Chicago Public School families are tired. They are tired of not being included in the decision making. They are tired of being ignored; told to look for “tables” where they will be heard when none have ever truly existed.
On January 31st, Mayor Lightfoot said that “we have done everything that we can to make [remote learning] work as good as possible”. CPS families know that is not true. In fact, with the focus on returning in person, we are actually seeing learning quality decrease - that is unacceptable.
CPS families also know that the current return to in person learning plan falls well short of what families need to feel safe and supported. This public fight over safety needs has only built more distrust in the district.
Over the past month, parents and youth have gathered to craft our Trust, Learning, and Care (TLC) Demands.
Under Trust, we want CPS to be more transparent and to stop cutting corners. For Learning, we must center the needs of those who need the most and respect local school stakeholders’ authority. For Care, we remind ourselves that we are still in a damn pandemic and must do more to support our school and family community. We are requesting a meeting with CPS leadership to demand that new federal funding is used to support all of these demands.
A School Stakeholder Quality Control Team
Quality Control Team: A team of stakeholders (administrators, educators, parents & youth) who are responsible for monitoring the safety plan, providing feedback on implementation and reporting updates to the school community.
- We believe those that are closest to the school should have the right to monitor and provide feedback for the plan. These folks are allowed to do site visits and reach out for district level support. Each LSC meeting should have mandatory updates from this team.
A Public COVID Complaint Tracker
- Establish a public way to record COVID complaints to ensure that CPS safety protocols are being implemented (like NYC). There should be responsive support given instead of punishment.
Stop Cutting Corners
Not Enough Staff = Not Enough Safety
Schools should not open if they are not fully staffed. If there is a certain number of staff that is required to run a school in order for it to be safe, we cannot open unless that staffing requirement is met.
- This also does not mean that other support staff are pulled to do tasks outside of their primary responsibility (ex. SECA staff being pulled away from delivering minutes).
- This also goes for the necessary district wide staff that are needed (ex. contact tracers).
Train All Staff
- Staff should indicate they understand their responsibilities and have been trained on safety procedures before opening up the classroom for students. We must learn the rules before we can teach them.
- We have a clear staffing shortage. Hire local parents to short term work in the classroom to fill staffing shortages. Reach out to networks of support such as Parent Mentors, PAC/BAC/LSCs, & CPS vendors.
Those Who Need the Most, Get the Most
Double Efforts to Eliminate the Digital Divide
- Invest $12.5 million more to ensure that every CPS student has a working device and wifi (either through Chicago Connected or hotspots). We are simply not moving fast enough.
Start Planning with Sp.Ed Students in Mind First
- Implement EVERY IEP and 504 Plan as written.
- Provide all legally-required special education services, accommodations, and modifications, do not reduce synchronous minutes in IEPs unless the parent/guardian agrees. Respect the 70/30 restriction
Commit to not using Special Education personnel (LBS, SECAs, clinicians) outside of their designated roles. This allows for reliable, predictable schedules of service families can count on.
- Diverse learners need MORE support during these difficult times, not less. Instead of using “spare minutes” in staff’s schedule for non-special education purposes, that time should be dedicated to increasing support for DLs, both in-person and remote learners, and improving remote learning.
More Professional Development
Administrators, educators and families should have opportunities provided by CPS (live and pre-programmed) on a variety of relevant topics.
- Examples of PD would include: teaching literacy remotely (educators and parents), building kinesthetic and physical time into instruction, recognizing depression and mental health concerns in children, more creative synchronous & asynchronous teaching strategies.
- This would include consistent best practice public roundtables where administrators, educators, parents and youth gather to celebrate what is working so it can be adopted by other school communities. We are wasting one of the best moments to learn from each other across the district.
Schools should receive funding for the training and potential solutions that make remote learning and future hybrid learning more creative.
- We can remove money and time spent on standardized testing and spend it on pandemic responsive training instead.
- Create spaces to design more culturally relevant, student centered, project based curriculum.
More Creativity, Materials & Manipulatives
- Provide more hands-on learning materials for our youngest learners and diverse learners by Q4. Whether through school pick up or delivery, we can be more creative in how we learn at home.
- Set aside funds for schools that are 70% low income to support future outdoor learning options
- Implement a reading campaign that provides extra supports for our struggling readers
More for ELLs & Bilingual Education
- Recruit and hire more bilingual and bilingual certified staff to provide smaller learning settings
- Delay assessments and screenings until next school year unless CPS can offer a remote option.
A Public Tech Support Center
Establish a public facing school specific person who will field IT questions from students, parents, teachers and administrators when there are remote learning questions or concerns. This means a name, contact information (phone and email) and a simple way to document requests.
- This allows a staff member to deeply understand community digital literacy needs and create appropriate workshops
Do No Harm
No Harm to Remote Learnings
- There will be no decrease in the quality of remote learning as schools transition towards the different phases of hybrid learning (ex. significant decrease in instructional minutes, change of specialized teachers, change in services). As the majority of students are remote, we must not sacrifice their learning.
Respect & Support Local School’s Autonomy
- Allow latitude for schools who have formed their own learning structures (such as asynchronous day in some HSs and different variations of asynchronous time).
- Since the CPS gives local schools the responsibility of implementing the learning plan, school communities should be able to self determine learning structures such as an entirely asynchronous day for HS.
- Overall on-screen class time (7+ hours per day) has made learning very draining and less productive for students. Support schools as they become more creative with how we spend our asynchronous time.
Stop Surveillance and Respect Privacy
- Use of surveillance software to monitor devices: Students and families should be informed of the role of any browser in monitoring online activity and physical location, especially for the use of non-school owned devices.
- Camera-on requirements: Students should always be permitted to participate in class without turning on video.
Care For School Community
More Mental Health Services & Providers
- Provide a variety of accessible, culturally responsive mental health services (group, individual, text based) available for youth, families and educators for free or at low cost.
- Hire more counselors and social workers to reduce the current ratio
Build a Culture of Social Emotional Learning
- Each school must document and implement how social emotional learning (SEL) is built into the practice of the school. We must see this in the curriculum, in intentionally created spaces for students (and families) outside of class time, and in consistent 1-1 student check ins (and family check ins as deemed necessary).
Provide Pandemic Passes
Provide a transparent way for students and families to apply for a P (pass) due to the extraordinary pressure of the pandemic. Provide a pandemic learning plan for families who have a student or family member with COVID19.
- We need to stop pretending this is not a pandemic. We aren’t just learning at home. The trauma of the current moment for some makes it impossible to learn. We must provide ways to support growth, healing and learning over grades.
See Noble Network: No Harm Grading Policy "How are we grading students during remote instruction?
- “If it is determined by campus administration that a student is at risk (i.e. identified as having an extensive COVID-19-related access issue), campuses are asked to implement a “No Harm Grading Policy” for this student during the impacted period of time. Similar to the Spring of SY19-20, during this time, the identified student’s grades cannot be negatively impacted.
Care for Family Community
Expand the Learning Hubs by 500%
Partner with local organizations to increase the current learning hub center by 500% to start.
- There are currently 14 CPS learning hubs while NYC has committed to learning labs for 100,000 students (~10% of NYC student population)
Connect & Support Absent Families
Create a funded multi-stakeholder task force to listen and provide support for families who have been absent. We should listen and provide tailored resources for families in need.
- Interventions include safely conducted home visits.
- Punitive truancy measures, including court orders, to students and families who've missed school, feel excessively harmful and feed into the school to prison pipeline.
$100/Student for Remote Learning Expenses
The city creates a fund of at least $25 million for low income families who are spending resources to sustain remote learning.
- Is $100/student (less than $10/month) unreasonable for a low income family who has had to spend money for materials, devices and services?
House Homeless Families & Cover All Needs
- The city needs to work with CPS & CHA to provide housing support for all STLS.
- STLS families should be provided transportation if they need to pick up food or technology or other needed resources from the school. All STLS students should have access to technology, masks and hand sanitizer.
- There needs to be outreach about STLS services to all families through a variety of methods (email, calls, social media etc)
Other Demands that Parents and Youth Support and Endorse: