Hundreds of Chicago Public School students and their families are ringing in this Memorial Day holiday with a picnic protesting last week's announcement of the largest mass school closures in United States history.
During the picnic, which takes place Monday afternoon in the city's Millennium Park, protesters will erect a temporary garden of giant paper flowers each representing one of the condemned schools, "to show the rest of the city and the world what is at risk of being lost in the mass closures—what needs to be nurtured in order to grow and flourish instead of being uprooted," they write in a statement announcing the demonstration.
"In Chicago," they continue, "the fight against school actions and the fight against underresourced, overcrowded public schools are one and the same. This fight will not end with the unelected school board rubberstamping the Mayor's policies."
The "Every School Solidarity Picnic" follows last Wednesday's Chicago Board of Education vote to close 49 elementary schools and one high school program and implement a "turnaround" at five additional elementary schools during which the entire staff will be replaced.
Ninety percent of the schools targeted for shut down are in the city's minority and low-income neighborhoods, prompting many—including nine-year-old Chicago student Asean Johnson—to declare Mayor Rahm Emanuel's education policy "racist."
As Black Agenda Report executive editor Glen Ford writes, "It’s about further privatizing the public schools, destroying the union, and destabilizing neighborhoods full of people that the mayor and his big business cronies would, ultimately, like to expel from the city, entirely."
Monday's gathering will take place from 12:00 to 2 PM CDT.