This was a big week for ed news in Chicago and IL! We urge you to continue to read or carve out some time this weekend to sit back and catch up on all the news.
This afternoon, the draft report entitled “Preventing and Responding to Sexual Misconduct against Students in Chicago Public Schools” was released. It was authored by Maggie Hickey who was hired by CPS to review the handling of sexual abuse allegations and to make policy recommendations. You can find the full report in this Chalkbeat Chicago article: Leadership instability atop Chicago schools contributed to mishandling of student sex cases: report.
GoCPS Data Released
The data from the new single CPS high school application, GoCPS, was released Thursday and there’s a lot to unpack. For the first time, the public can see where CPS families are trying to send their kids to high school, and the number of acceptances each high school has received thus far. Some of the headlines blared with an apocalyptic tone about the fate of our poorest neighborhood high schools: ‘’Twelve students is too small for one class.’ Study shows thousands of 9th-grade seats in CPS to remain empty” from the Tribune.
CPS and researchers blamed this excess capacity and the 13,000 empty seats on years of declining enrollment.
WBEZ reported that 10 high schools have had almost no students enrolled yet for the fall and only half of the city’s high schools were a top choice for rising 9th graders. Janice Jackson was quoted as saying the she will use this GoCPS data as “a single source of truth.” WBEZ stated she will visit communities with this data and tell them their schools may not be necessary. Jackson also stated that “parents have basically voted with their feet.”
Well, we have a different view on that. Parents were never consulted on the high school design system in Chicago. Nobody asked parents, especially low-income parents, what they wanted for their children in a high school or high school system. Parents got a vote on nothing. We parents were never asked: would you like to shop around for “quality options” where your kid might have to travel two hours a day, or would you like a community high school, perhaps one that has a full range of courses and supports, right down the street?
Nobody asked parents if they thought it was a good idea for CPS to open dozens of new schools for years while enrollment was declining and the district ran massive deficits. We sat through those board meetings where CPS would announce they had an $800B deficit and the next month vote on opening 12 new schools. CPS has set up neighborhood high schools as the default option in a choice system that makes most parents think they have to shop around for something better than the default. But now the district will use this data to say they must follow the wishes of parents who voted with their feet and close their schools. The truth is much broader than the talking points we’re hearing, and while it is accurate that CPS cannot provide a high-quality education to some of these schools that have fewer than 150 kids, they played a big role in the lack of choice now being afforded to those families across Chicago that do want a community high school for their children.
We’ve provided links above to much of the press coverage. Here's some more press coverage:
Chalkbeat Chicago: New data pulls back curtain on Chicago’s high school admissions derby
Linda Lutton of WBEZ digs deep into IL’s new neo-voucher program
In this excellent report by Linda Lutton, she dives into the things we as a state would have known IF the new IL tax credit scholarships program had been given some scrutiny or even some public discussion of how it would work and how it would impact public schools across the state. Would it have passed given all these “Should Have Knowns”??? Make sure you read and share.
Shouldn’t Kindergarten be ready for kids, not the other way around?
Last week, a number of stories came out in response to the state releasing data on “kindergarten readiness” rates of IL students. The headlines blared with a doomsday feel: “Only 1 in 4 kids ready for K!” The metric of “readiness” is based on a new statewide standardized test: Kindergarten Individual Development Survey (KIDS). Some of us probably read these headlines and thought, perhaps we should throw in the towel now and just not do K-12 advocacy. So what is going on with this? What should we be concerned about? What exactly does it mean to be ready for Kindergarten?
Well, that’s complicated. The Common Core standards, which many education researchers believe are developmentally inappropriate, do have a part in the metrics used in this assessment. In addition, standardized testing isn’t reliable or valid for children under age eight. So we here at RYH question the appropriateness of this “readiness” standard. That said, we know that there are massive voids in Early Childhood services and that what kids need versus what they’re getting in IL from the zero-five years range is a real challenge and does play a role in “readiness”.
Here’s a great letter to the Editor published in the Trib in response to an op-ed they wrote basically blaming parents for not having it together to get their kids on track for K: Letter: If children aren’t ready for kindergarten, maybe kindergarten is the problem.
Note: In October 2017, we co-hosted a forum entitled, Assessing Young Children. We recommend reading this blog from the forum’s speaker, Denisha Jones: When All Else Fails, We Must Protect Childhood: A Call To Action By Denisha Jones.
And now for some great news!
Fuller ES #cpsuccess! Chalkbeat Chicago: How one Chicago principal is leaning on data to help black boys
Westinghouse HS #cpsuccess! Women You Should Know blog: 17-Year-Old STEM Scholar Pens Powerful Essay On Invaluable Rewards Of Pushing Past Self-Doubt
Check out this fun video of the Oglesby ES 8th grade graduation song & dance! It was filmed by the principal and aired on ABC 7 Chicago morning news in June.
Save the Date for our annual fundraiser!
RYH’s Annual Fundraiser
Tuesday, October 2, 2018
5:30 - 8:30 pm
In “the Basement” at Lagunitas Brewery, 2607 W 17th St
In Other News
On August 7, PBS NewsHour ran this segment which is really worth a watch: How Chicago communities are trying to stop gun violence. After viewing the video, read this blog: What is the Legacy of Renaissance 2010 School Choice in Chicago? This week, Curtis Black commented on the PBS NewsHour. Black interviews Jitu Brown and together they add details of school closings impacts on local communities. Check out this piece in the Chicago Reporter: Chicago school policy is a driver of neighborhood violence, advocates say.
Chicago Tribune: Advocates condemn psych techniques used to keep kids online
The New York Times: Opinion: School Choice Is The Enemy Of Justice
Saturday, August 18
9:30am - 2pm
National Teachers Academy, 55 W Cermak
⟹ Unelected CPS Board of Education Meeting
Monday, August 20, Online sign up to speak or attend begins at 10:30am sharp.
Wednesday, August 22, Unelected CPS BOE Meeting, 10:30am, 42 W. Madison.
Thursday, August 23
6 - 8pm
Mikva Challenge Offices, 200 S. Michigan, Room 1060