Why Did/Didn’t You Vote?: Scenes from Chicago’s Local School Council Elections
We stopped by two South Side high schools last week to see how voters feel about LSCs and their ability to make change in a school community.
By Emmanuel Camarillo, Hannah Hayes and Amanda Tugade
Last Thursday as parents picked up report cards at their children’s schools they had the opportunity to vote for the Local School Council candidates. According to the Chicago Public Schools election map, only 43 percent of schools had enough candidates for a full council.
Tilden Career Community Academy, for example, had three parent candidates and two community representative candidates, in addition to its staff and teacher position, which does give the council a quorum to make decisions. The new LSC includes Yvonne Pruitt, Lashawnda Dowdy and Deon Coley as the parent reps; Sarah Rothschild and Matthew Johnson as the community representatives; Michael Finney as the non-teacher staff, and a teacher representative to be determined.
At Martin Luther King Community College Prep, parents were out in force in a contentious election that resulted after the principal David Nairon’s contract was not renewed by the current LSC. All six parents running on a slate supportive of the principal were voted in, as were both of the slate’s community representatives. The new council consists of Jonathan Williams, Natasha Erskine, Tineeka Reed, Jonathan Brooks, Cassandra Bogan and Natasha Dunn as parent representatives; Marcellus Moore, Jr. and Ebony Lucas as community reps; Rachel Robinson as the non-teacher staff and Theodosia Harris as the teacher representative
We asked people at two South Side high schools if they were voting in the LSC election and if they would ever consider running for LSC. We also asked them to reflect on the relevance of LSCs in general.
Tilden High School
Latonya Moore: “I didn’t vote. I’m familiar with LSCs but I don’t know the candidates that are running so I didn’t vote. But I have voted in the past. I think LSCs push for a better education for our children. I wouldn’t run because my eight-year-old is a handful.”
Timothy Moore: “We have a special needs daughter and third grader. I work two jobs so it’s hard to get out to meetings.”
Eva Spicka: “I don’t know yet if I’ll vote today. I’ll read the information and decide. I was president of the LSC at [my kid’s] grammar school. It was a challenge. I wish they got the money they need to improve the schools. I think LSCs are a good thing to improve the schools and to give our kids a better education.”
Angelina Gallegos: “No. I’m not familiar with LSCs. I haven’t been to meetings because I work and I don’t have time. I wish I could be more involved in the school but I’m a single mother and I have to work for my kids and it’s hard. I think LSCs are a good thing, though.”
King College Prep
Samantha Williams: “I did get an email about it so I will stop in [to vote]. I don’t know too much about King’s LSC because this is the first public school my kids have been to — they were at a charter school [before]. My husband would be more involved because I work through the day and he works nights. So normally he goes to meetings and would do the report card pickup.”
Sarah Regester: “I came here to vote in the LSC election. I live in Bridgeport. I don’t know a lot about LSCs other than they do impact who is principal and decisions that are made at the school. I’m a community member and a parent and I think it’s important for people to come out and vote. It’s important for parents to be involved in decisions that are made at the school because they impact their children and can have lasting effects in the community.”
Jeff Kerney: “Yes, I’m going to vote. There’s some obvious conflict, tension among the LSC and the current principal, and this current LSC has been in favor of getting rid of the principal. From all I can see, there’s a lot of parents that don’t want that change to happen, and that’s caused a little bit of commotion, and that commotion has caused folks on both sides to come in and vote. I think there needs to be more involvement on the parents’ side, and I certainly plan on being at all of the LSC meetings from now on.”
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