LSC advocates plan summit on equity

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Organizers of a citywide education summit scheduled for Feb. 21 plan to tackle the inequities suffered by Chicago’s public schools.

“We need to deal with the issue of quality education, but we also need to deal with the issue of equity,” says Andy Wade, executive director for Chicago School Leadership Cooperative. The group is coordinating the one-day conference with help from Cross City Campaign for Urban School Reform.

More than 30 organizations signed up as summit hosts, including Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union. Key leaders like Schools CEO Arne Duncan, CTU President Deborah Lynch and state Sen. Miguel del Valle are slated to attend.

But planners crafted a community-driven summit rather than one featuring only traditional school leaders. They want active participation by local school council members, principals, teachers, parents, students, various civic organizations and universities.

Their goal is to establish a clear picture of local school concerns for city, state and federal lawmakers as they consider new policy initiatives.

Planners dubbed the summit “Closing the Achievement Gap,” hoping to focus attention on equity issues like the school funding crisis and teacher quality. They also designed several workshops to capitalize on interest in the federal No Child Left Behind law and its impact on Chicago schools.

The summit’s date marks the 15th anniversary of Chicago’s school reform law, which instituted elected local school councils. In part, the event is a look back at the movement’s accomplishments and a rally for renewing interest in the councils. (Candidates for local school councils must file by March 17.) It also constitutes the kickoff of the local school council election season. Historically, LSC advocates have had a hard time drumming up enough candidates at many schools.

The event will be held at Roberto Clemente High School, 1147 N. Western, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., followed by a celebration. Registration forms are available online through the Cooperative (www.leadercoop.org). Attendance is free but organizers are asking schools to help sponsor the event with a minimum $100 contribution, and host organizations to make a minimum $200 contribution.