Guest post from Pete Leki on School Closings and the Commission on School Utilization Meetings

Pete Leki started the ecology program at Waters elementary and Chaired the first Local School Council there.

Much has been said lately about the determination of the CPS to close down "100 schools" because of under-utilization.  Under-utilization.  Another word borrowed from the business-model lexicon. It is as though local public schools were equivalent to MacDonald's or Dunkin Donuts.  Business dwindling? Shut it down and move.

11/29 Culture of Testing Forum Wrap-Up

Thanks to everyone who came out on Thursday night to our forum.  There was a lot to tackle and our main goal was to start a more public and open discussion about the amount/utility and impact of standardized testing in our schools. Thanks to Tim Furman for recording the event.  You can watch parts of it here:

The Washington Post covered it via Tim’s blog:

Apples to Apples Release: Underutilized CPS Elem Schools Overestimated by 24% Overcrowding Higher than Reported



Flawed Formula Categorizes Some of CPS’ Highest Performing Schools as “Underutilized” Placing them at Risk for Closure

Out of the mouths of parents

Below is a letter that one of Raise Your Hand's parent leaders sent to all of her representatives in Springfield (including the Governor and Lt. Governor) about her frustration with Chicago education leadership and opposition to more harmful policies coming down the pike.

Recap of 11/20 City Council Hearing on School Actions

RYH attended the Chicago City Council hearing called by 34 aldermen who comprise the Education Committee regarding school actions on Tuesday, November 20th.  A state law was passed in 2009 that says CPS has to announce potential school actions (closings, phase-outs, turn-arounds) by December 1st to give families enough time to plan to apply for other schools if their school is going to be closed. This year, CPS has requested an extension of this deadline from the state legislature to March 31st.

Elected School Board Results by Ward/Precinct

Hi all,

As you know, the elected school board referendum was on the ballot in 327 precincts across the city on November 6th and voters resoundingly said they want an elected board. 87% of people who had the chance to vote said yes to an elected board. 

Below is a spreadsheet with the results of the vote and you can see that people from Altgeld Gardens and Beverly to Rogers Park, Lincoln Park and Uptown had this on their ballot. 

RYH releases data on Class Size: 76% of CPS schools had classrooms over limits in 2011

This press release was sent out today and a chart with all CPS elementary schools detailing class size info was given to the Board of Ed. Note below that RYH is setting up a class-size hotline for parents to help advocate in situatinos where classrooms are above the recommended limits of 28 for K-3 and 31 for 4-8. Also note that a parent LSC rep should now be appointed to a class size committee when a school makes a complaint about class size to CPS. 


Chicago Voters Overwhelmingly Support an Elected School Board

Yesterday, voters in 327 precincts throughout 35 wards of the city had the opportunity to vote on the referendum question regarding whether Chicago should have an elected school board, as opposed to the current mayoral appointed school board. 

Voters overwhelmingly voted yes to an elected school board, with 86.6% voting yes. The final tally amounted to 65,763 people voting YES and 10,174 voting NO.

You can view results here:

CPS Fuzzy Math?

On the CPS School Action guidelines, released Oct. 31, 2012, submitted by Raise Your Hand board member and Austin neighborhood community leader, Dwayne Truss 

The Chicago Public Schools (CPS) just released draft guidelines for "School Actions" as required by state law.  

After reviewing, I have to take exception to the claim that the CPS community engagement process resulted in adding the space utilization criteria.

CPS poorly attempted a facade of community engagement in the drafting of the 2012 "School Actions Guidelines" by providing a confusing online survey for the public to comment on the 2011 guidelines, and organizing orchestrated "private" community roundtable meetings in which select participants were only given 24 to 48 hour notices of the meetings.

During our roundtable meeting at Malcolm X College, the participants were unanimous against using space utilization as a criteria for school actions. CPS has been touting under-utilization since the teachers strike was resolved. The CPS utilization formula was not presented and not discussed. There was no opportunity to discuss utilization and alternative uses of school buildings.


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