Chicago Teachers Fighting For Education

Chicago Teachers Fighting For Education

Education is the key to building future leaders.
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On Friday, thousands of Chicago teachers went on strike because the governor and state have yet to create and approve a budget for the public schools. Now, I understand that the teachers going on strike and not being in the classroom with their students can disrupt students' learning and parents' daily routines, but these strikes represent a much larger problem. The Chicago Public Schools and city officials do agree that their state is facing a fiscal crisis, but many do not see this problem as a justification for the strike.

The Union's strike was not legal, as teachers are not legally allowed to go on strike any earlier than mid-May, but the public schools cannot wait until mid-May for the Springfield lawmakers to resolve the crisis.

I am in no way justifying the strike of the Chicago Teachers Union, but I am trying to explain the situation and why states not having a budget for their public schools should be something we talk about more often.

For nine months, the Chicago education budget has been nonexistent. According to the Washington Post, Governor Bruce Rauner has been in a standoff with the Democratic legislature, which is why an education budget for the state has not been created or approved. The Chicago Teachers Union hopes that their strike will draw attention to the dire financial situation of the city's public schools and colleges.

It may seem like another political issue to you, but it is not. There are thousands of children who depend on the funding from the state for scholarships as well as some meals. Without a proper education budget, the schools are desperately trying to accommodate and provide for students, but making ends meet is difficult.

As an education major, I know that schools are funded based on property taxes, and therefore students who live in more affluent neighborhoods will most likely attend public schools that are better funded. According to an analysis by the national advocacy group Education Trust, the highest-poverty schools get roughly 20 percent fewer state and local funds per student than more affluent schools. So, students in lower-income neighborhoods are attending schools that get the least amount of funds from the government even though often, these schools need the funding the most.

The larger issue is the fact that these schools have been without a budget for nine months. Nine months is a long time, and I am surprised the issue has not been resolved yet. The fact that a budget has not been made due to what seems to be a petty political partisanship argument is baffling to me. How can these politicians sit there and preach about providing a better education for all children when they are the root of the problem?

Illinois is not the first state I have heard of that has yet to establish a state education budget. The issue here is not that teachers are going on illegal strikes, it is that these teachers are fighting for education and the future generations, and no one is paying attention. If more people knew what was going on, then maybe a solution would be created. And that is exactly why I wrote this article, to make you all more aware of the issue that spreads across the nation.

I hope the governor and legislature establish a budget soon, for the sake of the children's learning. Schools rely on funds from the state to provide resources in the classroom, and without these resources, how can we expect our children to learn? It is not entirely the fault of the teachers, so do not blame them for standing up for what they believe in, and for our future leaders.

"If you can't solve things through the normal processes, if you have exhausted every advocacy avenue in a democracy, you then step it up – and that's what they're doing." -- Randi Weingarten

Cover Image Credit: http://bit.ly/230v99E

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5 Perks Of Having A Long-Distance Best Friend

The best kind of long-distance relationship.
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Sometimes, people get annoyed when girls refer to multiple people as their "best friend," but they don't understand. We have different types of best friends. There's the going out together best friend, the see each other everyday best friend and the constant, low maintenance best friend.

While I'm lucky enough to have two out of the three at the same school as me, my "low maintenance" best friend goes to college six hours from Baton Rouge.

This type of friend is special because no matter how long you go without talking or seeing each other, you're always insanely close. Even though I miss her daily, having a long-distance best friend has its perks. Here are just a few of them...

1. Getting to see each other is a special event.

Sometimes when you see someone all the time, you take that person and their friendship for granted. When you don't get to see one of your favorite people very often, the times when you're together are truly appreciated.

2. You always have someone to give unbiased advice.

This person knows you best, but they probably don't know the people you're telling them about, so they can give you better advice than anyone else.

3. You always have someone to text and FaceTime.

While there may be hundreds of miles between you, they're also just a phone call away. You know they'll always be there for you even when they can't physically be there.

4. You can plan fun trips to visit each other.

When you can visit each other, you get to meet the people you've heard so much about and experience all the places they love. You get to have your own college experience and, sometimes, theirs, too.

5. You know they will always be a part of your life.

If you can survive going to school in different states, you've both proven that your friendship will last forever. You both care enough to make time for the other in the midst of exams, social events, and homework.

The long-distance best friend is a forever friend. While I wish I could see mine more, I wouldn't trade her for anything.

Cover Image Credit: Just For Laughs-Chicago

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A Florida House Committee Is Undermining Your Vote On Amendment 4

Before felons can regain their right to vote, they must pay court fines, fees, and take care of any other "financial obligations." Essentially, this is a poll tax.

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Amendment 4, also known as the Voting Rights Restoration for Felons Initiative, was added to the Constitution of Florida after being passed this last midterm election on November 6, 2018.

Amendment 4 restored the voting rights of Floridians with prior felony convictions after all terms of their sentence have been met, including parole and probation. This amendment only applies to felons who have not been convicted of murder or sexual offenses.

On January 8, 2019, an estimated 1.4 million ex-felons regained their right to vote. This is monumental. Prior to this amendment, Florida was one of four states that used felony disenfranchisement. Amendment 4 gives voice, and rightfully so, to felons who have served their time. Amendment 4 is also putting to rest, finally, years and years of disenfranchisement and suppression.

Now, only two months after its passage, the House Criminal Justice Committee is trying to water down this piece of legislation. This is a direct violation of the will of the 64% of Floridians who voted for the legislation as is. This amendment was not to be "clarified," as Governor DeSantis put it, but rather to be self-implementing.

However, the House Criminal Justice Committee proposed a bill that would tack on some extra qualifiers in order for felons to be enfranchised. The bill will require court fines, fees, and other "financial obligations" (in addition to fees administered in a judge's sentence) to be paid in full before a felon's voting rights are restored. This seems awfully similar to a poll tax to me. Obviously, this is going to affect people without a lot of resources rather than white-collar criminals who can afford a $500,000 bond.

This new qualifier will prevent felons from voting based on the money that can be coughed up as if they don't have to worry about their finances long after they leave prison.

Some may argue that these felons shouldn't have committed a crime in the first place. However, I would argue that holding a felon's vote hostage on the basis of money is unconstitutional.

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