While Generation All – The Chicago Community Trust initiative- may be a newer initiative that launched in 2014, the disparity between high school choices for Chicago students has hindered the city for more than a decade. As school “choice” increases in Chicago, the once pillar of the community, neighborhood schools (middle and high schools), have been left to fend for themselves with fewer funds, resources, and at times students. Kelly High School senior, Evelyn Solis says, “the high school process is messed up…if you don’t go to one of the Northside/’Loop’ Selective Enrollment High Schools, you are, well forgotten.”
With Selective Enrollment High Schools making up only five percent of school choice for enrolling student, Generation All seeks to revitalize the twenty-six percent of school choice, neighborhood high schools, whom are at times under enrolled due to excess of unwarranted school choice and deprivation of funds.
Generation All is an initiative comprised of four founding groups, two of which have the most at stake when it comes to education; Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU). While the partnership of both CPS and CTU may echo an unfamiliar tune, under the leadership of Generation All’s Executive Director, Beatriz Ponce de Leon, and a forty-one person steering committee, the organization was able to layout an action plan that should eliminate the divestment and instead reinvest in neighborhood high schools. The steering committees met monthly for four hours discussing, researching, and planning to develop recommendations that envisage neighborhood schools.
The work of Generation All has already come into fruition over the past two years through various grants being awarded to community organizations. One such recipient was Brighton Park Neighborhood Council (BPNC), which frequently works with schools like Kelly High School in Chicago’s southwest side. Just last week BPNC launched their SouthWest Coalition that includes schools around the southwest sides that seeks to properly recognize and uplift neighborhood schools. Both BPNC and Kelly has been the hub of organizing against charter expansion – unwarranted addition of schools to the community. Something Generation All’s plan unveils – that without a process that involves both community and city planning, there should be a pause to the opening and or closing of schools. The over fifty page plan accumulated through Generation All has been founded on three long-term solutions: practice, policy, and public management, which all emphasize the partnerships within the community. Stakeholders in the community that will essentially benefit from a thriving revitalized neighborhood high school: parents, students, business leaders, educators, policy makers, and residents.
Amid the initiative pinpointing each entities role within the community, it reiterates the importance of accountability amongst one another for insuring that these neighborhood school students are receiving a culturally and socially rich education.
*Photo Credit: Generation All Website