January 2016 Statements to the Unelected BOE

There were many great speakers at the January unelected BOE meeting. We are posting three statements below.

Raise Your Hand Board Member and CPS Parent Jennie Biggs handed in the attached document which includes comments made by people who signed our Cancel $60M "Obama Prep" Selective Enrollment High School petition. Since the Aramark food service contract was up for renewal, she also handed in a packet which included CPS high school students questioning the quality of the food they are served.

Read the Comments here.

From Hancock High School (and attached as pdf): 


From Roosevelt High School:


Jennie's Statement:

We are in strong agreement with CPS on one thing: CPS should NOT be forced into bankruptcy. BUT we need you to do your part and stop spending irresponsibly, as we push for short term revenue solutions and long-term sustainable revenue.


In a time of fiscal crisis and declining enrollment, you have NO business opening another Selective Enrollment High School or more charter schools.


The project formally known as Obama Prep should be cancelled and the $30M that was diverted from CPS should be returned. This would free up much-needed cash, PLUS it would stop promoting the educational inequality that permeates our high school system. We launched a petition on Friday and have collected over 1,200 signatures so far. We’ve handed in some comments to you today.


We parents who actually send our kids to this system know just how false the word “choice” is. Lotteries and selective schools mean that many kids lose in a system that provides excellent resources and ample course offerings for some, and much less for others.


In addition, your charter RFP process should be put on hold until you can stabilize the system. It’s absurd that you entertain opening more schools at this time of crisis, and furthermore, there is no law that requires an RFP. You’ve been dishonest with the public about this. When we looked at the school code, we found this applies to all schools but isn’t a mandate. Other districts do not put out an RFP.


Invest in an equitable approach to existing schools - both district and charter. Existing charter schools are getting harmed, too, and we welcome charter parents to join us in our call for a stop of charter expansion.


We crunched the numbers and found the following:


There are 46 charters that you provide space utilization data for as of Fall 2015- these are in CPS owned buildings.


A majority of these charters -  75% are “underutilized” by your flawed utilization standards.


If you’re not following, that means that you are diminishing the quality of education in our city, by adding more schools to a system that can’t afford them and doesn’t have the students to fill them.



Just look at page 199 of your recent financial audit to see the damage that this district has done over the years by opening almost as many schools as were closed in 2013, with an outcome of 12,000 students fleeing the system.


CPS Dad and RYH Member, Josh Radinsky

Good morning Board members. My name is Josh Radinsky, and I’m an Associate Professor at UIC, but I am here today in my role as a father, since you all have been handed the responsibility for assisting me in raising my children.

You were appointed to this duty by only one person: Mayor Emanuel. But now that you have been selected, your responsibility is no longer to him. It is to the young people in this city and their parents and guardians.

If you have been paying attention these last five years, you will have noticed that Mayor Emanuel does not know how to run the school district. Month after month we parents, educators and researchers have patiently come before you here to explain our concerns about the policy decisions that have left our schools less stable, less safe, more poorly funded, more difficult to work in, and more difficult to learn in.

Given that it is evident that Rahm Emanuel does not know how to run a district, it is incumbent upon you to make decisions not based on the pleasures of the mayor, but based on the needs of our children. Please step up, step in, and act as the responsible, intelligent individuals that we know you actually are.

Last week you approved the layoffs of hundreds of central office positions, yet many of those positions were at the same time simply resurrected with new names, sometimes at higher salaries – Sarah Karp can give you the details. You apparently eliminated all of the city’s SSAs, under the guise of eliminating “redundancies.” Whose job makes the SSAs “redundant”? Who now is helping case managers engineer the complex task of including students with special needs? Who is answering the phone at ODLSS, right now?

These decisions, like so many over the past five years, are destabilizing. Our kids need stability and safety in order to learn. Our teachers and principals need stable, predictable budgets and plans that last more than 6 months at a time.

Please stand up to Rahm Emanuel, and to each other. Argue! Debate! Stop opening new schools. Stop closing and relocating schools. Settle a fair contract with the CTU, so that we can move on to planning for instruction and learning. Recognize the things that you do not know how to do, recognize the fact that the Emanuel administration will not be the source of the solutions, and reach out to the educators, researchers and parents around you to figure out how to stabilize this district, and make it a safe place for learning. I ask you as a father
and as a Chicagoan.

RYH Board Member and More Than A Score Organizer, Cassie Creswell

For twenty years now, CPS has had a promotion policy where, solely on the basis of low test scores, a child may be sent to summer school and then retained to repeat a grade.


More than 100,000 students have been retained since 1996. Retention is racially discriminatory. Black students are 5 times more likely to be retained than white; Latino students twice as likely.  Retention is expensive. It adds thousands of dollars for every child who is held back---the full cost of education for an additional year. And it is an incredibly negative life experience for students themselves; study after study has shown poorer outcomes for everything from school attendance, social-emotional health, academic achievement, and future employment.  In CPS, retention was shown to increase a child’s chance of dropping out by 26%. (p. 17)


Twelve years ago, an obscure educational research group known as the Chicago Consortium on School Research concluded in a series of research papers on the promotion policy in 2004 that given that this policy wasn’t working, it would “make little sense to invest more money in it rather than to redirect that money toward alternatives.”


In a city where almost half of Af-Am young men ages 20-24 are neither in school nor employed, As a headline in the Chicago Trib read earlier this week, doing anything to increase the dropout rate and hurt long term employment prospects is morally reprehensible.


At a time when CPS is using money borrowed at exorbitant rates to pay its bills, this policy must end for once and for all. Children who are academically struggling need extra support, not retention.


End the test score based promotion policy. Do the right thing.


I’m also here today to tell you that CPS does not need another selective enrollment high school. Cancel the previously-referred to as Obama Prep high school project. We cannot afford to spend $60M of taxpayer money on a school that will only fractionally improve the chances of any single child to go to a selective enrollment high school at the expense of existing schools.


Every child in this city, no matter what their test score, no matter what their zip code, no matter what their behavior record in elementary school deserves to go to a well-resourced high school with a full course catalog and extra-curricular programming and the physical facilities and staff to make that a reality.


There should be no litmus test at the age of 12 for whether you are deserving enough to receive this.

High school admission should not be the Hunger Games. Cancel Obama Prep.