CHAMPAIGN, Ill., (WCIA) — One local leader feels in order to see kids succeeding, achieving and feeling good about being in school, there needs to be a change.
Minnie Pearson, the president of the NAACP Champaign branch, said she wants to be at the table when change happens.
On Saturday, Champaign School District parents met once again to discuss proposed plans regarding where their kids could be attending school next year.
One option would create a pair of sister schools, the other limits how many schools families can rank.
At Saturday’s meeting, parents said the goal was to share information so everyone understands what’s going on. They presented a slideshow of options laying it all out.
Many people also wanted to learn more about focus groups, another outlet where they can share their opinions.
Some parents feel there are barriers with the groups, such as when and where they meet. At the end of the day, they said they just want change for the kids.
“I want to see structural change so that everybody’s needs will be addressed,” Pearson said.
In addition to her NAACP president position, she’s also a parent and retired teacher.
She said the proposed changes affect everyone, adding that what affects someone on one side of town will eventually affect others on the other side of town.
“Our children, people of color, no matter what, we want our children to get the best education and become productive citizens that we know they can become,” Pearson said.
The school district is looking to change its Schools of Choice model, potentially shuffling families around.
The school board said their school populations aren’t socio-economically balanced.
Christy Arnold, a parent, said this would affect her second grader. He’s gone through kindergarten online and first grade with a mask.
“To completely take them out of an environment that they’re finally getting used to, and just shuffling them around in schools, I don’t feel like that’s directly going to improve any of the achievement scores, or really do anything for these kids except create more chaos,” Arnold said.
She was one of the parents selected to be in a focus group.
Cooperative Strategies, a consulting firm the district hired, hosts small group sessions to hear about parent concerns. Arnold said her group met online on a Wednesday afternoon, and there were 12 people.
She said the group session options were mainly at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., and 1 p.m., adding that those times can be a barrier for some.
You have to apply to be in a group, and Arnold said it’s unclear how they choose people, or if everyone is placed in one.
“If those are the only options for them, as a couple of people stated in the meeting, then they’re leaving a lot of voices out,” Arnold said.
Despite the challenges, in the end, Pearson said people need to come together.
“Not when it hurts you, but when it hurts anyone. Be there to say ‘what can we do to help you,'” Pearson said.
Arnold encourages people to join the focus groups and attend future meetings. She suggests if you can’t make the meeting times listed, to email the school board at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can sign up for focus groups here, on the Cooperative Strategies website.
The school board is hosting a regular meeting on Monday, Oct. 10 at 5 p.m. at the Champaign Unit 4 – Center for Family and Community Engagement at the Mellon Building, 703 S New St.
It is a regular meeting and not specifically for parents regarding the Schools of Choice program, but parents at Saturday’s meeting said they plan to attend and share their thoughts during the time for public comment.
They encouraged others to attend Monday’s meeting as well.