This Week in Ed 4.5.19: New mayor! PLUS, Elected School Board bill passes in the House!

In a historic election, Lori Lightfoot was elected mayor on April 2. For now, the mayor still controls the school system. On September 5, 2018, we released this statement: Rahm’s not running- What does that mean for the public schools? In it, we reflect on our time with Rahm and we list the ed policies we have deep concerns about. We stand by this list and look forward to Mayor Lightfoot using it as she works with all stakeholders - students, parents, educators, and community members -- to reimagine Chicago Public Schools. More on what parents want from our new mayor, here.

Chalkbeat Chicago: Lori Lightfoot is Chicago’s next mayor — which means big changes are coming to schools and check this out: Letters to Lori Lightfoot: Tell Chicago’s mayor-elect about your school

CPS school level budgets are out

Chalkbeat Chicago has coverage of CPS releasing school level budgets to principals on Monday, March 25:

In a shift, Chicago to prop up budgets at schools struggling to attract students

Two-thirds of Chicago schools are getting a budget boost. Is yours on the list?

One thing we’ve learned over the years is to not trust the CPS PR messaging that comes out with these school level budgets. The numbers in the spreadsheet don’t tell us the actual impacts at the school level. Please let us know what is happening at your school or send us local news articles like this one from The Beverly Review. Attend an upcoming LSC meeting and ask or listen for possible staff and program changes for next year due to the budget. Send us an email so we can look for trends: Thanks!


Speaking of school budgets and funding our schools ….come on out to City Hall with us!

Let's School City Council: Play-In at City Hall

Wednesday, April 10, 9:15am - 10:15am, City Hall, 2nd floor

Bring the kids! BYOS (Bring Your Own Sign!)

It’s report-card pick up day…AND….it’s the day City Council meets for a final vote on the 2 megaTIFs (Lincoln Yards and the 78) and our aldermen need to be schooled that it's time to finally #RejectTheMegaTIFs and #FundOurSchools!

The approval of these two megaTIFs will siphon $2.4B from various taxing bodies. Lincoln Yards alone will divert $477 million from CPS coffers over the next 23 years! Our schools have been cut hundreds of millions over the years, some of our schools just received more cuts, and none of our schools have gotten back the money cut under Emanuel. The Center for Tax and Budget Accountability (CTBA) says CPS is short $2 billion to adequately fund our schools; these TIFs will siphon off $2.4 Billion! We call on our aldermen to #RejectTheMegaTIFs and #FundOurSchools!

Join us on the 2nd floor of City Hall at 9:15am Wednesday. RSVP here.


March unelected CPS Board of Ed meeting

Before the monthly meeting, we participated in a press conference with parent leaders from several Chicago community-based organizations. You can watch video of the press conference here. You can read all of the speaker statements here. Here’s some press coverage from Telemundo Chicago: Reclaman presupuesto más justo para escuelas de CPS.

You can read our statement from the BOE meeting here. You can read our live tweets here. A number of principals stood together and spoke at the meeting. Each thanked and praised CEO Janice Jackson. About half of these principals specifically thanked Jackson & CPS for recent "academic program investments." It was a very interesting meeting. WBEZ has coverage here which is worth a read: Chicago Public Schools Budget Winners And Losers.


Elected School Board bill passes in the House!

We’re including a few articles to share the analysis and political drama. We all know that Chicagoans have been fighting for an elected representative school board for over a decade and there is overwhelming support for this basic level of democracy in our school system. On to the Senate!

Sun-Times: Elected school board bill passes House- but is it driven by policy or politics?

WBEZ: Mayor-Elect Lightfoot Called Elected School Board Bill “A Recipe For Disaster’

Chicago Tribune: Illinois House approves bill creating elected Chicago school board- an idea Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot supports


The last day of school for CPS…

….is officially Thursday, June 20, for students, and Monday, June 24, for teachers. Adding the two days to make up for snow days was on the agenda for the March CPS BOE meeting and it was officially approved.


We’re hiring! RYH Executive Director  

  • Are you passionate about CPS and public education?
  • Are you a strategic thinker ready to lead a small but mighty not-for-profit (with support of hardworking staff and board)?
  • Do you have community organizing or other form of public campaign experience?
  • Are you a bold fundraising visionary?

We invite you to apply to be the next ED of RYH.

ED posting as a pdf.

Thinking about it but have questions? Reach out to us


RYH Toolkits get a shout out from national education organization!

The Network for Public Education gave a shout out to RYH and shared links to both our 2019 Standardized Testing & Opt Out Toolkit and our Bullying Toolkit! We are honored and happy that our resources are reaching even more parents!


RYH Board news

We are excited to welcome Elisabeth Greer and Aiko Kojima Hibino to the RYH board!


CPS Nursing news: Meeting with Senator Duckworth’s office and a CURE podcast


Thanks to Senator Tammy Duckworth's office for meeting with RYH and CPS parents to discuss the dangerous nursing practices and lack of accountability regarding in-school nursing care in CPS! A staff member of Senator Duckworth gave us a call after she heard a report from WBEZ about the February unelected CPS Board of Ed meeting where we presented our CPS Nursing Report entitled "Improving Nursing Care in Chicago Public Schools: Creative and Meaningful Solutions Left on the Table." She Googled us, read the report, and gave us a call, asking if we could bring in some parents to discuss this further. You can find that RYH report here.


Check out this interview with a CPS parent Laurel Henson & RYH founder, Wendy Katten, on Seizing Life, A CURE podcast, regarding the CPS nursing shortage and its impact on students and families.

School Nurse Shortages: The Challenges Students And Families Face


Don’t miss WBEZ’s investigation of the chaotic and dangerous CPS nursing system:

Nurse Who? The Revolving Door Of Nurses In Chicago Public Schools

¿Enfermeras? La Rotación Constante De Enfermeras En Las Escuelas Públicas De Chicago


CPS Special Education news

We're publishing a series of quick videos to highlight parts of our recent RYH parent research report, HS Application & Placement for CPS Students with Disabilities. Here's video #1 where Mary Fahey Hughes explains where you can find the CPS HS Program List within the RYH report. This was a true find and not easy to get to within GoCPS.

Here are direct links: CPS HS Program List in English and in Spanish*Look for more videos and this first video in Spanish soon!


GoCPS news: 8th graders received their first round of high school notifications last week

We are paying close attention to how the newish GoCPS system plays out and what the impact is on students and schools. We all know that the high school choice system can be very stressful for students and families, and that if we had an equitable system it would mean students wouldn't have to rely on lotteries and tests to get the best resources. Press coverage, parent opinion pieces, and what the research says about test-in schools are linked below.

Sun-Times: CPS high school acceptance letters released Friday: What you need to know

Chalkbeat Chicago: As a sociologist and father, I have one conclusion: Chicago’s high school admissions process is unfair

Chicago Unheard: Let’s End the Admissions System that Forces Families to Pray for the High School of Their Choice

Chalkbeat: How much does attending one of these elite high schools matter? Not as much as you might think.


CPS PreK news: Attention soon-to-be or future CPS Preschool parents!

We recommend this recent article from Chalkbeat Chicago to attempt to figure out what is happening with CPS PreK next year and into the future: These Chicago neighborhoods will see the biggest preschool investments next year. You should also read this one from February: Why Rahm Emanuel’s rollout of universal pre-K has Chicago preschool providers worried. Want to learn even more? Here’s a link to all of the Chalkbeat Chicago articles in their Chicago Early Childhood Education list.


Raise Your Hand Action news: Student data protection conversations; No TIF Vote Petition

RYHA hosted a Saturday morning conversation about student data protection on March 30! You can read the thread of live tweets here. In addition, this is truly a podcast episode that is worth your time: Uh-PARENT-ly & RYHA’s Cassie Creswell having a conversation about student data privacy. The hosts are "absolutely average parents" and listening in is a great primer on why student data privacy is an important issue that parents should be aware of & paying attention to - and why RYHA has student data privacy front and center on their legislative agenda.


Sign the Petition: No TIF Vote without a Racial Equity Impact Assessment! Many of the most significant decisions that shape our city are made by a handful of people, without public knowledge or consent. Often, this leads to disparate impacts on communities of color in Chicago. That's why a coalition of organizations are calling for a Racial Equity Impact Assessment (REIA) on the the use of TIF financing for mega developments, like Lincoln Yards on the near north side and The 78 near South Loop and Chinatown. Join this diverse coalition of activists, business owners, faith leaders, good government enthusiasts, and everyday Chicagoans who are committed to racial equity by signing on!


Please make sure you sign up to receive updates from RYHA. You should also like & follow RYA on Facebook and Twitter.



5 years ago, RYH founder Wendy Katten had a conversation with a parent who wanted to collect donated books and give them to underserved schools. That discussion inspired BooksFirst! (, which has grown to 5 dedicated moms who have gotten 75k books to 37 schools completely without any funding.

BooksFirst! can do more! They are urgently in need of volunteers who can use their own vehicles to pick up books from the BF! Mom's home and take them to recipient schools. The drop offs have to be done during school hours.

To learn more (not to commit, just learn more), send an e-mail to with Transport Angel in the subject line.



Chalkbeat Chicago: How job-training leadership won a South Side principal a Golden Apple award South Side Occupational HS

ABC 7 Chicago: CPS school provides students with free prom dresses Disney II

WTTW: High School Journalists Go Beyond ‘Senn TV’ with New Stories of Chicago Senn HS

Fenger and King HSs participating in a City Council simulation. See here and here.

Nobel ES celebrates and appreciates their support staff!


In other news

Sun-Times: Mercury spill at school larger than 1st reported; school still closed week later

NPR Illinois: New ISBE Members Revise Budget Request

WBEZ: Bill Restoring Key Chicago Teachers Union Bargaining Rights Moving in Legislature

WBEZ: Pro-Charter Group Pumps Big Money In Chicago Aldermanic Race

Sun-Times: CPS names new Title IX officer in wake of sex abuse scandal

Chalkbeat Chicago: Another wave of charter strikes: Teachers at five Chicago schools announce dates to vote on walkouts


Worth a read

The Chicago Reporter: Lincoln Yards investor Lone Star Funds accused of predatory lending

Vox: Abandoning public education will be considered unthinkable 50 years from now

American Bar Association: School Closing Victory—The Fight to Save National Teachers Academy

Network for Public Education: Asleep at the Wheel: How the Federal Charter Schools Program Recklessly Takes Taxpayers and Students For a Ride.


Upcoming events


Let's School City Council: Play-In at City Hall

Wed April 10, 9:15am - 10:15am

City Hall, 2nd floor


Unelected CPS Board Of Education Meeting

Wed April 24, 10:30am

CPS, 42 W Madison

You must register online to speak. That registration begins on Mon April 22 at 10:30am.

Online registration to speak or attend is here. If you plan to attend, it is best to also register online in advance and starting Mon April 22 at 10:30am at the same link. We will be there so please contact us if you need assistance:

Note: The agenda for the meeting is available at at 10am on Mon April 22.



Tues April 30, 5:30pm

DePaul Lincoln Park Student Center, 2550 N. Sheffield, Chicago, Room 120

Register here.


Remake Learning Days Chi

May 16 - 19

Various locations in Chicago and Evanston

Find a full festival schedule here:

Presented by Chicago Learning Exchange


Sign up to receive these biweekly email newsletters here!