Student Voices of 2016
#1 Testimony by Evelyn Solis - Kelly High School graduate
Hello and good afternoon, my name is Evelyn Solis. I am an alumni of Kelly high school and a freshman at loyola university.
As a cps student I became very concerned about the lack of money our neighborhood schools get. I have been very active since i found out that a charter school was going to be built near my school. I joined other Kelly students to fight for my school because the Board of Education wouldn’t. When we lost, it made me realize that we have to keep on fighting.
I started organizing and working with other students to continue to raise our voices against these injustices. I started going to board of ed meetings. I have participated many times now and this is what I have learned. They don’t want to listen to us.
Once, I went to speak along with other members of the chicago student union. The board prohibited many of the students from speaking because they had already spoken the month before and because they said we were all speaking on the same issues. And do you know what else is crazy? The board banned a CPS student from entering the meetings. A STUDENT.
That shows you how intimidated they are of students who speak up.
I was allowed to speak and I talked about how school closings affected many students and parents, how many families are struggling, how kids are struggling in overcrowded classrooms because teachers have been laid off and their tutoring programs were cut.
Do You know what they asked me? Why wasn’t I in school?
I was surprised. I didn’t think they had even noticed I was there. A lot of them were not paying attention and one board member was even falling asleep.
They are more concerned with a group of students not showing up to school to advocate for themselves than the damages to our quality of education thanks to their decisions.
The real question is why are these meetings held during the middle of the week and in the mornings, when students are in school and parents are working. Even if students and parents take a day off to address the Board, they are only given 2 minutes to speak and not a second more. Where is the democracy in that? Aren't the board meetings SUPPOSEd to be for the students and parents.
So Who is the Board?
There are seven Board Members who are all appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel. -- They are friends of the mayor and well-connected business people. They do not represent the families of CPS. Let me show you a few examples...
50% of students in Chicago are latinos, But How many Board members do you think are latino? → Only 1 - Jaime Guzman
How many do you think have kids in CPS schools? → 0
How many do you think have taught in CPS schools? → only 1 out of the 7
How many have direct connections to charter schools? → 6
and the Board President, Frank Clark, has a Noble charter school named after him!! He has no education background. Never taught in a single school, and was the CEO of comed. Now Why is this important? Frank Clark may know how to run corporations , but he doesn't know how to run schools.
Schools ARE NOT corporations.
They don't know what our schools are like, but they are considered the experts?
#2 Speech by Michelle Leon - Sophomore at Kelly High School in June 2016
My name is Michelle Leon, I am a sophomore at Kelly High School and LSC student rep.
Kelly has seen cuts to the classrooms and staff. What the mayor and Cps had said is not true. Students and families need the support that Rahm and Rauner took away. We have seen violence. It's happening because they have continued the racist disinvestment in our schools and neighborhoods and the services people need.
I have a six year old brother who just graduated from kindergarten and is entering the 1st grade. My dream for him is is to have the best education possible. He needs programs and resources in school to keep him away from violence and out of the streets. His education is key, but I’m afraid that he will not succeed because of the budget cuts. Our resources are being taken away.
Closing schools, attacking teachers, and ending programs only makes the violence worse. THANK YOU!
#3 Speech given by Tanya Guel, an 8th grader at Brighton Park Elementary in July, 2016
Today we are here for a very important reason.
We need to save our schools.
Our neighborhood schools give us the chance to be someone who can contribute to our community.
This school year, schools on the Southwest side are losing millions of dollars!
Last February, CPS reduced per pupil spending from four thousand, three hundred and ninety dollars to four thousand, one hundred and seventy six dollars per student.
This year, CPS is only giving schools $4,086 per student.
This is not enough!
Thanks to our Local LSC members, we know the true impact of the cuts.
Think of your favorite teacher, your favorite class – why is it important, what effect have they had on your life?
If we allow these cuts to happen, that teacher will be taken away.
That class will be gone.
Is that Right?
Students may not be taught at grade level because the school can’t afford enough teachers.
Sports will be cut. Music will be cut. Art will be cut.
Is that Right?
But Staying united gains our power.
Solidarity is the key to hope.
We aren’t here just to talk about what we don’t have.
We are here to talk about what we can have if we are willing to fight for what we deserve. We deserve teachers who don’t have to worry about losing their job.
We deserve to love to come to school to learn and be supported as individuals.
We need to speak up.
We need to write.
We need to know our rights.
We need to demand respect.
We need to fight.
We shouldn’t have to be white to get human rights.
I believe that this is possible.
I want to finish with a chant. Please Repeat after me
Believe that weI
Believe that we will win!
#4 Speech Jennifer Nava, current 9th grader at Kelly High School at the BPNC Youth Summit in May 2016.
I grew up without a father, meaning my mother raised me and my siblings, we all went to Brighton Park considering that I live literally right in front of Brighton. Some of the teachers that taught my brother who is now twenty-one are still at Brighton to this day.
I consider Brighton Park my second home, and everyone there is my family, even if we do disagree with things. I am who I am today because of the people there, Mr. Dollear, my pre-k teacher taught me that sometimes the best medicine for a bad day with a horrible joke and a smile. Ms. Zupansic, my fifth grade teacher taught me to keep trying no matter how many times you fail. Mr. Vazquez, my sixth, seventh, and one of my eighth grade teachers now, showed me that the corruption in this world can be fought against if we join together. And Mr. Barrett, my seventh and now eighth grade teacher gave me the chance to fight for what I believe in. All of these amazing and brilliant people have changed my life in so many ways and I’m sure that statement can be said for all of you here.
And now, our schools, our second home, will lose some of it’s family members because of the greed in this world. It’s up to us to fight for what we deserve and believe in. I stand here to ask you, as a fellow student and human being, to stand together and fight back, to keep all these amazing people in our family. Not only for ourselves, but for everyone that will be affected by this cut. Remember, no obstacle is too big to overcome.