Three students from Lindblom Math and Science Academy share their experiences and thoughts on school funding in the city and state. Introduction by Lindblom teacher-librarian Gina Caneva.
In classrooms across Chicago, the potential CPS teacher layoffs have now become a daily discussion among students and teachers. Besides the daily toils of being high school students, they now worry about larger class sizes, a lack of resources, and the loss of teachers they care about. We have heard from our decision-makers publicly, but one important voice that is being left out is the student voice. Here are the thoughts from three students of mine — all juniors from Lindblom Math and Science Academy.
As a CPS student for 12 years, I have encountered the effects of underfunded schools everywhere I’ve turned. My elementary school didn’t have the benefits of suburban schools; we didn’t have the best technology or intact books, which would further each student’s education. I’ve told my parents about how even in high school we have the same issues. We are making due with what we have.
Along the way, we have built relationships with our teachers who we see every day. We feel their stress, and we worry about budget cuts and their jobs as much as they do. I worry about every teacher I have and how these cuts will affect them. Then I think about those in power who can prevent this from happening and what they are doing to us and our teachers.
Education is one of the most important privileges in my life, and I don’t know what I’d do without these amazing CPS teachers who have furthered my education — even with all our drawbacks.
In 8th grade, I was put into a large class that was split between both 7th– and 8th-graders. For the majority of the year, the teacher was teaching two different lesson plans during one class period. It not only stopped everyone from getting the learning we would have received if it weren’t a split class, but students didn’t get the necessary attention they needed in the classroom.
That also led to a lack of control and less learning overall. After suffering through 8th grade due to these circumstances, I went into high school with a new perspective. However, my freshman year at a charter high school was no better.
We didn’t have any books for any of the subjects. All we had were “printables” from the Internet. We had nothing to refer back to, and to make matters worse, we didn’t even have a library. There was no way for us to get any adequate information because we didn’t have books or computers to use as resources. Another drastic cut to our resources would further negatively impact my learning and the learning of thousands of other children across Chicago.
When I was in the 5th grade, I had a substitute teacher for my social studies class for almost an entire year. The class period became a circus. It was wasted because it became one big social hour for students. The teacher spent the class period attempting to gain the attention of students who were not interested in learning from a substitute.
Budget cuts will result in similar problems. Some classes might be removed completely because there may not be a teacher to teach them. Not only this, but students will have to have their entire school day rescheduled, and with the budget cuts possibly laying off teachers, the classroom sizes will increase. Each teacher already has about 25 to 30 students per class. Just imagine what it would be like with 30 to 35 students in one classroom and only one teacher. Teachers will waste their time that is supposed to be spent on teaching on trying to get their students to pay attention.
These students’ words say so much about the inequities in funding they have already encountered as CPS students, compared with students just miles away in more fortunate districts. Equity matters in education, and it needs to matter in educational funding. The status quo of funding in our city, state, and nation robs CPS students of vital opportunities that public educational institutions are supposed to protect and foster. My students are like many across CPS; they know very well they are not getting the education they deserve. — Gina Caneva