A crowd of about 100 students and their teachers packed Monday’s school board meeting to voice their support for their Student Bill of Rights.
Before they made their way to the Racine Unified Administration building, the group rallied at the Racine Labor Center. Participants are part of .
A total of eleven Racine Unified students and teachers stressed the importance of having student voices as part of the decision-making process in the district. Nearly every student who spoke made reference to the work a mixed group of students from Milwaukee and Racine Unified put into the Student Bill of Rights. Milwaukee Public Schools had a similar hearing last month.
Sam Kohlmann, a student at J.I. Case High School, explained how cuts to public education have affected arts classes at Case.
“Our full drama department has been cut to three classes and students work on fundraising almost non-stop to fund productions and other arts activities,” he said.
Kohlmann also addressed the changes to collective bargaining and why that item is a part of the Student Bill of Rights.
“Our teachers should have the right to collectively bargain because teachers know best what’s needed in the classroom,” he said. “As students, we are your customers and we need to be heard for our schools to get better.”
Horlick French teacher Melissa Zeien said Unified is in the fight of its life and the adults here shouldn't quiet student voices.
"Students know what they want in their education and we should treat them as focused young adults," she said. "We should respect their reason. If we are united, we cannot lose."
Perhaps Cristal Sanchez, a junior at William Horlick High School, summed it up best when she sat at the microphone to address the Board.
“This bill is about our education, our schools and our funding,” she said. “You are our Board of Education, but you didn’t get our approval and we’ve had no input into the decisions that affect our education. We demand student power, the kind we’re showing here. I will not thank anyone for having my student voice heard loud and clear.”
School Board member Dennis Wiser recommended that the board examine the Student Bill of Rights at a work session before May 15. The Board voted unanimously to accept Wiser's recommendation. Once the vote was taken, the crowd broke into applause.