Organization hopes to gain presence on RU’s campus
By Kevinisha Walker
While Students for Education Reform has more than 140 chapters on college campuses across the U.S., the organization hasn’t had any luck starting a chapter on Roosevelt University’s campus.
But SFER’s Illinois State Program Director Tanesha Peeples hopes to get Roosevelt students involved with the organization.
“Considering the controversy involving the Chicago Public School system, we don’t always have students willing to commit to joining the organization, and their focus is on their studies, and they don’t always have time to join,” Peeples said.
According to it’s website, “SFER is a student-led movement to end educational injustice.”
Peeples added that when she came to recruit Roosevelt students, some showed interest in being part of the organization but not in being chapter leaders. Having a chapter leader is important for the success of the campus chapter.
Two Princeton undergraduates, Alexis Morin and Catharine Bellinger, started the organization in 2009.
In an interview with Forbes magazine, Morin and Bellinger said “they set out to mobilize college students to advocate for K-12 education reform in the voting booth and in state capitols.”
Both founders have a connection to the public school system, as Morin attended public school from K-12, and Bellinger is an aspiring teacher.
Much like the founders’ commitment to and background in the public school education system, many students who join the organization share those same values.
Peeples attended a CPS school and uses her past experience within the system to affect change today.
“Considering that I grew up in Englewood, and I understand the plight that plagues our community, I wanted to be that person that uplifts and educates,” Peeples said.
And she hopes to recruit Roosevelt students who share that same passion, much like many other SFER members.
Currently, SFER has statewide representation at Illinois State University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Northwestern University, Lewis University and University of Chicago.
But there are chapters at universities across the nation.
One chapter leader at UIUC, Marcell Wade, sets a plan in motion for his chapter.
While he is new in his role as chapter leader, he plans to “go into schools in the Urbana-Champaign community and sit in on classrooms and get the opinions of students about their education.”
He also said student voice is very important and often neglected.
Much like Wade, Peeples said she feels like students’ voices should be heard.
“I want students to understand that their voices are powerful, especially coming from school systems that may or may not have worked for them,” Peeples said. “Their stories are powerful.”
In addition to sharing their personal experiences within CPS, SFER members will work for policy and political change and community engagement.
Peeples said SFER chapter leaders and members can select an issue they’re interested in, which can range from student retention rates to funding equities.
“The range of opportunity is endless,” she said. “It just depends on what students want to focus on.”
They can also perform rallies and host movie screenings supporting education reform.
While SFER works to reform the school system, it also allows its members the opportunity to intern and work for the organization.
“SFER is about helping students find their path,” Peeples said.
The organization is open to people from a variety of majors and disciplines.
For more information, contact Tanesha Peeples at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit studentsforedreform.org.