This Week in Ed 2.20.20: On racial equity in our schools: 2 letters. Plus, Lincoln Yards TIF back in the news.

How are we supposed to trust our city government when the Lincoln Yards TIF report that was given to Alderfolks was authored by a Lincoln Yards lobbyist? What does it say about our priorities when the city is able to sweep this massive conflict of interest under the rug to give Sterling Bay $1.3 billion (almost $500 million less than what is being proposed for the Invest South West initiative)? Our schools are underfunded by $1.9B.

Chicago Tribune: Aldermen relied on a study to approve $1.3 billion for Sterling Bay’s Lincoln Yards. Turns out that Sterling Bay hired the consultant who wrote it.

We would love to see what the Lightfoot Administration has to say as they clearly believed that this conflict of interest should not exist (they quietly changed the policy in the summer; now City Hall can hire TIF consultants who will report to the city.) 

On racial equity in our schools: two letters worth a read

An open letter was sent to CPS and Senn HS from the Peirce ES Racial Equity Parent Group. Kudos to these parents! Read the letter here

In a letter sent to the Mayor’s Office and the CPS Board of Ed last week, 25 organizations, including RYH, called on the Mayor to expand the responsibilities of the CPS Office of the Inspector General (OIG) to incorporate independent public accountability to racial equity. The groups signing on represent a diverse array of civic leaders -- leading good government reform groups, community-based nonprofits, racial justice, and civil rights organizations, philanthropic organizations, as well as prominent voices for education reform including former CPS principal Liz Dozier and author Eve Ewing.  

Read the letter here | Sign a petition in support of the letter here | RYH web page here


Local School Council (LSC) news

LSC Elections: Wed, April 22 (elementary schools) & Th, April 23 (high schools)

LSC Candidate materials: CPS LSC Elections web page

RECAP… Thank you to Chanita & Val of the Neighborhood Network Alliance (NNA) for cosponsoring last week’s Village Meeting about Local School Councils in South Shore. Natasha, our LSC parent organizer, led her first workshop - she rocked it! We set the context for both the City and South Shore, got everyone up to speed on LSCs and the election process, and started to build out election platforms. This is the beginning - it is our promise to follow South Shore through the finish line in April. View some pictures and check out our office hours in this Facebook post. Let us know if you know folks in South Shore who need to run for LSC!

RECAP.... The LSCs.4.All coalition hosted The Gathering- LSC Elections - Building LSC Power Together on Saturday. Thank you to the almost 40 folks that came out to this event about slates and platforms. The coalition also launched a new hotline number: 707-LSC-4ALL.



Special education news

ProPublica Illinois: Illinois Adopts Stricter Rules Against Secluding and Physically Restraining Students in Schools

CPS Announces Universal Enrichment Remedies (UER) a/k/a “compensatory education” plan for students with disabilities who were harmed by its illegal special education practices in the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 school years. You should have received an email dated 2/12/2020 (which you can find here in English and Spanish). On Tues, 2/17,CPS also used robocalls to communicate this information. Basically, CPS will be sending a second letter to the parents of approximately 10,000 students who have been identified by CPS to be automatically eligible for extra services like outside tutoring, social/emotional programs, physical education programs, chrome books, extended school year, reimbursement for wrongly denied bus service, etc. WBEZ has the story here (audio added): Chicago Public Schools To Compensate Special Ed Students Illegally Denied Services

IMPORTANT: Even if you don’t receive a second letter from CPS, it does not mean your child is ineligible for UER. You can ask for a special meeting (an “SSCA meeting”) with CPS to discuss how you think your child was harmed and what CPS can do to make up for it. We will post further information about the special meeting process as soon as we get it from CPS so check back with us. 

RYH Special Ed Tip of the Week: Same as last week... Spread the word to other parents at your school, therapy centers, church, special recreation programs, etc. about the CPS UER plan and the possibility of getting your child with disabilities extra outside services and even compensation for wrongly-denied bus service. WBEZ article here.

We need your Special Education questions: RYH is working on creating an online resource to help families navigate Special Ed in CPS and would love for you to fill out this survey: English | Spanish. Please share this survey with your contacts!

CPS Community Connections Diverse Learner Expo is coming  Sat, March 21, 2020, 10:00am - 2:00pm, at the CPS Garfield Park Office, 2651 W. Washington, Chicago. This event will be hosted by ODLSS in collaboration with The Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, Starnet Illinois, and the CPS FACE Office. Downloadable flyers for this event can be found here in English and Spanish. RSVP here.

CPS_expo_20.jpg Spanish_CPS_expo_20.jpg

Be sure to sign up for the CPS “Diverse Learner” Mailing List hereCPS wants to improve communication and engagement with families who have children with special needs. You can find valuable training for parents through CPS Parent University and info on February 2020 classes can be found here in English and Spanish

Joining CPS Diverse Learners Parent Advisory Council is a great way to grow your knowledge about your special education rights and talk with other parents, CPS Central Office Special Ed Administrators, Parent Support Specialists and the ISBE Monitors about any concerns you may have.  

Healthy Schools Campaign is collecting testimonials from advocates, service providers, school administrators and health staff, families, students, etc. on the importance of having quality school health services, as part of the effort to support free care, but also in terms of expanding school health services in general.  Please submit a testimonial and/or share with your networks across the state - it only takes two minutes to complete. Link here

Family Resource Center on Disabilities (FRCD), Chicago’s Metropolitan Area Parent Training and Information Center can provide you with no cost Special Education advocacy help. All FRCD asks of parents who want an advocate to help them navigate the special education process is that you complete one of their know-your-rights trainings so you will be empowered with knowledge that will benefit your child.    


In other news

Chalkbeat Chicago: Unwelcome surprise: Illinois governor proposes holding back some school funds unless tax passes

Sun-Times: Chicago elementary school’s ‘African animals’ project for Black History Month outrages parents

Sun-Times: Take it from a teacher: So many Chicago public schools are not public at all

NPR Illinois: None Of The Above: Test-Optional Movement Targets More Than Just SAT, ACT

WBEZ: LGBTQ Youth Leaders Send ‘Signals To Their Peers That You Can Be Out’

WTTW: Senn High School Staffer Removed Amid Investigation Into Racial Discrimination Allegations

Chicago Tribune: Lincoln Park High leaders say they have ‘no clear idea’ why they were fired, while CPS denies council claim it cut off school funding

Sun-Times: EXCLUSIVE: Why the Lincoln Park High School administrators were fired

Education Week: Schools Are the Main Source of Student Mental Health Care. Are They Ready?


Upcoming events

➡️ Public Schools Week!

Feb 24 - 28

➡️ Monthly meeting of the CPS Board of Education

Wed, Feb 26, 10:30am

CPS, 42 W. Madison

Online registration to speak or attend begins on Mon, Feb 24, 10:30am,

For more detailed instructions on the sign-up process and the details of the day, please see this Facebook post.

➡️ DePaul College of Education Winter Forum


Wed, Feb 26, 5:30 - 7:30pm

Lincoln Park Student Center, Room 120b, 2250 N. Sheffield

Register here. Registration is required. Flyer.

➡️ Indivisible IL9 Salon Education: Where Do The Candidates Stand?

Th, March 5, 6:30-8pm

Sulzer Regional Library, 4455 N. Lincoln Ave

Hosted by IL Indivisible9 Andersonville-Edgewater

Moderated by Jianan Shi, Raise Your Hand, and Erica Clark, Parents 4 Teachers 

➡️ Network for Public Education / Network for Public Education Action 2020 Conference 

Neighborhood Public Schools: The Heart of Our Communities

Saturday, March 28 & Sunday, March 29

Double Tree by Hilton Philadelphia - Center City

237 S. Broad St, Philadelphia, PA


CPS Stuff

Give CPS feedback

Upcoming CPS proposed policy and rule changes are open for public comment (direct link

CPS School Quality Rating Policy (SQRP) Survey (direct link to SQRP web page; direct link to surveys: English; Spanish)

CPS BOE Committee Materials

You can find all the materials from the Jan 14 meeting of the Early Childhood Committee here.

You can find all the materials from the Education Workforce & Development Committee here.

The School Funding meetings are over for now. Slides from the presentation: English | Spanish