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Struggle continues as

Whittier sit-in ends in victory

Published Nov 5, 2010 8:12 PM

After occupying the Whittier Elementary School field house also known as La Casita for 43 days, the Whittier Parent Committee has ended the occupation in a victory Oct. 28. They received, as they demanded, a written statement from Chicago Public Schools CEO Ron Huberman saying that CPS would not tear down the community center to replace it with a turf field.

Photo: Zachary Kremian

Still, the Whittier parents are making it clear that the letter from Huberman is not the end of this historic struggle.

CPS has suggested a space inside the already overcrowded school, and has alluded to sacrificing a new computer lab for the library. School officials are attempting to make the case that Whittier is not overcrowded since it is filled to 76.7 percent of its capacity, not the 80 percent that is considered overcrowded.

Additionally, CPS spokesperson Monique Bond said that once parents incorporate as a non-profit, CPS will lease the field house for $1 per year and parents can build the library in the field house but that it must meet code and safety requirements.

In response to these evasions of the real issue — quality education for all children — the Whittier Parent Committee continues in negotiations with CPS and has issued statements with the following clarifications.

1. The location of the library has not been determined or agreed upon by the Whittier Parent Committee.

2. The parents did not agree to the library being built inside of the Whittier school as the letter from CPS states.

3. We also want to note that the Whittier Parent Committee did not agree to be responsible for all the repairs or other maintenance issues mentioned in the letter. During this meeting we made it clear that as the leasing agent, it is CPS’s responsibility to ensure that the building is up to fire codes and safe for the children.

4. We want to make it clear that we are only ending the sit-in portion of the struggle. The Whittier Parent Committee remains in control of the field house and the programming that is currently taking place in the field house. We are not abandoning the field house nor are we ending our fight for the library. The negotiations will continue!

The Whittier Parent Committee and their community supporters remain a force with which CPS must reckon, and an inspiration to people around the country fighting to save the hard-won right to a quality public education.

Sticking to their principles the parents say, “We want to ensure that CPS and our elected officials give us, the community, the student body and the parents what we deserve!! The fight continues so that we can ensure that we have a quality education for all children!!”

Sources for this article along with ways to show support for the Whittier struggle can be found at www.saveourcenter.com.