Chicago Charter Leaders Champion Innovative Practices and Advocate for Students and Communities Impacted by Gun Violence
The Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS) released its latest issue brief, “How Public Schools Can Combat the Scourge of Gun Violence: Lessons from Chicago Charter Public Schools.” This issue brief examines how charter public schools champion innovative practices to address the trauma that students carry into school every day due to gun violence in their neighborhoods and how schools can build student leadership and advocates to prevent violence.
This is a critical issue for Chicago’s charter public schools because charter families tend to be concentrated on the South and West sides and travel across the city to attend their school of choice. In addition, the majority of charter public schools are located in neighborhoods with high crime rates. In the 15 neighborhoods with the highest gun-crime rates in Chicago, there are 18,666 charter students across 46 schools—32.7% of total charter enrollment.
This issue brief features the practices of four charter public school networks that are leveraging their flexibility and autonomy to address gun violence in Chicago. North Lawndale College Prep (NLCP), Perspectives Charter Schools (Perspectives), Urban Prep Academies (Urban Prep), and Noble Network of Charter Schools (Noble) exemplify the possibilities of charter public school innovation to reduce the impact of gun violence on students. Through our research, four best practices emerge:
The four charter public schools featured in this issue brief have all pioneered innovative ways of dealing with gun violence. As we like to say at INCS, charter innovation does not end in the classroom but rather extends through relationships and networks we build to strengthen our city. There are many district-run and charter public schools not only in the same neighborhoods, but also across the country experiencing the same challenges. It is our hope that some of the lessons we have learned might be replicated and adopted by other schools to support their students and communities too.