This Week in Ed 5.7.20: #RemoteLearning RYH Parent Survey + Grading Policy Controversy | Teacher Appreciation Week! 🍎

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week! Teachers, now more than ever, we parents appreciate all that you do! We see you teachers- your hard work and dedication PLUS all the extras you are doing right now to ensure your students and their families are healthy, safe, engaged, and connected to your classroom and school community. Thank you. You make a difference every day. 🍎

Parents, please consider sending a quick email of appreciation to your teachers and/or have your children hand write a note or create some art then take a picture and send it to their teachers. If your children are older, ask them to consider writing an email of thanks to their teachers. Parents of older kids- we can write an email of thanks to all those teachers, too. 😄

We hope you and your family are healthy and well. Please consider following us on all of our social media channels for daily updates. A few things we want to highlight first:

Our newsletter today- found below the Mantras- includes letters! (To ISBE & JB; To CPS & BOE with a Parent Action; To AG & JB), CPS Remote Learning survey for parents, summer & next school year guesses, CPS grading policy push back (go students!), LSC and SpEd news + RYH weekly Zooms, EVENTS, and more! Stay well, Friends.

~ RYH Board & Staff



A few things RYH has been up to… and an ACTION ALERT for CPS parents

✔️ Advocates to IL Governor, Board of Education: Marginalized Students First! On Monday, we announced 2 things:

1. RYH + 25 other orgs sent a letter to Gov. Pritzker and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) asking them to prioritize COVID-19 relief funds on the students who need it most. You can read the press release, find out who signed the letter, and find a link to the letter here.

Education advocates this afternoon asked Governor JB Pritzker and Illinois State Board of Education Superintendent Carmen Ayala to prioritize the use of federal CARES Act funding to reduce racial gaps and other disparities in student learning during and after the COVID 19 crisis.

“To a vulnerable child, school is a lifeline,” said Jianan Shi of Raise Your Hand for Illinois Public Education. “Whether it’s access to technology, food or e-therapy, we have an obligation to ensure that relief funds are going to those who need it the most and close the widening gaps in education.”

The letter gets a mention in this comprehensive article from Chalkbeat Chicago and the Better Government Association: Even before federal COVID-19 rescue checks arrive, Illinois schools spend tens of millions on technology

2. New coalition! PEER IL is an emerging coalition led by Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, Chicago United for Equity, and RYH. PEER IL believes that every child should have an excellent public school in their neighborhood, and that the ongoing disinvestment in neighborhood public education disproportionately impacts children of color and young people living in poverty. Stay tuned! The Partnership for Equity & Education Rights (PEER), convened by Education Law Center, is a national network of state-focused legal, advocacy and grassroots community organizations working to expand educational opportunity for marginalized youth. PEER currently counts partners in 7 states, including IL. Learn more about Ed Law Center’s PEER here.

✔️ RYH signed on to a letter with 25+ other orgs urging Governor Pritzker and Attorney General Raoul to continue to support FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requirements during the COVID-19 crisis. Better Government Association: BGA Joins Citizen Advocacy Center and Others Urging Pritzker and Raoul to Support FOIA

✔️ ACTION ALERT 🔥 [5 minutes] - Public Accountability during Remote Learning: CPS parents! Join us in building public accountability around Remote Learning! 

1. Short CPS Progress Report Survey on Remote Learning | Chinese | Spanish | Urdu | Arabic | Polish

2. Sign onto CPS Stakeholder Letter | Carta de Firma para Participantes de CPS 

Can you complete these 2 brief tasks above and pass this along to 10 other parents in your network? The deadline is Wednesday, May 13th. If you have questions or comments, please direct them to Thank you.


CPS remote learning grading and promotion policies announced

You can find the policies at this CPS webpage: Remote Learning Grading. The promotion policy will need CPS Board of Ed approval at their next monthly meeting, May 27. CPS says these policies are equitable, but many parents, teachers, and students disagree.

Must read: The student publications of Lane Tech, Payton, & Whitney Young high schools ask CPS to change its remote learning grading policy in this joint editorial.

Must check out: Petition (and social media presence) posted by a newly formed CPS student organization called Chi Student Pandemic Response

And here’s another student petition, this one started by a Lane HS student.

Sun-Times: Is CPS’ new grading policy ‘equity-focused’ or ‘cruel’?

WBEZ: Grading Remotely: How Do You Hold Kids Harmless While Also Trying To Motivate?

Chalkbeat Chicago: Summer school, promotion to the next grade: Here’s Chicago’s new grading policy, explained


So what’s happening this summer and next school year with IL schools?

The best answer is we don’t know. Here are some recent articles to help wrap your mind around the possibility that kids are going to be home for a while. (Sorry. 😭)

Chalkbeat Chicago: Illinois schools could be on again, off again for COVID-19 next school year, state chief says

Sun-Times: Chicago Park District summer kids camps delay start until July 6

Chalkbeat: Voluntary or mandatory? Remote or in person? Districts grapple with summer school logistics, equity questions


Local School Council (LSC) news 

LSC elections are officially postponed

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, RYH LSC work continues. We are hosting weekly LSC Member Solidarity Calls on Thursdays, 6-7:30pm. Join us TONIGHT, Th, 5/7, 6pm. This call will feature a listening session with confirmed attendance of members of the Chicago Board of Education and CPS for the first 45 minutes. This call is set up to bring LSCs to the front of governing our schools, decision-making and collaborative relationships with CPS leaders amid COVID-19. Register here. Upon registering, you’ll receive an email containing the login information.  If you cannot join us, please take a few moments to complete a short survey. All individual responses will be kept confidential.

The ACTION ALERT 🔥 for CPS parents shared above contains 2 tasks which both came out of the LSC weekly Calls: Remote Learning Survey & CPS Stakeholder Letter on inequities. Thanks to everyone who has lent their voice and talents to inform this very important work! Do these 2 tasks & please share with more CPS parents! ✔️


Special Education news

Please see this RYH webpage (updated May 5): RYH Remote Learning SpEd Resources from CPS Parents, Teachers & Clinicians

NEW CPS webpage with CPS special education remote learning info in one place: Special Education Guidance for Diverse Learners

RYH is hosting weekly Special Ed Parents & Supporter Calls: Tuesdays, 1-2:30pm. Register here. The next call is Tues, May 12, 1PM. Dr. Jones, ODLSS Chief Officer will join the call for the first 30 minutes. She wants to talk about budget on next week's call. In last week's email newsletter, we itemized some serious concerns around special education in CPS school level budgets for 2020-21. Please look out for and attend LSC meetings and ask about staff and programming reductions (or additions) and let us know what you hear: Thank you. 

Chalkbeat Chicago: Illinois parents have a lot of questions about special education and virtual learning. Here are 8 things to know.


Remote Learning in the news

CPS TV has begun! Find out more at the CPS TV webpage and via Chicago Defender: CPS Announces Partnerships with Local Television Stations to Provide Supplemental Educational Enrichment Programming

Sun-Times: Chicago community organizers demand educational reform for students of color

WBEZ: English Language Learning Is Tough When Bilingual Students Don’t See Their Teachers

Sun-Times: Homeless students’ families thankful after strangers gift computers: ‘It’s a laptop, and it’s ours’ 

Chicago Tribune: Drive-thru graduation? How Illinois high school commencement ceremonies might look this spring amid COVID-19 pandemic

Sun-Times: Lightfoot dances on TikTok to announce citywide graduation ceremony — online, with Oprah


Sun-Times student art contest results- 2 articles worth your time! Kudos to these Chicagoland students!

Chicago-area kids look ahead to ‘brighter days’ with their prize-winning artwork

Chicago, suburban high-schoolers respond to Sun-Times art contest with breathtaking images


Free directory of online arts ed programs to support virtual learning

Ingenuity just launched the artlook® Virtual Learning Library, a free directory of online arts education programs designed to support the arts education community’s shift to virtual learning. Arts partner organizations from across the country have shared their online learning classes, programs, lesson plans, and more to support teachers and families as we navigate the COVID-19 outbreak together. Upload and/or explore virtual arts programs on the library today!



Worth a read

Sun-Times: Barbara Byrd-Bennett, crooked ex-CPS CEO, leaves prison

Chalkbeat Chicago: Chicago Public Schools now counts 85 COVID-19 cases among employees, vendors

The New Republic: I’m Teaching From Home and Don’t Know How Long We Can Keep This Up

Chalkbeat Chicago: I’m missing some faces in my virtual classroom. I won’t stop trying to reach them.

Upcoming events

➡️ Ed Equity or Else | Live stream event

Hosted by Journey for Justice Alliance and The Schott Foundation for Public Education

Th, May 14, 6PM, CST

Register here



➡️ Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference COVID-19 Community Dialogue Series | Zoom call

Topic: Education & Child Care

Th, May 14, 6 - 8PM

Learn more & register here

RYH's Parent Organizer, Natasha Erskine, and RYH Board Member, Aiko Kojima Hibino, will be facilitating a community conversation during the event. Natasha and Aiko are CPS parents. 



➡️ COVID-19 Action Call | Zoom call

Please join Chicago African Americans in Philanthropy, Grand Victoria Foundation, Pritzker Children's Initiative, and Woods Fund Chicago for a critical conversation about the impact of COVID-19 on Illinois' African American communities and learn about the immediate actions that can be taken to build resilience. More details here.

Fri, May 15, 8AM - 9:30AM

Register here 

Featured Speakers:

Dr. Ngozi Ezike, Director, Illinois Department of Public Health

Nina Harris, CEO, Springfield Urban League 

Patrice James, Director of Community Justice, Shriver Center on Poverty Law 

Sharone Mitchell, Director, Illinois Justice Project 

Dr. Sameer Vohra, Chair, Department of Population Science and Policy, Southern Illinois University 

Kate Walz, Vice President of Advocacy, Shriver Center on Poverty Law