In Chicago, a First-Day-of-School Boycott

Students will attempt to enroll in wealthy suburban schools as sign of protest.

By SHARE

It's back to school for most of the country, with a notable exception for certain students in Chicago. Some 2,000 public school students there are expected to sit out the first day of classes at the request of a state senator who wants them to attempt to enroll in public schools in the wealthy suburbs instead. James Meeks, a Democratic senator from Chicago, organized the one-day boycott of the city's public schools to draw attention to inequities in school funding, the Chicago Tribune reports. Oddly enough, the boycott threatens to undermine the cause the senator is fighting for, his critics say. Attendance, which helps determine funding for schools, is crucial during the first week.

Despite pleas from school officials in Chicago to call off the boycott, Meeks didn't budge. Hundreds of buses are expected to ferry children from the House of Hope, a church in Chicago, to well-funded schools in the suburbs on the day of the boycott. Parents will travel with their children and attempt to register them. Suburban school officials braced for a crush of students and planned to accommodate them for the first day. But families won't be able to register their children at the new schools because they don't meet residency requirements. Meeks and his supporters hope the demonstration will force state lawmakers to address the traditional system of allocating funding based on local property taxes. He's asking for $120 million in additional funds to improve low-performing schools in Chicago.

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