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Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
Wed Jun 5, 2013

Parent Mentor Program Retains Funding, Hundreds Complete First Year Of Classroom Integration (VIDEO)

Nearly 500 participants in the statewide Parent Mentor Program “graduated” Tuesday morning, as they successfully completed at least one semester of assisting teachers and students in the classroom.

The event marks the first parent mentor graduation since the program expanded across Illinois last spring. From 28 schools last year, to 59 today, trained parents are incorporated into more than 400 classrooms statewide, from Moline to Aurora.

Attendees, numbering roughly 700, also celebrated the reallocation of a $1 million grant from the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE).

The event was hosted at Charles Darwin Elementary School — which had 18 parents graduate — on Chicago’s Northwest Side in Logan Square.

“Many moms, especially immigrant moms like myself, they don’t know how to approach the school, but the Parent Mentor Program opens the doors of the school and they are more likely to bridge some of the barriers they might face in every day life,” said Leticia Barrera, 40, education organizer for the Logan Square Neighborhood Association (LSNA).

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
Tue Jun 4, 2013

Parents Unite At Lafayette Elementary, Pledge To Continue Fight Against Closing (VIDEO)

The fight against school closures is not over, according to Chicago Public Schools (CPS) parents who strategized Monday morning at Jean D. Lafayette Elementary on Chicago’s West Side.

“CPS gave us this mess and a rushed enrollment process and we will not stand for it,” said Rousemary Vega, 32, an organizer of Monday’s meeting and parent of two students enrolled at Lafayette Elementary. “We’ve been fighting individually, but it has to stop. We need to get moms together and get moms involved to save our schools.”

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
Fri May 31, 2013

IL Anti-Hunger Advocates In A 'Mode Of Outrage' Over Cuts In The Farm Bill

Anti-hunger advocates in Illinois are warning the proposed cuts in the U.S. Farm Bill will cause great devastation to the more than 2 million individuals and families in the state who depend on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. Progress Illinois takes a look closer at the issue. 

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Fri May 31, 2013

West Side Education Activists Plan New Strategy To Fight School Closings

West Side education activists say they have a new tactic to stop school closings in Chicago. The plan involves filing stacks of parent complaints with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights.

The strategy is centered around the adverse affects the school closings will have on disabled and African-American students, said Elce Redmond with the South Austin Community Coalition.

The plan aims to mobilize the community and further expose how closing 50 neighborhood schools, concentrated on the South and West Sides, will impact children. Redmond said the goal is to send busloads of people to deliver the complaints to the civil rights office in Chicago and possibly have people go to Washington.

"We want to go to the Department of Education and say, 'Listen, based on these complaints, we have a very serious crisis here,'" Redmond said at a West Side community meeting Thursday night. "And a serious crisis that as a federal government, who is supposedly in charge of protecting young people, you have to step in and do something."

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
Thu May 30, 2013

CPS' Push For Privatized Charter Schools Promotes Inequality, Education Panelists Say (VIDEO)

The ongoing push for charter schools across the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) district may infringe upon the fundamental human right to equal opportunity for education, according to a group of panelists who discussed privatization and education at the University of Chicago Wednesday night.

“Leaving people out of education is unacceptable ... Not having access to good public schools is a human rights issue,” said Jesse Sharkey, vice president of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), who sat on the panel with David Moberg, senior editor of In These Times and Susan Gzesh, executive director of the University of Chicago’s Human Rights Program.

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
Wed May 29, 2013

Push Back Against Koch Brothers' Potential Tribune Purchase Continues With National Day Of Action (VIDEO)

Protesters are ramping up advocacy against the potential sale of all or some of the Tribune Company to the conservative billionaire Koch brothers with a nationwide day of action. Meanwhile, the number of signatures on various online petitions has risen to more than 500,000.

“We will not sell our freedom of speech. We will not sell our right to have independent news. We will not sell the City of Chicago,” said Shani Smith, 38, a project organizer with Stand Up! Chicago. “We are here for senior citizens, for children, for working families, and that’s what we stand for. If the Koch brothers don’t stand for it, they most certainly cannot buy the Chicago Tribune.”