Apr 042024
 

April Breakfast – Electing an Elected Representative School Board

Once again, our elected representatives in Springfield have disappointed the community. With an overwhelming majority of the community strongly supporting the election of all twenty Elected Representative School Board members this year, not one of our elected representatives voted against the passage of the Hybrid ERSB legislation which provides for 10 elected school board members in 2024 and 10 members plus the board president appointed by the mayor. Voters will not elect all 20 members and the board president until 2026.

Further the number of petition signatures required to make the ballot to run for the school board grew from 250 in the original legislation, to 500 in last year’s amended legislation, to 1,000 required signatures in the legislation passed by state legislators and signed into law by Governor Pritzker on Monday, March 18, 2024. Our elected representatives made it that much more challenging for the average resident to run and therefor easier for well-funded special interests to stack the school board.

But we are not unfamiliar with not being represented by those we elect to represent our best interests. So, our fight continues.

We must educate ourselves on the ERSB legislation, we must educate the community; we must identify qualified individuals to run for the school board, individuals interested in our children receiving a quality education, interested in fixing what is wrong with the Chicago Public School system. We must organize and mobilize the vote to elect these individuals, so that the board isn’t stacked to serve special interests, even as we recognize that our elected representatives, ironically, passed legislation that keeps the mayor in control of the school board, and we must find ways to force the board to prioritize the education of our children.

This is a tall order; however, our children deserve our collective efforts towards improving the state of education in the City of Chicago.

If we have learned anything from the March 19th Primary Election, it should be this: there is often a small margin of votes between the winner and losers of elections, between those that will serve the interests of our community and those that will serve others. We must work to elect a school board that begins to prioritize our children, one that begins to fix the myriad of problems CPS continues to evidence. Please keep in mind:

  • CPS fought hard to shut down Urban Prep, when it clearly demonstrates it can educate our Black young men;
  • CPS has fired top performing Black principals without explanation;
  • There is a widening achievement gap for Black children educated by the Chicago Public Schools system;
  • The moratorium on school closings ends in January 2025 and we can never forget the 50 school closings under Rahm’s CPS.

These are clear markers that a lot has to change.

Again, one important strategy we’re employing towards affecting the improvement of public education in Chicago is electing a school board responsive to the voters of Chicago, rather than one person sitting on the 5th floor of City Hall. We are not able to elect the full board in 2024, but we will elect 10 members as a start. This requires the community’s collective effort to push back against special interests that do not prioritize our children receiving a quality education.

1) We must focus on electing qualified, more independent board members. This requires supporting strong candidates in every school district and a strong turnout for the November Election, 2) We must put pressure on the Mayor to appoint qualified individuals responsive to those that voted him into Office, 3) We must put mechanisms in place to force the board to prioritize improving the education of our children, no matter what the make-up of the partially elected school board is, when it is seated in January of 2025, and 4) we must identify who in Springfield will take the hit for not serving the best interests of our community. Someone(s) must be taken down for this, or Springfield will continue to ignore us. On this one, we must have long memories.

So let’s begin the process of electing qualified, independent thinking and acting individuals to the Chicago Elected Representative School Board. This will be the focus of the April COAL Power Breakfast, scheduled for Saturday April 6th.

COAL is honored to host Valerie Leonard, Founder of Non-Profit Utopia and Illinois African Americans for Equitable Redistricting (IAAFER), Gerald Morrow, Co-Chair COAL Education Committee and former Principal of Dunbar High School, and subject matter expert Lafayette Ford, Vice-Chair of Board of Directors for Black United Fund of Illinois (BUFI), to discuss the ERSB law and running for the elected school board in the November 5th General Election, as well as current CPS activity on Black student success, which COAL believes was prompted by the successful work of IAAFER to get a school board-level Black Student Achievement Committee codified into law.

Please join COAL for an important conversation on public education in Chicago and the transition to an elected representative school board.

Our children deserve a quality education.

Respectfully,

COAL Board of Directors

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“The time to work seriously and collectively, to improve the state of our Community, is upon us…”

Let Us be intentional in all aspects of the Work that must be done.

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