After working hard in the legislature last year to strip Illinois teachers of bargaining rights and OSEA protections, Last Stand for Children First is proud to announce the formation of a Chicago chapter to work on issues specific to Chicago.
This week, Last Stand's President Myron Miner announced that it is launching a television campaign to “educate Chicagoans about the value of public turnaround schools.” Group leaders also plan to host extended robocalls where CPS officials and community leaders can record talking points to play for residents of the South and West sides the “need for quality schools.”
The television advertising is sure to turn heads and features 3 separate commercials pushing the message that turnaround schools are just like your neighborhood schools, only better.
Executive Director Monica Caldwell says turnarounds—in which the entire staff of a school are fired and must reapply for their jobs--are a proven way to improve schools. "When CPS took over Sherman in 2006, they lost 20% of their student population and their low income percentage dropped 10%. Think what we could do if we could get the more difficult students to transfer from every Chicago Public School?"
Caldwell emphasizes that Last Stand for Children First supports firing all the adults in a building to turn around it's test scores.
"Sure, the lunch ladies, security guards, and janitors don't do test preparation, but maybe now that they see what can happen, they'll start. Our students need quality schools and that means giving them 4 choices constantly throughout the day and asking them to make the best one possible, just like on a Scantron sheet."
In addition to holding their own events, Caldwell says that Last Stand for Children will get the parents they work with out to the community and public hearings on the school actions. "There are a lot of people who are willing to carry a sign for $25 and a bus ride. We will go out into the communities and find them."
The new movement by Last Stand to get involved in grassroots organizing is a big jump from their work so far in mobilizing the city's business elite. Caldwell says they've always been more comfortable with the city's wealthy and besides, "some of these neighborhoods are kind of gross and the people are scary."
Last Stand for Children First plans to become much more active in Chicago issues. Myron Miner stated, "there's definitely a Chicago website coming and you can be sure we're all over the Longest Day plan Chicago is rolling out next year."