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Families, communities struggling with daily tragedy from violence cry out for more support while facing chronic disinvestment and bracing for mayor’s $60+ million in staffing and program cuts across half of CPS schools.

  • 5:30 p.m. (gather), 6:00 p.m. (start), Thursday, June 2: Vigil against violence, Beidler Elementary, 3151 W. Walnut St., Chicago.

CHICAGO — Educators have lost students to gun violence and daily face the tragedy of trying to support and help their students and families heal. They witness daily the urgent pleas of students and families for more resources and supports for schoolchildren, schools and communities that have been ravaged by a deadly pandemic and stricken by violence bred by decades of disinvestment and neglect.

In response to last week’s mass shooting in Texas, recent racist killings in Buffalo and the tragically commonplace shootings of CPS students and family members, CTU members and officers will join parents, families, community activists and elected officials for a Vigil Against Violence, at 6 p.m., Thursday, June 2, at Beidler ElementarySchool, 3151 W. Walnut St. Participants will start to assemble at Beidler at 5:30 p.m.

Educators across the city felt pain, loss and anger in the wake of the horrific mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, last week because they know what it feels like to lose students to gun violence. Last weekend Chicago reeled from another round of violence, with 9 killed and 42 wounded. That troubling statistic belies the real trauma that violence creates on the ground, in classrooms across the city as teachers, staff and classmates try to deal with the senseless loss of young people’s lives. Attendees at Thursday’s vigil will honor those students, and those who continue to mourn their loss.

In response to this violence, calls for gun control regulations will not be enough — we must also confront the disinvestment that often lays the groundwork for these tragedies. CTU members are demanding Mayor Lightfoot direct CPS to halt ALL budget cuts proposed for next year and use $1.4 billion in unallocated federal COVID relief funds to invest in the staffing, programs and supports communities need to begin recovery from the pandemic and violence and at last begin to heal. Those investments include social and emotional learning supports, restorative justice programs, more social workers and counselors in every school, assistance for homeless students, expanding rather than closing Career and Technical Education programs, funding extra-curricular offerings and reopening and expanding mental health clinics.

These investments would begin to make good on the district’s pledge that next year would be a “recovery” year for students, their families and their school communities. Instead, CPS is slashing $60 million from budgets at more than half of schools, with some schools losing upwards of $900,000 at a time when communities are crying out for stability and equitable support. Lightfoot’s CPS CEO Pedro Martinez continues to downplay the impact of the cuts and peddle misinformation to the public and CPS Board members, claiming the cutbacks are being offset by funding from central office.

The Chicago Teachers Union represents more than 25,000 teachers and educational support personnel working in Chicago Public Schools, and by extension, the nearly 400,000 students and families they serve. The CTU is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers and is the third-largest teachers local in the United States. For more information please visit the CTU website at www.ctulocal1.org.