Protesters: It may be April 1,but education is no joke

CTU President Karen Lewis (top) addresses crowd at the James R. Thompson Center April 1. 

By metro editor

Inclement weather did not stop the Chicago Teachers Union and supporters from taking to the streets April 1 to bring attention to cuts in Chicago public education.

Hundreds of CTU members and allies gathered at the James R. Thompson Center, 100 W. Randolph St., to demand increased funding for Chicago Public Schools.

The protesters marched down the middle of Randolph, chanting and holding a variety of signs like “If you can read this, thank a teacher” and “It may be April 1, but education is no joke.”

“While it’s unfortunate that CTU leadership is pushing an illegal strike, CPS is committed to providing all of our students with safe environments that will keep them fed and engaged,” said CPS CEO Forrest Claypool in a March 29 press release.

CPS designated contingency meeting sites for students on April 1, which, according to the press release, were offered in case parents could not keep their children at home during the strike.

Emily Quinlan, an elementary school teacher at Goethe Elementary School, 2236 N. Rockwell St., said she attended the protest because she wanted to stand up for the rights of her students after her school’s operating budget had been cut.

“We are running on a bare-bones system. We don’t have any extra support for our kids,” Quinlan said. “It lays all of that work on the teacher; the teacher becomes the social worker, the nurse, the therapist, the mom and the teacher.”

She said all she wants is for teachers to be able to give the students the education they require to succeed.

“[This is so students] can get the education that they need and live the life they should have,” Quinlan said.

Alisa Mirkin, a special education teacher at Patrick Henry Elementary School, 4250 St. Louis Ave., attended the protest to bring to light that, despite its attempts to cut costs, the school’s discretionary budget had been eliminated.

Mirkin also mentioned that her special education class had 20 students, and because of the large number of students they are getting “a decreased quality of service.”