Future Illinois High School Graduates?
CHICAGO- As the academic year for many college students and high school students comes to an end, there seems to be little acknowledgement on how there being no state budget is placing many future college students across Illinois to rethink their career paths.
The state of Illinois has been surviving for eleven months without a state budget for CPS and funds for college students tuition. Teachers, staff, professors, parents, K-12 students, and college students have been urging for there to be funds going towards next academic year. On July of 2015, lawmakers failed to override the veto of a state budget, which was veto by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.
Early June CPS announced that they will not be able to open schools due to lack of state budget. Forcing hundreds of thousands of K-12 grade students transfer to private schools, or not enroll for next academic year due to tuition.
Many universities across Illinois such as DePaul University, UIC, Northern Illinois University, Chicago State University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and many more have been urging for there to be a state budget in place.
Private universities such as DePaul will be funding the Map grant to student who received it this year for the next academic year. Other universities and students aren’t so lucky, Chicago State University is looking at a smaller quota of students for next academic year and they are very low on any state funding, therefore they will have to make staff cuts, which is already taking place this academic year.
On top of that, CPS schools are also urging for more funding in their schools. On April 21st, 2016 the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) led a one day teacher strike. Many Chicago Public Schools have been battling to get more funds into certain programs. Along with CPS, many universities and colleges have also been asking the state of Illinois for funds to cover staff cost, but most importantly to motivate students to further their education.
In addition to that event, on May 26, 2016 Chicago Public Schools packed school buses with parents, teachers, staff members and students that are fighting lawmakers make better decisions as to how to divide and when to know to fund CPS and college students as well.
High school senior Erika Cordova from Benito Juarez Community Academy is one of many students across Illinois that is being affected by lawmakers that are not placing a legit state budget for Illinois students to rely on. Cordova is also one of many that will not rely on tuition payments from their parents because she lives in a low-income household. Her parents cannot afford to pay her tuition.
Source: The College Board, Annual Survey of Colleges: http://trends.collegeboard.org/college-pricing/figures-tables/average-estimated-undergraduate-budgets-2015-16
Benito Juarez Community Academy is located in neighborhood called Pilsen in Chicago, Illinois. Pilsen is made up of immigrant workers, Hispanic population, and a small percentage of African American and White people. Students who attend Benito Juarez are coming from low income households, which makes it more difficult for students to complete four years of college.
High school seniors Elizabeth Castillo and Rocio M. Hernandez who are also graduating along Erika Cordova from Benito Juarez Community Academy also face the same troubles. They do not rely on their families to pay their college tuition. Therefore many low income students have to rely on making extra money to pay their college tuition such as Hernandez, “I will get a part time job and be a full time student if that is what it takes.” She is doing this in order to not have to ask her parents for any money while she is gone. Hernandez and Castillo knows that her family cannot afford paying their full tuition without any support from the government.
Future high school graduate from Benito Juarez Community Academy Jacqueline Guzman class of 2017 is afraid that she would have to either attend community college rather than her dream school which is UIC, a four year university located in Illinois. Guzman also fears that she will not be allowed to go to college after high school graduation due to the increasement of tuition.
Guzman stated, “I’d consider going to community college first then wait and see where things go.”
Benito Juarez Community Academy Post-Secondary Liaison Mr. Alfonso Diaz assists students to explore their post-secondary options and he also helps them assess their plans for college. Diaz is also concerned for this year’s and next year’s graduates at Benito Juarez Community Academy.
I asked him if he believed if less students will be attending college due to the lack of funding, he responded with “ The stage is set and the potential for a decrease in college enrollment and persistence is palpable. However, I feel that most students will pursue options that are below their academic potential based on the fear that they cannot afford attending their top choices because of funding.”
Diaz is very certain that if there are less funds presented there will be a drop on future graduates and future college kids for Benito Juarez Community Academy, “The majority of our students come from low income families. In many cases it may come down to going to college and not having enough money to provide a roof and food for the family or going straight into the workforce after high school and earn minimum wage.”
There is a clear message that lawmakers in Illinois must understand as stated by Alfonso Diaz, Post-Secondary Liaison at Benito Juarez Community Academy, “If you believe in someone’s potential, you must invest in them.”