Grantees Win Battle for School Transparency!

Rachel Wallis

Whittier Protest

After a three year battle Chicago education advocates won the passage of a new bill that will require increased transparency and accountability from the Chicago Public School authorities. Illinois State Bill 620 requires the city to create and publish annual, medium, and long term plans for capital investments in CPS facilities, with input from local school councils. CPS also must announce school closings and turnarounds each year by December 1, and have a transition plan to support students impacted by school changes.

Current and past Crossroads Fund grantees, including Blocks Together, the Whittier Parent Committee, and  Parents United for Responsible Education have been heavily invested in the struggle to pass this bill. They believe that the legislation will give communities advanced warning about school closures, turnarounds, and consolidations, allowing for crucial time to organize and propose alternatives. The transparency in facilities spending will also provide ammunition to groups like the Whittier Parent Committee, who maintain that CPS funding is spent unevenly, leaving schools in poor and minority neighborhoods under-funded, lacking critical resources like libraries and lunch rooms.

The passage of the bill is particularly impressive given the fact that it was repeatedly pronounced dead, as opposition by the new mayor left it stalled in committee for months on end. Its passage is a testament to the power of the grassroots and community organizations whose ongoing educational and organizing efforts built a broad base of supporters who continued to protest downtown and lobby their legislators in Springfield long after the pundits declared the bill a lost cause.