8th graders from Brighton Park Elementary School joined Chicago public school teachers in protest of cuts to education.
April 1, 2016 was a day of action for Chicago Public Schools, and I gladly took part.
I joined my Brighton Park Elementary School teachers, community, and fellow students, and picketed in front of our school. Last year, we lost a nice Special Ed teacher to CPS cuts, and I was bummed out. CPS has cut dozens of these teachers, and the students who were counting on these teachers are worse off. Like many Chicago schools, we don’t have a library teacher and we really want to use the library. We have books that say that past presidents are still in power today—we seriously need NEW books! And that’s just a tiny part of the injustice we face daily. We deserve an equitable education. So we fight!
“We need teachers, we need books, we need the money that Rahm took!”
The picketing began at 6:30am. We started at the front doors to build a picket line and then marched toward the United Neighborhood Organization school, chanting as we walked. UNO is a chain of charter schools where you pay more fees to get a lesser education. We had a classmate who came back from there last year and was a couple of years behind.
We joined our fellow friends and public school students at Kelly High School (a great school where many of us will go). When we returned to our school, we enjoyed Kolackys, a local polish treat. They were amazing—shout out to Ms. Zupancic! We thanked everyone for their support and made plans to meet later in the afternoon at the official strike downtown.
We met up at the Thompson Center, where our Governor’s office is. We joined tens of thousands of supporters and listened to speakers. The weather was rough, but the rain and hail didn’t stop us—we came prepared. After the talks, we began to move through the streets.
Marching along, we chanted the truth.
“We are the students, the mighty, mighty students! Fighting for justice and public education!”
Our little voices became huge as friends and students joined in. We led chants throughout the crowd and most of us had lost our voices by the end of the day. Together, we chanted: “Rahm, Rauner, we’re no fools! We won’t let you ruin our school” Also, “Everywhere we go people want to know who we are, so we tell them we are the students the mighty mighty students.” Everyone was very kind. One man held his umbrella over over us to protect us from the rain. I appreciated that.
“Rahm escucha, estamos en la lucha.”
We noticed that because we were chanting in both Spanish and English, some Latino families joined and marched with us. We were like a home in the storm to them.
Then, a guy with a speaker system said, “You are doing such a great job, you should use this microphone!” So we took the mic and led chants for that section of the march.
“I. I believe. I believe that. I believe that we will win!”
Through rain, through hail, we made ourselves heard and we stood up for what we believe. This is not the end, either. There’s much more coming the way of anyone who tries to deny us our education.
This was my April 1st. How was yours?
Paulina Rebollo is an 8th grader at Brighton Park Elementary School on the Southwest Side of Chicago. She likes to read books that relate to her and fights for a fair education.