RYH Statements & Videos from the August 2018 Unelected BOE Meeting

The unelected CPS Board of Education held their monthly meeting on August 22, 2018. Here are our written statements and links to video of our testimony. 

Deb Hass, Parent of 2 CPS Grads, RYH Board Chair, Speaking on behalf of RYH Action

You can view video of Deb's testimony here.


At an August 7 Illinois House [Cybersecurity, Data Analytics and IT] committee subject-matter hearing on student data privacy four CPS parents spoke about breaches where students’ private information was shared with thousands of people, data collection from ed tech products that parents were not made aware of, and negative experiences with Summit Learning, which will soon see large-scale expansion in CPS courtesy of funding from Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, LLC.

We hope you will go to our website to hear the concerns of parents and data privacy experts since none of you attended.

We are deeply concerned about the CZI partnership and the general lack of protections at CPS, a lack I experienced when my own family was solicited by a science conference that’s featured in the New York Times article I shared about data harvesters getting students’ data from the College Board and others.

In Springfield, RYHA pushed for a data privacy bill, HB1295, that would allow parents to see what’s being collected on their children and correct it if it’s wrong. CPS and ed tech lobbyists opposed the bill and instead offered legislation that would require little more information than districts already must reveal about contractors they do business with.

Such opposition is pretty concerning when CPS has had at least six data breaches since early 2015 with tens of thousands of students’ personal data improperly disclosed and in some cases posted to the Web.

[These were not read aloud at the BOE but here are the CPS data breaches referenced:

  1. May 2015: transportation data given to vendors: Data breach triggers sharing of personal info for 4,000 students
  2. Nov 2016: CPS employees give Noble student data: Chicago Public Schools notifies families of student data breach
  3. Feb 2017: nursing data in google docs, CPS privacy breach bared confidential student information
  4. Feb 2017: IEP data in vendor info on web, CPS privacy breach bared confidential student information (same news story, but two completely separate breaches)
  5. March 2017: the first OAE Blackboard Connect release, only reported on FB
  6. June 2018: the second OAE Blackboard Connect release CPS breach exposes private student data

We’ve been asking whether students would get new ID numbers since the most recent data breach and only learned CPS was working on new IDs through its testimony at the state subject-matter hearing.

After quite a run-around, one parent received an email saying CPS anticipated issuing new IDs by the start of the school year. You exposed personal contact information and student ID numbers two months ago and families are still waiting for the remedy.

Meanwhile, I still want answers to my questions from May: What will CZI, the companies it controls, and those it invests in be getting from our students? What personally-identifiable information will our children be asked to hand over?

Ed tech is an $8B industry and there’s a lot of money to be made from commercializing our students’ data. As parents, we should own this data, not ed tech companies. We want full transparency, security, and privacy. CPS must do better. Put safeguards in place now.


Jennie Biggs, CPS Parent of 3, RYH Communications Director

You can view video of Jennie's testimony here

Lots of big education news last week:

  • Maggie Hickey released her report on sexual misconduct at CPS- which was startling in the level of systems failures it revealed;
  • the data from GoCPS came out- which the public was told was “a single source of truth” about where parents want to send their children, with the line we’ve heard from previous CEOs before school closures ramp up, which is: parents are “voting with their feet”;
  • it was also revealed that CPS has asked Kids First formerly New Schools formerly the Renaissance Fund to do a report on the state of CPS schools. The public wasn’t told about this and it was leaked to reporters.

There’s a common thread through all of this: a lack of transparency and accountability at this district.

Some info that was left out of the GOCPS PR release was that parents NEVER had a say in the CPS high school design system.

Parents were NEVER asked if they wanted a well-resourced community school OR, instead, if CPS should embark on a half-baked portfolio system of school choice, that now includes devastated neighborhood schools for many communities where “quality options” take precedence over equity for all.

In case you missed it, CPS moved forward with the latter: dangling shiny objects in the faces of parents, setting up SBB, and creating a school rating system that is not an accurate reflection of an individual school.

Further, you’ve never made yourselves responsible for providing a high quality, equitable education for every child.

While parents were given a common single app to fill out this fall, parents did NOT create the mess that is the CPS high school system, and we certainly NEVER voted on anything that’s happened at this district.

Parents would not have voted for our current CPS high school system which is CPS choosing which schools to invest in and which ones to neglect.

Our two asks: Do NOT repeat anything like what you did with the 50 school closings AND create a real facilities plan with stakeholders.

Regarding the Hickey report:  Why has no one been held accountable for not protecting students? Why are the lawyers who interrogated students running this new $3M department? In what ways will you prove to the public that you know how to put systems and structures in place to put kids, and not the mayor’s image, first?


Sherry Coleman, CPS Parent of a student with special needs

You can view video of Sherry's testimony here.

Good morning. My name is Sherry Coleman, and I’m the mom to a rising 9th grader with Down’s syndrome who doesn’t have an appropriate high school to attend. We are one of the many families who didn’t have a positive experience with GoCPS.

Sandia attended Drummond elem, where she overall had an excellent experience and was supported and included in the classroom. She reads at a 1st/2nd grade level.

When it came time to apply to high schools, I was not given much information from the school and I found the staff, who are excellent in many ways, not to be well-trained. Our counselor was brand new and didn’t guide me on anything and told me just to do the GoCPS app online. I tried to get help from the Principal and he wasn’t aware of the system.   I picked North Grand HS not realizing I was supposed to choose a dozen schools. She didn’t get it and was placed at Clemente, which is not a good fit for her. This school does not have a cluster, just had 4 sped teachers cut and has no students like Sandia according to the case mgr there.

When it came time for round 2, I was told Sandia could’t apply because she doesn’t have NWEA scores. This was news to me and the whole staff at Drummond.

We went into mediation in June and the CPS lawyer who is the head of Due Process was rude, told me I could not visit any cluster programs, made nasty faces at me and abruptly ended the meeting. After I left, I got a call from the mediator with an offer of a placement of a school 6 miles away. I said I wanted to tour the school or speak to the principal before deciding, and I was told I had to make a decision right then and there. I had no information about this school. It may have been a good fit but how would I have known? I said I needed more time and I was then told the offer was rescinded and was told CPS felt it was not in their best interest to continue mediation.

I’m on a listserve with a lot of special ed parents who have reported similar things. This system is not set up to support families of kids with special needs and the CPS due process lead is not at all in touch with the district’s new vision of great customer service.