Ed Week in Review: December 21, 2012

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ED WEEK IN REVIEW- December 21, 2012

As schools approach winter break, there has been a flurry of education related news in Chicago. Here are some summaries.

School Closings and Space Utilization

Tribune Uncovers document from September showing CPS did have a school closing plan that included closing up to 120 schools:

Document Shows Emanuel had Detailed School Closing Plan

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/education/ct-met-school-closings-1217-20121219,0,4037886.story?page=1

Curtis Black of Newstips writes an excellent article on the “rapidly shrinking space utilization crisis”

http://www.newstips.org/2012/12/questions-for-the-commission-enrollment-finances/

The Tribune reports numbers that appear to be incorrect, saying that CPS has 330 underutilized schools and 140 half-empty schools. It calls on CPS to cut more at central office and open more charter schools:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/editorials/ct-edit-cps-20121221,0,653119.story

Jeanne Marie Olson adds more data to her "Apples to Apples" report shedding light on real utilization numbers at CPS:

http://cpsapples2apples.wordpress.com/2012/12/18/does-a2a-show-any-cps-schools-as-underutilized/

Jennie Biggs of RYH presented the "Apples to Apples" report to CPS at its Board Meeting on Wednesday. We have requested a meeting with CEO Byrd-Bennett. 

http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20121219/chicago/cps-denies-having-list-of-schools-be-closed#.UNMpshnl1e0.twitter

Apples to Apples Recapped:

CPS is using a formula that allows them to exceed the recommended maximum classroom capacity of 30 kids by 20%. (In most districts, even 30 is considered very large). This formula suggests that the CPS numbers for overcrowding are under-reported while their numbers on underutilization are very exaggerated. If CPS used an assumption of 30 kids per homeroom, their utilization numbers would look quite different and schools would not appear to be underutilized. See Jeanne Marie Olsons report for more details.

Josh Kalov created this useful visualization map to highlight the difference in the two formulas:

http://cpsutilization.kalov.net/

Is your school considered underutilized by CPS? Email us and we’ll send you a walkthrough template (shared by Blocks Together) so you can you do your own accurate assessment of your school.  info@ilraiseyourhand.org.

Standardized Testing

We have submitted a request to CPS to get the cost associated with all standardized testing at CPS. Parents would like to know how much of the budget is going towards the myriad tests offered at the district. We will share any info we receive. In the mean time, we are working on action steps around testing. Please email us if you’d like to get involved. We need a parent rep on this issue at every school. We are also planning two more forums on testing for this school year and will have more details in January.

Today, Catalyst reported that CPS is piloting yet another Kindergarten assessment at 30 schools this year: http://www.catalyst-chicago.org/notebook/2012/12/21/20714/cps-other-dist... 

Books First

A parent we know is collecting books for CPS schools with no libraries and high homeless populations. She started an organization called Books First to help bring books to schools with homeless populations above 25%. The first school to receive books will be McCutcheon elementary in Uptown. If you’re interested in donating your gently used books, email BooksFirst01@gmail.com

Happy Holidays

Thanks to all of you who have been part of our growing coalition in one way or another. We are inspired daily by the great efforts of parents around the city of Chicago to make their schools better and the system better for all.

Have a wonderful holiday break with your families! See you in the New Year.