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New Mandates for Chicago Public Schools

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Illinois Senator Mattie Hunter talking about CPS practices, as Andrea Lee, (seated far right), Grand Blvd Federation's Peer Parent Education Network organizer, along with other members Angelique Harris, and Josephine Norwood, looks on during the public forum on new mandates for Chicago Public Schools at the Illinois Institute of Technology on November 15, 2011. Photo by Mary C. Piemonte


Chicago residents now have a louder voice when it comes to the city’s schools under new legislation passed by the state, and a community organization recently brought together several elected officials and area residents to discuss how best to use their new power. On Nov. 15, the Grand Boulevard Federation’s Peer Parent Network and Illinois Sen. Mattie Hunter (D-Chicago) hosted “Know Your Rights,” a community forum at the Illinois Institute of Technology 2011.
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Parents File Discrimination Complaint against CPS Promotion Policy for Elementary Students

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Since Mayor Richard M. Daley took over the Chicago Public Schools (CPS), thousands of elementary students have failed under a policy which is proven failure, according to members of the Parents United for Responsible Education (PURE), parents of retained students, as well as their advocates from the Chicago Teachers’ Union and other groups.

They say “The policy has resulted in systemic violations of the civil rights of African-American and Latino students.”

So, they filed a discrimination complaint against CPS for their promotion policy on Dec. 8, asking the U. S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights for relief on behalf of their affected children.

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Under Fire, Board Closes Schools Anyway

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Under fire from parents, teachers, students and even some state legislators, the Chicago Board of Education voted to close, consolidate, phase out or turn-around 16 schools on Feb. 25. Four schools will close, four will be consolidated into other schools, four will be put into ‘turnaround’ initiatives, and four will be phased out. The difference between a closing and a consolidation is that all of the consolidated school’s students would move to the same receiving school. Staff members usually follow the students, except where there are overlaps, which would then be subject to union rules. The Board designates a school for ‘turnaround’ when it has consistently low academic performance. No students have to move in a turnaround. Instead, the staff have to reapply for their jobs and an outside organization works with the school to change the culture, according to Chicago Public Schools’ web site. “Schools are phased out for low enrollment, and all students currently enrolled in the schools would be allowed to graduate. However, the school would not be able to enroll any kindergarten, or in some cases pre-K, students as of the 2009-10 school year. “The following year, the school would not be able to enroll kindergarten or first-grade students, and each year would enroll one fewer grade.”
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