This unit was created by Mark Wiley, a high school Civics teacher in Chicago, IL, as part of the 2021-2022 Pulitzer Center Teacher Fellowship program. It is designed for facilitation across approximately four weeks or fifteen lessons.
For more units created by Pulitzer Center Teacher Fellows in this cohort, click here.
Students will be able to...
- To create more gateways for student advocacy to influence budgeting prioritization and promote students’ own priorities regarding educational, physical, and mental health
- To collaborate across school communities using Student Voice Committees (SVC) and Local School Councils (LSC) to increase student influence over the CPS district, and school budget process
- Should we reassess educational budget prioritization since the Covid-19 pandemic?
- How can students themselves be more involved in making major decisions on how they can best serve their own educational priorities, including their own mental health?
- How can students be more empowered to influence how school resources are utilized?
Student input is often not taken into consideration in most school districts, in regards to how major decisions are made, how educational priorities are decided, or how budgets are spent. In the example of Chicago Public Schools (CPS), after almost two years of remote learning, students are struggling with major learning deficits, gaps in their education, and lingering socioemotional needs. This is an underreported story about students’ and their families’ needs, often not considered or prioritized in decision-making.
In Chicago Public Schools (CPS), there have been recent efforts to begin empowering student voices and increasing student agency. One example is the recent creation of the Social Science and Civic Engagement department and the fostering of Student Voice Committees within individual schools. Student leaders and their parents on Local School Councils have more power to make important decisions. If schools want to do what is best for students, they must elevate their voices, listen to their stories, and include them in shaping school policies, budgets, and priorities. Since the Covid-19 pandemic has strongly impacted students’ learning trajectory and mental health, why not let students make decisions about how educational dollars should be spent?
This unit is an effort to listen to students' underreported pandemic stories, and to help students gain autonomy of their education through understanding how money informs decisions within the school.
For the performance task, students will:
- Create a blueprint for their ideal school using architect layouts in order to design the perfect school.
- Develop a budget for their school focused on improving students’ mental health.
- Analyze current district and school budgets in order to eliminate unnecessary costs that don’t benefit students. They will evaluate which resources and expenditures are necessary and which ones are not.
- Write a Letter of Declaration framing their school priorities.
- Present their school budget proposals via multimedia presentations on how they would prioritize school funds to optimize students’ overall mental, physical, and educational health.
Four-week unit plan, including warm-ups, classroom activities, texts, graphic organizers, and performance tasks for the unit.
|Empowering students to shape pandemic budgets by Jackson Potter for The Pulitzer Center
Puerto Rico and the Pandemic Through the Lens of Students by Énoa Gibson for Trice Edney Newswire, Pulitzer Center
Societal Fallouts of COVID-19 | Pulitzer Center, Parth MN for People’s Archive of Rural India, Pulitzer Center
World in Progress: Missing out on Education in the Kashmir Region by Furkan Latif Khan for Deutsche Welle
11 questions about how the American Rescue Plan will affect schools, answered by Matt Barnum for Chalkbeat
CPS Announces $24M Plan to Address Student Trauma, Mental Health by Matt Masterson for WTTW News
Chicago Public Schools Releases ‘Healing-Centered Framework’ a Multi-Year Plan to Address Trauma, Chicago Public Schools Press Release
A Better Chicago to grant $7M targeting mental health for CPS students recovering from pandemic learning loss by Maudlyne Ihejirika for Chicago Suntimes
Common Core Standards:
Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.
Determine two or more central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to provide a complex analysis; provide an objective summary of the text.
Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem.
Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the strengths and limitations of each source in terms of the task, purpose, and audience; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and overreliance on any one source and following a standard format for citation.
3C: Contribute to the well-being of one's school and community.
- Analyze your rights and responsibilities as a member of your school community.
- Brainstorm ways you could contribute to your community
- Evaluate the impact on yourself and others of your involvement in an activity to improve your school or community.
3C Stage J:
- Design a survey to identify school needs.
- Prioritize identified school needs.
- Develop a project and action plan to address an identified school need.
- Conduct research on a school's need of interest.
- Work cooperatively with other students in addressing an identified need in the broader community (e.g., working on a political campaign, a literacy project, an effort to reduce hunger, an educational program to raise awareness about climate change, etc.).
- Communicate the results of a group service project to interested school and community groups.
This unit is assessed through the following formative and summative assessments.
- Analyzing and Imagining the CPS Budget (Google Form Survey)
- Reflection journals (daily exit tickets)