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Protesters want elected Chicago Public Schools board

Erana Jackson (left), of the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, was among the protesters who gathered outside the new Chicago Public Schools headquarters in the Loop on Wednesday morning. | Al Podgorski/Sun-Times

Protesters gathered outside Chicago Public Schools new Loop headquarters Wednesday to demand an elected school board.

The group — a coalition of neighborhood groups and members of the Chicago Teachers Union — boasted it had collected enough signatures in 37 wards to pose a non-binding question to Chicagoans on their February ballots: Do you want an elected school board?

“It’s a fight for democracy that we’ll continue to wage!” said Amisha Patel, executive director of Grassroots Collaborative.

The protesters gathered outside of Chicago Public Schools new headquarters at 42 W. Madison before the planned meeting of the school board.

The group of about 12 also placed lumps of coal in Christmas stockings and hand-delivered them to the School board President David Vitale and a private banking executive to show displeasure with a series of city financial deals known as “swaps” that they said resulted in the loss of millions in CPS funds in the years following the financial crisis.

They called for CPS officials to renegotiate or take legal actions to try to recoup those lost funds.

“We demand the board of education do everything that they can to fight back to get this money that is rightly ours, that belongs in the schools, that belongs in the classrooms,” Patel said.