Press Conference 3.27.19: Parents want community based equity in Chicago Public Schools

At this press conference before the monthly meeting of the unelected CPS Board of Ed, parent leaders from across Chicago spoke about their vision for Chicago and CPS. Participating organizations included Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, Chicagoans United for Equity, Enlace, Generation All, Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, Journey 4 Justice, Parents 4 Teachers, and Raise Your Hand. Action Now, Logan Square Neighborhood Association, and Northside Action for Justice also support this vision.

You can watch video of the entire press conference here.

Statements from the press conference are below.

Rocio Garcia, Enlace Today is the last unelected board of education meeting before Chicago elects a new mayor. Yesterday Dr. Jackson/CPS presented a 5-year vision for CPS. Over the past week CPS has announced various “investments”; we’d like to point out the inequity in the process as well as the fact that all of these “investments” don’t make up for the the $500 million removed from our schools during Emanuel's time in office.We are here to demand that the next mayor listen to the parents in this district, the people who entrust their children to our public schools every day. Community organizations and CPS parents from across Chicago are here today to share OUR vision for CPS based on community centered equity. Parents in community organizations know what their schools need; community organizations regularly bring parents together to develop their vision for their schools. When talking about equity, our next mayor needs to hear from those most impacted, the parents. Today you’re going to hear from different parents.


Joanna Cabrera, Brighton Park Neighborhood Association parent leader, CPS parent,  (English and Spanish)

Good morning everyone, my name is Joanna Cabrera, member of the Brighton Park community and mother of two children that had suffered the necessities and constant cuts in our schools. It’s not new for us that our city has been spending millions of dollars in new buildings, speed cameras all over the city, and embellishing downtown while our school has classrooms over capacity, buildings that are needing repairs and communities with lack of services.

Let me ask you something: Why do our children have to travel to other communities to get educated? Why don’t parents get involved in their communities? Why???because we do NOT have real community schools!

We need free services and education classes for our parents, we need more counselors for our students and their families. Our city is suffering violence every day, but we can’t stop that cycle of violence if we do not invest in services for our community schools.

As a mother of teenagers I can tell you that I’m afraid of the education that my children are receiving and I’m very disappointed in the city of Chicago and the mayor Rahm Emanuel, because he has shown that he does not care about our Black and Brown communities. He cares more about opening new schools, funding charter schools and selective enrollment when the public schools that are open and our students are being forgotten.

After years of struggle many of the organizations present today worked with CTU and CPS to develop the sustainable community school initiative. Despite winning these funds, we have not yet received an agreement to keep the program beyond this summer or expand it to other schools.

We need CPS to make a real commitment to community schools.

We need real education, funding equity, and real community schools, NOW!


Buenos dias, mi nombre es Joanna Cabrera, residente de la comunidad de Brighton Park y madre de 2 hijos los cuales han sufrido las necesidades y continuos recortes en nuestras escuelas. No es nada nuevo para nosotros escuchar que la ciudad de Chicago ha gastado millones de dolares en edificios nuevos, camaras de velocidad en toda la cuidad y embelleciendo, el centro de Chicago, mientras nuestras escuelas tienen clases sobre pobladas, edificios con necesidad de reparacion y comunidades sin servicios.

Dejeme les pregunto algo: porque nuestros hijos tienen que viajar a otras comunidades para recibir una buena educacion? Porque los padres no se involucran en las escuelas? Por que? Porque NO tenemos verdaderas escuelas comunitarias!

Necesitamos servicios gratuitos y clases educativas para los padres, necesitamos mas consejeras para ayudar a nuestros estudiantes y familias.

Nuestra ciudad sufre violencia todos los dias, pero no podemos cambiar ese circulo de violencia si no invertimos en servicios para escuelas comunitarias!

Como madre de adolescentes les puedo decir que tengo miedo de la educacion que mis hijos reciben y estoy muy desilusionada de la ciudad de Chicago y el Alcalde Rahm Emanuel porque ha demostrada que no le importan nuestras comunidades Latinas y Afroamericanas. Le importa mas abrir escuelas nuevas o invertir en escuelas charter y selectivas cuando las escuelas publicas de Chicago estan abiertas y nuestros estudiantes estan siendo olvidados.

Despues de anos de lucha, muchas de las organizaciones presentes hoy trabajaron con CTU y CPS para desarrollar la iniciativa de escuela comunitaria sostenible.

A pesar de ganar estos fondos, aun no hemos recibido un acuerdo para mantener el programa mas alla de este verano, o ampliarlo a otras escuelas. Necesitamos CPS para hacer un compromiso con las escuelas comunitarias. Necesitamos educacion realmente buena, fondos equitativos y verdaderas escuelas comunitarias ahora.


Ebony Lucas, Chicago United for Equity, CPS parent, LSC community rep at King College Prep, statement (in English only)

King College Prep is a selective enrollment school that has not had the leadership and innovation that the students deserve. Over the past year, parents, teachers, and the school community have had to fight to have a principal removed whose leadership style was unduly harsh and punitive. She set a dress code that she said would "prevent rape culture" shortened school hours, refused to allow parents to volunteer in the school, cancelled extra curricular programming and got rid of a community rep position so that she could hire additional security, not because any incident occurred but because her leadership style favored policing over education. The students staged a sit in requesting, among other things, the ability to use the library to do their homework after school. Even after a vote of no confidence by the teachers and LSC, CPS took its time to take any action.

As a result, some of the strongest students and leaders transferred mid-year and we lost some of the school's best staff.  This principal has a long history of poor performance and now she is headed to another school.

The assuming that parents dont know whats best for their children has to stop.  Ignoring teachers and community has to STOP. The future of our communities depend on having quality, well funded schools with leadership that works collaboratively to meet student needs. Parents shouldn't have to take off from work to fight for their children's education. CPS should be listening and engaging the community on an ongoing basis and addressing issues in a timely, purposeful manner.


Jitu Brown, Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, Journey 4 Justice, CPS parent, statement (in English only)

On Tuesday March 26 we learned about Chicago public schools releasing its 5 year vision for education in Chicago. Two of the priorities that were listed? equity and integrity. While this sounds good as talking points, these words ring hollow for the following reasons:

1st, How can you release a 5 year vision for public schools with no consultation with the public? With all the harm that has been done through the trauma of nearly a 170 school actions in the last decade displacing our children, more Black and Brown children being forced to graduate from alternative schools and spikes in violence in communities impacted by school closings, how can Chicago public schools continue the practice of thinking they know what's best for us without talking to us.This is the status quo.

Secondly, the standards for equity can not be set by the establishment. Government does not determine what's equitable, the people do! We can tell you from our lived experience what it’s like to have children in a kindergarten class with 51 other children while on the other side of our great city children have smaller class sizes and teacher aides. Government can respond to public demand by listening and that is what Chicago public schools has repeatedly failed at doing.

On the question of integrity, we would encourage Chicago public schools to do a listening tour in communities they have devastated with inequity and school closures to understand the harm they have inflicted. How can you call schools failing schools when as a system you have not addressed the mandate of Brown v Board. We do not have failing schools we have been failed.

Finally, our demands are clear. We demand an elected representative school board now. Why is Chicago Public Schools afraid of democracy? Secondly we want Chicago to be a sustainable community school district. If community schools according to the Learning Policy Institute are one of the most effective school interventions to improve student performance, why is Chicago Public Schools afraid of embracing the concept of community schools? We want real sanctuary cities for Black and Brown children. We do not want our children policed we do not want ICE raiding our schools, we want our young people to be safe not treated as if they were criminals or less than human. We want restorative justice in our schools. We demand that no longer will Chicago Public Schools make decisions about us without us. We demand different. We choose equity not the illusion of school choice.


Margartia Marquez, Enlace parent leader, CPS parent, statement (in Spanish and English)

Buenos dias. Mi nombre es Margarita Marquez. Soy mamá de dos niñas en las escuelas públicas de Chicago.

En mi comunidad necesitamos que todas las escuelas tengan suficiente dinero para poder triunfar. Es importante que todas las escuelas recibamos presupuestos de manera apropiada para tener mejores recursos para programas de instrucción de dos idiomas, para crear realmente escuelas santuario con recursos dentro de la escuela, y servicios de salud mental para todos los estudiantes.

Mi idioma nativo y el de mis hijas es el español. Tanto para mi como para ellas es importante que aprendan a pensar en espanol tanto como en inglés. No porque yo hable espanol en la casa, indica que ellas automáticamente van a tener todo el conocimiento de pensar críticamente en su idioma nativo. Los programas de dos idiomas nos ayudan a asegurar que la cultura se mantenga y así respetar de donde soy yo y su familia. No me gustaría que por el idioma tengan un obstáculo comunicándose con sus abuelitos. Yo se muy bien que para que ellas se sientan seguras de sí mismas, tienen que aprender de dónde vienen y el idioma les ayuda a entender su identidad y cultura. Así ellas podrán alcanzar mayores logros académicos y tener mayor éxito en su futuro.

En mi comunidad se necesitan mayores recursos para que las escuelas esten realmente equipadas con los fondos necesarios para poder llamarse escuelas santuario. Se necesita real inversion para que junto con la participacion de los padres y comunidad logremos sentirnos mas seguros en nuestras escuelas. Quiero que mi escuela este libre de temores anti-inmigrantes impulsados por la policia y por ICE.

En mi comunidad tanto la violencia, como la pobreza, como la inseguridad y el temor, y muchas otras cuestiones que causan que necesitemos mayores servicios de salud mental dentro de las escuelas.

Hace dos años, tuve una tragedia en mi familia. Mi esposo, el papá de mis hijas falleció y quedamos muy afectadas. Totalmente destrozadas. En ese momento yo busque apoyo emocional en la escuela para poder lidiar con esta separación.

En la escuela, hay muchos estudiantes. La consejera tiene muchos casos. Y mis dos niñas no obtuvieron suficiente apoyo dentro de su escuela por que no existe. Por que en la ciudad nuestro distrito de las Escuelas Publicas de Chicago dicen que no tienen suficientes recursos para invertir realmente en los seres humanos--en nuestros estudiantes.

Merecemos que nuestras escuelas estén totalmente financiadas y escuelas bien equipadas con suficientes fondos para programas de dos idiomas, escuelas santuario y servicios para la salud mental que incluya trabajadores sociales, consejeros, recursos equitativos y apoyo adicional para los ninos que mas lo necesitan, asi como mis hijas.

Como madre de estudiantes en CPS, mis necesidades deben ser respetadas. La mesa directiva de CPS no respeta mis necesidades ni las de otras familias como la mia. La mesa directiva no hace caso a las familias mas vulnerables del distrito escolar.


Good morning. My name is Margarita Marquez. I am the mother of two girls in CPS.

In my community we need all schools to have enough funds to be successful. It is important that all schools receive appropriate budgets to have better resources for dual language instruction programs, to truly create sanctuary schools with resources within the school, and mental health services for all students.

My native language and that of my daughters is Spanish. For me as well as for them, it is important that they learn to think in Spanish in addition to English. Not because I speak Spanish at home, indicates that they will automatically have all the knowledge to develop critical thinking skills in their native language. The dual language programs ​​help us to ensure that the culture is maintained and thus respects where me and my family are from originally. I would hate it if my children could not communicate with their grandparents in Spanish. I know very well that in order for them to feel secure about themselves, they have to learn where they come from and the language helps them understand their identity and culture. Thus, they can achieve greater academic achievements and have greater success in their future.

In my community, more resources are needed so that the schools are really equipped with the necessary resources to be able to call themselves sanctuary schools. Real investment is needed so that along with the participation of parents and community, we can feel more secure in our schools. I want my school to be free of anti-immigrant fears driven by police and by ICE.

In my community, violence and poverty, as well as insecurity and fears, and many other issues lead us to need more mental health services within schools.

Two years ago, I had a tragedy in my family. My husband, the father of my daughters passed away and we are very affected. Totally destroyed. At that time I looked for emotional support in their school to deal with this separation.

At school, there are so many students. The counselor has so many cases. And my two girls did not get enough support inside their school because it does not exist. Because in our world class city, our Chicago Public School district claims not to have enough resources to really invest in human beings, our students.

We deserve that our public schools are fully funded and well-equipped schools with sufficient funds for thriving dual language programs, sanctuary schools and mental health services including social workers, counselors, and equitable resources for the children who need it most, as well as my daughters.

As a mother of students in CPS, my needs must be respected. The CPS board does not respect my needs or those of other families like mine. The board ignores the most vulnerable families in the school district.

Katya Nuques, Enlace,  statement (in Spanish and English)

En los dias anteriores nuestra comunidad recibio noticias de otra cachetada de parte de las escuelas publicas de Chicago, una expansion de 32 millones de dolares en programas especiales para las escuelas. En la lista, en la totalidad de la lista no habia ni una sola escuela localizada en nuestra comunidad de la Villita, aun cuando nosotros tenemos 21 escuelas en nuestra comunidad, estas no estaban incluidas en esta lista de una inversion de 32 millones de dolares. Es una cachetada para nosotros como comunidad habiendo estado trabajando por tantos anos en educacion de nuestros ninos, esperanzados en que el concepto de equidad sea respetado, en que nuestros padres y los ninos adquieren los recursos necesarios, y entonces estamos demandando eso porque no sabemos cual fue el proceso que culmino en una decision que deja a nuestra comunidad otra vez afuera.


In the past days we received the news of a new investment of 32 million dollars for special programs, for academic programs. It was said that this was the largest academic investment that CPS has ever made.  We have 21 schools in Little Village, not a single one of our schools was in that list, not a single one of our schools received funding from this 32 million dollars and only one school in our network 7, that is Pilsen and Little Village, Perez was the only one that received funding. But do not believe everything you hear when you read a title that says 32 million dollars for 32 schools you assume they’re getting a million dollars per school, well Perez is only getting 25,000 dollars out of the 32 million dollars, so that’s the investment they made in Network 7 of those 32 million dollars. So again we’re talking about equity here and what equity means is to invest in those people that have been historically marginalized. To invest in their growth so people can get at the same level. So for us, this is not equity, and the decision was not equitable. So we want the leadership in CPS to think very hard about what equity means when they talk about equity and that’s why we’re here today.


Rocio Garcia, Enlace statement

Parents from across Chicago are clear -- we want community centered equity for our schools. We demand:


  • Support for Neighborhood Schools and for Sustainable Community Schools
  • Wrap around services
  • Authentic culturally-relevant curriculum & assessments
  • Dual Language instruction and education
  • Smaller class sizes
  • Sanctuary schools
  • Restorative justice and practices
  • Nurses, social workers, counselors, and librarians
  • Robust special education
  • Robust selection of classes and after school programs
  • Safe spaces
  • Parent and youth leadership opportunities
  • Ending Student Based Budgeting and funding schools fully and equitably
  • Fixing and maintaining our school buildings and grounds
  • And Electing a Representative School Board, until then teachers and neighborhood school parents on the appointed school board
  • Racial and socioeconomic equity measured by outcomes not access to opportunities AND
  • Authentic parent and community engagement with community participating in planning & in decision-making


We’re tired of the “Hunger Games” of school choice in a portfolio district. We want a district of sustainable community schools in our neighborhoods. We can no longer ignore English Language Learners, we can no longer ignore diverse learners, basic health needs, trauma, poverty, and displacement in our communities. We demand that our wealthy city fund all schools fully and fairly. You cannot have equitable outcomes without an equitable process — which means that the students and the families experiencing the greatest disparities in our district must have meaningful decision-making power in defining the futures of our schools. We are ready to work with Chicago’s next mayor to implement OUR vision for OUR schools here in OUR city of Chicago.


Press Coverage:

Telemundo Chicago: Reclaman presupuesto más justo para escuelas de CPS

Chalkbeat Chicago: Preckwinkle vs. Lightfoot: Differences emerge in how mayoral candidates would govern schools