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'No to 37!' protest targets Springfield for Chicago funding assistance, relief from threatened class size increases and teacher firings

Carrying signs with slogans such as “Save our teachers” and “Education cuts are nuts”, approximately 400 parents, teachers, students and community activists joined together on Sunday afternoon, May, 2nd, on the front lawn of Lane Tech High School, in an event sponsored by the “Raise Your Hand for Public Education” (www.ilraiseyourhand.org). The newly formed coalition is dedicated to lowering student class size in the State of Illinois. Because the proposed CPS Budget of CEO Ron Huberman would involve massive teacher layoffs and an increase in average class size to a 37 to one student to teacher ratio, from the current 28 to one ratio, concerned parents created the “Raise Your Hand” group to increase pressure on the Illinois Legislature and CPS to keep the student to teacher classroom ratios at their current levels.

Some of the crowd that protested against the CPS threat to raise class sizes to 37 on May 2 at Chicago's Lane Tech High School. Substance photo by Hannah Rehak.Recognizing that the State Legislature is scheduled to pass its 2010-2011 budget in early May, the Raise Your Hand for Illinois Public Education organization was quickly formed three weeks ago, and currently includes a website www.noto37.org which helps users send email messages to elected representatives. Organizers noted that within the past week, 76,000 emails had been sent to elected officials, encouraging those officials to fully fund public education.

Adam Ramirez, a bilingual teacher at the South Side Eberhart Elementary School (3430 West 65th Place) was amongst the most passionate speakers of the event. Mr. Ramirez spoke to the crowd about the direct impact of Mr. Huberman’s proposed cuts to education. Noting that he was joined at the event by a busload of his students, Ramirez tearfully told the audience that he would probably be among those staff members dismissed at his school, if legislative action is not taken.

Alderman Gene Schulter (47th Ward) spoke about the need to adequately fund schools, and his commitment to public education. Noting that he was a graduate of Auduban Elementary and Lake View High School, Schulter decried the state’s seeming inability to adequately fund schools.

Wendy Katten, a CPS parent and one of the organizers of the event, noted that the “Raise Your Hand” Coalition is sponsoring a Lobby Day in Springfield on Wednesday, May 5th. The group has organized buses which will depart at 6:30 AM from Audubon Elementary School, 3500 N. Hoyne Avenue, Chicago, 60618. Transportation on coach buses will be provided by CPS, and will return in evening. The group intends to talk to legislators and are seeking a meeting with the Governor. Those able and willing to attend the Springfield lobby day are asked to RSVP to Wendy Katten by 3PM on Monday, May 3 via e-mail at wkatten@yahoo.com. 



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