Parents at the Forefront in the Fight for School Equity

Above: POWER-PAC IL parent leaders Dexter Leggin and Lynn Morton advocating during Fall 2020’s Counselors Not Cops campaign.


Since the early 2000s, POWER-PAC IL parents have led the charge in ending the school-to-prison pipeline. So far, they’ve won a broad range of school discipline reforms based on restorative justice practices, including ending suspension of children from preschool to second grade, opening Peace Centers, and helping shift school districts’ discipline philosophies away from the “zero tolerance” mindset.

In recent months, parent leaders in the Elementary Justice Campaign have been working on the following fronts:

Remote Learning Recommendations

Parents are working to ensure that remote learning is equitable for all students (as virtual instruction continues for many families) by releasing a comprehensive set of recommendations guided by parent experience and expertise. The recommendations include 4 key issue areas:

  1. Health and social emotional supports: parents need compassionate education that supports family needs, invests in social and emotional learning supports, reduces screen time, and provides healthy and quality school lunches
  2. Technology access: parents need universal broadband, computer access, and a clear commitment that families will not be charged for the costs of damaged remote learning technology
  3. Homework and grading: parents need modifications to grading standards that do not punish students for the challenges of remote learning
  4. Attendance: parents need to halt threats and punishments against students who are absent from remote learning and instead work to proactively address the challenges that cause students to be disconnected

Read the recommendations.

Whole School Safety

As part of the Chicago Public Schools Whole School Comprehensive Safety Plan, parents are working to end the use of School Resource Officers (police) in schools as agents of discipline and providing resources to support teachers and administrators without criminalizing young students of color. Along with CPS and four other community organizations, parents recently concluded the first phase of the plan. The organizations led the inclusive process, gathering community feedback along the way, for reimagined approaches to student safety.

The recommendations were presented at the CPS Board of Education meeting this month, with Lynn Morton, POWER-PAC Illinois Co-Chair Emeritus, representing COFI. A huge kudos to Lynn and the other parent leaders for dedicating their voices, labor, and energy to this crucial movement.

Watch Lynn’s powerful presentation.