Notes on Our Meeting with Jean-Claude Brizard

“We want to see you succeed." That's how the Raise Your Hand steering committee closed our first meeting with Jean-Claude Brizard. Mr. Brizard was personable, welcomed being challenged and stated intentions to increase the state funding formula, improve neighborhood schools and offer schools more "bounded autonomy." Raise Your Hand urged the new CEO be inclusive and facilitative in CPS decision-making processes and flexible in implementation. Mr. Brizard himself noted that solutions are not "one size fits all."In 90 minutes we were not able to dive into all of the specifics of what's on the horizon at CPS and our policy platform and priorities. Notably, two RYH members were invited to be members of a task force looking at a longer school day. Patricia O’Keefe and Sonia Kwon of RYH volunteered to be on this task force. Below are what we think were the top points. We look forward to your input: Continue reading

Grown Ups: Work it out for the Kids

In case you haven’t seen the news in a few days, there’s a big battle over teacher raises right now between the CPS board and the Chicago Teachers Union. While everyone knows that times are bad, we think that CPS should do a better job of explaining their deficit numbers to the CTU and the public in general. Continue reading

CPS Recess Tool Kit Now Available!

The children of CPS no longer have to wait to get recess, a longer lunch and important social time.  Schools will no longer need to cut into limited instructional time to offer recess.  The CPS guide, "Developing a School Recess Plan," outlines the process by which to move your school from the Closed Campus Schedule (5 hours and 45 minutes) to the Regular Open Schedule (6 hours 30 minutes).  RYH has continued to collaborate with CPS, CTU and other parent groups including COFI and HSC to facilitate the completion of this important recess document. Continue reading

Raise Your Hand Position on Breakfast in the Classroom

Many parents who are members of our group have serious concerns around the implementation of this program in their schools. We feel strongly that breakfast is crucial to learning and feeding kids at school who don’t get breakfast at home is also vital. We also feel that decisions about when and where to serve breakfast should be made by individual school communities, and that parents should have a say in whether their child eats breakfast at school. Many parents are reporting that their kids are eating a second breakfast at school, and they have no say in the matter. There has not been enough autonomy offered to principals in the implementation of this program. We want principals and schools to have more flexibility in the implementation of this program and we want the new board at CPS to know that one size does not usually fit all at CPS.

RYH - A Year in Review

It was about a year ago that parents on the North Side representing many different schools gathered together to form the Raise Your Hand coalition. A multi-page list had gone out to every school from the CEO’s office detailing the devastating cuts that would occur if the state went through with their proposed $1.3 billion in cuts to education. Principals, teachers, and parents alike were in a state of panic at the threat of 37 children to a classroom and the loss of almost every program outside of reading, writing and math. Ron Huberman implored us to act, and act we did. Although, I’m not sure it was in quite the way CPS anticipated. Continue reading

New Chief Education Officer for CPS

A new Chief Education Officer of of Chicago Public Schools was announced on Friday, February 11.  Charles M. Payne, is now in what is called the number two position in CPS, number one being Terry Mazany. Mr. Payne is a professor at the University of Chicago.  He teaches urban education, school reform and race minority relations. He is also the author of "So Much Reform, So Little Change: The Persistence of Failure in Urban Schools".  The Chief Education Officer position was most recently held by Barbara Eason-Watkins, who left last June to become the superintendent of the Michigan City Indiana public schools. The position has remained vacant since her departure. Continue reading

Aldermen Are Key in This Town

Election day is only a few weeks away.  While there has been high drama and high media coverage surrounding the mayoral race, aldermanic seats are also up for the taking.  Chicago is made up of 50 wards and each alderman acts as a mini-mayor of their ward, their territory, and the residents who live there. Aldermen make about $110,556 a year and while some do this job full-time, it is technically a part-time job. While garbage pick up, street cleaning and crime are always top priorities of any ward office, so should be education. Continue reading

ABCs of School Funding

Lakeview High School - 2/8 at 7pm Come hear public policy and tax expert Ralph Martire discuss the ABCs of school funding. He will be able to answer all your questions about how schools are funded in Illinois and Chicago, how our taxes impact education funding and more. Sonia Kwon from Raise Your Hand will speak about the CPS budget for F2012. Admission is free and there is parking available at the school. Hope to see you there.

Press Links

Mayoral Forum December 15, 2010 PRE-EVENT COVERAGE Chicago Sun Times December 7, 2010 Emanuel Opts Out of Most Forums Continue reading

Holding Pat Quinn Accountable

It took a while, but Pat Quinn was ultimately declared the Governor of Illinois. Via the strange events surrounding his predecessor's swift exit, Mr. Quinn has had the advantage of actually knowing what he was getting himself into prior to winning this race.  He was an unelected incumbent, but an incumbent nonetheless.  Previously, Mr. Quinn had the governorship thrust upon him.  It's different now.  Now the people of Illinois have purposefully elected him as their governor and thus, have a higher level of expectation of him and his staff in Springfield. Due to the peculiar way Mr. Quinn assumed his seat in the past, there may have been a few residents who cut him some slack and had less then stellar expectations of him and his inherited administration. No such tolerance should be extended to him now, especially when it comes to education. Continue reading