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Chicago Families for Educational Equity

(Formerly Parents as Disruptors of Inequity in Education)

Chicago Families for Education Equity Chicago Families for Educational Equity (C-FEE) brings together parent leaders from Chicago neighborhoods and schools that have been hard hit with school closures, high suspension rates, and cuts in resources. These parents have organized and put their lives on the line in order to obtain an education for their children. They have engaged in protests, hunger strikes, and more to demand that the city be accountable for providing a quality education that is equitable with others across the city. The project has convened parent-leaders in a series of public events and discussions and has engaged them in storytelling projects to build solidarity and document their successes as parent leaders and organizers. Their stories will be captured on a website which will provide inspiration and resources to other parents who want to organize for change.

In the summer of 2017, the Egan Office initiated dialogue with parent leader organization across different Chicago communities. The result of these conversations was a consensus about the need to convene current and former parent leaders with parents who are not yet organized but who desire to become engaged in their neighborhood schools and communities. The Egan Office partnered with parent leaders from three long-standing and successful parent leadership organizations—Community Organizing and Family Issues (COFI), Enlace Chicago and the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO). Since the beginning parent leaders have been at the forefront of planning and decision-making in this cross-community collaboration.

Within DePaul, about convening Within DePaul, the Egan Office has collaborated with faculty from six different departments (African and Black Diaspora Studies, Center for African and Black Diaspora, Latin American/Latino Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies, Women’s Center, and Writing Rhetoric and Discourse) to co-sponsor and organize the events. I Over the duration of the initiative, parent organizers from these organizations were connected with DePaul students, faculty, and staff. A key aim is that all of the stakeholders involved will have the opportunity to share and learn how grassroots action emerges and affects change. This knowledge will be essential to support ongoing and new organizing efforts in the face of additional school closures and other incidences of inequity over the coming years.

The goals of the C-FEE are:

1.      To provide opportunities to foster relationships and connections among parent organizers as well as DePaul students, faculty, and staff who are working against common systems of exclusion and marginalization through sharing stories of struggle, organizing, and challenging systems of inequity.

2.      To facilitate inter-organization collaboration across the city with the hope that parent organizers, DePaul students, staff, and faculty, and affiliated organizations will continue to meet across communities and diverse cultures to address structural inequities and to come together as a strong unified force.

3.      To engage students along with parent/ family leaders in community efforts for social change. Ensure mutually beneficial relationship-building and reciprocal learning. Provide ample time for joint and individual reflection, research and collaborative knowledge production.

4.      To document and lift up the histories of ordinary people's strength, resiliency, dedication and love of family, children and community as they risk personal harm to challenge inequities and injustice.

5.      To develop the material resources and skills to continue digital storytelling for continued organizing and community development.

With the support of a grant from the Vincentian Endowment Fund, four C-FEE events have taken place—two at DePaul and two in different communities. One of these was a kickoff event involving a film showing and talk by

Chicago Families for Education Equity
Parents and Community partners at the November Chicago Families for Education Equity event.
Rosie Simpson--a legendary parent-activist who was a key leader in the 1963 boycott of Chicago Public Schools (CPS). A second event brought together the leaders of two historic hunger strikes that brought about meaningful change in the Little Village and Kenwood Oakland communities. A third event was hosted at the Little Village Lawndale High School—a new school that was built in response to the Little Village hunger strike in 2015. In each of these events, over 50 parents and family members, students, faculty and staff were present.

The fourth event was a public screening of six mini-documentaries that told the stories of transformation and inspiration of parents who have become school and community leaders. The six videos are the result of the collaboration between the parent leaders, their supporting community organizations and Professor Lisa Dush along with the students from her Digital Storytelling class in the fall of 2017. That event was hosted by COFI. Parent leaders discussed how to use these videos in their organizing efforts, how to spread the word about the videos widely, and what next steps they should take to continue to develop digital stories. A fifth event is planned for the Kenwood Oakland community and surrounding areas for August, 2018. It will be co-sponsored and hosted by KOCO in Visit this site again for details about this event and about the public launching of the digital storytelling website. ​​