Kids’ Art Installation Invites Illinois Gov. Rauner To 'Stop By Anytime' | WBEZ
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Kids’ Art Installation Invites Illinois Gov. Rauner To 'Stop By Anytime'

An annual art installation at a North Side Chicago Public School has taken on a timely political message.

Every year, the kids at Nettelhorst Elementary in Lakeview tie a rainbow of colored ribbons to their playground fence. But this year, they added something else.

“We have a chair and then there’s this note that’s laminated and it says some things to the governor,” explains 8-year-old Fox Martin.

Martin’s second-grade class signed a letter inviting Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner to “stop by anytime.”

The art installation comes in the wake of Rauner’s comments likening some Chicago’s schools to “crumbling prisons.” It also comes after state lawmakers failed to pass an education budget during the spring legislative session. Now, to pass any legislation, Illinois lawmakers will need a three-fifths majority.

Many Chicago students and parents have continued to tell the governor and state lawmakers that they’re proud of their schools, despite budget trouble. A social media campaign bubbled up last week with parents, students and teachers posting pictures of events at their schools with the hashtag, #notaprison.

The Nettelhorst art project didn’t only include a chair for the governor. Students also wrote notes about their hopes for the future, both related and unrelated to schools, and tied them to trees along Broadway Avenue, the street in front of the school.  Things like, “I hope kids have great materials so they can do good art projects so they can learn,” Jasper Elsdal said.  

“If every community, every school community in the city put a chair out for the governor and wrapped the trees in yarn and put their own notes on the trees, we think we might send a very strong message to Springfield,” said Jacqueline Edelberg, a Nettelhorst parent who co-wrote the book How To Walk To School, and helped lead the art project. .

Edelberg is the director of Dabble Kids, a Chicago startup that connects children to enrichment activities, which is partnering with Nettelhorst on the project. This week, the students will work with the organization to paint some of the same messages -- which they’re calling Hope Drops -- on the sidewalks around Lakeview, using a special paint that is invisible until it rains.

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