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Teachers union marches on Loop office of mayor’s pal and charter schools booster

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Updated: January 20, 2013 6:22AM

A day before the Chicago Board of Education is set to approve new charter schools even as it considers closing traditional schools, the Chicago Teachers Union blasted a wealthy charter supporter and friend of the mayor.

Marching to a Loop office tied to billionaire charter school booster Bruce Rauner, the union and other community organizations asked CPS to stop opening new charter schools in a district claiming to have 100,000 more school seats than children.

“We’re saying enough is enough,” said Brandon Johnson, former social studies teacher and CTU activist. “They push for still more expansions of more charter schools they love to name after themselves, at the same time they want our schools closed because we don’t have enough students. That doesn’t make sense. Why does the business community have a say while parents, teachers students are left out in the cold?”

The 100 or so marchers carried a giant letter through rush hour traffic to the lobby of 208 S. LaSalle, home of one of Rauner’s business ventures, saying if they couldn’t get a meeting about schools with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, they’d ask his friend to deliver a message. They chanted loudly until Chicago Police cleared the lobby.

Last week the CTU mocked Rauner and other mayoral allies who champion school reform in an online satirical campaign called “Stand Up to the Fat Cats.” Rauner, who could not be reached immediately for comment, then called union leaders “a joke, just not a funny one.”

Wednesday, at its last meeting of 2012, the Board of Education is slated to vote to approve five new charter schools scheduled to open in fall 2013.

The district has not yet announced which schools it plans to close at the end of the current school year, nor how many it’ll target. That list is due to state authorities by March 31. Meanwhile, an independent commission established by schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett held a series of public hearings.

“It’s our obligation to provide families with as many high quality school options as possible to help their children succeed in school and life,” CPS Chief Communications Officer Becky Carroll said in a statement.

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