LSCs - Part of the Solution...Part One

Most Chicago public school parents have been in “the system” longer than most of the people at the helm of education policy at CPS, the Board of Education, City Hall and ISBE. Yet despite our advanced tenure, most of us are not well informed or connected to the Local School Councils (LSCs) that govern each of our traditional Chicago public schools.

It’s time to change that. Raise Your Hand wants you to get involved in your school or your community’s LSC. Having served on an LSC for four years, I can tell you this is coming up fast, it’s easier than you think, and it’s more important  to get involved than ever.
Some background: In 1988, the Chicago School Reform Act created LSCs for all Chicago Public Schools. The new law was the result of grassroots work to improve schools by giving parents and community members real control over school budgets, improvement plans, and selection and evaluation of principals. Each LSC consists of six parents, two community members, two teachers, one non-teaching staff member, the principal, and in high schools – one student member with limited voting powers.

LSC elections happen every two years. Elections are April 18, 2012 for elementary schools and April 19, 2012 for high schools. They coincide with Report Card Day, when parents schedule a conference with their child’s teacher(s). The deadline for applying is 3:00 p.m. at the school you wish to run on March 8, 2012. Download forms from CPS (faxes not accepted).  

Ask yourself this: what issues are going to come before my child(ren)’s school for the next two years, and who is going to be on the governance team?

With an active and engaged membership, LSCs improve school governance and community engagement. The Consortium on Chicago School Research study found most local school councils to be highly effective.

At a time when CPS decisions seem more top-down than ever, now is the time to get involved. There are lots of ways to participate – apply to run for LSC, serve as an election judge, or help a fellow parent, school staff or community member run for LSC and bring his or her talents to bear on your school’s site-based administrative team for the next two years. Those who don’t get elected, can still serve on various LSC committees – budget, planning, etc.

As of today, you have three weeks to submit an application. Key dates:

  • March 8 at 3:00 p.m. – deadline to submit nomination materials at your school
  • March 9 at 3:00 p.m. – deadline to submit applications to be an election judge
  • March 12 – principal posts the list of candidates
  • March 19-26 – school candidate forum
  • April 11 – schools distribute candidate literature
  • April 18 – elections at elementary schools (6 a.m. to 7 p.m.)
  • April 19 – elections at high schools (6 a.m. to 7 p.m.)
Serving on an LSC is a considerable responsibility and it can be time-consuming. But the rewards are many. Your work can truly improve a school. The initiative you take is a model to your children that excellent systems of education are important and that we all have a valuable role to play in making schools great.

Up next: What makes a good LSC?

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