4 Reasons Why Noble Schools’ Parents Should Advocate in Springfield

Image in the background shows a group photo of Noble Schools' parents and staff standing in the Illinois State Capitol building's rotunda. Everyone is smiling and many are wearing bright orange shirts that say "$550M for Evidence-Based Funding" with the Funding Illinois Future logo on them. This photo was taken during Noble Schools' Lobby Day trip in April 2023. On top of the photo is a dark blue transparent layer. In the bottom left corner, there is blue text on a yellow box that reads "4 Reasons Why Noble Parents Should Advocate in Springfield". The Noble Schools logo is in the bottom right corner.
Published On: August 31st, 2023Categories: 2023, Butler College Prep, DRW College Prep, Parents, The Noble Academy

“We need to have our voices heard. We can’t make any changes unless we show and tell them why it needs to be changed.”

Regina White, a parent at both DRW College Prep and The Noble Academy, summed up best why Noble parents and the Noble Schools’ Government & Community Affairs (GCA) team go to Springfield for Lobby Days every year.

White was one amongst eight other parents from across Noble’s campuses that went to Springfield in April to advocate for their children and schools. It was her first time going on a trip to Lobby Day since her son started at DRW College Prep in 2020. She couldn’t have been more excited to join.

“To go down there, to lobby on behalf of our students… I mean, I couldn’t wait! I kept asking Ellen, even during the pandemic, ‘When’s the next trip to Lobby Day?’” White said, referring to Ellen Moiani, the Director of Government & Community Affairs at Noble Schools.

Photo shows Noble Schools' parents and staff talking with Illinois State House representative in the hallways of the Illinois State Capitol building. From left to right, the people in the image are: Regina White, parent at DRW College Prep and The Noble Academy; Ellen Moiani, the Director of Government and Community Affairs at Noble Schools; representative, , and

White (left), Moiani (second to left), and other Noble parents talk with Representative Edgar Gonzalez, Jr. in the hallways of the Illinois State Capitol building.

White is passionate about advocating not only for her own children but all children at Noble Schools. Her son has loved his experience at DRW and her daughter, a sophomore at The Noble Academy, has been enjoying her time as well. White says she has seen her son grow a lot and be truly cared for by the staff at DRW.

“He just really enjoys everything about the school because of the companionship and the camaraderie that they have,” White said, “He feels that his teachers supports him, they care about him – especially his advisor, Mr. Binion.”

So, when White heard there would be an opportunity to advocate for more funding and better policies that would create the school environment she wants for her children, she jumped on.

The latest trip was full of fun, laughter, and encouraging conversations with the representatives that serve the communities of Noble. If you’re a Noble parent and you haven’t gone on a Lobby Day trip yet, here’s four reasons why you should join us in Springfield this year:

  1. It’s Fun

Not only do you get to take a day off, but you get to explore the beautiful Capitol building with a group of passionate, like-minded parents. From the bus ride to tracking down representatives in the hallways of the Capitol, our parents’ time in Springfield is full of energy and excitement.

“I loved the energy. It was a positive energy, it was alive. It was just all around enjoyable.The day was beautiful, the bus ride was nice. I mean, I don’t have any complaints,” White said.

Image shows a group photo of Noble Schools' parents and staff standing in the Illinois State Capitol building's rotunda. Everyone is smiling and many are wearing bright orange shirts that say "$550M for Evidence-Based Funding" with the Funding Illinois Future logo on them. This photo was taken during Noble Schools' Lobby Day trip in April 2023.

Noble parents and staff pose in the Capitol building's rotunda after a long day of advocating for students

Monique Whitfield, a parent at Johnson College Prep, went on both of Noble’s Springfield trips last school year.

“I had fun on both trips,” Whitfield said, “They feed you, you don’t have to spend any money. And you get to find out what’s really going on with the schools.”

The parents who went on the trip said they also enjoy talking with their state representatives. Some parents, like White and Whitfield, even formed personal connections with their lawmakers.

“I got to talk to Sonya Harper – I know her personally,” Whitfield said, “So, when we were looking for her, I texted her and I was like ‘I’m here! We’re on our way to you.’”

“I got to meet my representative again,” White said, ”I remember when she was running for that position, and I came out. I listened to her whole spiel and I signed her petition and she became our representative… I brought that to her attention and she was like ‘Oh, I think I do know you!’. She actually gave me her cell number.”

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.

Whitfield agrees.

“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.

Photo shows a group shot of everyone who showed up in April 2023 to advocate for evidence-based funding for Illinois schools. The group is standing and posing up the stairs of the Illinois State Capitol building. This group includes Noble Schools' parents and staff, the team at Funding Illinois Future, and other Illinois public schools parents, staff, and community members. Most people are smiling and wearing bright orange shirts that read "$550M for Evidence-Based Funding" and have the Funding Illinois Future logo on them. Many people in the back and at the top of the stairs are holding signs that say the same thing.

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.”

Image shows Temeka Cartwright, a parent at Butler College Prep, speaking behind a podium to a crowd in the Illinois State Capitol building. She is wearing a bright orange shirt that reads "$550M for Evidence-Based Funding" and has the Funding Illinois Future logo on it. She is holding a microphone and has a group of other advocates behind her, wearing the same shirt and holding signs that say the same thing as the shirts. In the foreground of the image, you can see a couple of heads of audience members. This photo was taken during Noble Schools' Lobby Day trip in April 2023.

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.

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Photo shows two students at UIC College Prep in Chicago, Illinois standing in the hallway of the school building. The student on the left is a young Black man with medium-length locs. He is wearing a light grey sweatshirt with the dark blue UIC College Prep logo on it. The student on the right is a young Black girl. She has long black and blue braids. She is wearing the same light grey sweatshirt and holding a binder, a folder, and a laptop with one arm. They are leaning into each other and smiling at the camera.

3. You Connect With Other Parents

Taking a field trip with other parents to Springfield is also a great way to build friendships and connections with guardians at other Noble schools. For many parents, these relationships are an invaluable addition to their support network.

“It’s just nice to talk about some of the challenges and situations, and even some of the wins and victories that our children have. Also, the struggles of just being a parent – it’s not easy,” White said.

For Whitfield, having other parents to talk to is a great resource for getting support in the school.

“They can connect you to somebody that can help you deal with an issue that you have in the school,” Whitfield said.

For White, this recent Lobby Day was one of the first opportunities she had to connect with other Noble parents outside of her campuses.

“I had a great time talking with them. I started off on the way there just not talking to anyone cause I don’t really know a lot of people. But, on the way back, I actually had a whole conversation and then discovered that one of the parents’ daughter knew my son,” White said.

White particularly appreciated connecting with Noble parents because she feels like Noble parents really care about ALL students and not just their own child.

Image shows Noble Schools' parents and a staff member talking while they wait to speak with representatives in the hallways of the Illinois State Capitol building. They are all wearing bright orange shirts that read "$550M for Evidence-Based Funding" and have the Illinois Funding Future logo on them. They are holding folders with all the information they need to prep for their talks with representatives.

Noble parents and staff chat together to prepare for talking with state representatives.

“The parents actually say it’s not just about their child, it’s about all the children. And I really like that… I didn’t see that really until I got to Noble,” White said.

The GCA team also loves seeing parents come together to support each other during Lobby Day trips.

“It’s always so nice to see parents interacting with other parents from different campuses. Building a strong group of parents who they can depend on and help each other makes us very proud because we’ve done our job,” said Nadia Berriel Miranda, Senior Engagement Coordinator on the GCA team.

4. You Grow as a Leader & Advocate

Heading to Springfield is also an amazing opportunity to stretch your legs in the field of advocacy. You not only learn how to advocate for your cause with state representatives but you gain a better understanding of how the Illinois State Houses operate and how they impact schools.

“I got to learn more about the different bills that were passing and how it goes from the House to the Senate,” Whitfield said, “Lobby Day is a good avenue for parents to see the political side of what goes on when schools say that they don’t have money or that they can’t do certain things.”

Whitfield also felt like the trip gave her more confidence in advocating for her whole school community.

“I’m used to advocating for my sons because both of my sons have autism. But just to advocate for a school and what they need… yeah, I’ve got more confident in talking to officials,” Whitfield said, “Normally, I would just let other people talk, but the last time we went, I think I did most of the talking.”

White echoed Whitfield’s sentiments about gaining confidence. She said Moiani really helped her to speak up.

“She really helped me to get out there to start speaking to the representatives. Usually, I like to stay behind the scenes, but she really encouraged me and motivated me to get out and try to contact my representative to get my voice heard,” White said.

If you’re still on the fence about coming to Lobby Days with Noble Schools’ team, Whitfield and White have some words to encourage you:

“If they want to make the change they want to see, then they need to come out. They need to be able to advocate. Because we can complain all day amongst each other, but if we don’t get out there and get with the lawmakers that can make or break us, then it serves no point,” White said.

Whitfield wholeheartedly agreed:

“When it comes down to issues and things that you want to complain about, you can’t complain if you’re not putting in the work. You cannot complain if you’re not willing to go down there and fight for what it is we need. If you gonna complain about it, then help us do something about it.”

Find out more about Lobby Day and other opportunities to get involved at Noble by joining the Family Partners List, attending your school’s PAC meetings, or contacting your school’s GCA team organizer. You can find their contact information here.

Read more about parent engagement at Noble Schools…

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This graphic has a photo in the background of a group of Noble Schools' staff members smiling and posing for a photo. They are all wearing matching dark blue shirts that have the Noble logo on them and read "One Noble, One Vision: Excellence, Equity, and College Readiness". On top of the image is a dark blue transparent layer. On top of that and in the bottom left corner is blue text on a yellow box that reads "Noble Educators Celebrate the New School Year". The Noble Schools logo is in the bottom right corner.Noble Schools' Educators Celebrate the Start of the New School Year
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