To Get the Schools We Deserve, We Must Tell Our Stories

I have a love/hate relationship with the city of Chicago.

I love the city for its beauty, vibrancy, diversity and opportunity. I hate the city for how its underserved communities sometimes gets the short end of the stick—especially when it comes to education.

I grew up in Englewood and there were no good school options in my community. Luckily, my parents made the decision and were able to send me to better-performing schools in other neighborhoods. But most of the kids I grew up with weren’t as fortunate and fell through the cracks of a broken and underperforming system. And it’s still like that.

Parent, student, teacher and community voices have been silenced and excluded for too long. And we shouldn’t be surprised. The system is built to disempower us.

But I also know that, as a collective, we haven’t demanded better. We’ve grown complacent with the status quo. We’ve let others set our standards, define quality and tell us what we need.

I know that if we all stood up and advocated for better education, we would get it. If we shared resources and information, more families would reap the benefits of opportunities that are already out here.

That’s what Chicago Unheard is for.

It’s a place for parents, students, community members and educators to talk about what’s good, what’s bad and everything in between. It’s a resource hub for people who have no idea where to begin. And most importantly, it’s a safe space for others who feel just like and have experienced the same things as you.

I do this work for those of us who have been marginalized, disempowered and disadvantaged by an inequitable and discriminatory system. When more voices from communities like mine are telling their stories and are being heard, we will strengthen the case for investing in the sort of high-quality schools we need and deserve.

I wholeheartedly believe that education is the foundation for success. It’s where you discover your talents, your dreams and ambitions, your purpose and passion—and most importantly, your potential.

We have to fight for that foundation and that starts with sharing your voice. Check us out—join the conversation.

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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.