This past spring, Educators for Excellence celebrated the announcement of the $24M investment in more trauma-informed, healing-centered practices and mental wellness across Chicago Public Schools. This marked a major milestone in E4E-Chicago’s advocacy work.
Nearly four years ago, our Chicago chapter released an educator-authored paper, Sounding the Alarm. Since then, educators from across the district have applied slow and steady—but relentless—pressure on CPS to make social-emotional learning and trauma true priorities for the district. For years, our members shared stories with decision-makers, signed petitions, joined policy discussions on educator mental health, SEL, trauma-informed care, and so much more.
Amid increasing awareness surrounding police brutality toward Black people, and a pandemic that only intensified inequities among students, particularly along lines of color, our work continued on with even more intentionality. E4E Chicago gathered a Teacher Action Team of 12 educators who met and put together a policy memo, From Hashtags to Healing that directly addressed these dual crises. Countless conversations with our members continued to uplift the need to prioritize social emotional health and well being, and long-overdue need for trauma informed practices to address student need in an impactful way. Because of our members’ advocacy, their recommendations are coming to life in multiple ways through this landmark Healing-Centered Framework.
Even more importantly, through this framework CPS is directly naming the role of racism in creating and perpetuating trauma, and outlining resources and supports to begin chipping away at this systematic and urgent problem. This was the lens through which From Hashtags to Healing was created, and we are inspired to see one of our central recommendations reflected in the initiative's priorities: to train all district personnel in competencies such as implicit bias, antiracism, trauma-informed practice, and culturally affirming pedagogy.
While the hard work of advocacy is never over, this is certainly a win for us, for our members, for students and for the city of Chicago for years to come.