CPS students take action in wake of budget crisis


Claire Bentley, Editor-in-Chief

Over the past few months, CPS students have taken action towards the looming budget crisis that will affect all Chicago Public Schools.
On November 6, hundreds of students varying from a number of CPS schools gathered at the James R. Thompson Center in downtown Chicago to protest the upcoming budget cuts that schools will face in the coming year. The event was organized by students from Jones College Prep and Walter Payton High School, and was also comprised of students from WY, Lane Tech, Northside, Lincoln Park, Kelley and Kennedy High Schools.
Because the state government has been without a budget since July 1, thousands of teachers will be laid off and schools will lose a number of resources. The Chicago Student Union (CSU) has been consistent in planning numerous events to take action to prevent these budget cuts.
Students circled the Thompson Center with signs and megaphones, chanting phrases like “S.O.S Save Our Schools” and “Education is a right, that is why we have to fight!” The protest also included a lie-in, speeches from a number of CPS students, which included WY students Avelardo Rivera, ’16 and Charles Kotrba ‘16, who are both members of the CSU. Kotrba joined the CSU when Rahm Emanuel announced that 55 million dollars of taxpayer money would go to building DePaul’s new basketball stadium. Three days later, the Mayor’s appointed school board voted to close 50 neighborhood schools and called for $68 million in education cuts.
“Between our current mayor and the appointed board of education, a closely knit circle of private interests are
making decisions that benefit themselves and are turning their backs on our
communities. We need decision makers who care about us and listen to our voices.” Kotrba said.
State Representative Christian Mitchell of the 26th district and 45th Ward Alderman John Arena were both present in support of the students, and addressed the crowd, acknowledging the lack of funding from the state government and the faults of Governor Bruce Rauner and Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Arena went as far as to announce Rauners’ office phone number.
This event made news stations such as NBC, ABC and WGN. The rallies and protests have continued to grow. On November 13, students organized the CPS: What’s Next event, another rally around the Thompson Center, CPS Board of Education building, and City Hall to further address the budget crisis directly to Gov. Rauner, Senate President John Cullerton, Speaker Michael Madigan and all members of the Illinois General Assembly, asking them “to no longer withhold funds that are needed for the education of over 400,000 kids.”
Among 27,000 CTU members, 95 percent cast ballots in a mock vote supporting a teacher strike. If a teacher strike were to take place, it would happen sometime on or after March 17th.
State law requires that 75 percent of the voting body must authorize a strike, and many steps are required to go through the legal steps before they can actually strike. CPS students continue to further use their voices to take action regarding potential teacher layoffs and the loss of school amenities.
Kotrba voiced that, “As a student body, we have the power and the obligation to fight for the education that we deserve.”