This Week in Ed 3.8.2019: #ZombiePARCC 🧟 Testing could start Monday! RYH Opt Out Toolkit with Spanish resources added- check it out!

The window for the IL Assessment of Readiness (IAR) opens Monday, March 11. Use this weekend to review our 2019 Toolkit for Standardized Testing and Opt Out to learn more about this “new” assessment and how you can #ChooseToRefuse #ZombiePARCC! 🧟 The three main resources are now translated into Spanish: Q & A, Notification Letter of Refusal (scroll to p. 2), and Refusal Cards- all three can be found in the Toolkit.

RYH Delivers CPS Nursing Report to Board Of Ed

At the February unelected CPS Board of Education meeting, RYH delivered a 12 page parent research report entitled Improving Nursing Care in Chicago Public Schools: Creative and Meaningful Solutions Left on the Table. You can find the report here. Starting in 2018, the RYH Nursing Group attended meetings with CPS, spoke at various Board of Ed meetings, shared their experiences & stories, and researched possible solutions employed by other districts.

The Improving Nursing Care in CPS report summarizes the meetings and itemizes parent concerns as well as recommendations. You can find videos of our speakers plus a fourth video of CPS board members and Central Office staff discussing the report and parent nursing concerns here.

We are super grateful to our RYH Nursing Group! We really appreciate their work in producing this report and we look forward to continuing to work with them by continuing to push CPS to make the real changes needed. Thank you, Susan Agrawal, Crystal Arellano, Amber Cesna, Emma Coates, Catherine Diedrich, Laurel Henson, Mary Fahey Hughes, Wendy Katten, Merrick O’Connell, Carmen Salas, Nicole Seidlitz, Danica Uzelac, and Myra Young!


More from the CPS Board of Ed Meeting

You can read the prepared statements from RYH speakers here. Three RYH parents delivered the Improving Nursing Care report and explained the need for a complete overhaul of the CPS nursing design system. The fourth prepared statement includes several questions from RYH on various CPS issues such as the ARA meetings, an overhaul of SQRP which hasn't involved parents, and implementation of a new IL CPS facilities law. Here’s our thread of live Tweets from the meeting. Below is some press coverage.

Medill Reports Chicago: Calls For Change Galvanize Parents And Educators At First CPS Board Meeting After Mayoral Election

Sun-Times: Social media monitoring drastically cut down misconduct: CPS security chief

Chicago Tribune: Chicago Public Schools hires global firm to investigate roughly 1,000 old sexual abuse cases


Special Education News

On February 26, RYH and other members of the Advocates Group sent a letter to the IL State Board of Education (ISBE) prior to their meeting which included an update from the ISBE Monitor. It has been nine months since the ISBE public inquiry into CPS special education found that CPS delayed, denied, and withheld services to students with disabilities- and this continues.

You can read the letter here.

WBEZ: Chicago Special Ed Parents Say Students Still Being Denied Services

WBEZ: Chicago Public Schools Struggle With High Special Education Teacher Vacancies


Do you have a child in CPS with an Augmentative or Alternative Communication (AAC) device?  We are supporting parents who want better identification, training and support of our kids who need/use AAC devices. If so, join our RYH AAC Google Group! Send your name and email address to


Join the RYH Team! We’re hiring!

All you need to know about the RYH Administration & Finance Assistant position and how to apply can be found here.


Other RYH Activities

Besides all of the above keeping us busy, we’ve actually done even more! Thanks to everyone who participated in any of the below!

  • On February 17, we hosted a RYH Meet & Greet in the Beverly neighborhood! 15 people came out to hear about RYH. We also listened to their public education concerns and successes.
  • On February 23, we hosted an ARA (Annual Regional Analysis) Meetings Debrief session in the Bridgeport neighborhood. We gathered 12 people to discuss our collective experiences at the CPS ARA meetings and we discussed possible next steps.
  • On February 28, our Communications & Outreach Director, Jennie Biggs, spoke at a DePaul University College of Education class. She will also be speaking to Cornell College students in March then Roosevelt University students in April.
  • On March 1, RYH board member and CPS parent, Eric Reyes, participated on the Activism and Anti-Racist Educational Leadership panel at the Strengthening Anti-Racist Leaders to Advocate for Racial Equity Amongst Political Uncertainty conference; various parent leaders and staff had the opportunity to attend. See tweets from this conference here: #AntiRacistLeaders.



Our sister org, Raise Your Hand Action, goes to Springfield regularly to work on their legislative agenda. Please make sure you sign up to receive updates from RYHA. RYHA sends action alerts via email and social media. They have a new advocacy tool to take quick action! You can call, email and tweet your elected officials on public education issues that matter to you- all from one webpage. You should also like & follow RYA on Facebook and Twitter.

Some recent updates from RYHA:

Update: ISBE rule change on state testing and SAT for graduation

What's happening to IL high school students' personal data? Our recs for the IL Gen Assembly

Update on the IL charter school commission- a bill to abolish it is moving in Springfield:

Chalkbeat Chicago: Ignoring threats to its existence, Illinois’ charter commission weighs schools’ future


IL State Board of Education (ISBE) News

With a new governor comes a new ISBE board and Superintendent! Chalkbeat Chicago covered both stories:

Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker appoints 8 new state board members in near total sweep

Illinois new chief educator: Pritzker board appoints first woman of color to the top job


There’s a mayoral runoff election on April 2, 2019. Make a plan to vote!

Check out the Board of Elections website for information regarding the runoff election. As always, be an informed voter! Chalkbeat Chicago has a few articles of interest:

Between barbs, Chicago mayoral hopefuls Toni Preckwinkle and Lori Lightfoot talk schools in first televised runoff debate

Educators want to hear more from mayoral candidates on elected school board, under-enrollment


Civic Action Recognition Awards, An Obama Foundation and Chicago Public Schools Initiative

Nominate a student, educator, school, or community organization for a Civic Action Award! This is an initiative from CPS and the Obama Foundation. CPS sent this out via email on Wednesday, March 6. Visit this webpage for all the details and a link to the nomination form.


In other news

WBEZ: Families Fight To Keep Controversial State Scholarships For Private School

Chalkbeat Chicago: How to get teens to talk about tough topics? Start a student podcast.

WBEZ: Oak Park Students Stage Sit-In Over Two Staff Placed On Leave (There’s a petition to get the two staff reinstated here. Here’s more background from Oak Leaves: Oak Park students demand equity, end to violence during walkout on anniversary of Trayvon Martin's death)

Chalkbeat Chicago: State sends $27.5 million to Chicago to boost school improvement plans

Content warning: Description of suicide attempt, Block Club Chicago: Boy, 11, On Life Support After Years Of Bullying At CPS Leads To Suicide Attempt, Mom Says

Sun-Times: CPS student tased by cops files suit, attorney rips ‘systemic failure’


Worth a read

The Hechinger Report: OPINION: From one white parent to another: Don’t pick schools because they’re selective and mostly white

Shadowproof: Backlash To Rahm Emanuel’s Education Record Impacts Chicago Mayor’s Race

NPR: Why White School Districts Have So Much More Money

Chalkbeat Chicago: We’re counselors in Chicago. We want our district to stop steering students to colleges where they probably won’t graduate.


Upcoming public education events

Parent Meetup & Discourse: What’s Happening in Chicago Public Schools?

Sat Mar 9, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

Heritage Cafe, 1849 E 79th St

Register & more details here.

Last Saturday, we attended the first Meetup organized by a few CPS parents. Here’s some press coverage from ABC 7: Parents of bullied CPS students seek to make changes in schools. Many topics were covered with the resounding theme being that CPS parents are often ignored on many issues- at both the school level and the district level. Parents also discussed ways to improve our schools and engage CPS. It was a powerful event and this group of parents will be hosting another Meetup this coming Saturday.


Bilingualism Matters Chicago Launch

Tues Mar 19, 5:30 - 7:30 pm

Loyola University Corboy Law Center, Kasbeer Hall, 15th Floor

25 East Pearson Street

Register & more details about the event here.

Link to Bilingualism Matters Chicago website.


Book Talk: Tina Owen-Moore- The Alliance Way

Tina Owen-Moore discusses The Alliance Way: The Making of a Bully-Free School. She will be joined in conversation by Elizabeth Kirby. A Q&A and signing will follow the discussion.

Tues Mar 19, 6:00  - 7:00 pm

Seminary Co-op Bookstore, 5751 S. Woodlawn

More details and link to RSVP here.