Back to school, back to work

Many students across the state are returning to in-person school for the first time in a year and a half, and POWER-PAC IL parents are back to it as well and hitting the ground running! Pictured above are members of Southside Parents United Roundtable, or SPUR branch of POWER-PAC IL, who met for the first time in the 2021-2022 school year at Ogden Park in Englewood this month. SPUR and the other local branches are kicking off the school year with lots of passion and energy. It’s so exciting!

Here are a few other recent education and school-related victories and moments of powerful storytelling, once again highlighting the Power of Parents at the Table:

COFI and POWER-PAC IL organizers and leaders pose with the legislative sponsors of the recess bill

Above: COFI/POWER-PAC IL parent leaders and organizers celebrate their recess victory with the bill’s sponsors, Representative Aarón M. Ortíz and Senator Robert Peters.

Illinois children grades K-5 now have 30 protected minutes of recess this school year, thanks to POWER-PAC IL parent leaders and statewide partners! The “Right to Play” bill, SB 654, was signed into law by Governor Pritzker last month – an incredible, hard-won victory POWER-PAC IL parents have been fighting for since 2006. Esmeralda Martinez, co-chair of the Health Food and Recess Campaign, spoke to The Chicago Reporter about the new law: “They have to have recess because the kids need time to help concentrate for the next class, to be free.” Congratulations to parents and everyone involved in making recess possible for all children in Illinois!

Did you catch Early Learning Campaign co-chair Susana Salgado on Marketplace last month? She spoke to reporter Amanda Peacher about the Child Tax Credit, and how the monthly payments have already made a huge impact on her family. “We’re buying backpacks, uniforms, school supplies, and also paying for the registration for programs that our children want to participate in that sometimes are not free, and we have to pay.” If you or someone you know needs help accessing Child Tax Credit benefits, go to Get My Payment Illinois for helpful information in multiple languages!

Elementary Justice Campaign parent leaders remain vocal in the fight to remove police from schools, recently appearing in several news outlets. Dexter Leggin, Elementary Justice co-chair, spoke to WTTW’s Black Voices (shown above) voicing the need for CPS and CPD to build relationships in communities. On Block Club Chicago and WBEZ, Dexter expressed his support for CPS and CPD to honor community voices by taking one officer out of the 24 schools that voted for removal (after it briefly seemed that CPD would keep both officers at those schools).

Dexter was also one of the parents featured in a Chalkbeat Chicago story about returning back to school a year and a half after the pandemic upended everything: “Leggin has been a vocal proponent of reopening schools full time since last summer. He feels the district has taken important steps to reduce the risk of COVID transmission, but he also points out that any discussion of keeping kids healthy must feature mental health front and center.”