Hyde Park education activist to lead Raise Your Hand as interim co-director

Staff Writer

Hyde Park resident Joy Clendenning, who is a Chicago Public School (CPS) parent and education activist, will pick up the reins for Raise Your Hand for Illinois Public Education (RYH), a parent advocacy group this fall.

One of the founders and acting director of Raise Your Hand, Wendy Katten, announced on Wednesday, April 5, that she would be stepping from the group and moving to Evanston. Katten will remain co-director of RYHAction, the sister organization to RYH, the group that focuses on statewide education policies.

Clendenning said Katten’s decision to step down was in consideration of her family. Katten lives in Lincoln Square, and her son will attend high school in Evanston where her husband was raised.

“It’s sad for us to see her move on from her role but we are really thrilled that she will continue her work statewide because those policies have a direct effect on children in Chicago,” Clendenning said.

Clendenning and Jennie Biggs will both serve as interim co-directors beginning in September while the Raise Your Hand board searches for a new director.

Although the search will be on soon for a new director, Clendenning said the mission of Raise Your Hand for Illinois Public Education is still to work with parents to advocate for education policy for all children.

“We’re going to continue to build upon the foundation we have and continue this fight for equitable funding and education policies that benefit all students,” Clendenning said.

RYH began in 2010 to address insufficient education funding and a possible increase to increase class size to 37 students.

Clendenning is an education activist. She previously worked as a public school teacher in different states before moving to Chicago. She has four children who all attended Ray Elementary School, 5631 S. Kimbark Ave.

She said her role as a former teacher and parent sparked her interest in education policy.

“As a teacher, I had seen the effect of policies in the classroom,” Clendenning said. “When I became a parent in the system I had this interesting perspective of having been a teacher. I became really interested in the role of parents to really advocate for what children need.”

She said teachers are often busy teaching our children and, “teachers need the support of parents to come together and advocate for funding and policies that [children] need.”