On June 30, 60 VOYCE students held a public meeting at Dyett High School with CPS officials. Below is ONE leader Theo Carter's account of the events leading up to the meeting!
Youth representatives from Voices of Youth in Chicago Education (VOYCE) had a meeting scheduled on June 21 with Drew Beres, Special Assistant to Chicago Public Schools’ Chief Executive Officer, Ron Huberman. The purpose of this meeting was to secure funding for VOYCE-sponsored freshman retreats at several CPS high schools throughout the city. At 10:00, VOYCE youth from seven different community organizations marched upstairs and waited, only to be disappointed by Mr. Beres not showing up. Bernard McCune, acting director of the CPS Office of College and Career Preparation, arrived in place of Mr. Beres. As the meeting started, VOYCE youth were informed that the department Mr. McCune heads cannot fund VOYCE retreats. As a result, VOYCE youth mobilized a plan to attend the upcoming board meeting in order to express their need for financial support from CPS.
The day of the board meeting was June 23. Some VOYCE youth woke as early as 4:00 in the morning in order to be in line at 5:30 a.m. so they could secure a position on the meeting agenda. Youth wore VOYCE t-shirts in an array of colors, showing their unity and strength. When the board meeting started, Mr. Beres approached VOYCE youth to ask them not to speak during the board meeting. After seeing all the different colored VOYCE shirts in the room, Mr. Beres pledged to meet with VOYCE in the next week. In spite of Mr. Beres’ plea, VOYCE youth testified to the board. The powerful pleas of the youth caught the ear of Mary Richardson-Lowry, President of the Board of Education.
On the day of the scheduled meeting with Mr. Beres, 60 VOYCE youth filled a conference room at Dyett High School and gave a powerful presentation on VOYCE and its impact. As the meeting concluded, CPS officials asked VOYCE youth to submit budget reports and told them to expect funding soon. By organizing and unifying around one common goal, VOYCE youth have shown CPS the seriousness of supporting young people and their ideas on education reform.
This post was originally published by Organization of the NorthEast, where Theo is a leader. To find out more about ONE, visit www.onechicago.org