Students skip school in protest over funding
Posted: Wednesday, September 3, 2008 12:15 pm
By: The Associated Press
The Messenger 09.03.08
By JENNY SONG
Associated Press Writer
NORTHFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Hundreds of Chicago public school students boycotted the first day of classes Tuesday to protest unequal school funding and instead rode buses more than 30 miles north to try to enroll in a wealthy suburban district.
The students were allowed to fill out applications in the New Trier High School gymnasium and auditorium, although boycott organizers acknowledge the move was largely symbolic. Students would have to pay tuition to attend a school outside their home district.
State Sen. James Meeks, who led the boycott, said he hopes the protest forces state officials to act.
“I do not believe that a child’s education should be based on where they live,” Meeks said. He compared the issue to apartheid in South Africa and said the situation makes it difficult for children to rise from poverty.
“We undereducated these kids’ parents, we undereducated their grandparents and now we’re in the process of undereducating them,” Meeks said.
On the bus ride, volunteers told the children they were taking part in a historic event similar to the bus boycott in Alabama in the 1950s.
Fourteen-year-old Tracey Stansberry, a student at Corliss High School, said he was glad to take part.
“It’s on us kids,” he said. “If we don’t, we’ll be on the bottom.”
Meeks says he expects the boycott to run at least until Friday, and some parents and students said they’re willing to keep their children out of school for as long as it takes to get state action on the funding issue. Starting Wednesday, organizers say they’ll set up impromptu classrooms led by retired teachers in the lobbies of area businesses.
Chicago Public Schools officials did not immediately return a call seeking comment Tuesday, but have said the students should be in class.
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