan At CPS Hearing

Lewis Elementary teachers agreed to have their school turned around but only if Strategic Learning Initiatives (SLI) is leading the action, they said at a Chicago Public Schools (CPS) hearing Thursday night.

Under CPS' proposal, Lewis' teachers and staff are slated to be fired and the Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL) would take over the school in the fall.

But teachers at Lewis say they have been used as "guinea pigs" for various programs that begin to show improvement after a few years, such as the Teacher Advancement Program, but are then abruptly ended by the district. 

"We all know that when you introduce a new program it takes time for the staff and students to adjust," said Corliss Wade, a first-grade teacher at Lewis.

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
Fri May 3, 2013

Chalmers Elementary Academics On The Rise, Turnaround Would 'Demolish' Momentum, Advocates Say (VIDEO)

A plethora of teachers, parents and students attempted to counter Chicago Public Schools’ (CPS) claim that Thomas Chalmers Specialty Elementary is “chronically underperforming” Thursday night at the school’s final public hearing.

Attributed to “low performance” and “insufficient progress”, a proposal by CPS has suggested replacing Chalmers’ entire staff with the Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL), a school turnaround contractor, by next year.

But since school Principal Kent Nolen was hired in 2010, Chalmers has seen significant growth, according to Thursday’s speakers. If the West Side school were permitted to continue on its current course, presenters said it would surely close achievement gaps.

“We pray that this hearing officer holds the current faculty, staff and administration accountable for the work they’ve accomplished, not penalizing them for work under the former administration,” said W. T. Harris, a parent of one Chalmers student, member of the local school council (LSC) and one of approximately 75 attendees.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Thu May 2, 2013

Duckworth, College Students & Administrators Discuss Ways To Make Higher Ed More Affordable

Certain student loan interest rates are set to double, from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent, come July 1. The rate hike could potentially cost millions of people who rely on college financial assistance an additional $1,000 each school year.

The added cost is too much for some students to bear, said U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D, IL-8) at a college affordability roundtable discussion Thursday.

“I remember what that was like as a student, when I was counting down to the last five bucks that I had until my next check came,” she said at the discussion, held at the College of DuPage (COD).