What are these ARA meetings? Should I go?

Chicago Public Schools has a new report called the Annual Regional Analysis (ARA).

There are meetings to present this report to people in various regions of Chicago.

You can go and see how CPS is talking about our schools.

The basics…

You can find the meeting schedule here and here. All meetings run from 6 - 8pm.

You can find the Annual Regional Analysis (ARA) here.

To find which region you live in and/or which region your school is in, use this tool.

We believe this report is based on some flawed assumptions. You can read about them in this statement from RYH, Blocks Together and Generation All.

What we know about these meetings...

Note: This is an evolving post. It’s based on what we’ve read in the press and based on a first hand account of one ARA meeting. We may add some details and thoughts as people share their experiences at these meetings or if the meetings change in some way. Come back & read this before you attend your region’s meeting.

WHO?

CPS is hosting.

Kids First Chicago wrote the ARA using CPS data. Kids First Chicago used to be known as New Schools for Chicago which used to be known as The Renaissance Schools Fund.

Who should go to these meetings? Parents of current CPS students, Parents of future CPS students, Educators, LSC Members, Elected Officials, Tax Payers, High School Students, Community Members. Anyone who cares about public education and the public good.

WHAT?

What happens during the meeting? CPS CEO Janice Jackson attended the West Side briefing on Oct. 17 and CPS CEdO Latanya McDade attended the Lincoln Park briefing on Oct. 18. Jackson and McDade started both of the meetings with CPS successes and statistics.

Sadie Stockdale, CPS Director of Strategy, presented the ARA at the Greater Lincoln Park Region meeting on Oct. 18. Each regional meeting will look at the data for that individual region. (When you click on “Annual Regional Analysis” here, a drop down menu will appear with all the regions. You can select your region and review your region’s data before you attend your meeting.)

CPS Family and Community Engagement in Education (FACE2) and other Central Office staff were also there facilitating small group discussions after CPS presented the ARA. When you arrive, you sit at a round table and this is your group during the small group discussion. After the discussion, every table has a person report out.

What next? Within a week of the Greater Lincoln Park Region meeting, the Chief of FACE2, Chip Johnson, sent an email to attendees with resources and notes from the meeting.

Note: At this time we do not know if notes from all of the meetings will be public on the CPS website. We will share if we find them from all the regions all in one place.

What is the long term follow up - what are they doing with the input from these meetings? We don’t know what the end result of this process will be. History tells us one thing (flawed space utilization calculations = lots of “underutilized” schools = “right sizing the district”, AKA school closures) but recent press releases tell a different story. You can read the initial CPS press release about the ARA here stating that the ARA data will be used by communities to give input into what types of academic investments they would like in their regions. The ARA is also tied to the new Academic Programming Request for Proposals (RFP) process:

"To identify opportunities for additional investment and develop a transparent and equitable investment process, the district worked with Kids First Chicago to develop the first-ever Annual Regional Analysis (ARA), a fact-based report to empower communities with objective school-level and regional education data. Before beginning the Letter of Intent, please review the Annual Regional Analysis."

To read more about what has happened thus far, here’s a list of ARA related press links. (This list was updated 11.10.18.)

UPDATE: We attended the South Side Region meeting at Lindblom HS on Wednesday, November 7. You can find the thread of our live tweets here. At the end of the meeting, they are asking attendees to fill out a form for feedback on The Five Year Vision Plan. You can fill out the form electronically here

WHERE?

Where are the meetings? Various locations across the city and in each of the 16 regions used in the ARA which are aligned with the Chicago Neighborhood Now planning areas.

Where is the meeting I should go to? You should go to the meeting of the region where you live and/or where your children attend school. To find which region you live in and/or where your school(s) is located, use this tool.

WHEN?

Various dates. All meetings are held from 6-8pm. Three meetings already happened. Meetings start again Wednesday, November 7, and continue through Wednesday, December 9.

UPDATE: A parent pointed out to us that there is an ARA meeting scheduled for both nights of parent teacher conferences. We tweeted this to CPS here. We have not received a response. If you see a change in the schedule at any point, please let us know: info@ilraiseyourhand.org - thank you.

WHY?

Why are they doing these? CPS says it wants to hear from communities in various regions of the city. CPS says they will not be making decisions behind closed doors, downtown

Why go? We don't really know where this is headed. If you can get there to give input and ask questions, you are helping us all.

UPDATE: On November 7, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) shared this about the ARA meetings: Annual Regional Analysis "briefings"- get the facts!

Questions to think about and to ask within your small group discussion...

Are these discussions really about equity?

Does the level rating shared for your school reflect your reality? What's not included in these school ratings?

Can we work together to change the School Quality Rating Policy(SQRP) to be more reflective of what’s happening in our schools besides test scores and attendance rates?

Keep in mind that this analysis looks at "quality seats" using a very narrow view of mostly test scores and attendance (for elem scls). It’s not comprehensive. How would you define a “quality seat”?

When and how can parents and educators be engaged with CPS in a discussion about what really matters in terms of school quality?

What about student-based budgeting (SBB)?

What will you do to stop the competition for dollars pitting neighborhood schools against each other?

How can we get more diverse learner supports?


Stay in touch with RYH about the ARA meeting(s)...

Tell us about it! Send us an email with your thoughts: info@ilraiseyourhand.org

Tweet what is happening. Use the hashtag: #CPSARA and tag us with @ILRaiseYourHand.

Come back to this post as we will update it as we learn more. 

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