Our 2015 Top Ten

Dear supporter of strong public education for all children,

During this annual time of reflection and renewal, we thought it would be fun to share our own top ten list as 2015 comes to a close.

The list below highlights some of our many accomplishments together, as well as great reasons to support Raise Your Hand with an end of the year donation.

Our 2015 goal is to raise $30,000 to help us grow and hire a part-time grassroots organizer and other staff so that we can expand our reach and make sure there is a pro-public education voice present whenever possible.  We need you to help us by making a donation today!

We are one-third of the way to our goal – can you help with a one-time gift or pledge to be a monthly donor?

Thanks for your continued support. Wishing you and yours a happy and healthy New Year!

Wendy Katten
Executive Director, Raise Your Hand for Illinois Public Education


Raise Your Hand Top Ten Accomplishments of 2015

10.  Didn’t say “told you so” when Barbara Byrd Bennett resigned and was indicted over the controversial, $20 million no-bid contract given to her former employer, (an issue we brought up to the Board of Education multiple times in 2013 and 2014 thanks to Catalyst).

9.  Stood up to over-testing in schools.  Last school year with More than a Score, we educated parents about the overuse and misuse of standardized testing and the flawed PARCC test, and helped organize the opt-out movement in Illinois, including the passage of a bill in the HouseOver 44,000 students refused the PARCC test in 2015. We took six trips to Springfield this year and expanded our reach to work with parents and students outside of Chicago.  

8. Helped save special education positions in Chicago.  We organized parents across the district and worked with teachers, principals and advocates to fight against special education cuts, including quick data analysis that was shared with parents, media, schools and CEO Claypool.  Also created a RYH special ed subcommittee with over 100 parents. This collaborative approach worked, although there is still work to be done on this issue.

7. Provided solutions for CPS budget problems.  We put out a comprehensive list of budget solutions in June including some of the same revenue solutions we’ve been pushing for years. We have asked parents to advocate at all levels of government for solutions for a balanced, reasonable approach. The fight is still on for this!

6. Collaborated on efforts to strengthen neighborhood high schools in Chicago.  RYH is represented on the steering committee of Generation All, a citywide initiative to revitalize neighborhood high schools in Chicago. We also assisted parents and community members’ successful advocacy in the fight to stop the Noble charter high school from opening on the North side.

5. Stayed active in the fight for an elected representative school board. Working with partners across the city, we helped canvass again to put the question on the ballot in Chicago to gauge public support---almost 90% of voters want an elected school board. There’s now a bill in the House in Springfield with over 50 co-sponsors where this change would have to be made.  

4.  Raised awareness of new federal charter grant. The state board of ed quietly applied for and received a grant for 48 charter schools that comes with no operational dollars, which will likely lead to more defunding of existing schools. We brought attention to this in November with the help of some state legislators and our allies at other community orgs. If you missed it, see the press conference here. Board chairman James Meeks interrupts our press conference around the 5:20 mark to invite us to testify at the ISBE Board meeting. We did have a member of RYH testifying at the ISBE board meeting at that time. 

3.  Started CPSuccess Tumblr with Jeanne Marie Olson to share the many positive things happening in our district schools. Check it out here.

2. Spoke at every Chicago Board of Education meeting in 2015. From special education cuts to carbon monoxide poisoning to filthy schools, RYH was there. 

1. Organized parent advocates for change!  Offered multiple parent advocacy trainings to help parents hone their skills at advocacy, and further developed parent network circles around Chicago and IL.

Help us grow in 2016!  Make a tax-deductible donation as 2015 comes to a close!.