Statements at the Sept 2017 Unelected Board of Education

Public comment statements from Raise Your Hand at the unelected Board of Education meeting on September 27, 2017.

Jennie Biggs, RYH Communications Director

We thank CPS for updating the assessment calendar to comply with the testing transparency law. Do note, though, that full compliance means that schools must provide a complete school level calendar in hard copy or on their website if they use additional tests.

On the issue of transparency, Raise Your Hand filed a complaint with the Attorney General last week to force CPS to comply with the facilities law that requires it to publish a space utilization report by December 31st of each year. CPS is currently 270 days late with meeting this obligation. We have made repeated requests for the data via board meetings, social media and even a FOIA request. The Board has a duty to ensure CPS complies with the law; CPS’s failure to do so undermines the public trust.

We know there’s another round of school closings on the horizon, and CPS has used the utilization rate—even though the formula used is flawed —as one of its main factors in closing schools. This illegal, unexplained—and yes, suspicious—delay impeaches the integrity of any closing decisions based on this data.   

We understand that vendor problems and state decisions have forced changes in the SQRP. But the proposed change to the High School “Growth Differential” is disturbingly vague. What modeling shows that 8th grade NWEA scores accurately predict high school PSAT and SAT scores? Why is CPS making up growth measures that have not been validated by independent researchers? CPS persists in using arbitrary percentile bands in ways that beg the question of whether the persons setting them understand what percentiles even are.   

An already flawed rating policy will become absurdly worse.

Mary Hughes, RYH Board Member

My name is Mary Hughes and I am the Director of The 19th Ward Parents for Special Education and a RYH Board Member.

CPS is undermining special ed in the district by continuing cost-cutting policies that run contrary to federal IDEA mandates, including: 

  • denying IEPs and services for children aging out of early intervention who have early intervention teams that have not released these children from needing services, but whose teams have indicated these preschoolers are supposed to TRANSITION into CPS;
  • eliminating or otherwise restricting bus service for preschoolers and primary age children who have special needs;
  • creating arbitrary boundaries for how far CPS buses can go to serve a child who may be attending a school outside of her home boundaries;
  • basing special education minutes on what’s available in the master schedule of a given school vs. what an IEP team determines is appropriate;
  • having a non-transparent appeals process that particularly discriminates against low-income, black and Hispanic students and essentially makes IEP team staffing decisions irrelevant when CPS fails to fund mandated positions;
  • funding special education teachers and paraprofessional at a flat rate that is below actual costs, thereby discriminating against schools with highly-qualified, experienced special education teachers. [50,000 vs. $54,000+actual cost with raise; $100,000 vs. $103,520, prior to this year's contractual increase]

I am here to ask you to eliminate the middle-management positions of Network-Level ODLSS administrators who are, at best, funding gate-keepers with little or no knowledge of individual student needs and more often, obstructionists to IEP Team decisions, whose main purpose is to diminish, delay and deny special education services and slice away at the CPS budget on the backs of our neediest students.


[Image: 47th Annual Report of the Board of Education, 1901]