RYH Statements: April 2019 Unelected CPS Board of Education

We attended and spoke at the April 24, 2019 monthly meeting of the unelected CPS Board of Education meeting- the last one under Rahm. Our prepared statements are below with links to videos of our speakers. You can find our live tweets from the meeting here.

Mary Hughes, CPS Parent & RYH Special Education Parent Liaison

Video of the statement delivered to the CPS BOE here

My name is Mary Hughes and I am the Special Ed Parent Liaison with Raise Your Hand. I am here today to address the ongoing fallout resulting from from CPS’s illegal special ed policies and procedures that led to ISBE’s takeover of the CPS Special Education Department. The special ed culture in CPS is corrupt. Despite the Monitor’s trainings and CPS’s promise to make things right, there is often a culture of hard line denial at the Legal Department, Network and school level. These inappropriate hard line denials force families to accept an inappropriate IEP or force them to scrabble and claw to get services and placements that are clearly appropriate.

The situation Mrs. Stewzooski is facing with her triplets here is a perfect example. ISBE allows for students with IEPs to receive this absolutely appropriate extra year of preschool and that year of pre-k will help to give them the best chance of gaining the Kindergarten readiness skills to succeed in the least restrictive environment of the gen-ed Kindergarten classroom. But they are being forced into Kindergarten, where they will need extensive supports and, statistically speaking, be likely to remain below grade level their entire academic career. Putting policy over student need is nonsensical. 

What’s more, it is low-income Black and Brown families who are often without the knowledge, training and other resources to navigate the time-consuming complaint process necessary to overcome this strict and often senseless adherence to “CPS policy”. Please commit to transforming the special ed culture away from one of control and denial toward a culture that empowers IEP teams to give students what they clearly need. 


Joy Clendenning, CPS Parent & RYH Interim Executive Director

Video of the statement delivered to the CPS BOE here. Our #MemoToTheMayor was delivered on paper to this current unelected, Rahm appointed CPS BOE. You can find that Memo here

Wow, well, here we are. The last unelected school board meeting under Rahm Emanuel. This is historic.

So we want to start with a shout out to people:

  • to all of you here to speak to the board today, thank you, it’s a lot to participate like this, to sacrifice your day;
  • to everyone in the overflow room;
  • to the hardworking teachers, admin, and staff who are doing so much for our kids every day; we are so thankful; it’s my last year as a CPS parent, it’s been 18 years, and I am so thankful;
  • to the community orgs from whom we have learned so much and who have been working for decades for the schools our kids deserve;
  • and to ALL CPS parents who are doing their best to do right by their children.

These are OUR kids in OUR schools in OUR city.

Now, to the board, we do have a few items. We have to call you out that you will be voting today to once again approve an unvetted contract for a politically connected vendor, AUSL, again; and to expand charter seats, again, adding seats, this time on the south and west sides, while this district continues to face declining enrollment.

So, soon we will have a new mayor. And we really hope this is the end of a portfolio/choice business model district with its focus on competition, efficiency, and privatization, which result in CPS’ own hunger games.

We’ve written a memo to the new mayor (you should have copies), in which we call for a sustainable community schools district. This would be a big change. I’ll say it again -- a sustainable community schools district.

To get there we probably need a truth and reconciliation process and reparations for harm done.

For specifics on a path forward, we refer you to our memo to the mayor-elect.

Thank you.