An estimated 3000 Chicago teachers and their supporters marched in the centre of Chicago on Thursday after forming a circle around the Bank of America. 16 members of the CTU were arrested when they sat down and chanted in the bank. They were released six hours later although charges are still pending. Meanwhile the huge demonstration brought traffic to a standstill. They carried banners saying 'don't starve the schols to feed the rich' and 'fair contract now.'
The teachers targeted the bank because it has made $77 millions out of Chicago Public Schools in credit swap deals. Meanwhile the schools themselves are facing $100 million cuts, including 2200 teacher and support staff layoffs and cuts in special educational needs programmes. Protesters say that instead of CPS fighting teachers over their contract they should be taking on the bank. The CTU closed its account with Bank of America in protest on Wednesday.
Unlike the vast majority of school boards in the US, that in Chicago is unelected and its members are appointed by the mayor.
As one special needs teacher put it: 'When it’s gotten to the point where teachers are occupying banks to make their voices heard, don’t you think it’s time for an elected school board?'