On Wednesday, we delivered a report entitled, “High School Application and Placement for Chicago Public Schools Students with Disabilities” to the unelected CPS BOE. This 18 page report shows major barriers to CPS HS access for the most vulnerable students. For example, 31% of high schools have a minimum NWEA score requirement to apply.
In September of 2018, education consultant and former CPS parent Lara Pruitt reached out to us to offer assistance in doing a research project around the high school application and admissions process for students with disabilities. RYH assembled a volunteer group of parents including education researcher Dr. Federico Waitoller, Associate Professor in the Department of Special Education at UIC, and a number of CPS parents with children who have disabilities. The parent generated research report includes many startling findings and important recommendations (for all stakeholders- the district, elementary and high schools, and families) on how to improve the admissions process for students with disabilities.
We were pleasantly surprised at the BOE when CEO Jackson thanked RYH for the report and for “doing the legwork” in uncovering the barriers and providing recommendations. Jackson asked RYH to conduct a briefing on the report to both the Office of Diverse Learner Supports and Services (ODLSS) and the Office of Access and Enrollment. We agreed and have already been in contact with ODLSS Chief Liz Keenan about setting up a meeting time.
We will keep you posted on developments and we encourage you to read and share this excellent report! Thanks so very much to the Task Force Members who researched and wrote the report!
Lara Pruitt, Education Consultant
Federico R. Waitoller, Associate Professor of Special Education, UIC
Mary Fahey Hughes, Parent
Jennifer Jones, Parent
Wendy Katten, RYH Founder
Sarah Levens, Parent
Jacqueline Wolk, Parent
What were the hot topics at the monthly BOE meeting?
You can find a thread of our live tweets here if you’d like to read the play by play. Below are some of the topics which were covered:
The 2019-20 school calendar was approved!
There were several speakers (and a press conference before the meeting) speaking about class size issues- a Kindergarten class with 40 students! Parents 4 Teachers released a report which “...found that more than 1,000 classrooms in kindergarten to eighth grade have more than 30 students per classroom. The district’s maximum is 28 students in kindergarten to third grade, and no more than 31 students in fourth to sixth.” Read more here:
Chalkbeat Chicago: Parents, union pressure Chicago on overcrowded classrooms
Our sister org, Raise Your Hand Action (RYHA), worked on a Class Size Goals bill last year; it passed the IL House and Senate but was vetoed by Rauner. RYHA will be releasing their legislative agenda for this new IL General Assembly (ILGA) session soon and we expect this bill to be reintroduced.
There were two presentations about CPS sexual abuse allegations. One presentation was from CPS OIG Nick Schuler. His office has been tasked with investigating reports of adult on student sexual misconduct allegations. The second presentation was from Doug Henning, Interim Chief of the newly created Office of Student Protection and Title IX (OSP). This Office is tasked with investigating student on student sexual misconduct allegations.
The articles below cover both of their findings & their work since the Tribune's "Betrayed" series brought about major changes to CPS and their handling of sexual misconduct investigations. The Sun-Times article also includes the two presentations (Power Points).
Chalkbeat Chicago: Chicago schools log more than 900 sexual misconduct complaints in 4 months
There were a bunch of charter and contract schools up for renewal. Parents and staff speaking in support of these schools were the bulk of the public comment section of the BOE meeting.
TIFs are all over the news right now…
We signed onto a letter with 20 other organizations asking the Joint Review Board to #RejectTheMegaTIFs- the proposed Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts which would support the Lincoln Yards development as well as The 78 development. These two mega-TIF districts, if ultimately approved by the City Council, will divert hundreds of millions of dollars from taxing bodies such as CPS, Chicago Park District, City Colleges, the police and fire departments, etc. at a cost of $1.2B for taxpayers. The Joint Review Board signed off on these TIF districts on January 11. There are still a few more steps before this is a done deal. Our sister org, RYH Action, has been very involved in the fight against the establishment of these mega-TIF districts. There are several videos on the RYHA Facebook page of press conferences from the past week as well as testimonies at public meetings AND there are many posted articles which will allow you to learn more and take action steps.
Chicago Reader: Mayor Rahm’s great TIF bamboozle
Chicago Reporter: Lincoln Yards and the ‘lords’ of Chicago
Be an informed voter!
Chicago’s municipal election is Tuesday, February 26. Early voting starts next week in the Loop and February 11 in the neighborhoods. Plan to vote! Here are some resources and a few articles:
RYHA put together a questionnaire covering important issues for public schools. Feel free to use any of these questions at an upcoming aldermanic or mayoral forum!
City Bureau’s Documenters tool (which is very awesome) has compiled a list of upcoming Aldermanic and Mayoral Forums here.
Chalkbeat Chicago: How much power do Chicago alderman have over schools?
In other news
Intrinsic, Kwame Nkrumah, Moving Everest and Urban Prep all put in appeals to the unelected IL State Charter School Commission. If these schools win their appeals, CPS will have to give them more funding than existing CPS schools get, and they won’t be under the jurisdiction of CPS - thus, less oversight. How is this fair? Also, CPS enrollment has dropped by 40K students in the past 7 years. How would opening these new schools even make good sense?
Chalkbeat Chicago: Four Chicago charters are appealing to the state. Here’s what happens now
Something to note & pay attention to… The CTU's contract is up on June 30, 2019.
Worth a read
South Side Weekly: Op-Ed: Are We Not Enough? Written by a 6th grader at Sawyer ES.
Sat Feb 2, 1-4 pm
Chicago Temple, 75 W Washington
⟹ THE DEPAUL COLLEGE OF EDUCATION WINTER 2019 FORUM
Understanding Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs): Lessons for our work with students.
Tues Feb 19, 5:30 - 7:30 pm
Lincoln Park Student Center, 2250 N. Sheffield Ave, Room 314
Stay warm out there!