School-reform activists urge community members to run for LSC postions

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Austin community leaders and state Rep. La Shawn Ford (8th) gathered at Hope Community Church Saturday afternoon to discuss the importance of running for Local School Council positions before the March 8 application deadline.

Virgil Crawford of the Local School Council Collaborative Network and the Westside Health Authority said he’s challenging parents and residents in the Austin community to run for LSC positions, because “it’s a new world that we live in.”

“And what kids are getting today isn’t good enough to prepare them to be functional in this new world,” he said to the more than 30 current and hopeful LSC members.

“Things are different, and our children are so far behind.”

LSCs have the power to hire and fire its school principal and decide how to spend the school’s $2 million to $5 million budget.

Crawford said he estimates members control about $30 million for all schools in Austin.

“When you look at the outcome being produced from the $30 million – we’ve got to take a look at ourselves,” he said.

“We’ve got to do a better job.”

The councils are made up of six elected parents, two community representatives, two teachers, one school staff member – who is not a teacher – and the principal. In high schools, a student also sits on the council.

Local school councils typically meet once a month, and members contribute up to 30 hours per month.

Wanda Hopkins, an LSC member and parent advocate for Parents United for Responsible Education, also took to the podium at the meeting held at 5900 W. Iowa St.

“Today I beg of you, for the children’s sake, go to the streets,” Hopkins said. “Tell the people in the community that they must run.”

Roy Baldon, a veteran LSC member and recording secretary at the John Marshall Alumni Association, said running for an LSC is about the children but also bringing more power to parents.

“I don’t have to serve on these LSCs or other elected bodies. But my thing is, not only do I have a passion for working with these children, but my passion is also for these parents who are taken advantage of by CPS,” Baldon said.

“You can’t take advantage of these parents and make them feel like they’re worthless, and then you want to tell them your educating their kids.”

About 90,000 students in Chicago are attending public schools that aren’t meeting adequate academic standards, the Rev. Michael Stinson said.

“This is a dire situation,” he said.

“The LSC brings some stability to these schools as they change or don’t change.”

Stinson said he’s “sick and tired of burying uneducated kids that were standing on the street corner getting shot.”

“It all starts at the school house,” he said. “It’s better to raise boys and girls than repair men and women.”

Applications for LSC positions must be brought in –  not faxed — to Chicago Public Schools’ headquarters, on the fifth floor of 125 S. Clark St.,  no later than 3 p.m. March 1. Individuals can also drop off applications at their specific school no later than 3 p.m. March 8.

Visit Chicago Public Schools’ web site for more information about running for a Local School Council or becoming an election judge.

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