March 14 student walk-outs against violence
Honoring our students' voices and rights
Planned student walk-outs against violence on March 14 and April 20
CPS students are planning walk-outs and other actions at a number of schools on March 14 - the one-month anniversary of the horrific mass shooting that took the lives of 17 high school students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL. Those actions are part of a national school walkout marking one month since the worst school massacre in U.S. history, with another national day of action planned for April 20.
The AFT has released "GUIDANCE ON EDUCATOR SUPPORT FOR STUDENT PROTESTS", and CPS has released "Responding to Parkland: A Guide to Support Student Engagement." Plan accordingly, using the AFT and CPS guidelines as tools that outline allowed versus unallowed CTU member participation in school communities, and contact your CTU field representative in the wake of any issues or problems.
Nationally, March 14 is being framed as a call for tighter gun laws. In Chicago, more than 1,800 children under the age of 17 have been shot in the last five years, accordig to the Chicago Tribune, leaving at least 140 children dead. These largely unheralded victims are the casualties of both individual crimes and larger public policies that undermine children’s safety and thwart their futures.
CPS students are taking action to address racist policies that cause violence and economic instability In their neighbourhoods. On March 14 and April 20, student leaders in a number of schools will target mayoral policies that exacerbate violence and harm children, from deep budget cuts at their schools and Rahm Emanuel’s closure of NTA and Englewood's high schools to the police killing of teenager Laquan McDonald.
For thousands of CPS students, gun violence is part of the daily trauma they experience in a school system and a city that often seems to view them as of little value. Students recognize that violence and despair in their neighborhoods are driven by a host of inequities, from the lack of affordable housing and living wage jobs to the widespread mistreatment of Black and Latinx youth in Chicago. Yet instead of tackling the root causes of much of the violence in Chicago, Mayor Emanuel has consistently forced our students to bear the brunt of racist, classist policies that undermine their safety and their futures - whether it’s racist school closings that force students out of their neighborhoods into unsafe terrain or deep cuts to classroom resources in South and West Side Schools. Our students confront not just the daily trauma of gun violence but a parallel - and dire - lack of school counselors, social workers and trauma wrap-around services, driven by the funneling of TIF funds and other public revenue away from our students’ schools into projects that serve wealthy elites.
The CTU encourages our members and supporters to show solidarity with our students and challenge the physical and economic violence they endure daily. We encourage signs and messages that demand an end to school closings and support an elected representative school board, affordable housing and TIF funds for sustainable community schools. We encourage solidarity that challenges the physical and economic violence that our students confront, from racist school closings and the desperate need for an elected representative school board that actually listens to parents and students, to demands to channel public funds into education, affordable housing and living wage work for students and families - a path to undercutting much of the violence that plagues Chicago’s neighborhoods. We can't adequately honor the victims at Douglas high school without also recognizing and combatting the daily assault on the lives and futures of our students - particularly this city’s poor Black and Latino youth, who make up the vast majority of our students.
Our students are this city’s future. They have a right to make their voices heard - a right the CTU embraces and supports.