There are 123,000 kids in under-performing schools in Chicago. Let's repeat that: 123,000. That's enough to fill every seat in Soldier Field, twice!
Couple that with the fact that there are empty seats and buildings across the district not allowing for fully resourced schools that includes art, music, world-languages, and we have a serious problem.
CPS has been clear that they are going to make some big proposals to fix this problem. The first thing they need to do is take the time to engage parents and create a plan that actually puts kids in better schools.
By state law, CPS is supposed to announce any school actions by December 1st. Today, CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett is in Springfield asking for an extension until March 31st for school action announcements. This is a step in the right direction.
If enough of us call on Springfield to support the extension of the deadline, we can make sure CPS engages the community and makes the right choices for kids.
Will you take 30 seconds and send an email to your legislators asking them to vote 'yes' for the extension of the school action decisions?
Time for time's sake is not what's at stake here. The extension of this deadline helps CPS and the community come up with a plan that will ensure our kids are the focus. Our parent strategy team met over the course of October and November to discuss and debate how we wanted to react to the school actions guidelines and process. We then went to the November Board of Education meeting to outline our position.
Above all else, CPS must ensure that every child impacted by school actions receives a high quality education, specifically:
- Every student in every neighborhood in Chicago should have access to a school that is a proven performer, whether it is a traditional, magnet, public charter, or selective enrollment school (and regardless of whether that neighborhood is the most or least affluent).
- Every student whose school is consolidated should have the opportunity to move to a school rated Level 2 or better by CPS whenever possible.
- If CPS must consolidate two severely under-enrolled Level 3 schools, CPS should reinvest in the receiving school so that its quality of education can be improved, such as through turnarounds, changes in academic focus, magnet cluster arrangements, and family engagement programs.
Some very difficult choices need to be made, but the bottom line is that the focus should be on getting our children into higher quality schools. If that means taking more time to make these decisions, we support that.
Take a moment and email your legislators asking them to support an extension of the school action decisions to ensure proper community involvement and decision making.
Our parent members are clear, our kids must come first in Chicago. With our singular focus on how to build better public schools in Chicago, we engage parents from all sides of the city and all school types, from traditional public, magnet, selective enrollment, and public charter. With one voice we are calling on CPS to do what's right and keep kids at the focus of any decisions they make. Join us by taking action.
Standing with you,
Juan Jose Gonzalez
P.S. At a City Club luncheon yesterday, CEO Byrd-Bennett announced that if this legislation passes, she will impose a 5 year moratorium on school actions starting next year. We need this work done right the first time so the future can bring positive change and stability for CPS kids: https://stand.org/illinois/action/chicago/quality-schools/support-sb-547