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Rev. Jesse Jackson floats highway protest march for striking CICS teachers

Video by Mitchell Armentrout

With the second week of a work stoppage dragging to a close, the Rev. Jesse Jackson on Thursday suggested a new place for the striking Chicago International Charter School teachers to take their picket lines: one of the city’s highways.

“Next, the parents must begin to march,” Jackson said at the West Town headquarters of the Chicago Teachers Union, ahead of their latest contract negotiating session. “The children must begin to march. It’s time to fight back and leave nothing on the table.

“The boycott will not remain just with 200 teachers. It will expand. Those who care must join this struggle. We shall march, if necessary, down the highway. We will be heard.”

CTU officials said they haven’t made any highway march plans, but didn’t rule out the possibility.

The controversial mode of protest clogged major Chicago arteries twice last summer.

Over the strong opposition of city and state officials, the Rev. Michael Pfleger and several thousand anti-violence protesters shut down a stretch of the inbound Dan Ryan Expressway for about an hour in June.

A month later, the Rev. Gregory Seal Livingston and organizer Tio Hardiman led a significantly smaller crowd onto Lake Shore Drive in the heart of the afternoon rush hour.

Livingston tried to stage a similar protest on Labor Day, but Illinois State Police stopped him and a hundred or so marchers well before they made it onto the Kennedy Expressway near O’Hare Airport.

Jackson didn’t elaborate on a potential expressway while backing the striking teachers on Thursday.

“It’s better to invest in a whole child than try to repair a broken adult. Invest in these children now,” the civil rights leader said.

Thursday marked the eighth day of classes disrupted for about 2,200 students since the teachers started picketing Feb. 5 at CICS’ Wrightwood, Northtown, ChicagoQuest and Ralph Ellison campuses.

It’s the third-ever and longest charter teacher strike in American history.