Two metro-east school districts participated in a national day of action Thursday organized by the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools. The aim of the exercises was to push for full funding of public schools.
Students at Belleville East High School gathered with teachers in a “Red for Public Ed” effort. Surrounded by balloons, which symbolized student achievement, students and teachers asked that federal education funding not be diverted to for-profit charter schools.
“The vast majority of students in our surrounding communities attend public schools, which receive a significant portion of funding from the federal government,” Belleville Federation of High School Teachers president Richard Hobson said in a statement. “In part, this funding is necessary to pay for federal mandates. Diverting money from public education during an already financially stressful time will increase class sizes and cause schools to make cuts in programs like sports, band, art and chorus.”
In East St. Louis, representatives from the East St. Louis Federation of Teachers and the East St. Louis School Board held a joint press conference. They are advocating for full funding for East St. Louis schools.
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“Adequate funding to provide a high quality public education for our youth is a civil rights issue,” East St. Louis Superintendent Arthur Culver said in a statement. “A student’s ZIP code should not determine whether the appropriate financial resources are available to meet their social, emotional and educational needs. We need to end the state’s fundamentally unfair education funding system so that every child in Illinois has access to a great education regardless of how much their community can contribute locally towards their education.”
Terry Turley, president of the East St. Louis Federation of Teachers, said fully funded schools are needed to allow students “to reach their highest potentials.”
“We demand that money stay in the public schools and not be diverted into charter schools and vouchers, two failed programs,” Turley said in a statement. “Our students deserve better, that is why the union and the district are here today to support efforts to fund our students’ futures.”