Chicago Parents Ask CPS to Create Black Student Achievement Taskforce

Today, a coalition of parents and advocates from Chicago’s Black community sent a letter to the leadership of Chicago Public Schools demanding critical attention to the experience and outcomes of Black students during the remote learning period and beyond.

“We are requesting that Chicago Public Schools establish a Black Student Achievement Taskforce to work in concert with the district to support our children’s academic growth—increasing graduation, college, and career success rates,” writes Chicago parent and brightbeam activist Natasha Dunn.

Here’s the rest of the text of the letter:

Good Morning Dr. Janice Jackson and Latonya McDade, 

Last year an email was sent to you expressing our frustration with the opportunity gaps that negatively impact outcomes for Black students in the Chicago Public School district. Considering the current state of our city – rising cases of coronavirus predominantly affecting Black communities, racial unrest and increasing violence – coupled with your decision to begin the school year with remote learning, we have heightened concerns that these disparities will widen. 

According to the Illinois State Board of Education, the achievement gap between Black and white students is currently 36 percentage points with a 10-point gap between Latinx and Black students. With that data in mind, we recently created and distributed a survey to gather feedback from Black parents as an ongoing effort to engage, inform, and support the academic needs of our children. Within two weeks, we gathered over 300 responses from K-12 parents in various schools across the district in which, overall, Black parents want to work with the district to create safeguards and academic supports to close the achievement gap. Specifically, the results of our survey concluded: 

Prior to remote learning: 

  • Only 50% of Black parents felt their students’ academic needs were met.  
  • 42% of parents felt their school did not provide enough access to learning tools such as books, assignment sheets, tutoring, computer lab, and library access.  
  • 44% felt that ESL supports were not provided to students in the school building. 
  • Only 44% of parents used Aspen. 
  • Only 26% believe that COPS should be out of schools. 74% of Parents want trained officers either inside the school or protecting the outside area surrounding the school.  

   During remote learning: 

  • 48% of parents were dissatisfied with the rollout/execution or never logged on for remote learning. 
  • 89% of parents want training on the virtual learning platforms CPS will be using. 
  • Only 10% of students did not receive a device or Chromebook from their school. 
  • 31% of parents felt that their students did not receive the academic support to be promoted to the next grade level. 
  • 87% of parents would like to learn more about CPS policy and the resources available to support their child’s academic growth. 

As we continue to engage Black parents, we would also like to work with the district to create a plan that will close the opportunity gap. As a result, we are requesting that Chicago Public Schools establish a Black Student Achievement Taskforce to work in concert with the district to support our children’s academic growth–increasing graduation, college, and career success rates. We are requesting that the Taskforce meet with all CPS Departments to chart a plan to address the needs of Black students.   

It is critical that we discuss this matter. We would like to invite you to a Zoom conference to start the planning process. Please let me know what days and times you or your representatives are available to meet.   

Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you soon.  


Natasha Dunn 
Black Community Collaborative 

Supporters include: 

  • ADOS Chicago 
  • Black Women Organizing for Power 
  • CAUSE 
  • Citizens for Civic Education 
  • Illinois Black Contractors Association 
  • Tanesha Peeples/ Education Activist 
  • National Block Club University 
  • Black Parents SPEAK 

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