Decisions on budgets, principal selection impact the working and learning conditions in our buildings — and educators must have input.
LSC election season is in full swing, with candidate applications due by 3 p.m. March 4 at the school in which you are running. The election will be held in person at elementary schools April 20 and at high schools April 21.
CTU is encouraging members to run for teacher rep positions on their school’s council — it’s one of the best ways to exercise power in your building and hold CPS and your administration accountable. Your LSC consists of the school’s principal, six parents, two community members, two teachers, one non-teacher staff member and one to three students.
In the run-up to the election, CTU is sharing interviews with members who serve on their school’s LSC. We hope their insight and advice helps you decide to run for your LSC!
Karen Zaccor, Uplift Community High School
CTU: When did you first get elected to the LSC?
Karen: I first served on the LSC at my daughter’s school, Stockton, in 1989. That was in the heyday of LSCs, right after the bill was passed that created them. It was a really exciting time to be on an LSC. We felt like we were creating something new and important. It was a way to have real democracy in our schools despite the fact that CPS had and continues to have an appointed school board. I joined the LSC at Uplift, where I teach, in 2006 and have served off and on since then.
CTU: What prompted you to run the first time?
Karen: I had a vision for the kind of school I wanted my daughter to attend and I wanted a voice to help shape that vision. My motivation for running as a teacher was the same.
CTU: What were some of the things that surprised you most about LSC’s when you first started?
Karen: I wasn’t prepared for the challenge of getting information, like the budget and other documents, and understanding them. There’s certainly a learning curve, but it’s not insurmountable, especially for CTU members.
CTU: What are some of things that your LSC has done that you are most proud of?
Karen: At my daughter’s school, we ended academic tracking. We won full day kindergarten and got actual bilingual teachers in the bilingual program. At Uplift, we voted to remove our SRO, which was a big deal. The LSC also has helped develop a pretty innovative alternative safety plan.
CTU: Why should CTU members consider running for staff positions on the LSC in April?
Karen: LSCs make big decisions about the budget, principal evaluation, and principal selection.These decisions impact our members’ working conditions and also the learning conditions of our students. Educators should absolutely have a role because we are in the building on a day-to-day basis, so we see things that parents and community reps generally are not aware of.
CTU: What advice do you have for CTU members who feel the LSC doesn’t have any real power and it’s just a waste of time?
Karen: You have the power you can secure. By organizing your members, building coalitions with parents and community organizations, it is possible to make real changes. And it’s always important for people to have a voice and agency in the systems that affect their daily lives.
CTU: Do you have any examples of issues or situations that your LSC successfully championed against the principal’s proposal?
Karen: Our LSC voted to get rid of our SRO. Initially, the principal was not on our side. But after we had a substantive discussion and heard from many stakeholders in the school, he voted with us.
CTU: Do you have a good relationship with the parents and community reps on your LSC? How did you develop those relationships?
Karen: We have community reps on our LSC who are long-time allies and that’s really important. But, to be honest, it’s always a challenge finding parents to run. I recommend CTU members reach out to the parents they have good relationships with and encourage them to serve.
CTU: Is there anything else you’d like to share? What kind of supports do you think CTU should provide to LSCs or CTU members serving on the councils?
Karen: I think CTU expertise on understanding the budget, on principal evaluation work is really important and really helpful. If you haven’t reached out to attend one of CTU’s budget trainings, do that as soon as possible. It gives you invaluable insights into how to understand your school’s budget, and just as important, how to advocate for what your school needs.