Breyana Floyd left Monmouth College after finishing her sophomore year in May. After a summer internship in Orlando Breyana moved back home to Chicago and is planning to transfer to Roosevelt University next semester. But she struggles financially.

Detours on the road to a college degree

Catalyst revisits Breyana Floyd, who was profiled in our winter issue on college persistence. Like many first-generation, low-income college students of color, Breyana struggled financially and with feelings of not belonging on campus. In May she left Monmouth College and is now preparing to transfer into Roosevelt University in downtown Chicago, where she continues to have financial challenges.

The Chicago International Charter Schools board voted on Wednesday to keep open the ChicagoQuest campus, but eliminate its elementary grades and change the focus of the school.

Threatened with closure, ChicagoQuest drops “gaming” focus

The Chicago International Charter Schools board voted narrowly this week to keep its ChicagoQuest campus open, but to eliminate its seventh and eighth grades and modify its curriculum. Instead of having a focus on “game-like learning,” which staff and administrators admit was never fully executed, the school will embrace a “college prep” theme.

Sabrina Jackson, a parent and former LSC member at Bass Elementary, is a school crossing guard through the city’s Safe Passage program. Since she is on the CPS payroll, she can no longer serve on the council, under state law.

All in the family

Sabrina Jackson says she never really wanted to send her children anywhere but the school down the street, Perkins Bass Elementary. “They say churches can be a stabilizing force in a neighborhood, but schools are too, especially if they’ve been in the neighborhood forever,” says Jackson, whose four children have or are currently attending Bass.

The first local school council members are sworn in at the University of Illinois at Chicago Pavilion.

Local School Councils: ‘Catalysts for change’

Of the all the reforms that have swept through Chicago Public Schools in the past 25 years, the creation of local school councils is one of the few that persists. Although their authority has been curtailed over the years and not all new or struggling schools have them, the councils in many ways continue to deliver on the initial vision of allowing parents and community members to be catalysts for change at their schools.

Margarita Vasquez signs school documents for her daughter Alicia,  a 3rd-grader at Hanson Park Elementary School, while her grandson Alexander plays in the living room of their home in Belmont Cragin.

From timid to tough

As with many parent activists, Margarita Vasquez’s involvement in her children’s schooling began slowly with the basics, encouraging them to do their homework, to study and not to drop out, as she had done as a teenager in Mexico City.