Last week, the Northeastern Illinois University community was dealt a cruel blow, having been temporarily shuttered as a consequence of the now-22-month budget impasse. 33rd Working Families' Chris Poulos, an alum of the school, explains what's wrong.
As a Northeastern Illinois University alum (sociology, '09) and former adjunct instructor, I can attest to the rich, well-rounded educational experience it provides—excellent classes, a committed faculty and staff, a multicultural and accepting atmosphere, and a vibrant campus life of student activism.
NEIU is an example of how public education serves the academic needs of a multiracial, multilingual, overwhelmingly working-class constituency.
Those assets are part of what makes NEIU's temporary shut down and furloughing of workers deeply troubling.
NEIU is where I learned to value social justice, and it is where I see social justice practiced through programs like the Summer Transition Program, a program to help CPS students with potential meet the challenges of university life and succeed. I had the pleasure of teaching Summer Transition students over several years.
Rauner's ruthless agenda, which forced this shut down, has temporary taken such things from NEIU students, staff, faculty, and our community.
Hundreds have rallied to defend NEIU and protest Rauner's budget cuts. That activism is much needed.
We should also remember that Rauner, much like Trump, is the conclusion of more than 30 years of a bipartisan, austerity-to-privatization merry-go-round that enriches the billionaire class at the expense of the rest of us—and at the expense of the public services that help us thrive.
In the face of these destructive politics, we need to push forward a bold and unapologetic political alternative that puts working people and working families at the forefront of the agenda.
We build it not by relying on the sheepish political class, but by advocating for issues that are important to our community, talking with our neighbors, and running members for public office.
This is how we will beat back Rauner's ruthless agenda. This is exactly what 33rd Ward Working Families is doing.
When faced with budget cuts and school closures, we say, tax the rich and fully fund public services!