Those of us who work with students day in and day out know the brilliance and potential that our students have. We also find ourselves as educators, parents, and tax payers becoming increasingly frustrated by a mayor, “CEO” and appointed school board that consistently and blatantly does not have the best interest of our students at heart.
Have no fear our students will lead the way. Yes, our students that the media far too often labels as “gang bangers” “thugs” or “criminals” will lead the way against the harming polices implemented by CPS.
Students have been organizing to fight the ill proposed school closings and over testing taking place in our schools. This student led group made up of hundreds of students from various schools across the city goes by the name Chicago Students Organizing to Save Our Schools or CSOSOS.
This student led group meets weekly, creates agendas, plans and organizes. These students from various parts of the city cross gang lines, racial lines, to come together to improve this city from the inside out. CSOSOS has organized a walkout/protest of Day 2 of the PSAE testing. Students from other schools have followed in their footsteps and walked out of school to protest the unfair firing of their teachers like what happened at Lincoln Park High School last week.
These student groups and student actions aren’t just happening out of thin air, there is a long historical precedent of students leading this city.
As a history teacher I decided to do some research and find out as many examples of student actions in Chicago as I could. The following list is not conclusive, but it is a start to give us all the understanding that our students are not only brilliant but are capable of leading this city. The student actions are well rehearsed and organized. Their actions cannot be measured with a multiple choice bubble test.
1.Freedom Day 1963 : 200,000 students walk out city wide to protest funding cuts to education
2.Equal Rights Walkouts 1968 : City wide student demand for equal rights for all students led by African American & Latino students
3.Anti-Immigration Law Walkouts 1995 : City wide student protests against legislation that would take away basic human rights for immigrants.
4.Iraq War Protest Walkout 2003: City wide students walked out of class to protest the U.S. led war in Iraq.
5.Senn High School Student Walkout 2004: Students and community protesting becoming a Military School .
6.School Closing Walkout 2009: City wide walkouts against the proposed school closings.
7.System Wide Proposed Funding Cuts Walkout April 2010: CPS was thinking about cutting extra curricular activities and programs.
8.Social Justice HS Students protest firing of teachers & principal Aug. 2012
9.King High School Student Sit In to Protest Principal Dec. 2012
10.Lane Tech Students Protest Banning of Persepolis March 2013
11.Day 2 PSAE walkout April 2013: Students walked out on the 2nd day of PSAE testing against school closings and over testing.
12.Lincoln Park High School students walkout May 2013: Students protesting the wrongful firing of many of their teachers.
Needless to say our students are intelligent and partake in the democratic process that this country was founded on. So if our students feel forced to have a protest to make their voices heard, join them. They are teaching all of us what Democracy looks like, sounds like, and feels like.