Chicago ACORN: Rethinking the Teacher Pipeline for an Urban Public School System
This report shares findings from a six-year research study on the impact of ACORN's education organizing on Chicago schools. The study found that community organizing contributed to increased educational opportunities. Like many other urban districts, Chicago Public Schools struggles to recruit and retain experienced, successful teachers in schools serving low-income communities. The community organizing group ACORN identified the problem as teachers' lack of knowledge of and connection to their schools' communities. Drawing on a successful program developed by the Logan Square Neighborhood Association (LSNA), ACORN called for a new strategy: creating a statewide "grow your own" program to train teacher paraprofessionals and community residents to become teachers in their neighborhood schools.
This report shares findings from a six-year research study on the impact of ACORN's education organizing on Chicago schools. The study found that community organizing contributed to increased educational opportunities in several important ways:
- enhanced equity by focusing the district's attention on the needs of underserved schools, helping to bring new state resources to address teacher quality, and securing funds for facilities improvements;
- led to the development and funding of a new approach to teacher preparation programs that drew on the assets of underserved communities;
- established new roles for parent and community constituencies in improving teacher quality in historically hard-to-staff schools.
Note: The Annenberg Institute, with funding from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, conducted a six-year research study and developed a series of seven case studies based on our research. Each case documents the organizing efforts of a community group in a site and its effect on resource equity and district accountability for improved educational outcomes. Sites include Austin Interfaith, Chicago ACORN,Community Coalition (Los Angeles), Eastern Pennsylvania Organizing Project and Youth United for Change, Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition & Sistas and Brothas United, Oakland Community Organizations, and People Acting for Community Together (Miami).