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Grassroots group seeks greater community input on school governance

Wed, Mar 5, 2014

In an attempt to recruit and educate potential candidates for upcoming local school council (LSC) elections, the Grassroots Education Movement hosted a summit on Saturday, February 15 at Westinghouse High School, 3223 W. Franklin Blvd.

The Grassroots Education Movement is a coalition of community organizations fighting for education justice in Chicago Public Schools. Action Now and the Action Now Institute are community organizations that helped organize the summit.

According to Action Now Education Organizer Hueron Wilks, LSCs can be very effective in fighting for education justice, they are the “governing bodies inside the schools.” Specifically, Wilks hopes that LSCs can help avoid another major shutdown like the one last year that resulted in the closing of 50 Chicago Public Schools.

Referring to the closing of the 50 schools, Wilks said, “LSCs can do more outreach with parents in the community. That’s what it’s all about; involving more parents through outreach, organizing and building more power in our LSC body, making a stand to demand that what occurred last year will never happen again.”

Chicago Public Schools’ LSCs are elected every two years and are made up of six parents, two community members, two teachers, one non-teacher staff, the school’s principal and (at the high school level) a student representative. The LSCs are responsible for approving how school discretionary funds and resources are allocated, developing and monitoring the annual School Improvement Plan and evaluating and selecting the school’s principal.

This year, elections will be held April 7 for elementary school LSCs and April 8 for high school LSCs.

In addition to educating parents, community members and educators about how to run for a position on their LSC, the Grassroots Education Movement also gave potential candidates a chance to form a city-wide platform to run on that would unite all LSCs in their goals.

According to Wilks, some of the major planks in this platform will be allocating more resources to classroom, raising the minimum wage, demanding that the school board be elected as opposed to appointed by the mayor and demanding no further expansion of charter schools.

“The way it is right now, the school boards are appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and we want that to change, period. We’re demanding for elections, we’re demanding for educators to be more involved, we’re demanding for more community input instead of people who own corporations or whatever sitting at the table, appointed by the mayor, to run our schools,” Wilks said.

According to an official in the CPS Office of Local School Council relations, approximately 1,000 people had signed up to be candidates as of February 14.

Shannon Barnet
StreetWise Editorial Intern

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