CONFRONTING THE RISE OF SCHOOL BOARD DISRUPTIONS
Since the spring, there have been many incidents across the country and around Illinois where school board members have been harassed and threatened about policies around covid safety, like mask and vaccine mandates, but also about other issues like support for LGBTQ students, accurate and honest teaching about race in US history, and culturally-responsive curricula and standards. In some cases the attacks are on the very existence of public schools and public ed with calls for defunding, vouchers and homeschooling.
The goal of this event is to help parents, teachers and public school supporters learn more about what’s been happening in our state and elsewhere and begin to gather the tools to confront these attacks and defend our most local democratic institutions, public schools and school boards, with grassroots organizing and facts.
Sponsors include: IL Families for Public Schools, Indivisible Illinois, American Association of University Women Naperville Area, Chicago NOW, Grassroots Collaborative, Illinois Federation of Teachers, Illinois NOW, Illinois Muslim Civic Coalition, League of Women Voters of Chicago, Learning Disabilities Association of IL, NWSOFA – Indivisible, National Council of Jewish Women Chicago North Shore, Peoria NOW, Reform for Illinois and Will County NOW
- Who is behind the disinformation campaign regarding masks/vaccines and the way race is taught?
- The importance of teaching the truth in an era of disinformation
- Getting organized: action steps to support your school boards
Jennifer Berkshire, the author of two books, A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door: The Dismantling of Public Education, and The Future of School and More Worlds to Negotiate: John Dunlop and the Art of Problem Solving. She also writes about the intersection of education and politics for theNation, theNew Republic, theBaffler, theNew York Times, and other publications. She is a licensed public school teacher & also teaches podcasting in the journalism program at Boston College. Jennifer co-hosts the education podcast, “Have you Heard,” with Jack Schneider.
State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas, PhD, was appointed to the Illinois Senate in December 2020. Before joining the Senate, she was the Associate Vice President of Policy for Erikson Institute and served as board member and secretary of the Illinois State Board of Education. Prior to that she was the director of education at the Latino Policy Forum, and previously worked at Chicago Public Schools and Enlace Chicago. In a volunteer capacity, she has served on numerous boards including the Illinois Early Learning Council, Illinois State Team of the BUILD Initiative, Kindergarten Transition Advisory Committee of the P-20 and Early Learning Councils, Logan Square Neighborhood Association, and co-chaired the non-profit advocacy group The Puerto Rican Agenda of Chicago for six years.
Nathaniel L. Rouse is the first ever Director of Equity, Race, & Cultural Diversity Initiatives at Barrington Community School District 220. From 2008-2019, he was the principal of Oak Park and River Forest High School. Now in his 26th year in education, he is dedicated to transformational leadership, service, and action to eradicate the systemic inhibitors in schools that create uneven outcomes for students based upon race and ability.
Julie Harris has been an educator for 31 years. She has an undergraduate degree in elementary education and masters degrees in special education and educational administration. She is currently a special education teacher in Tinley Park CCSD 146 and is serving her tenth year as Union President for her council. She is also the Recording Secretary for IFT Local 604.
Kylie Spahn is a parent and public-school activist who is passionate about protecting student rights, bringing equality to all public-schools, and advocating for best practice in the classroom while fighting the abuse and misuse of standardized testing. She has been fighting back against book banning attempts at her daughter’s district in Downers Grove.
Jessica Jacob is a parent of two, one at Algonquin District CUSD300 where she’s a member of the Parent Advisory Council.. She’s deeply involved in education issues in her community and has organized parents around anti-racism work, school board elections and mobilizing parents to attend board meetings to show support during these recent contentious times. Jessical works as Director of Sales and Marketing Operations for a medical device company.