The Chicago Teachers Union didn’t waste any time rallying its allies against the coming school closing process following the end of the strike, and today CPS responded with its own effort to reconnect with communities and parents about the difficult decisions that are coming. It released draft guidelines for school closing decisions to the public (see below), and sent Byrd-Bennett out to talk about rebuilding trust and a transparent process.
No response yet from CTU, though I’m sure they’ll find something wrong with the plan. And indeed, there may well be. But the reality is that CTU would oppose any school closing, no matter how underutilized or low-performing it may be. Especially since the idea of adding more charters is on the table.
CPS Releases Draft School Actions Guidelines that Integrate Community Feedback
CEO Byrd-Bennett vows no actions without rigorous community engagement process
Chicago – Chicago Public Schools (CPS) today released draft guidelines that will be used to help the public understand the criteria that will be used to determine various school actions the district may take to help address challenges it faces in investing more resources to support student learning and give every child in Chicago access to a high-quality education.
CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett stressed that these are only draft guidelines and that no decisions have been made on any school actions, and that no schools have yet been placed on any lists. She also underscored that a rigorous community engagement process must be implemented before she allows any actions to move forward.
“These guidelines represent the beginning of a conversation we need to have with the community, not an end, so no steps will be taken until we have rebuilt trust with the community by engaging them in an inclusive, open and transparent manner,” said CEO Byrd-Bennett. “They deserve to be real partners in the tough decisions that need to be made about how we can better invest in our children and their future, and if I don’t have the confidence that this can be done right by Dec. 1, then we won’t be moving forward with recommendations at that time.”
CPS sought and incorporated community feedback on these draft guidelines and used multiple modes of communication to engage communities throughout Chicago. More than 1,000 individuals provided feedback via:
· Surveys sent to Local School Councils (LSCs), Community Action Councils (CACs), Parent Advisory Councils (PACs), community organizations and elected officials;
· Five facilitated community roundtable discussions held across the city;
· Meetings with the faith-based community;
· A citywide tele-town hall;
· Meetings with Chicago Teachers Union leadership;
· A citywide CAC leadership meeting;
· A Twitter tele-townhall; and
· Feedback solicited on cps.edu.
To view feedback received, visit: www.cps.edu/
Several of these steps were taken from community engagement recommendations made by the Chicago Educational Facilities Task Force, which is the body that reports to the state on CPS’compliance with state statute around school actions.
Draft school actions guidelines propose criteria to inform decisions around school closures, consolidations, reassignment boundary changes, phase-outs and co-locations. For additional information and to view the guidelines in their entirety, visit: www.cps.edu/2013guidelines.
Some changes from last year’s guidelines were prompted by community feedback. Changes include:
· Differentiating criteria for school consolidation, reassignment boundary change, closure, or phase-out from criteria for co-location;
· Removing academic performance criteria, to focus on the District’s space utilization challenges; and
· Adding space utilization criteria.
“I’m setting high standards for my team to ensure we are engaging the community in a meaningful and respectful way by Dec. 1 and I will make a decision on our next steps shortly,” added CEO Byrd-Bennett. “I must have total confidence in this process.”
Over the next 21 days, the public will have the opportunity to comment on the draft guidelines. Copies of the draft guidelines are available at cps.edu/2013guidelines. Comments can be submitted via email to email@example.com; via fax to (773) 553-5345; or by mail to: Chicago Public Schools, 125 S. Clark Street, 5th Floor, Chicago, IL 60603, attn: CEO’s Office re: Draft Guidelines. Public comments must be received by Nov. 21 at 5 p.m.