After the presidential election, we at the Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS) found ourselves, like many other education reform organizations, questioning what the outcome will mean for the communities and students we serve. As an organization, we have spent the past 13 years fighting for Illinois families to have access to high-quality school options. This fight is grounded in a set of core beliefs where diversity is celebrated, opportunity is extended, and freedom is cherished. Unfortunately, these ideals were not upheld during the election campaign, and we instead experienced the most divisive, acrimonious, and mean-spirited campaign in recent memory. At INCS, we reject any policy that divides, labels, or demeans people based on their differences. While our organizational focus will continue to be supporting high-quality charter schools, we care far too deeply for the communities we serve to accept support from any individual whose rhetoric and policies hurt the most vulnerable students—the same students charter schools serve.
So at this pivotal moment, we recommit to the ideals of the charter school movement, including justice, equity, and opportunity, and work towards that end. We have always believed that charter public schools are a necessary intervention in a status quo too complacent with inequity and too timid to challenge the lack of economic and educational opportunity in our communities. We refuse to accept the current state of reality, where the most vulnerable students’ futures and freedoms are still threatened, and we vow to oppose against any policy, speech, or statement that stigmatizes our families or our communities. INCS stands collectively with all working to make this vision a reality so that we can make sure all children are educated, reach their potential, and are free—free to live, free to pursue their dreams, and free to breathe.