On July 27, I accompanied a group of VOYCE leaders to the CPS board meeting to testify against the CPS disciplinary policies that are hurting my peers and making our schools less safe. At the Board of Education meeting, I saw that many people from different organizations across Chicago all had something in common. We all want a better education so that we can better ourselves in life. So many students in the suburbs have great quality schools, why are we not getting the same quality education? School should be a place where students can explore the world, prepare themselves for college, and think critically about different ideas and perspectives. To be able to do this, we need to feel safe and supported.
Unfortunately, at the board meeting we saw that CPS does not always share our priorities. For example, one thing that really stood out to me was the way that people who were testifying were treated by the Board Members. When VOYCE approached the podium as a group to talk, they almost didn't let us speak. This was because Alan, who was prepared to testify, had asked Stephanie to register as the speaker because he didn't have an ID. Why didn't he have an ID? Because his school had confiscated everyone's student ID at the end of the school year! So here we are, CPS students, who woke up at 5 am and stood in line for hours just so they could hear our concerns, and they cared more about this one rule than about hearing our voice. That tells you a lot about their priorities.
Eventually, my peers did get a chance to speak before the Board of Education. We talked about how CPS spends too much on Safety and Security and not enough on student supports, and the effect that this is having on our education. We got a chance to show them that our education is important to us and how their decisions are affecting us inside and outside of school. After testifying at the Board Meeting, Dr. Donoso, the Chief Education Officer, agreed to meet with us on August 29, and we have a listening session with CEO Brizard on August 18. We will use these meetings to continue fighting for what WE feel is the best for OUR schools and OUR education!