Our Kids Can’t Wait Till You Show Up for Them on Tuesday Night

Chicago, our kids can’t wait–and we’re not going to make them wait anymore, either. 

Our kids can no longer wait on our city’s leadership or Chicago Public Schools to figure out how to close the opportunity gaps that exist between Black, Latino and White students.

I recently wrote about brightbeam’s report, “The Secret Shame: How America’s Most Progressive Cities Betray Their Commitment to Educational Opportunities for All,” where it was found that progressive cities were doing worse than coservative cities at closing opportunity gaps between Black, Latino and White students. Chicago – our beloved progressive city – was on that list.

So next week we’re meeting up at the “Our Kids Can’t Wait” education town hall to talk about why these disparities exist in our public schools and how they impact the academic success of our students. Most important, we’re going to develop our own–that is, Black and Brown communities and our allies, our own–solutions for mitigating these issues.

Flyer for Our Kids Can't Wait: Education Town Hall

And let me tell you–there’s no better place to have this conversation than National Teachers Academy. If you’re unfamiliar with their story, in 2018, parents, students, staff and community gained a historic win by stopping the proposed conversation of their mostly low-income, high performing elementary school into a high school. Today, the energy of empowerment and activism is flowing through the school–the same energy we want in these conversations and building this movement to advocate for our kids’ education.

The town hall kicks off at 6 p.m., with an all-star panel of school leaders, students, parents and community activists with varying perspectives, experiences and areas of expertise. Check out their profiles below.

Dr. David Stovall

David Stovall , Ph.D. is Professor of African-American Studies and Criminology, Law & Justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). His scholarship investigates three areas 1) Critical Race Theory, 2) the relationship between housing and education, and 3) the intersection of race, place and school. In the attempt to bring theory to action, he works with community organizations and schools to address issues of equity, justice and abolishing the school/prison nexus. His work led him to become a member of the design team for the Greater Lawndale/Little Village School for Social Justice (SOJO), which opened in the Fall of 2005. 

Furthering his work with communities, students, and teachers, his work manifests itself in his involvement with the People’s Education Movement, a collection of classroom teachers, community members, students and university professors in Chicago, Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area who engage in collaborative community projects centered in creating relevant curriculum. In addition to his duties and responsibilities as a professor at UIC, he also served as a volunteer social studies teacher at the Greater Lawndale/Little Village School for Social Justice from 2005-2018.

LeeAndra Khan

“Service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth.”  This is LeeAndra Khan’s mantra and she has dedicated her personal and professional life building and strengthening Chicago’s physical and social infrastructure. LeeAndra Khan is currently the CEO of Civitas Education Partners, a small charter school network, and the Co-Founder of the Civitas Community Impact Experience, a student-centered social justice enrichment program.

LeeAndra was a principal in Chicago Public Schools and Oak Park Elementary School District for many years as well as a classroom teacher. Prior to becoming an educator, she was a Civil Engineer designing and constructing highways, bridges, and roads. LeeAndra uses her voice to raise issues related to educational equity and social justice leadership as a writer for Education Post and The Chicago Reporter. She travels the country speaking about best practices and encouraging and inspiring teachers and leaders to disrupt the status quo. 

Amari Roberts

Amari Roberts is a senior at George Westinghouse College Prep. As part of the Chicago Housing Authority Youth Council, she works to connect youth in CHA with resources, raise awareness and address the negative stigma CHA residents face. Amari is extremely passionate about advocating for others, especially her peers and those younger than herself.

Tanesha Peeples

Tanesha Peeples (that’s me!) is the Deputy Director of Activist Development at brightbeam. She’s a self-proclaimed comedian, an old soul, and a June Cancer. But most importantly, she’s a fighter and expert on her community. As a leader, she motivates, educates, uplifts and starts fires around issues that affect Black and Brown people. 

Through lead positions at various nonprofit organizations and her own entrepreneurial ventures, Tanesha has supported in the opening of high-quality schools in underserved communities, national action campaigns targeting policies and practices that disproportionately affect the lives of marginalized groups and local efforts that promote positivity and nation-building. 

While she isn’t sure she’ll see the change she’s fighting for during her lifetime, Tanesha is committed to going down trying.

Natasha Dunn

Natasha Dunn has 10+ years of experience advocating, organizing and building community awareness for hard-to-access services right here in Chicago. As the amazing mom to three children (including twins!), Natasha is passionate about promoting greater equity and supporting fellow parents to navigate the ups and downs of parenting and meet every child’s individual and unique needs.

From there we’ll go into the Q&A/conversation portion where we want to hear the community’s stories, questions, concerns, ideas and frustrations. We’re putting it all on the table so we can get to the solutions and take them to our leadership.

If you’re a parent, student, or advocate who truly cares about education for Black, Brown and low-income kids, this is not a conversation you want to miss! Go to this Facebook link to RSVP and for more information!

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Tanesha Peeples

South Side community leader Tanesha Peeples is a Chicago Public Schools alumna and proud Englewoodian. She currently serves on the board of the Montessori School of Englewood. Formerly, she served the Deputy Director of Outreach for Education Post, for whom she penned the long-running column Hope and Outrage. As an undergraduate student at Northern Illinois University, Tanesha began to develop a passion for and understand the importance of public service. After obtaining her bachelor’s degree in political science and public administration, she returned to Chicago with a new perspective on community, politics and civic engagement. Tanesha then attended and graduated from DePaul University with a master’s degree in public service management and urban planning and development. Throughout her professional career, Tanesha has used her education, passion and experience to navigate a number of nonprofit, political and independent ventures, advancing her mission to educate and empower marginalized populations. Prior to joining Education Post, she also managed her own consulting firm specializing in community relations. Tanesha’s vision is one where everyone—regardless of ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender or zip code—can have access to a comfortable quality of life and enjoy the freedoms and liberties promised to all Americans. Find her on Twitter at @PeeplesChoice85.