POWER-PAC’s Early Learning Leaders Release New Report at Mayor’s Press Event

Parent activists from POWER-PAC, Parents Organized to Win, Educate and Renew – Policy Action Council are excited to release their report How We Got Johnny, Jada. and José Into, Preschool today, August 3, 2012. The report includes policy briefs that share POWER-PAC’s experiences successfully implementing programs that are improving access to quality early learning programs in Chicago’s low-income communities of color.

“Getting kids into preschool is key to helping our kids break out of the cycle of violence and poverty. All kids need a chance to succeed,” explained Rosazlia Grillier, a member of the POWER-PAC Leadership Council.

One part of the report details the work of the POWER-PAC mothers and grandmothers over the past three years as they knocked on doors and talked with over 20,000 families to increase enrollment in Head Start and stress the importance of early learning. In the midst of an epidemic of community violence, POWER-PAC is committed to making sure that the littlest ones have access to high quality early education programs – a part of the solution to ending community violence.

The innovative programs highlighted in the report were developed from the parents’ own ideas and were spurred by their findings three years ago that, in some pockets of Chicago, up to 60% of preschool-aged children were not enrolled in any early education program. Parent activists—members of POWER-PAC—conducted the research themselves and detailed their recommendations in the report, Why Isn’t Johnny in Preschool?

“We know what our communities need and, as parents, we know how to talk to other parents,” said Felipa Mena, co-chair of POWER-PAC and a mother whose own son was killed by street violence three years ago. “These parent-initiated, community-based programs are working and we hope the Mayor and the school system will continue to work with us to expand these efforts.” POWER-PAC parent leaders met recently with the Mayor’s top early education policy staff and the newly appointed head of the Chicago Public Schools’ Early Childhood Department. The parents presented their recommendations on how to improve access to early learning for low-income children leading to the invitation for them to present their work at the Mayor’s early learning event today.