An Open Letter to the 97th General Assembly

Dear Honorable Representatives and Senators of the State of Illinois,

Chicago is the only district in the entire state that does not have an elected school board. And, contrary to popular misconception, Chicago has never had an elected school board.

Instead, we have had a top down system, with a revolving door of leadership that has been unresponsive to parent and community engagement. In this time, the achievement gap for low-income, minority students has widened and our schools have become more segregated. Local leadership has even ignored the will of the General Assembly by failing to comply with SB 620, which passed unanimously in the House and 56 to 1 in the Senate. 

Citizens of Chicago are fed up. On Election Day, voters across the city overwhelmingly cast their vote in favor of an elected school board with more than 86% approving a ballot referendum for a democratically elected representative school board in 327 precincts throughout 35 Chicago wards. 

Chicago's model of school board governance is not working. It fails to engage or be accountable to parents, community and to the students who desperately need a world class education. 

We at Raise Your Hand are a grassroots coalition from across Chicago of parents formed to improve the quality of public education for all children. Legislators -- we cannot do this without your leadership. We have one question. Please respond to us by Nov. 15, to let us know if you support a democratically elected representative school board in Chicago.

Thank you,
Raise Your Hand 
cc: Education Committee, Education subcommittee on Special Issues