The Sun-Times reported this weekend that the CPS Inspector General (IG), Nicholas Schuler, was “under investigation” due to “accusations he allegedly berated employees.” On Monday, he abruptly quit. On Tuesday, Mayor Lightfoot said she accepted the IG’s resignation because “we need to go in a different direction.” Yesterday, there were new stories with Schuler responding to the situation. This is definitely a story to watch.
TIFs… back in the news!
On Tuesday, RYH, along with our co-plaintiff Grassroots Collaborative, appealed the trial court decision in our lawsuit against the City of Chicago over the creation of the TIF district for Lincoln Yards, and the history of discriminatory uses of TIF favoring affluent areas at the expense of communities of colorYesterday, Lightfoot announced some “sweeping TIF reforms." There doesn't seem to be anything "sweeping" about these changes. You read more in the Sun-Times, Crain’s Chicago Business, and Daily Line/Block Club Chicago. And here’s a relevant article from Jan 2019 in The Chicago Reporter: To build cop academy, Chicago picks AECOM, firm with checkered past. AECOM is a private firm which was given the contract to build the new police academy and now, as part of Lightfoot’s TIF reforms, AECOM will be charged with writing the TIF "but,for” standards. Huh?
You can read Grassroots Collaborative’s statement about these announced TIF reforms here and here’s some more further reaction in the Sun-Times: Lightfoot’s TIF reforms criticized as too little, too late. Another story to keep your eye on.
Connect with parents at your individual schools; exchange contact information; work together!
RYH works on systemic issues. Much of our work is informed by the actual impact of systemic issues, policies, and laws at the school level. When parents are connected and talking at the school level, parents can more quickly identify issues that need to be addressed, parents can collectively advocate, and parents are stronger advocates for all students.
Tips for doing this... Meet parents where they are- playground; sporting event; school play or concert; LSC, PAC, BAC, PTA, PTO or Friends of meetings; field trips; etc. Exchange emails and/or phone numbers. Have you started a school Facebook group for parents? Share it with them. Do you know of other efforts to bring parents together? Share that too. Do you have other tips for parents? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We bring this up now because we should and we should do it more often. Make a commitment to work on this now through and continually. Even if things are fabulous at your school! We hear from a "representative" from a group of parents who are collectively working on an issue at a school a few times a month with questions, comments, and ideas. It varies in topic. We hear about facilities, bullying, special education, LSC procedures, lunch & recess issues, etc. So, we know parent connections and collective advocacy are happening at many schools. It is also important to have these connections when your school community is blindsided by an issue. ICYMI, Lincoln Park HS is in the news. You can find many print articles as well as television stories. What we are learning via our Facebook group (and this is coming from parents at various schools who have experienced similar situations) is that parents (and educators) are frustrated by the communications between CPS and parents. We acknowledge that communications is complicated by personnel issues and student privacy. Parents are also frustrated about the lack of CPS follow up and support (social emotional mainly) after an incident which has left the school community devastated. These are big and real things that should be addressed at both the school and district levels. Parents need to lead the way and a collective of parents will be the most productive. (To be clear, we at RYH have no information on the details from any schools where a staff member(s) has been removed. We find out in the news just like you.)
Two more CPS School Funding Workshops- tonight and Saturday
These workshops are part of a larger initiative to examine Student Based Budgeting (SBB) with the possibility of changing it for the 2022 school year. Read a recent report on the inequities of SBB here. It will take all of us to challenge the current inequitable CPS SBB funding formula. Please plan to attend one of the 2 remaining meetings:
- Th, Feb 6, 6–8pm, Dyett HS, 555 E. 51st St
- Sat, Feb 8, 11am–1pm, Clemente HS, 1147 N. Western Ave
You can read RYH's live tweets from last Thursday’s workshop at Clark HS here and Saturday’s workshop at Corliss HS here. Chalkbeat Chicago was at the first meeting: Chicago mulls how to reslice the school budget pie — but what about a bigger pie?
Local School Council (LSC) news
- The monthly meeting of the LSC Advisory Board (LSCAB) is Mon, Feb 10, 6pm, CPS Garfield Park Office, 2651 W. Washington Blvd.
- LSC Elections: Wed, April 22 (elementary schools) and Th, April 23 (high schools)
- LSC Candidate materials: CPS LSC Elections web page
- Next LSC event.... The Gathering- LSC Elections - Building LSC Power Together
Join the LSCs.4.All coalition for our next event!
This is free and open to the public.
Sat, Feb 15, 10:30am - 12pm, National Teachers Academy (NTA), 55 W. Cermak
Special education news
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!
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. 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 with CPS Central Office Special Ed Administrators and the ISBE Monitors about any concerns you may have. You can find RYH’s live tweets from the group's meeting held February 4, Dr. Janice Jackson joined Dr. Stephanie Jones in answering parents’ questions and giving an update on the work CPS is doing to improve special education. A pdf of the PowerPoint from that meeting can be found here.
CPS Community Connections Diverse Learner Expo is coming Saturday, March 21, 2020, 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM, 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.
RYH Special Ed Tip of the Week:
Request a copy of your child’s school records annually. You may be surprised to discover what is or is not in your child’s permanent record. See Records Request Letter Template here.
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.
CPS All City Performing Arts Program Spring 2020
CPS All City Performing Arts Program is taking applications for new participants. First rehearsals are this coming Sat, Feb 8. The application & more details are here.
SUFEO: Great, free resource for parents & students!
Stand Up For Each Other (SUFEO) Chicago, is an initiative led by Loyola law students to disrupt the school to prison pipeline and address a gap in legal services in Chicago. SUFEO’s goal is to reduce the use of suspensions and exclusionary practices and to keep young people engaged and safe in school. SUFEO advocates on behalf of PreK-12 students in suspension appeals. We have also recently expanded our representation to students in need of safety protections in school as a result of bullying. SUFEO’s services are completely free.
SUFEO website | hotline: 773.800.0338 | email: SUFEO-Chicago@luc.edu
In other news
Chicago Public Fools blog: Chicago Public Fools returns in a new form
Give CPS feedback
Upcoming CPS proposed policy and rule changes are open for public comment (direct link)
Wed, Feb 19, 6:30 - 8pm
Chicago Teachers Union, 1901 W. Carroll Ave
Feb 24 - 28
Wed, Feb 26, 10:30am
CPS, 42 W. Madison
Online registration to speak or attend begins on Mon, Feb 24, 10:30am, cpsboe.org.
➡️ DePaul College of Education Winter Forum
CREATING AN INCLUSIVE CURRICULUM:
TEACHING LGBTQ HISTORY IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Wed, Feb 26, 5:30 - 7:30pm
Lincoln Park Student Center, Room 120b, 2250 N. Sheffield
Register here. Registration is required.