January 5, 2024

How E4E-Chicago Educators Are Transforming the Elected School Board


Beginning next year, Chicago will undergo a historic transformation, as our school board transitions from a seven-member mayoral-appointed school board to a 21-member elected school board. This year is a critical opportunity to advocate for a school board that’s equitable and has the interests of our students and educators at the forefront. 

E4E-Chicago educators have made the most of that opportunity to date. In the fall 2023 Illinois legislative session, E4E-Chicago educators delivered an urgent message to Illinois lawmakers: the city’s newly elected school board should be equitable, mirror the diversity of our students, and include the voices of teachers, parents, and other key stakeholders.

Thanks to the E4E Elected School Board Teacher Action Team’s leadership and member advocacy, State Senators introduced legislation to ensure that CPS teachers can afford to run and serve on the upcoming elected school board by providing board member compensation. Your advocacy also led to a new district map proposal that better represents the diversity of Chicago’s student population, along with increased momentum toward the creation of a Black Student Achievement Advisory Board. This all resulted in significant media attention!

Despite the fact that legislative action was postponed until spring 2024, our fight is far from over. We remain committed to championing the needs of Chicago’s teachers and advocating for a school board that truly represents and serves our diverse community. We look forward to continuing this vital work to ensure that the voices of Chicago’s educators are heard.

As we kick off a new year, we wanted to take this moment to reflect on all the progress that’s been made and the journey we’ve had in advocating for a more equitable Chicago School Board.


On a summer evening in the middle of July, dozens of educators and community leaders joined a critical conversation about Chicago’s pivot to a 21-member elected school board. This event came after a busy spring, where Chicago’s educators testified at state legislative hearings to tell elected officials that hasty approval of unrepresentative district maps, riddled with countless issues and insufficient educator input, would be a grave mistake. 

Experts on the panel, such as Valerie Leonard, Dr. Luisiana Melendez, Brenda Rivera, Mark Franklin, and Virginia Hiltz reached a consensus: while the elected school board is a tremendous opportunity, work remains to ensure it’s implemented correctly.


With back-to-school underway, our organization and E4E-Chicago members launched multiple petitions, highlighting critical issues with Chicago’s elected school board. After dozens of teachers and school leaders demanded compensated board members and more equitable school board maps, Senator Robert Martwick met with E4E-Chicago to discuss what changes are needed to ensure the newly elected school board is equitable and representative of its diverse student population.

GETTING TRACTION: OCTOBER 2023As the direct result of our advocacy and recommendations from teacher leadership teams, efforts to compensate board members gained traction. Senator Martwick, after multiple meetings with E4E-Chicago, committed to holding a press event to introduce legislation to compensate school board members. E4E-Chicago organizer Corrina Demma spoke during the press conference, which was covered by WTTW and Chalkbeat-Chicago.


After educators signed the petition for more fairly drawn school board maps and public pressure from E4E-Chicago teachers, Illinois lawmakers released a new proposed map that’s more representative of the city’s diverse student population. 
The proposal also called for the board of education to create a Black Student Achievement Advisory Board to address the needs of Black students – something E4E-Chicago advocated for strongly alongside Illinois African Americans for Equitable Redistricting (IAAFER). E4E Organizer Corrina Demma was also quoted in Chalkbeat-Chicago’s coverage of the announcement. Progress was ultimately made in the legislature, yet action will be delayed until the spring.


Throughout the month of February, E4E-Chicago educators continued to demand Illinois lawmakers ensure Chicago’s newly elected school board has more equitably drawn maps.

The result was that Illinois lawmakers listened. Legislation was passed for a district map that more accurately reflects the diversity of Chicago’s student population. Additionally, the legislation includes a Black Student Achievement Advisory Committee to address the needs of Black students – something E4E-Chicago spent a year advocating for.

Energized by the recent passage of the legislation that educators advocated for, E4E-Chicago members participated in an elected school board pep rally. At the event, educators all signed a petition, agreeing that we need to build on the encouraging legislation by removing prohibitions on board member compensation so every Chicagoan can afford to serve.

After an incredible pep rally, April began with an exclusive story in Chalkbeat that discussed the event and the petition educators created, inviting CTU to join educators, parents, and other community stakeholders in supporting school board compensation.

Compensation is critical, largely due to the immense responsibility of serving on our school board. The board manages a staggering $9.8 billion budget, and individuals who work for Chicago Public Schools (CPS) would be required to resign from their positions if elected. We cannot expect anyone to sacrifice their livelihood to undertake this vital work.

While it’s encouraging that legislators listened to educators and ensured Chicago’s elected school board had more equitable maps, we also need lawmakers to do the same and listen to the Chicago community on compensation. As educators, we will be loud and clear this spring: for our school board to be equitable, we must compensate board members so more teachers and other community members can afford to run and serve.

Want to be part of our critical work moving forward? Sign our declaration, sign our petitions, and get involved in a teacher action team. We want to ensure that we get our elected school board right, with the voices of Chicago educators front and center.

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How E4E-Chicago Educators Are Transforming the Elected School Board