Mid-summer rally demands restoration of Lane funds

 

By Gabrielle Onyema

 

On July 24, a large rally of students and teachers marched from Lane to the local alderman Pawar’s office.

The rally was to protest against the number of teachers cut from Lane’s workforce over the summer, as well as lost budget money.

“Fifteen teachers and twenty staff members were let go,” said Mr. Parsons, a social science teacher. The number of firings  was due to CPS’s reducing the school’s budget.

“We (the teachers) heard whispers before the end of the school year. I did not realize it was going to be as steep of cuts as it ended up being. Because I believed the best of the situation rather than the worst, and it was the worst,” said Ms. Meacham, an English teacher.

The rally’s purpose was to help call for a restoration of the lost funds to Lane and a return of the cut teachers to their old positions.

“We hope that if the funding gets restored, according to the union contract, the teachers that were laid off would be called back,” Parsons said.

Others hoped that the rally would make people more aware on CPS schools.

“I hope the public becomes more aware of not just our schools, but all schools around the city. Funding the schools adequately is essential,” said Kirsten Hanson, a Lane drama teacher.

Many students and teachers showed up to support the cause and the teachers.

Like Jennifer Mogoloan, Div. 461, and Angela Crespo, Div. 453, several students that attended the rally were notified by others of the rally over social networking sites.

“I saw on Facebook that they were going to have a rally,” Crespo said.

“I got an email about it and it said we were supposed to meet up here at four, so I came,” Mogoloan said.

Like Mogoloan and Crespo, several students that attended the rally were notified by others on social networking sites.

It took an hour and a few police escorts before the crowd arrived at the alderman Pawar’s office. Pawar stepped out of the building, openly answering questions.

Pawar spoke in support of the teachers. He shared his thoughts on restoring the school’s lost funds with the crowd.

“For a restoration of funds to happen; one, continue holding feet to the fire, to figure out how to get tiff money back to the school. Two, get CPS to commit that those dollars are going back into the classrooms,” Pawar said.

The teachers, themselves, found the firings disheartening. Some believed that the loss of teachers would increase classroom sizes.

“In terms of being able to turn around work, in order to conference one on one with students, in order to give the individualized attention that I like to give, I will have to work twice as hard to make sure every kid gets the attention that he or she deserves,” Meacham said.

After sharing his advice, alderman Pawar returned back inside the building. The crowd soon dispersed.

Lane seniors that attended the rally were worried about the counseling department cuts, and the strain it would put on them all.

“I hope we do accomplish something from today, because there’s a ton of us. Honestly, we’re down to eight counselors now and it’s horrible. [Lane counselors] have 400-plus students each,” Crespo said.

Jessica Meddans, Div. 469, agrees. She marched down to the alderman’s office during the rally.

“I just want to support these teachers who are innocent and amazing. I love them! I don’t relate to them ‘cause I’m not no teacher, but they helped me through hard times, so I want to help them,” Meddans said.