Dozens of Chicago Public School students rallied and marched downtown Monday to demand an elected board of education and student-prioritized funding.
More than 200 students have participated in the Chicago Students Union since it was formed in 2013 in response to school closings in the city. But Ross Floyd, a senior at Jones College Prep, said the city’s school board refuses to listen to them.
“They continue to move forward with devastating cuts to our schools that hurt each and every student’s education. The reason this happens is because the board of education is only accountable to one man, [Mayor] Rahm Emanuel, and that is not right,” Floyd said.
CPS spokesman Bill McCaffrey said in a statement the district shares the students’ desire to make sure everyone has access to a high-quality education.
“With school starting soon, we hope their passion will inspire other students to return to classrooms ready to focus on their education,” McCaffrey said.
Before their planned march to the headquarters of the Chicago Public Schools, the students held a news conference across the street from Daley Plaza. They were joined there by Will Guzzardi, the Democrat who won the March primary for the 39th Illinois House District.
Guzzardi promised to pursue a bill in Springfield that would establish an elected Chicago school board. He said thousands of parents begged the Chicago Public Schools not to close schools, lay off teachers or slash budgets.
“We had no voice in these decisions,” Guzzardi said. “We had no recourse, no way to affect the policy that shaped our communities. And the only way we ever will is by having an elected representative school board that listens to our voices. A school board that’s accountable not only to one person but to all the people in the city of Chicago.”
Samantha Cousino, a senior at Walter Payton College Prep, said the Chicago Students Union is also trying to get students registered to vote.
“We want an active student voice in the upcoming November and February elections that will greatly affect our lives,” Cousino said.