The Weekly Ed Update- 1.27.17

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CPS Board Meeting recap

RYH spoke against the $535 million in contracts to privatize building engineers at CPS. Unfortunately, the Board voted to hand over the management of building engineers to for-profit companies Aramark and Sodexo-Magic.

CPS provided no cost-benefit analysis for this, as they are the only district in IL not mandated to do so, and said that the move would be cost-neutral and “more efficient.” Like nursing and other services that have been privatized at CPS, we know the overall negative effect outsourcing has on school culture and the ability to provide cohesive services. When the principal is taken out of the mix, communication becomes more difficult and relationships in the building often suffer.

WBEZ: CPS Privatization Deal Benefits Emanuel Campaign Contributor

Sun TimesCPS to ask Board of Ed for $535M for facilities deal

Another parent asked CPS for  more transparency around standardized testing,  and Chief Ed Officer Janice Jackson shared that CPS will not be using this year’s PARCC scores for selective-enrollment admissions and will use NWEA until “further notice.”

Parents and community leaders from Back of the Yards were at the Board meeting to save the Seward elementary branch. CPS is threatening to close the branch because enrollment is slightly down. But speakers showed the loss of the branch would create overcrowding and force teachers into split classrooms and diverse learners into closets. As CPS just borrowed $729M for new construction, it’s absurd that they want to take necessary space away from this SW side community.

The board also voted on hiring a vendor to create a universal high school application by fall 2018 so that students can apply for all high schools except selective enrollment online, in one place. Students will select and rank  up to 20 options and an algorithm will be used to pick the schools for students. Schools will also have access to student information as soon as they apply. We question how this will disadvantage district schools, which don’t have the same marketing and outreach budgets as charter schools. Many charter schools have staff and resources for mailers, etc. dedicated solely for student outreach.

WBEZ: Chicago Plans To Launch A Single Application For All Public High Schools

TribuneChicago Public Schools to revamp high school application process

Read parents’ testimonies here

Budget hearings for amended CPS budget will be held on February 13

CPS held a Finance and Audit committee hearing this week but didn’t really give any information about the district’s finances or how they plan to deal with the $215M hole in the deficit.

Board President Frank Clark said an amended district budget will be voted on at the February Board meeting and there will be two hearings on February 13th, one from 2pm-4pm and one from 6pm-8pm.

WBEZ: Chicago Board of Education Will Present Plan Next Month To Close $215M Budget Gap

Sun-TimesCould CPS impose more unpaid furlough days?

DeVos confirmation vote moved to Tuesday 1/31

Thanks to everyone who has made calls to Senators to oppose the confirmation of Betsy DeVos.

Our IL Senators, Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, have not yet stated how they will vote if the Senate HELP committee confirms her next Tuesday.

Call them before Tuesday and tell them to vote no on DeVos. We don’t want a person who has called public education a “dead-end” overseeing education policies in the highest position in the US.

Senator Dick Durbin: (202) 224-2152 and (312) 353-4952
Senator Tammy Duckworth: (202) 224-2854 and (312) 886-3506

If you want to keep calling the Senate HELP committee before Tuesday, find contact numbers on the Network for Public Education Action site. Senators Casey, Kaine and Sanders have stated they will vote no on DeVos’ nomination.

EsquireThe Betsy DeVos Hearing was an insult to Democracy

Huffington PostAn Open Letter to Senator Lamar Alexander About Betsy DeVos

In other news

Listen to this remarkable radio documentary from Linda Lutton of WBEZ who spent a year with 4th graders at Penn elementary on Chicago’s west side: The View from Room 205

The Chicago Reporter has a new series on aftermath of school closings: Behind sale of closed schools,a legacy of segregation

Sun-TimesLawyers for Turkey call for probe of Chicago charter school

BGA: Critics: CPS Special Ed Policy is ‘Delay and Deny’

WTTW Chicago TonightCritics Say CPS Cutting Special Ed Services to Save Money