Illinois

The Color of School Closures

Mass school closings have become a hallmark of today's dominant education policy agenda. But rather than helping students, these closures disrupt whole communities. And as U.S. Department of Education data suggests, the most recent rounds of mass closings in Chicago, New York City, and Philadelphia disproportionately hurt Black and low-income students.

Mass school closings have become a hallmark of today's dominant education policy agenda. But rather than helping students, these closures disrupt whole communities. And as U.S. Department of Education data suggests, the most recent rounds of mass closings in Chicago, New York City and Philadelphia disproportionately hurt Black and low-income students. 

What can you do to end these discriminatory and unacceptable school closures?

Lost Opportunity 50 State Report

Publication Date: 
Wed, 2009-09-23
Type: 
reports

In Lost Opportunity: A 50 State Report on the Opportunity to Learn in America, the Schott Foundation for Public Education establishes a metric for determining the opportunity to learn for students. Providing a state-by-state comparison of both academic proficiency (percentage of students scoring at or above proficient on the eighth grade NAEP reading exam) and equity (as measured by the Schott Foundation’s Opportunity to Learn Index, or OTLI), Lost Opportunity identifies the four baseline minimum resources that are necessary for a child – regardless of race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status – to have a fair and substantive Opportunity to Learn.

In the United States, every student should have the equal right to a high-quality education.  But as our most recent data demonstrates, for far too many students, quality and equity are aspirations, not realities.  Few states are providing public school educations that result in academic proficiency for students.  And even fewer states are providing access to a high-quality education to all students, particularly those from historically disadvantaged groups.

Parent Power: Community Organizing as a Parent Engagement Strategy

Edgar Villanueva, Vice President of Programs & Advocacy

Parent engagement can take on many forms within schools. Helping a child with homework, attending after school activities, cooking for a bake sale, and volunteering in the school’s office all fall under our general understanding of typical expectations for parent involvement in schools.Parent engagement, however, is often not defined by parents, which sometimes leads to negative narratives about a “lack of engagement” of parents of color or low-income parents. Parents and communities are critical to catalyzing and sustaining improvement in schools, but one of the biggest challenges can be finding ways to engage and support the powerful involvement of parents.

Parent engagement can take on many forms within schools. Helping a child with homework, attending after school activities, cooking for a bake sale, and volunteering in the school’s office all fall under our general understanding of typical expectations for parent involvement in schools.Parent engagement, however, is often not defined by parents, which sometimes leads to negative narratives about a “lack of engagement” of parents of color or low-income parents.

School District Takeovers: Bad for Students, Bad for Democracy

by John H. Jackson, President & CEO, Schott Foundation for Public Education

Concerns about the importance and need to mobilize Black and Latino voters in 2016 and future elections have reached a fever pitch. But in many states and cities there are counterproductive disenfranchisement actions being taken that disempower Black and Latino communities -- the takeover of their public schools. In this attack on democracy, governance by locally elected school boards is stripped away altogether. This dismantling of democracy in predominantly poor communities and communities of color is now underway, or being proposed, in several states. Denying these citizens' right to elect local school boards through state takeovers or mayoral control should sound the same alarm as denying them the vote because the impact of the action minimizes their democratic voice and vote.

Community members at a rally in Milwaukee, February 17, 2016. Photos taken by @NoMPSTakeover.

Is school funding fair? For too many students, the answer is still no.

Since 2010, the Education Law Center has published national report cards on how states are (or aren't) investing in their schools and students. "Is School Funding Fair? A National Report Card" released Wednesday, paints a worrying picture. In most states, ELC has found that public funding for schools is both unfair and inequitable: that is, not only are schools not receiving the funds they need, the schools that need funding the most are the ones with the most dramatic shortfalls.

Hunger Strikers Bring National Attention to Dyett High School

Walter H. Dyett High School is the last public, open enrollment high school in its historic Chicago Black neighborhood, and its community, led by education organizers and advocates, are rallying to save it. After the high school was closed due to low enrollment and performance, the community came up with a carefully designed plan to turn Dyett into a Global Leadership and Green Technology high school that would continue to serve both its students and its neighborhood. However, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his appointees at Chicago Public Schools have thus far refused to agree to this community-driven plan. Now activists are in the fourth week of a hunger strike, attempting to save their school.

Walter H. Dyett High School is the last public, open enrollment high school in its historic Chicago Black neighborhood, and its community, led by education organizers and advocates, are rallying to save it. After the high school was closed due to low enrollment and performance, the community came up with a carefully designed plan to turn Dyett into a Global Leadership and Green Technology high school that would continue to serve both its students and its neighborhood.

State: 

Groundbreaking School Discipline Bill Passes Illinois Legislature

Voice of Youth in Chicago Education deserves tremendous praise for their latest victory—passing a groundbreaking school discipline reform bill through the Illinois Legislature. By ending the use of "zero tolerance" policies and restricting administrators' use of suspensions and expulsions, VOYCE's bill will help make Illinois schools more welcoming environments for students.

Voice of Youth in Chicago Education (VOYCE) deserves tremendous praise for their latest victory—passing a groundbreaking school discipline reform bill through the Illinois Legislature. This bill is sorely needed, as Chicago schools struggle with the overuse of harsh school disciplinary practices that are disproportionately levied against students of color.

Study Finds Disparities in School Discipline in Chicago

A new study from the University of Chicago found that while the overall number of out-of-school suspensions has decreased, suspension rates for African American male students remain especially high. This study illustrates the importance of organizing groups like Voices of Youth in Chicago Education (VOYCE), which just last week celebrated as a bill to end harsh school discipline advanced out of the Illinois Senate Education Committee.

US DOE To Investigate 3 Cities for Civil Rights Violations in School Closings

In a victory for parents and students fighting mass school closures and charter school expansion, the U.S. Department of Education has opened civil rights investigations in Chicago, Newark and New Orleans after organizers filed federal complaints in May.


Journey for Justice National Director Jitu Brown at a 
rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court in May 2014. 
After the rally, organizers marched to the U.S. Dept.
of Justice to file the three civil rights complaints.

Illinois Requires Public Reporting of School Discipline Data

Thanks to the organizing work of Voices of Youth in Chicago Education, the Illinois legislature has passed a new law requiring public reporting of school discipline data. SB2793 is a huge victory and a step toward ending the discriminatory use of suspensions and expulsions.

Thanks to the organizing work of Voices of Youth in Chicago Education, the Illinois legislature has passed a new law requiring public reporting of school discipline data. SB2793 is a huge victory and a step toward ending the discriminatory use of suspensions and expulsions. 

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