By Jessica Schneider in the American Bar Association – March 30, 2017
“School choice.” It’s a phrase we hear often in today’s education discourse, and the discussion around the nomination for U.S. Secretary of Education has put the issue front and center nationally. As parents and students look for higher performing alternatives to neighborhood schools that often suffer from a lack of resources, charter schools have arisen as one of those alternatives. Charter schools are public schools but are designed to be more innovative and free from constraints. Charters are often referred to as being publicly funded but privately run. Though they do not charge tuition and are open to all students, they can also be thought of as “laboratories” where new and different education policies and practices are tried.
Written by Staff Attorney Candace Moore in the CBA record
Across the country, schools have increasingly relied on exclusionary discipline, zero-tolerance policies, and law enforcement tactics to address student conduct. This has led to a national crisis commonly referred to as The "School-to-Prison-Pipeline" ("STPP").
September 2015 - The Student Leaders in Elections report examines the program of the same name, run by the Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights, to identify effective strategies and document the program’s impact. The Student Leaders in Elections Program recruited over 1,500 college students to work as poll workers in the City of Chicago in three elections in 2014 and 2015, making it one of the largest college poll worker programs in the country. The students engaged in a valuable civic opportunity and helped to make the election process smoother and more accessible for voters.
April 2015 - The Color of Representation is the first comprehensive report on the representation of people of color in Illinois at the level of cities, counties, and school boards. Local governments affect the practices of the police, the distribution of public resources, and the way that the schools educate the next generation of leaders. You can see the 38 places identified for having elected officials that don't reflect the racial diversity of the community.
December 2014 - The Voting Rights Project fielded hundreds of calls about Election Day Registration at the November 4th Election Protection Hotline and collected nearly 300 exit surveys. This report, which directly influenced the drafting of Illinois General Assembly legislation, finds that there is strong demand for EDR in Illinois and that the state should make the program permanent and devote more resources to it to make the process smoother.
April 2014 - Chicago Democracy Week proved that high school students can be just as engaged in civic life as any other segment of the population. This week of civic education programs resulted in nearly 4,000 students registering to vote. The turnout rate of these students in the 2014 primary exceeded that of every other age group except those 46 and older.
July 2013 - In this letter to the Executive Director of the Illinois State Board of Elections, the Voting Rights Project listed a series of recommendations - ratified by a broad coalition of community groups - outlining procedures for implementing Online Voter Registration. The Board adopted recommendations from the letter about requiring professional language translators, community focus-group testing, and notification of registration status, among others.
December 2012 - Using data from the November 2012 Election Protection Program, the Voting Rights Project explained the breakdowns in election administration that occurred in Illinois. This report joined dozens of others compiled and analyzed by the Voting Rights Project's parent organization, the National Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights.