COAL’s Educational Context and an Open Letter re: Urban Prep Academies
Black children deserve a quality education. It is a fundamental right. A quality education provides the foundational tools that expand opportunities for our youth to build good lives for themselves and for their families.
COAL is committed to doing its part towards providing a quality education for all of our youth. There is no more essential goal, for any community, than to prepare its next generations for good, meaningful and fulfilling lives.
COAL will pursue actions that support this overarching goal of a quality education for our youth. The following are current and planned efforts:
- COAL is a working member of Illinois African Americans for Equitable Redistricting (IAAFER), which is putting in a lot of time and effort towards the establishment of equitable school board districts in preparation for the transition to an elected school board, starting with the election of 10 school board members in November 2024;
- COAL will work with partner organizations such as Evangelism of Grace and the Xi Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Inc, to host forums for school board candidates towards our community casting an informed vote for elected representative school board members;
- COAL is strongly advocating for Urban Prep Academies continuing as Urban Prep;
- COAL is working to qualitatively and quantitatively understand the impact of COVID and remote learning on Black children in Chicago; were some lost in the system, did others fall further behind, is the digital divide a major source of problems for our children? We are seeking expert data sources towards a focused conversation on this that can lead to reversing the pandemic’s adverse impact on the education of our children;
- COAL is gathering intelligence towards determining if there are real inequities in the treatment of black men, teachers and principals; inequities in hiring, placement, moves, and more, under current Chicago Public Schools (CPS) leadership, and if so, what steps must be taken to address / redress this;
- COAL plans to work with other organizations (and recent CPS high school graduates) in reviewing CPS curricula towards determining what will best meet the needs of providing a quality educational experience for our Black children, with a particular focus on training / extracurricular activities that have been removed, over time, that many feel has adversely affected our kids’ education and interest in staying in school;
- COAL plans to host conversations with experts in early (Black) childhood development towards informing our families and school systems on steps we must take to better prepare our kids to succeed and importantly, to understand how we must counter the adverse impact today’s challenges, such as gun and other violence, have on our youth;
- COAL will work with Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), Chicago Principals and Administrators Association (CPAA), and other subject-matter focused organizations towards increasing the number of Black teachers in the system, recognizing the research which shows improved outcomes for Black children with more Black teachers contributing to their learning environment;
- COAL plans to host a conversation of youth groups for their views and suggested solutions on issues ranging from improving education to reducing violence and fostering safer neighborhoods;
- COAL is engaged in meaningful discussions on alternative methods of funding public education towards eliminating feast-to-famine disparate funding support for education across the state, depending on one’s school district.
- With the moratorium on school closings ending in 2025, COAL will encourage CPS to place a moratorium on building any new schools until a strategic assessment is made across the whole school system. This strategic assessment should provide the community with an early indicator of potential school closings and possible consolidations, where neighborhood and community-based schools might prove more beneficial and where new schools should be built. This assessment would outline the prioritized capital needs of existing schools that would increase the schools’ viability and improve its learning environment. This assessment and resultant plans should align with the projected changes in neighborhoods over the next decade. In short, point solutions must give way to system-wide strategies. COAL is ready to assist with such an important endeavor.
Coal will lead some efforts, partner on others, and support efforts where others are better positioned to take lead; all towards achieving an overarching goal of our youth receiving a quality elementary and secondary education.
With this context in mind, please read on for COAL’s latest action towards saving Urban Prep.
COAL Board of Directors
Let Us be intentional in all aspects of the Work that must be done.