Alderwoman hosts community meeting to discuss segregation and school achievement

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) -- A Rockford Register Star article was published last week about segregation in schools, and now Alderwoman Linda McNeely has taken action.

Many parents, former district 205 employees and other concerned people attend alderwoman McNeely's meeting tonight at City Hall to discuss and share thoughts about segregation and school achievement within the Rockford school district. Many want to see change and want a choice of where their children go to school.

"I just hope things change and I hope that the legacy of Brown vs Board of Education would produce something better even now,” Briquelle Backeberg, who has two kids in 205 schools.

Briquelle Backeberg has two kids that go to schools within district 205. As an aspiring teacher herself, Backeberg wants to see the community come together to better our education system.

"We can't just leave leadership and organization to the hands of one body. But all of our hands should be in the improvement of our schools,” said Backeberg.

Backeberg is one of many at tonight's meeting who feel that many problems within the district stem from zoning issues. They say families should once again have a choice on where their children attend school.
“Every parent should have the opportunity to choose and because there is segregation here in Rockford, we should be given the opportunity to be able to make that choice,” said Backeberg.

Many stories and experiences with the Rockford school district were shared at tonight's meeting. Some say they think more meetings like tonight’s will keep the conversation going and hopefully lead to a solution.

"I think it was a really great first step, I do. I think that McNeely is on to something. I hope to see more alderwoman and men that are in the current city council at the next one,” said community activist Skye Garcia.

Backenerg says there's a long way to go. But there needs to also be more action rather than discussion if we want to see change.
"We can never take our foot of the gas pedal. We always have to be involved. We can’t expect someone somewhere to do our job,” said Backeberg.

Those who attend the event are happy that Alderwoman McNeely chose to host the meeting. Many are hopeful change will come within the district in the near future. McNeeley says she plans to have more meetings like tonight's, although none have been scheduled as of yet.