After a series of escalating direct-actions to demand that Chicago Public Schools ( CPS ) immediately implement a grievance procedure for students who experience violence in the school system, Gender JUST youth with the Safe & Affirming Education Campaign ( www.genderjust.org/committees/safe-affirming-education-campaign-organizing-committee ) received word this week that CPS is rushing the policy through! Eric Amaya, Gender JUST Leadership Team member and a junior at Kelly High School, said, "This is a huge victory for us, and it goes to show the power and effectiveness of direct-action as a tool for social change!"
The most recent action in the series occurred May 13 when more than 30 youth crashed a local fundraiser where CPS CEO Ron Huberman was receiving an award for Peace in Education. "It's ironic that they're giving him an award for 'Peace in Education,'" said Nalleli Luna, a Gender JUST member who is a sophomore at Little Village Lawndale High School. "He hasn't done anything to make schools safe for anyone." The students crashed the event, surrounded Huberman as he went to accept the award and chanted to demand the grievance process.
Prior to that action, students have occupied the CPS headquarters, held a rally outside the Headquarters, and even went to Huberman's home to deliver a stack of grievances. "Since there is no formal grievance procedure, we decided that we'd hand deliver these to your home" said Derrick Shenault, Gender JUST Leadership Team member and a junior at Kelly High School.
CPS plans to announce the new grievance process at the June board of education meeting. However, Gender JUST youths are demanding a seat at the table while critical issues are addressed. For instance, Gender JUST is pushing for follow-up to be conducted in a restorative justice framework as opposed to a punitive framework that can only address violence after the fact.
Stay tuned for next steps on this campaign and ways that you can support the final stages of this important youth-led effort. To get involved in Gender JUST's Safe & Affirming Education Campaign, contact firstname.lastname@example.org .