On August 17, Generation All welcomed principals from neighborhood public high schools throughout Chicago. Beatriz Ponce de León, Generation All’s executive director, and Troy LaRaviere, the president of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association opened the summit by presenting about their respective organizations and the roles principals can play in advancing more equity in education.
Mr. LaRaviere explained CPAA’s new structure of both issue and CPS network based groups, emphasizing the importance of principals coming together to solve mutual issues.
Principals then shared the key obstacles to revitalizing neighborhood public schools. One tremendous obstacle they pointed out was the School Quality Rating Policy (SQRP) as it does not account for some schools selecting their own students and others remaining open to anyone. Principals repeatedly referred to the opening and closing of schools without any clear vision for the system as a whole as a chief obstacle to revitalizing neighborhood high schools. As new schools are built and opened, principals are left to compete over students and resources. When they are unable to maintain enrollment, they lose funding, which in turn, complicates making their schools attractive to attend. Principals also pointed out the inequitable funding that doesn’t allocate extra resources to the neediest schools and students. The principals identified Generation All’s three policy solutions, as well as one public engagement solution (raise the profile of neighborhood public schools) as essential to addressing these obstacles.
The principals then broke into three groups, aligned with Generation All’s action plan: practice, policy and public engagement. The practice group, led by Beatriz Ponce de León, discussed how to manage external community partnerships, as well as advocating for equitable funding at the state and city levels. Abbey McLaren, Generation All’s associate program officer, led the policy group, which discussed school evaluation, and how to begin aggregating principal feedback to improve the SQRP. The public engagement group, led by Generation All’s associate program officer Misuzu Schexnider, examined how principals can effectively use social media and engagement to feeder elementary schools to improve public perception of and enrollment at their high schools.
By joining principals together, Generation All and CPAA was able to foster a sense of camaraderie, better understand how to support principals, and share knowledge to help principals strengthen the perception of their schools. In the closing remarks, one principal noted, “Thank you for doing the work that you do. If we do nothing, we won’t be here, so we need to keep doing this work.”