“I think he should try another route. I don’t think kids need to miss school for no reason because they already have problems in the schools. I think if he wants to bus them to other schools; that’s something they should do in the summer, letting them see other schools*. (AWN: Last year, there was a big effort to get men out to walk kids to school on the first day. Does this now send the wrong message?) Yeah, because it sends the message to kids that they can miss school for anything that they think is right-whatever they stand for, they can miss school. I don’t think they should miss school at all.”
“I say yes. I can see where it’s going to make a difference by letting the mayor and the government know that we want the same things. I agree with [Rev. Meeks] that our children should have the same things other schools have because it says ‘No Child Left Behind,’ and all children should be treated the same. So our schools should have the same thing. Our schools are under-privileged and unsupported. We don’t get enough support and we don’t get enough funds. Also, the [standardized] tests the children take, I think they are really outrageous, especially for the third graders. Those tests are just about the same as for the fifth and sixth graders. A lot of the third graders can’t read those tests and really don’t understand them.”
“I think the kids should go to school because we got too many kids on the streets. Now if they go on some of these street corners and ask these kids to go to school, or take them into their church and talk to them, I think they’re doing a good job. But I don’t like the idea of keeping them out of school. I want to see those kids in that classroom. And I think we should work with the schools that we have in Chicago so we can get what they’re supposed to get. Parents need to be involved. Parents are the ones that vote. Children do not vote unless they’re 18. Parents are the ones that need to be out here and working to make sure we’re getting more money for our schools. I think Sen. Meeks and the rest of the ministers who are advertising this should walk up and down some of these streets with these kids and ask them to go to school.”
“I think it was poorly planned and not really thought out. It’s always about being out in the forefront and it’s always about campaigning. I don’t think his heart was really in what he was saying. It was more so that he knew what the community was saying-‘The community is saying this so I’m going to go with it as a campaign thing.’ That’s the way I see it. Sen. Meeks should be working from the inside in order to change things. It kind of puts our kids in the middle. He has more power to control what’s going on in the schools than they do. And I think it’s tough for kids when they go and see what other schools have compared to what they don’t have*. And really, that’s all kids need to here is that we’re going to strike from school-‘Oh, so that means I don’t have to go.’ I think it sends the message that they don’t have to go to school for anything.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea. Education is very important and I think there are other ways that you can demonstrate. The first day of school means a lot to our communities because that is how we are funded. That’s why I said that they can find another way to demonstrate that we’re not being treated equally. [When I first heard about it] I thought it was ludicrous. It tells kids that it’s OK not to go to school, whereas we’re trying to push education because that’s how you’re going to live for the rest of your life. If you don’t get an education, you are labeled for the rest of your life.”
(*Sen. Meeks has called for taking inner-city kids on the first day of school to suburban and wealthier school districts.)