What’s Up in CPS the Week of June 11, 2018?

School Facilities Public Hearings Start Today

For decades, Chicago Public Schools made decisions about construction and repair of school facilities with little input from the public and less transparency about the process. In 2011, thanks to pressure from community advocates, Springfield passed a law requiring CPS to create a 10-year capital spending plan, known as the Educational Facilities Master Plan. The first plan was published in 2013, and a draft of the 2018 update was released in May.

Starting today and running through June 27, CPS will present an overview of the updated plan at a series of already-scheduled public meetings. The schedule is here. Today’s meetings are in Humboldt Park in the afternoon and in Bronzeville in the evening. The grassroots advocacy group Raise Your Hand for Illinois Public Education has pledged to attend the first meeting.

At the recent town hall meeting at Back of the Yards High School, facilities issues came up repeatedly from speakers. Most notable was the case of Tonti Elementary, a Southwest Side school that has been severely overcrowded for decades. It remains to be seen when CPS will take public comment on the draft update.


Friday, June 15: St. Sabina Peace March Will Feature Parkland Students

This Friday at 7 p.m., the student activists from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School will kick off their national voter registration tour by joining the annual end-of-the-school year rally and peace march at St. Sabina Church, 1210 W. 78th Place. The event will also feature North Lawndale College Prep recent grads Alex King and DeAngelo McDade, who spoke at the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C., earlier this year.

Illinois Pledges to Uphold Obama Discipline Guidance

Earlier this month, both houses of the Illinois General Assembly passed a resolution urging the state to continue the work of reducing racial disparities in suspensions and expulsion by helping schools adopt new disciplinary procedures, such as restorative justice.

In a town hall forum held Thursday night, teachers spoke about the successes their schools are seeing with students as they make the shift to restorative justice. “I teach my students that if you make a mistake, you fix it. Suspensions and expulsions do the opposite, taking away a student’s agency and isolating them from their classroom community,” said DeJernet Farder, a teacher at Morton Elementary.

We Need School Discipline Reform But We Also Need to Protect Teachers

Using restorative practices instead of suspensions helps a misbehaving student repair the harm their actions cause to their peers or to me as their teacher,” said Letrice Beasley, a case manager at Tilton Elementary. “The U.S. Department of Education needs to understand that rescinding the discipline guidance will only aggravate behavior problems in schools, not solve them.”

Acting Assistant Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education Jason Botel and Attorney Advisor for the Office of Civil Rights Brittany Bull heard testimony and collected postcards urging their boss, Betsy DeVos, to stay the course in encouraging districts to shift away from suspending and expelling students.


Jackson Potter to leave CTU Staff and Return to Teaching

In a public Facebook post, Chicago Teachers Union staff coordinator Jackson Potter recently announced he’ll be leaving his union job to teach at Back of the Yards College Prep. Before joining the union’s staff, Potter taught social studies at the School of Social Justice at Little Village Greater Lawndale High School and at Englewood High School. At Social Justice he was recognized by Mikva Challenge for his work with students to create outstanding civic learning projects.


This post has been updated to include the news of Jackson Potter’s return to the classroom.

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Maureen Kelleher

Chicago Unheard blog manager Maureen Kelleher also serves as a senior writer and editor at brightbeam, a nonprofit network of education activists demanding a better education and brighter future for every child. Before joining the brightbeam team, she spent a decade as a reporter, blogger and policy analyst. Her work has been published across the education world, from Education Week to the Center for American Progress. A former high school English teacher, she is also the proud mom of a middle-schooler. Find her on Twitter at @KelleherMaureen.

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