RYH Statements: July 2020 CPS BOE Meeting

Below are our statements from the July 22, 2020, monthly meeting of the CPS Board of Education. The meeting is now live streamed on the CPS YouTube channel. Our live tweets are in a thread here. You can watch the full meeting here. Press coverage is below. 

Jianan Shi, RYH's Executive Director

While there are many important qualities in this initial CPS framework, our parents have way more questions before deciding if this makes sense for them. I am sure none of you are surprised that we have over 7 pages of questions. Parents see hybrid models as an important stage on the path to full instruction - the question is if this is the right moment. First off, parents want transparent science metrics that will dictate the transition from different models similar to the reopening phases in Chicago. Currently, CPS is asking parents to take a ride with them and parents want to know way more before getting in the car. 

We believe in quality over quantity of learning. We believe that remote learning is our foundation and improving remote learning must be our first priority. We must invest in professional development and we are worried that the current framework does not reflect that. What happens when we have an outbreak and we return to a remote learning environment that has not improved because we did not invest in it? 

While this framework has some strong ideas, parents are concerned about the feasibility and fidelity of this plan. Unless there is more that we are not seeing, why do we need to follow a self imposed deadline of 6 weeks to implement hybrid learning? How can we complete all of the things that are needed just to return to the building with a budget neutral plan? How can we repair the harm without additional counselors and SEL staff? While classrooms are at 50% capacity, 100% of the student population still have critical needs. Why can’t we start off with remote learning (like district U-46) until there is proof we can do this right? 

One of the largest points of anxiety is about hygiene and sanitization. It cannot be said enough that parents just don't trust that schools that were not clean before the pandemic, will be safe now. The A word (Aramark) does not make parents feel ready to send their kid to school. 

While I’m here, I just want to point out that all schools with SROs will be at 50% capacity - this seems like the opportunity to invest in other needed resources such as counselors and nurses. I want to end by quoting a parent “We have an unique moment to reimagine education with children and young people at the center.” Thank you. 


Mary Fahey Hughes, CPS Parent & RYH's Parent Liaison for Special Education

Hello Board President del Valle, CPS Board Members, and Dr. Jackson.

My name is Mary Hughes and I am the Special Education Parent Liaison with Raise Your Hand.  

Dr. Jackson, I was thrilled when you and Dr. Jones shared at the February ODLSS PAC meeting that you were working on increasing high school options for students with disabilities. I am hoping my current concern is unwarranted, but other than Mr. Howard telling me he changed positions in CPS, I haven’t heard back from anyone regarding my request for information on this matter, so just in case... 

I want to again raise the subject of the CPS High School application process and how, for the past three years, students with IEPs were denied access to many programs if, in their 7th Grade year, they failed to attain, among other things:

  1. a combined math and reading NWEA score of 48 and above
  2. an attendance percentile anywhere between 85% to 93%, and 
  3. various GPA cut scores

Many students with IEPs are wrongly excluded from certain magnet High Schools and CTE programs that offer things like culinary arts, animal science horticulture, game programming and web design, automotive technology, cosmetology, dance, and music.  Imagine, I am a 7th grader with an IEP who has breakout computer skills, okay grades, and autism, but I missed a month of school due to bullying and anxiety.  In 8th Grade, I cannot even apply to Curie’s gaming programming program. Or I am an 8th Grader with an IEP who loves fashion and art, gets A’s and B’s, yet scores below that combined 48 math and reading NWEA score in my 7th Grade year.  I can apply to the Cosmetology Program at Chicago Vocational, but preference for acceptance into the program will be given to those students who score above the test score threshold… effectively excluding me from a dream program that could lead to employment immediately upon graduation from High School.   

To be clear, I am not talking about throwing a student with a disability into a program in which they would likely fail. I am talking about providing appropriate opportunity for access to application and acceptance based on IEP Team decisions. To deny students access to opportunity based on metrics related to their disability is discriminatory and an ADA violation.

I respectfully request the chance to learn of any changes made to the GoCPS eligibility and acceptance criteria so CPS can resolve any possible existing inequities prior to its rollout in the Fall.

(Read our research report from Jan, 2019: High School Application and Placement for CPS Students with Disabilities.)


Press coverage of the meeting

ABC 7: Chicago Public Schools reopening plan takes center stage at Board of Education meeting; debate between CTU, Lightfoot continues

Chalkbeat Chicago: In turnaround, Chicago promises to track, publicize upcoming school police votes

Chalkbeat ChicagoChicago plans for contact tracing in schools, but not routine testing for the coronavirus

Chicago TribuneCPS students will get the option to do remote learning in the fall, schools CEO says, but opponents are still pushing for all-virtual classes

Sun-TimesCPS rethinking plan to keep high school juniors and seniors at home this fall

Chalkbeat ChicagoChicago to reconsider remote learning for juniors and seniors. Here’s what students say.

Chalkbeat ChicagoBlack and Latino students in Chicago were more likely to receive ‘incompletes’ during pandemic

Chicago TribuneDisparities between Black and white students seen in CPS remote learning participation: ‘We are all disheartened to see the gap’