Happy New Year! First, thank you for all of your support, especially throughout this pandemic. We appreciate every donation, every share of our weekly email newsletter (or parts of it) to a wider audience, every like and share on social media, every attendee of our so, so many virtual events, and every conversation. Thank you. Second, so much has happened since our last newsletter. To be honest, we’re still catching up! Below you will find some of the latest news, upcoming events and resources. But, it’s not everything. Make sure you follow us on social media! Things change on the regular and we’ll try to keep you informed.
Join our amazing RYH team! We are hiring a full time parent organizer. You can find the job description and how to apply here. Please share this widely.
Action Alert: Elected Representative School Board (ERSB | HB2267)
Barbara Byrd-Bennett is back in the news. It was more than SUPES. Reason number 8124 of why we need an elected representative school board!
Below are some time sensitive ACTION STEPS:
- Send TWO Emails! Email your IL Senator & Senate Pres Don Harmon asking them to support & pass the elected school board bill HB2267.
- Make TWO phone calls! Call your IL Senator and Sen Harmon’s office & ask them to get HB2267 passed in January during Lame Duck session (Jan 8 - 13.)
Want to learn more about this issue?
- CAN TV broadcast of a recent GEM ERSB Town Hall
- Slideshows from the Town Hall: English | Spanish
- Block Club Chicago: Can Chicago Finally Get An Elected School Board? After Years Of Fighting, Advocates Push State Senators To Pass 2019 Bill
Pandemic Schooling News
A few highlights then we’ll do a run down of the past few days:
- This article from WBEZ is worth a read: Reopened CPS Classrooms Will Range From Empty To Nearly Full, Often Based On Income And Race.
- A teacher used this data set to plot % learn at school vs. %ELL, % free/reduced lunch, and % white. RYH tweet & Facebook post with images of the graphs- worth a deep look.
- WBEZ: Chicago Teachers Double As Tech Help For Hispanic Families
- LSCs are pushing back on the CPS plan and demanding that parents, educators, students, school staff, and the community be engaged on reopening plans. We’ve started collecting LSC letters and resolutions in this Google folder. There are some really powerful statements. You can share yours with us via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Chicago Unheard: A Safe and Equitable Reopening Plan Must Center Communities: Look to Mutual Aid for How
The past 4 days...
On Saturday, CPS sent this email to parents. It includes the CPS reopening timeline & FAQs. (It doesn’t mention high schools at all, BTW.)
On Sunday, 33 (now 36, we think) aldermen sent a letter to CPS outlining their deep concerns with the CPS reopening plan.
- Sun-Times story here. WTTW story here.
- Letter from aldermen here.
- 9 page response letter from CEO Jackson here.
- NEW! There will be a City Council Committee on Education and Child Development subject matter hearing regarding the CPS reopening plan on Mon, Jan 11, 10AM.
On Monday, teachers at Brentano ES taught remotely and from outside their building, teachers used social media to report on school conditions, the Mayor & CEO also used social media and shared pictures of visits to schools, and there were a couple of press conferences. Full story here from the Sun-Times and WTTW Chicago Tonight covers the day here.
On Tuesday, the CTU and Chicago’s Principal and Administrators Association (CPAA) hosted an early morning press conference. It was later followed by a CPS press conference.
These are both worth a watch: CTU/CPAA Press Conf (57min) | CPS Press Conf (32min)
- To back up a bit, please consider reading the CPAA survey results from December. We have a Twitter thread here of some quotes from principals.
On Tuesday, Troy LaRaviere, head of the CPAA shared some data from a more recent principal survey which had 300 respondents. He shares this around the 12 min mark:
- 29% said they feel they have enough support from the district for reopening to be successful.
- 22% said they have the staffing needed to reopen safely.
- 17% agreed with the statement that Jan or Feb was the right time for reopening; 64% felt this was the wrong time; 19% had no opinion.
- Less than 37% are satisfied with the leadership of the CEO during this pandemic; even fewer are satisfied with CPS senior leadership and the Board of Ed.
For more on this week…
- WBEZ Education has 3 audio stories (and more written stories) here.
- Chalkbeat Chicago has started a live blog for Chicago schools reopening news- bookmark this!
- And, again, the above is not everything. Scroll back up & make sure you follow us on social media. We’re trying our best to stay on top of it all!
Upcoming: Three CPS “Ask The Expert” Sessions
CPS is hosting an “Ask the Expert” series of talks. They are also posting the video afterwards on the CPS Family & Community Engagement (FACE) YouTube channel.
Meanwhile In School Funding News
ICYMI in the Spring, we took an action as part of a new coalition, IL PEER. You can read that post here. Recently we signed onto an amicus brief in the Illinois Supreme Court urging the Court to permit a lawsuit challenging inequitable school funding to proceed to trial. You can read more on the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights (CLC) blog.
Local School Council (LSC) News
- As noted above, we have a Google folder where we are posting LSC letters and resolutions about the CPS reopening plan- there are 19 so far. Kudos to Clinton ES LSC who was the first (that we know of) LSC and really inspired many LSCs to take action, including setting up spaces for dialogue and engagement.
- Here’s an excellent article from Kelly Garcia in South Side Weekly: Local School Council Elections Were Faced with Challenges That Undermine the Legitimacy of the Process
- Check to see the list of schools with potential vacancies: Fill Your School's Vacancy! Uncertified LSC Election Results by Type (RYH).
- The completion of background checks has been deferred since LSC meetings will continue to be virtual- in other words, you do NOT have to get fingerprinted right now. You can find communication from CPS on that here.
SpEd News: A Read + Student Specific Corrective Action (SSCA)
Remember when CPS violated special education law in the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 school years? CPS is finally getting around to providing families with “Student Specific Corrective Action (SSCA),” which is $$ for denied busing services and actual additional outside services for students who qualify. For parents who would like to talk to an attorney for free to get more information about SSCA and if their student qualifies, you can call Equip for Equality's SSCA Hotline at 312-895-7231. English and Spanish speaking attorneys are available. The CPS website about SSCA can be found here. Please share this information with other parents.
In Other News
Chalkbeat Chicago (4): Watchdog report details cases of sexual misconduct targeting Chicago students | Chicago plans to reopen schools, close budget gap with $720 million in fed relief funds | What stories we’ll be watching on the state education beat in 2021| Las escuelas de Chicago necesitaban computadoras. La alcaldesa envió un correo electrónico refiriéndose a un "tipo muy bueno".
Worth A Read
Sun-Times (3): Chicago Public Schools named for slaveholders; CPS promises changes | Name change for CPS’ Agassiz Elementary expected to be the first of many | Follow the science? It’s not that easy when deciding when — or if — to reopen schools
LSC Training | Module 1: Roles and Responsibilities
Hosted by LSCs 4 All
Th, Jan 14 | 6PM
Save The Date!
Sat, Jan 23, 2021 - RYH Webinar | Alternatives Safety Plans for Schools, Reimagining Safety in Schools
Sat, Jan 30, 2021 - LSC Summit 2021 | 10AM-2PM | Virtual | FB post with flyer
Legal Aid Chicago’s New Disrupting the School-to-Prison Pipeline Project
This project is aimed at addressing the institutional racism that obstructs pathways to success for youth. To accomplish this goal, Legal Aid Chicago is providing legal representation to prevent school push-out and expunge juvenile records.
Legal Aid Chicago is currently accepting school discipline and juvenile records expungement cases. School discipline cases are not limited to expulsions; they also include informal school push-out, suspensions, alternative school transfers, and discipline during remote learning. It is important to note that students still have discipline rights during remote learning, and exclusions from the virtual classroom are still discipline.
In addition to representing youth in these cases, they are available to do trainings and know-your-rights presentations to community members or service providers on school discipline rights, remote learning, juvenile records expungement, or other areas of law. They hope to ensure that parents and students understand their legal rights and are encouraged to seek legal representation.
Below is their new flyer announcing the project. Please share the information with anyone who may need legal assistance. Sharing the flyer on your social media is encouraged. If you have any questions, would like additional materials, or are interested in scheduling a training or know-your-rights presentation, please do not hesitate to contact Legal Aid Chicago.