Austin residents and parents joined students and community leaders from across the city at a recent rally demanding great schools. The parent-led Voice Your Choice for Great Schools Rally kicked off a series of community initiatives aimed at engaging community members in a citywide effort to give every child access to a quality school. “We need our kids to succeed in science and math, to be college-ready when they graduate, to receive an education that prepares them to compete with the best from around the world,” says LaKisha Taylor, a parent of two from Austin. “And to do that, we need more parents to join us and help us bring better schools to our community.” In the coming months, parents like Ms Taylor will work with their friends, neighbors, and leaders to find solutions for the education crisis in Austin and other communities, including Lawndale, Humboldt Park, Englewood, and Roseland. They will hold town hall meetings, house parties, and roundtable discussions to explore options and rally around quality school solutions. Earlier this year, about 200 parents from across the city gathered to discuss what they want from public schools, identifying specific criteria, dubbed the 5 Fundamentals of every Great School. The criteria include strong academic programs, high expectations and respect for every student, meaningful testing, quality instruction and supported teachers, and effective community involvement. “As parents, we have a responsibility to do everything in our power to make sure our kids get a good education,” explains Janise Collins, a parent of two.
“Whether that is researching the best options or demanding better quality schools, I am going to do everything I can to make sure my children have the education they deserve. I’ve always lived in Austin, always worked in Austin, my kids go to school in Austin, and I want to continue that.” With more than 123.000 students attending low-performing or failing schools, Chicago finds itself in an education crisis. Parents and students who spoke at the rally called on their peers, city officials, and community leaders to join the effort to address and ultimately solve the crisis by making highly effective schools available to substantially more students. They pointed out that the movement has been quietly gaining momentum over the last few months. “We’ve gone from 27 parents connecting at a community meeting in March to more than 1,000 individuals and 100 organizations,” points out Chris Butler, Advocacy and Outreach Director of New Schools for Chicago. “We are at a tipping point and urge everyone who cares about public education to join us today.” For more information and to join the movement, go to www.newschoolsnow.org/voice or call 773/4-SCHOOLS.