About 30,000 CPS students came together at Soldier Field last month and issued a call to action to their schools, their communities, and their government to do more to invest in their schools and make their neighborhoods safer.
“We are here because we believe that every student—whether they live in poor inner-city communities or in rich suburbs—every child has the human right to a quality education,” said Prosser High School student De’Rell Bonner. “This country supposedly places value on equal opportunities for all, and yet and still school funding is unequal. And so we are here to let our legislators know: You have to do more.”
Illinois ranks 49th in the country in terms of the share of funding that its school districts receive from the state government. It also ranks last in funding equity among its different school districts. CPS and school districts across the state have been fighting for years for an increase in school funding, as well as a more sustained and equitable funding system that doesn’t rely so heavily on property taxes.
The students also called for a stronger investment in programs that will help keep young people safe from gangs and guns.
“We’ve been waiting for a safer world, a better education, a job and a future,” said Simeon High School student Ronnie Mosley. “We’re tired of waiting. We want it now. We want to go back home to our communities and live without fear. We want to go to a school that’s as good as any school in America.”
Mayor Richard M. Daley applauded the students for their efforts to bring about the changes that are so critical to their future.
The rally culminated with all of the students in attendance reciting an anti-violence pledge and making a call-to-action written by All Students Are Powerful. The pledge reads:
“We will reverse the violence.
We will invest in our communities.
We will understand the impact of our actions.
We will educate others in non-violence.
We will take a stand.
We will shape our own future!”
And the call-to-action recited by the students was:
“Out of 50 states, Illinois is dead last in funding schools equally. We call on our government to fund our schools NOW.
We call on CPS to appoint a blue-ribbon task force including students to ensure professional security in our schools.
We want after-school programs. We want each school to send a principal, a parent & student representatives to the CPS Community Resource Fair this fall.
We call on Chicago TV and newspapers to have a more fair and balanced portrayal of us.
We call on ourselves to continue this work. To be friendly, to forgive. We call on every student here to meet with 5 of your peers to have a real discussion about how to change our neighborhoods.
This is our call to action!”