Reparations Won

“The torture and other abuse committed by Burge and officers under his command are a disgrace to the City and to the hard-working men and women of the Chicago Police Department. To remind the City of the injustices that occurred and to ensure that they are not repeated, the City will acknowledge and educate the public about this dark chapter in Chicago’s history.”
“Reparations for Burge Torture Victims," Memorandum of Understanding

Reparations Won Curriculum

Beginning in the 1970s and continuing until the early 1990s, Commander Jon Burge and other officers of the Chicago Police Department systematically tortured African American men in police custody on the city’s Southeast Side. Burge and almost all the officers involved were white. The City of Chicago adopted a reparations package to address these dark moments in Chicago history. Part of the package was a promise that Chicago students would learn about this historic moment.

Access the Units

A copy of the City Council Resolution and more information can be found on the City of Chicago website. The Chicago Public Schools, with support from community advocates and activists and the Chicago Teachers Union, has developed two educational units for teachers and students. The curriculum, titled “Reparations Won: A Case Study in Police Torture, Racism, and the Movement for Justice in Chicago,” provides for instruction in 8th grade and 10th grade classrooms.

Please note: It has come to our attention that some of the links to additional resources are no longer working in the digital versions of the Reparations Won Units. They are currently in the process of being fixed. In the meantime, you can find the new links below:

Additional Curriculum Supports

Because these units deal with topics that are deeply troubling and may elicit emotional responses from students—indeed, some students’ families and friends may have been personally affected by the police torture scandal—they are embedded throughout with a number of social and emotional learning supports. In order to ensure success with the instruction of these units, we will be continually researching and sharing social and emotional resources and learning opportunities for you. 

Invite Torture Survivors to Speak to Your Students

The Department of Social Science and Civic Engagement partners with the Chicago Torture Justice Center to support teachers in bringing survivors of torture to speak to classrooms across CPS.The Chicago Torture Justice Center seeks to address the traumas of police violence and institutionalized racism through access to healing and wellness services, trauma-informed resources, and community connection. The Center is a part of and supports a movement to end all forms of police violence.

We strongly encourage teachers to enrich student study of the Reparations Won unit through in-class discussion with survivors, organizers, and activists that are part of the injustice and struggle for reparations. We also strongly encourage schools to invest in this powerful learning.

Requesting a guest speaker to visit your classroom:

  • Torture Survivors - The Chicago Torture Justice Center (CTJC) will work with you to organize a class visit with a survivor.
    • To request a speaker please complete this form (
      • There is a $200 fee to compensate survivors for their time:
        • Please check with your school principal for payment options to cover the cost of a guest speaker.
          • CTJC will provide additional information regarding the logistics of payment once you fill out the form.
          • The Department of Social Science and Civic Engagement will provide grants to schools that are in need of financial assistance. *Please note: funding is limited and available on a first come first serve basis therefore, let CTJC know if your school is in need of assistance.
  • Civic Organizations - there are additional civic organizations that can visit classrooms and work with students. You can find them listed in the Reparations Won curriculum appendix.

Bringing in a speaker to your class requires careful planning to support a positive and powerful learning experience. If you would like additional guidance you can also contact Alayna Washington (10th grade) or Dorlande Charles (8th Grade).

CPS policy on speakers in the classroom

  • Guest speakers are considered level 2 volunteers and do not require a full background check. Principals do need to approve before any visitors are allowed in a building or virtual remote classroom. Once a principal approves a visit, please allow 72 hours for processing before scheduling the visit.
  • In order to become a level 2 volunteer, individuals should complete an application found at You can also find additional guidance in the principal's handbook on page 38.

Attend Professional Learning

CPS's Department of Social Science and Civic Engagement led a district-wide Reparations Won professional development in April/May of 2017 that introduced the Reparations Won curriculum, provided social and emotional learning strategies with the help of the Office of Social and Emotional Learning, and focused on approaches and mindsets for discussing difficult issues of race and racism. Since then, we have provided professional learning for over 1,300 teachers, counselors, social workers, and administrators.

Reparations Won is a required unit of study, to be taught in both 8th grade social science and 10th grade U.S. History. Within the recommended Social Science scope and sequence, this unit falls in Quarter 3 or Quarter 4. *All 8th and 10th grade SS teachers that have not yet been trained in this powerful curriculum should attend a Reparations Won PD before facilitating this unit of learning.

To learn more and sign up for professional development, complete this form!