Hundreds of Chicago public school students and parents boycotted class on Wendesday and marched on City Hall to protest the $68 million budget cut that many believe unfairly target minority schools.
The march of about 200 people was set to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the March of Washington D.C. Today the school board will vote on its $5.58 billion budget.
Nearly 50 school in Chicago did not open this school year, affecting 12,000 mostly-minority students, according to WGN-TV.
“If we don’t stop now, this is what’s going to happen for the rest of our lives,” high school senior Ashley Haynes told CBS Chicago. “I was never taught to just sit here and deal with the problems. If I have a problem with something, I’m going to address the problem.”
Barbara Byrd-Bennett, Chief Executive Officer of Chicago Public Schools, said students don’t belong at a protest. She claimed parents are using the kids as pawns.
“I think to use children as a protest tool, and not to attend school is reprehensible,” Byrd-Bennett said. “Our children need an education. Our children need to be in school, and if we have differences, then the adults should come to the table and have those conversations.”
Mayor Rahm Emanuel asked parents not to pull their children out of school.
“Do not take the kids out of school, and harm them in their future, what they can live up to,” Emanuel said Tuesday. “When I say all of us have a responsibility so our children can live up to their potential, I mean all of us have a responsibility.”
Advocates for the march said that kids will learn more about democracy in one day than they’d learn in a month of class.