CHICAGO (April 5, 2016) – Last month was the annual national month long homage to women for their contributions to culture, history and society. Likewise, in just a few short weeks there will be Mother’s Day, a holiday created to celebrate the sacrifices made by moms for the sake of their children and families.
Yet, even though it probably won’t get the widespread recognition it deserves, three courageous women educators made history on March 1, 2016. On that day, students, parents and educators at Chicago’s Amandla Charter School, Bronzeville Lighthouse Charter School, and Barbara A. Sizemore Academy – a campus of Betty Shabazz International Charter Schools – celebrated winning appeals to keep their doors open despite a ruling in November 2015 from Chicago Public Schools to close them.
The Illinois State Charter School Commission voted 6-0 to keep the three South Side Afrocentric schools open, a landmark decision.
Jennifer Kirmes, CEO, Amandla
Not many are aware that the forces behind these successful appeals are three formidable female educators – Jennifer Kirmes, CEO, Amandla; Phyllis Goodson, Regional Vice President-Illinois, Bronzeville; and Dr. Carol D. Lee, board chairman and co-founder, Shabazz. “This is an historical precedent.
Phyllis Goodson, Regional Vice President-Illinois, Bronzeville
We are delighted that the Commission recognized that Sizemore has made significant progress that was not considered by CPS,” says Lee, who also is the Edwina S. Tarry Professor of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University.
With nearly five decades in education, her career has included work as an English Language Arts teacher at the high school and community college levels, a primary grade teacher, and her current university professorship. She is a founder of four African-centered schools and institutions, including three charter schools under the umbrella of the Betty Shabazz International Charter Schools.
This month, Lee will receive the Black Women’s Expo Phenomenal Woman Award in Education.
Dr. Carol D. Lee, board chairman and co-founder, Shabazz
“This victory belongs to our entire community and every single member of our Amandla team and family should be extremely proud,” exclaims Kirmes, who was humbled and thrilled by the news. “To everyone who wrote letters, attended meetings and rallies, and marched eight miles for Amandla, thank you, your effort made all the difference! Amandla was saved because of you!”
“I just wanted to spark hope in the community,” says Goodson. “Students like Justin Tabor, united with the staff and community, successfully obtained due process for the children of BZLCS. The unity of many in body, with the same goal in mind is awesome!”
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