2. It Matters
Like White said earlier, if parents don’t share their voices and concerns with lawmakers, then they don’t know what changes to make to improve our schools and communities. Parents are a key part of the story in any legislation that affects their children’s schooling and well-being, so their voices need to be heard when any law about education is considered. When it comes to advocating in Springfield, GCA Director Moiani said, the idea is to continuously get in front of legislators again and again with the stories of the people directly impacted by the laws being considered. When you send waves of personal stories, legislators have to pay attention, Moiani said.
“When it comes to issues, we’re stronger in numbers,” Whitfield said, “We get a better understanding as a whole, as opposed to each one of us trying to figure out things separately. As a whole, if we get the information together, we can come together and give them everything that we got. Then they’ll see that it’s not just this parent saying “Oh, well, my child this’. We’re all talking about our kids as a whole.”
For this latest trip, Whitfield and other Noble parents joined the Funding Illinois’ Future coalition to join those waves of stories and advocate for full evidence-based funding for all public schools. The magic number? $550 million total, arrived at through a formula signed into Illinois law in 2017. The formula estimates how much Illinois schools need to fully serve their students.
Noble Schools' parents and staff, along with other advocates, pose for a group photo in the Capitol building.
In the 2022-2023 school year, CPS schools were funded at only 75% adequacy – leaving a gap of over $4000 per student. Noble parents have seen firsthand how this inadequate funding has impacted not only their children but all the children in their communities.
“We need the money, we need the funding. One of the staff members that leads the PAC meeting shared with us that, because of the cuts that will be made, they may potentially lose teachers, lose positions,” White said, “Our school can’t afford to lose anyone. Every role they play is vital. We need everyone there.”
Temeka Cartwright, a parent at Butler College Prep, spoke at a rally in the middle of the Capitol rotunda to share her story and advocate for the funding initiative.
“It is important for me to be here today, to put a face to the data, to put a name to those numbers,” Cartwright said to dozens of rally members, “If we can increase support for evidence-based funding, we can provide students with the materials, staff, and support needed in their school systems.”
Cartwright speaking to the rally crowd.
Members of the GCA team could not speak highly enough of the impact parents have when they share their perspectives and stories like these with representatives and other advocates.
“Parents are game changers because they have the experiences to share that can change outcomes,” said Pattilyn Beals, Manager of Government & Community Affairs, “They have the firsthand knowledge of how laws are impacting the educational landscape for their students and can share those experiences with legislators and other stakeholders to impact change.”
“Every parent has a story about what they dream for their child,” Moiani said, “They also understand that, without money, the resources they believe are needed to meet that dream cannot be purchased. Legislators need to hear these dreams.”
This year, EBF was increased by $350 million, largely due to the work of Noble parents and many other advocates within the Funding Illinois’ Future coalition, headed by the team at Advance Illinois. We are disappointed that it was not increased to more than $350 million, but we’re still going to keep fighting till all our schools are fully funded! We hope you can join us in this fight. You can find more information about this campaign and how you can get involved here.