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Head shot of a Black woman with mid-length curly dark hair in front of a tan brick wall.

Andrea Parker

Research into the racist funding scheme needed now more than ever

Fulton Elementary school teacher Andrea Parker knows the harm that student-based budgeting inflicts on CPS schools. She’s seen it first hand at her own school, which serves predominantly low-income Black and Latinx students, and at other schools in her community.

Parker is an active CTU member, a fixture at CPS protests and co-host of CTU Speaks!, the Union’s podcast. And in her spare time, she is pursuing her doctoral degree in leadership. Her dissertation, “K-12 Teachers’ Perceptions of Student-Based Budgeting,” examines teachers’ views of the racist funding scheme on their students and schools.

Need for Research

She chose the topic because of the dearth of research on it from the educator’s vantage point and because she believes her work will inform future campaigns to scrap SBB, which is strangling schools on the city’s South and West Sides. CTU has been mobilizing its members to pressure CPS and the mayor to end SBB and to fund schools based on student needs, not on a grossly unfair, arbitrary formula.

Parker has been interviewing teachers from a variety of grade levels and subjects and different types of schools: low enrollment to high enrollment and neighborhood, magnet and selective enrollment. She also conducted a virtual focus group that posed questions like: How has student-budgeting impacted your teaching conditions? How has it shaped the priorities of your district and your school? Why do you believe student-based budgeting was implemented in your school district and why is it still being practiced? What role should teachers play in implementing a budgeting formula?

A Lifelong Dream

Parker already has three degrees, National Board Certification and several endorsements to her name. But she believes pursuing a doctorate will help her become a better advocate and mentor for teachers and their students.

“Earning a doctorate degree has been my lifelong dream,” Parker said. “But it’s not just about a personal ambition or accomplishment. I know earning this degree in leadership will help me become a better advocate for my students and help me better speak up for communities that are not often heard.”

Now More Than Ever

While SBB and other funding decisions impact students and teachers on a daily basis, Parker said, they often don’t have a voice or a seat at the table when those decisions are made. She hopes her research will help change that.

And funding changes are needed now more than ever.

“The pandemic has revealed a lot of inequities in the budgeting formula and I do believe positions may be attacked if students do not show up for remote learning,” she said. “It may be used as a way to lay teachers off, especially teachers who are not teaching core subjects like reading or math.”