The Paid Protester Problem

Paid protesters, today’s Board meeting, and school lunches top today’s education news:

Ministers call paying protesters unusual Sun Times:  Reacting to allegations that “rent-a-protesters” packed recent school closing hearings, two ministers said Tuesday it is not common practice for Chicago clergy to pay people to attend hearings or “training.”

Paid protesters a new force in school closings debate WBEZ:  This mother, who lives in Englewood, one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods, has made $50 off the public hearings to close down failing schools this year.

Capital projects on school board’s agenda Catalyst:  More than $14 million will be spent on “Pathways Program” construction for career programs at Lindblom, Richards, Roosevelt, Schurz, Sullivan, and Simeon high schools, as well as other unspecified schools. [Renewal for ACT, changes for Beasley, and a couple of settlements are also on the agenda]

New law requires more details on school report cards Sun Times: The law mandates that the state keep track of certain information about every school in Illinois — including teacher performance, standardized test scores and curriculum details — and make the information available to the public on school “report cards” beginning in 2013.

School performance reporting to get statewide overhaul WBEZ:  On Tuesday morning, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed into law legislation designed to give parents and communities access to user-friendly reports about public schools and districts performance statewide.

Lunch ladies to school officials: Dump frozen food WBEZ:   Chicago schools are serving more healthy food than they were a couple years ago, but many kitchen workers seem to think the district still has a long way to go.

‘Lunch ladies’ criticize how CPS updated school food Tribune:  Workers who serve meals in Chicago Public Schools say the majority of kids are not eating the healthful new foods on the cafeteria menu, according to a confidential survey released Tuesday.

CPS to stock EpiPens, propose new health policies WBEZ:  Chicago Public Schools announced it will begin to stock EpiPens, which are used to inject medication into a person experiencing anaphylaxis shock.

Curie High School student struck by semi in ‘very serious’ condition Sun Times: The senior was getting lunch when the semi struck him — pinning him under the vehicle, Chicago Public Schools spokeswoman Marielle Sainvilus said.

As some schools plunge into technology, poor schools are left behind Tribune:  On a recent Friday morning, 15-year-old Jerod Franklin stared at his hands as he labored to type up memories of the first time he grilled steak.

Longer school day may be too much for some children, parents say Tribune:  As Chicago prepares for a longer day at all public schools this fall, some parents are finding that a 71/2-hour school day can be too much of a good thing.



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  • IL's 14 pct SPED rate is a little above average for states, which range from 9 to 18 pct @stateline

  • RT @catalystchicago: Melody teacher: We are "using time very aggressively to improve student outcomes."

  • RT @cncschools: Brizard points out that there will be a drop in scores when the common core assessments come into play. #cpsboard

  • I just returned from the public participation section of today,s board meeting and I also attended last night's closing hearing on Crane Tech. Access Living formally opposed the closing of Crane, but we did not oppose to co-location of the Talent Development Charter into the facility and I will return to that issue.

    But first I think that Alderman Bob Fioretti's presentation to the CPS board today should be noted. The Alderman very clearly raised the issue to the CPS Board if any CPS funding was used to pay for the “rent-a-protesters,” being discussed by the media. The Board did not respond to him on this issue at all. Alderman Fioretti gave a very coherant presenation as to why the closure of Crane makes no sense and on how the schools CPS wants to sent displaced area students to are no better, he also indicated he was not opposed to the co-location plan for the charter school. The Alderman also raised the special education problems Crane faces and his comments were consistent with those I made on behalf of Access Living the night before.

    Effectively Alderman Fioretti set the tone for the public comments made at the meeting today. At least 4 parents spoke against the 7.5 hour school day for elementary schools and in one case presented the signitures of hundreds of 19th ward residents who also did not think CPS should be keeping young children in school that long.

    Access Living statement last night was as follows:

    My name is Rod Estvan and I am the Education Policy Analyst for Access Living of Chicago. On December 16, 2011 Access Living sent the CEO of the Chicago Public Schools a letter on the phase out of Crane High School and the reassignment of incoming freshmen that would have attended Crane to Wells High School (copy of the letter emailed to A. Russo). We have attached this letter to our statement for this hearing. As of today we have received no response from CPS to our letter.

    As a disability rights organization our primary concern is with the significant number of students with disabilities who attend Crane. In our letter we detail the existing test score data from the Illinois State Board of Education for the subgroup of students with disabilities and we detail attending Wells High School and Crane over a three year period of time and show effectively that outcomes for students with disabilities are every bit as weak at Wells as at Crane.

    In our letter we propose allowing Crane to continue as an existing school and the qualified support for placing the Talent Development Charter High School in the Crane facility. Access Living has great concerns for students with disabilities from Crane feeder elementary schools who do not find other high school options that will be required under the current proposal to travel to Wells for a special education program that statistically is no better than what exists at Crane.

    As we document in our letter both Crane and Wells have high numbers of students with disabilities that stress these schools, in 2011 Crane had 25.8% students with IEPs, when the district's mathematical mean of students with disabilities in high schools declined to 14.9%. In 2011, 23.4% of students at Wells had IEPs.
    As the plan for the phase out of Crane High School currently exists Access Living is opposed to it and we believe that it is not in the best interest of disabled students in the community around Crane who may be required to attend Wells High School.

  • Last night at the Crane hearing at 125 N. Clark, one woman spoke at the podium in sweeping generalizations about respect for those who cared about their school(s) and the importance of educating our children, etc. For the first minute, it was unclear whether she was in support or against the CPS proposal to phase-out Crane. But then, during her 2nd minute, she continued to cite the failure(s) of BEST PRACTICE, repeatedly identifying problems with/at BEST PRACTICE, etc. In the audience, myself and many of my fellow Crane supporters sat incredulous. It was obvious that the woman speaking was reading from notes that were in support of the closure of Best Practice High School. Of course, the meeting at hand was about CRANE! At no time did this woman waiver from her position that BEST PRACTICE should be closed! She was completely unaware of the absurdity of her words. (The Best Practice meeting isn't until this evening -- Wed. Jan. 25).

    We keep witnessing, directly or indirectly, many non-invested (or at least less-than-invested) people attending and speaking at these CPS school action meetings and hearings in support of whichever CPS proposal is being presented at that time. Mostly, it's just sad. In this case, it was funny. But actually, it wasn't.

  • Dear Anoymous, WOW! Maybe she was a Rent-A-Protester ($50) and got her dates mixed up?

  • Rod: To get a message to Brizard with a response (according to Brizard on "Schools on the Line"), you can email Think it might work?

  • Yes I have CEO Brizard's email address and yes he got our letter on Dec 16, and no he has not responded as we informed the hearing officer last night.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Rod, CEO Brizard finally responded to our letter and we met with him this week!

  • Special education broken promise burden heavy for IL schools via SSNS

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