Families and advocates of charter public school students gathered at the Illinois State Capitol May 8 to celebrate the successes of charter schools and to call for equitable treatment from lawmakers as part of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools’ (INCS) Lobby Day. Representing the 64,700 families who have chosen charter public education in Illinois, hundreds of parents and advocates delivered a message to their elected officials that “charter public schools change lives.”
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“School choice is so important to our families. With more than 98 percent of charter school children being children of color, I ask that lawmakers give our students the same funding as students in other public schools. It’s what they deserve! Parents like me, on the Southside of Chicago, deserve to have options and to be treated fairly when it comes to funding of the public school choices we make.” – Cynthia Clark, mom of Najah, a sophomore at Noble’s Gary Comer College Prep.
Raising her voice for the rights of all families, Nieves Hernandez, a parent of two students at Rowe Elementary in Chicago, told the crowd that children with different abilities often fail to grow because someone else said they would not be able to achieve. “That is why I’m here at INCS Lobby Day—to teach children that someone’s opinion does not determine who they are or their future. I raise my voice for an excellent school!”
A significant part of INCS Lobby Day is providing parents and advocates an opportunity to meet with their elected officials to call for legislation that supports students and families.
Many elected officials dipped out of their afternoon session to greet their constituents.
At a noon rally to kick off INCS Lobby Day, Representative Lisa Hernandez told participants that she’s been fighting to give parents the option to select the best schools for their children.
Senator Chuck Weaver urged the charter school community “not to stop fighting” and continue “to put kids above any interest group.”
Representative Joe Sosnowski said he was grateful to be part of “celebrating the successes of what charter schools mean to families and communities. It is so important.”
Representative Yehiel Kalish told Lobby Day participants: “I am here on your side!”
After a day of meetings, INCS hosted a special evening reception. A group of INCS Lobby Day attendees remained in Springfield to continue their conversations with elected officials the next morning. The overnight option was a first for the annual INCS Lobby Day.
INCS would like to thank everyone who attended the 14th annual Lobby Day. Their continued commitment and passion serve as an inspiration for all those who support high-quality, charter public education in Illinois.
A special thank you to the parents and advocates who joined us from the following schools: Acero Schools, Alain Locke Charter Academy, ASPIRA of Illinois, Bronzeville Academy Charter School, Catalyst Schools, Chicago International Charter School, Chicago Math and Science Academy, Christopher House Charter School, Epic Academy High School, Erie Elementary Charter School, Horizon Science Academy-Belmont Charter School, Intrinsic Schools, KIPP, LEARN Charter School Network, Legacy Charter School, Legal Prep Charter Academies, Noble Network of Charter Schools, North Lawndale College Prep, Perspectives Charter Schools, Polaris Charter Academy, Rowe Elementary Charter School, and UChicago Charter School.