This Week in Ed 2.27.20: CPS calendar released, NWEA irregularities, BOE meets, and more!

First day of school is Sept 8, 2020. Last day of school is June 22, 2021. Chalkbeat Chicago: Chicago releases 2020-21 school calendar, says first day of school will be Sept. 8 and the Sun-Times: CPS releases calendar for 2020-21 school year have it covered. 

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CPS OIG finds irregularities in NWEA testing; RYH speaks on this at the CPS BOE

Last Friday afternoon, CPS dropped a report from the CPS Office of the Inspector General (OIG) which itemized irregularities in NWEA/MAP testing administration. The main focus of the report was on the longer than national average time that many CPS students were taking to complete the test as well as a large number of testing pauses. This story was all over the news:

WBEZ: 'Unusual Patterns' On High-Stakes CPS Exam: Your Questions Answered

WTTW: CPS Watchdog Finds ‘Unusual Patterns’ in District’s NWEA Testing Practices

CPS places many high stakes decisions on the NWEA: student promotion, school ratings (SQRP), teacher and principal evaluation, and selective enrollment admissions. The NWEA was NOT designed for these types of decisions. We spoke about this report at the monthly meeting of the CPS Board of Ed yesterday. From our statement:

But this is not an irregularity in need of correction; this is the predicted effect of the high-stakes testing regime this and prior Boards have imposed. The durations are greatest in 6-8th grade, where students are old enough to understand what’s at stake. Students have learned -- they’ve learned to adapt to the high-stakes pressures you have put them under. You can’t fix that by more proctors and spending resources the district can’t afford on security.

CPS must remove the high stakes nature of the test. We must replace the focus and time spent on high stakes tests with developmentally appropriate learning environments, adequate resources, and sufficient social workers and instructional time.

You can read our full statement plus all the press coverage of the meeting here. Some press coverage here of several BOE topics:

Sun-Times: CPS CEO says parents wrong to paint fired Lincoln Park H.S. leaders as victims

Block Club ChicagoChicago Public Schools Ends Columbus Day, Will Celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day Instead

Chicago TribuneArt criticized as racist could be removed from Chicago Public Schools under new policy: ‘The days of painting early white Americans as saviors are over’

Sun-Times: CPS board, watchdog spar over report that found ‘irregularities’ in test results


RYH Table Talk: What Makes A Great School?

Join Raise Your Hand for a discussion of CPS school ratings (SQRP) and how they impact equity. Share your stories and connect with other parents to change the narrative. This is the first in a series of RYH Table Talks. This is free. Please register in advance here

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Join RYH on a Learning Journey

RYH is part of a school funding coalition that is currently developing accessible content for families and community around different topics in school funding. RYH is assigned with the question: how is CPS funded and what does it look like at the school level?

We are inviting interested parents who want to take part in this learning with us. This will be facilitated by Jianan. This is not a presentation of already made materials but an invitation to join our learning with us as we internally develop this content. We want to make more parent power building opportunities like this more publicly available for parents. If interested in joining us, sign up here


RYH’s newest board member: welcome David Tolen!

David_pic.png David came to the United States from Veracruz, Mexico in 1998, possessing — like most immigrants — little more than a dream of achieving a better life for himself and members of his family still in Mexico. Learning about issues of social justice at the Erie Institute of Social Justice sparked a desire of building a more inclusive and accepting society. David, also learned the importance of being involved in community organizing,  Equal opportunities, the right to education, housing and health care, women’s and LGBTQ rights, immigrant rights — but foremost, the right to live with dignity in a society reluctant to accept those born on the wrong side of the fence. The generosity David has shown to his fellow immigrants earned him recognition from the Marguerite Casey Foundation as a 2015 Cesar Chavez Day Community Hero honoree. David and his family are residents of Rogers Park. We're really excited to have David on our board!

Coronavirus and schools

We reached out to Jadine Chou, CPS Chief Safety & Security Officer, who put us in touch with Dr. Ken Fox, CPS Chief Health Officer. Dr. Fox who shared the below documents. If you have further concerns/questions, reach out to the CPS Office of Student Health & Wellness at

Chicago Department of Public Health materials 

Letter CPS sent to schools 

Letter CPS sent to families : English | Spanish | Mandarin Note: You can find these letters at this CPS web page. They are not dated. And from that web page: "Please note as of 2/11/20 the 2019 novel coronavirus formally known as 2019-nCoV is now being called COVID-19." In our sent email newsletter we shared a Google Drive link provided to us by CPS but it was inaccessible. We apologize for sharing that link.)

Here's an article from Chalkbeat Chicago: Illinois schools warned to be on lookout for coronavirus as national fears mount 


Local School Council (LSC) news: elections are in April 

NEW! RYH and Teamwork Englewood are partnering to host an LSC Summit in Englewood this Sat, Feb 29, 10am - 1pm, Greater Englewood CDC (4th Floor of US Bank, 815 63rd St). We will go over LSCs 101 and How to Win Your LSC Election. Register here. Facebook event page here. Please share this widely with your Englewood and South Side networks! Lunch is provided. Childcare is available upon request. The event is free and open to all!


NEW! Check out our Run for Local School Council! web page here with downloadable flyers!

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

LSC Candidate materials due to the school by 3pm, Tues, March 5: CPS LSC Elections

Recap: On Jan 25, the LSCs.4.All coalition hosted #LSCSummit2020! CAN TV was there to capture the opening panel as well as a workshop.

The LSC Summit’s opening panel is here on YouTube. Here are the CAN TV cablecast times: Fri, Feb 28 : 6am, 5pm & 9pm on Chicago cable channel 27; Sat, Feb 29: 5am & 12 pm on Chicago cable channel 27; Mon, Mar 2: 12pm on Chicago cable channel 27; Tues, Mar 3: 7am, 5pm, & 7 pm on Chicago cable channel 27.

The How to Win an Election workshop is here on YouTube. Here are the CAN TV cablecast times: Fri, Feb 28: 7am, 6pm & 10pm on Chicago cable channel 27; Sat, Feb 29: 6am & 1pm on Chicago cable channel 27; Mon, Mar 2: 1pm on Chicago cable channel 27; Tues, Mar 3: 8am, 6pm & 8pm on Chicago cable channel 27.

Reminder: The LSCs.4.All coalition launched a new hotline number: 707-LSC-4ALL.


Indivisible IL9 Salon Education: Where Do The Candidates Stand?

Indivisible IL9 Andersonville-Edgewater, Parents 4 Teachers, and RYH are hosting this event on Th, March 5, 6:30-8pm, Sulzer Library, 4455 N. Lincoln Ave. Register here.

Just in time for the Illinois primary! What do the Democratic candidates for President want to do for education? Meet representatives from the major campaigns to learn more about their candidate's education platform. Join other parents, educators, and community members for a question and answer with our panelists about charter schools, teacher unions, pre-school programs, and more.


Special education news

RYH Special Ed Tip of the Week:  What is with all that paper???!!!   If you have a child who has an IEP, keep all the paper that your child brings home -- IEP notifications, reports, notes, school work and other documents related to your child’s education.  Make it easy on yourself and organize those documents by date as they come in, either by putting them in a 3-ring binder, an expandable file folder, or box with dividers. The Raise Your Hand Binder Index in both English and Spanish is a great organizational tool to help you become familiar with and keep track of your child’s special education documents.  Those docs may become a vital piece of information needed to protect your child’s rights and ensure that they get the special education services they need.

Your To Do List: 1) Be sure to sign up for the CPS “Diverse Learner” Mailing List here. CPS wants to improve communication and engagement with families who have children with special needs. 2) Join the CPS Diverse Learners Parent Advisory Council. The next meeting is March 12. This 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. 3) Have you done this yet? 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

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. 

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. Flyers for this event to share on social media, via text, or email can be found here in English and Spanish. RSVP here.


Racial Equity petition has over 200 signers- let’s get it to 300 by the weekend! 

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

In a letter sent to the Mayor’s Office and the CPS Board of Ed, 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.


In other news

NPR Illinois: Dispensing Dignity: IL Law Promised Free Supplies In Schools

Chicago Tribune: Fired Lincoln Park High School principal and assistant principal sue Chicago Public Schools, say they were defamed and denied due process

WBEZ: Keeping First Draft Of History Alive In Chicago Public High Schools

Sun-Times: Feds say key player in CPS scandal has offered ‘substantial assistance,’ should get sentencing break

Sun-Times: Chicago Public Schools sue parking biz owned by Joe Berrios’ son-in-law for $366K

Chalkbeat Chicago: Chicago changed school policing, but can teachers and students tell the difference?

Sun-Times: Chicago school’s ‘African animals’ assignment for Black History Month reflects a ‘failure’ of training, expert says


Upcoming events

➡️ 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

➡️ Building Community Through SB 100

Free & hosted by Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law

Register here.

Tuesday, April 21, 9:00 AM  1:30 PM

CTU, 1901 West Carroll Avenue

The Transforming School Discipline Collaborative (TSDC) invites educators, administrators, students, and community members to our SB 100 Conference. The conference will discuss the intent and possibilities of SB 100, and how schools can work alongside youth and communities to create more equitable schools and to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline. Lunch will be provided.


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

NEW! You can find all the materials from the Jan 27 meeting of the Whole Child Committee here. (SQRP focused.)

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