RYH Statements at the September 2019 CPS Board of Ed Meeting

We spoke at the September 25, 2019, monthly meeting of the unelected CPS Board of Education. Our prepared statements are below. You can watch video at these links: Jennie, Mary, and CEO Janice Jackson's response to both statements here. You can find our live tweets here.

Jennie Biggs, CPS parent and Raise Your Hand Communications & Outreach Director

CPS should be more explicit about the US Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights findings and the fact that they now have oversight to protect CPS students from sexual violence. You’ve published updates to the CPS “Protecting Chicago’s Students” web page as well as the Office of Student Protections and Title IX web page. These pages don’t really explain what just happened- the feds have oversight

What is the district doing to actively inform students, parents, educators, and alumni who reported that they were subject to sexual harassment since September 2016? Complaints need to be filed by November 15 in a very specific way. 

Also, these pages are very adult centric- meaning it’s geared toward parents & educators. These web pages should be made accessible- and clearer- to students, explaining what to do if they are a victim or know a victim. Yes, there are posters up at schools. But kids need this information, clearly laid out, on the CPS website. AND prominently displayed on the district’s home page. AND CPS should be using social media.

Put more social workers in the schools so that students have a place to deal with the stress and trauma they are facing. This is why we always advocate for a social worker in every school- plus more!- to reach the professional standard. 

We also advocate for a nurse and librarian in every school. We advocate for full special education services as well as compensatory services that are due. 

We’d like to talk about this teacher prep item in contract negotiations. Where is this idea coming from?

As a former teacher I know the incredible value of teacher prep time. As a parent I do too. This is the time a teacher will communicate with me, the parent:

  • Teachers email responses to parents as well as call parents
  • I’ve met teachers for conferences during their prep time
  • As a parent volunteer I’d meet and plan activities for our school garden during a teacher’s prep time

Terrible idea to mess with that.

We urge both CPS and CTU to take every measure possible to avoid a strike.

Please make sure you read Sarah Karp’s recent article, “Top Chicago Schools Less Diverse Ten Years After Order To Desegregate Ends and read Dr. Stephanie Farmer’s report on SBB: “Student Based Budgeting Concentrates Low Budget Schools in Chicago’s Black Neighborhoods.” 

UPDATE: On Thursday, September 26, and Friday, September 27, individual schools, then CPS emailed the following 2 documents: 1) CPS Non-Discrimination Statement lists behaviors prohibited by the district and other federal laws including information on local, state, and federal guidelines regarding Title IX, and whom to contact should you have any questions or concerns. 2) A notice notifying current and former students who were in the district after 9/1/16, to submit a report with the Title IX Coordinator in the Office of Student Protections and Title IX (OSP) of any instances of sexual misconduct by a CPS student or adult while participating in a district program or activity and are in need of remedial services. OSP’s contact information is included in the notice. 

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

 I wish to discuss 3 things today.

  1. I want to call your attention to a report that Raise Your Hand submitted to the former Board at the January 2019 meeting on how the current High School application process discriminates against students with disabilities. We Ask that CPS make changes to the High School Application process that expands opportunities for students with disabilities who score below the 25th percentile on their 7th Grade NWEA, as the criteria removes opportunities to even apply for many of the CTE programs, like the culinary program that was just celebrated in this meeting. I also ask you to remove the application and selection criteria decisions from the High School level, as they have no incentive to serve the students who have lower NWEA scores, even when that score is directly related to a disability.  CPS must expand opportunities for students with disabilities to enroll in engaging, high-interest, motivating High School programs. 
  2. Pearson data breach. We now know that CPS is part of the massive breach of data held by Pearson for their AIMSweb product. Since the data that was breached may even go back to the late 1990s, individual notification of families is not enough; you need to publish and provide to the media a list of affected schools and the years that they used the AIMSweb product and provide a way for former students to check if they're part of the breach. Breach victims are eligible for credit monitoring and then can also join a class action lawsuit against Pearson, but that can't happen if they don't know if they're affected.
  3. Also, I want to again urge you to reconsider your proposal to spend money making all CPS schools “first floor accessible,” as that will make NONE of these multi-story schools ADA compliant and it will not open up options for even one student in a wheel chair. Please revise your plan and invest this money in making fewer schools ACTUALLY ADA compliant.

Playlist of videos of our speakers, plus CEO Jackson's response here.