CPS Cutting Curriculum

Rachel Stone Co-Features Editor As students at the Latin School of Chicago, all of us have a particular subject we enjoy the most, or certainly a favorite after school activity. Now imagine that this subject or extra-curricular has been taken away. For many Chicago public school students, this has become a reality. Recently, the CPS system has announced that they will be cutting their arts, elementary level foreign language, and sophomore sports courses, leaving many students, families, and teachers outraged. These cuts are meant to assist the schools’ budgets; the monetary value they would save was predicted to be about 3.5 million dollars. Even so, at what price would this be for the students? Kate Jordan, a sophomore at Whitney Young (one of the schools that was affected by these cuts) has many friends that were on sophomore sports teams that are not able to play the game they love. She wondered, “Why the State and CPS have decided to punish [her and her classmates], the next generation, with their mistakes. These cuts are a panicked, not thought out well attempt to get money quickly.”  She concluded that “unfortunately… solutions are going to have to come from Washington” and that anything that can be done on “the local level is already lost.” In light of our own curriculum cuts of the dance and hockey programs, us Latin students can empathize. Many have strong feelings about the CPS cuts. Freshman Cam Arkin finds it “typical that [the CPS administration] chose to cut art, language, and sports, as they seem to never measure up to the importance of math and English.” She argues that “it’s something kids should have the right to be exposed to and cutting that resource off is just so cruel and unjust.” However, she remains hopeful that “people will see that art is just as important as numbers. Art helps kids express themselves and in our growing culture is so moving and inspiring.” According to freshman Blair Marshall, these budget cuts do more of a disservice to the students than simply causing minor annoyance. She shares her insight that sports, art, and languages “stimulate different parts of your brain in a cohesive way, whereas focusing relentlessly on the left side of your brain squelches out creativity in the future crop of the American population.” Additionally, these curriculum cuts will influence students’ life beyond high school; according to a student who would like to remain anonymous, “many colleges select students based on their interests outside of school as well as grades, and if certain high-schoolers without additional access to the arts cannot develop and nurture their art, they would be at a disadvantage.” On the other hand, as fellow freshman Tina Czaplinska points out, “Public schools are very poorly funded. So obviously when it comes to being able to pay for students to have a lunch period versus having a music class, the former is going to be most important. The fact that there even has to be a choice is extremely upsetting.” A former public school student herself, she recalls that “[they] were lucky enough to have a music, art and even performing arts program, although they were very obviously poorly funded. A lot of [her] friends who went to other public elementary schools didn’t even have these classes or languages.” Su Kim, another former public student, remembers that “[her] school didn’t even have a language course. Although [she] did have music classes, [she] didn’t have performance art classes or dance classes.” Although these curriculum cuts have been difficult for both Latin and Chicago public schools, the student voices have truly been clear. Many CPS students protested by participating in a student-wide walk out, and though nothing has been this drastic at Latin, there have been a number of Facebook groups and petitions surrounding the hockey and dance program cuts. Freshman Samantha Cohen is “impressed by the initiative CPS students have been taking in order to have their voices be heard. There have been many demonstrations by the students showing their disappointment in these cuts, and I support them coming together to make a difference.” Kate Jordan explains that her student body “walked out to get the word out to people. We hoped to show that we think these cuts are not the way to go about fixing the huge deficit. There must be alternatives.” As we are in a recession, it is difficult to say that the administration should simply return to the old curriculum. Even so, arts, sophomore sports, and foreign language deserve to be in every student’s curriculum; hopefully they will be soon.]]>