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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Thu Mar 21, 2013

North Lawndale Stakeholders Release Alternative Plan To School Closures (VIDEO)

A coalition of North Lawndale leaders and education advocates released an alternative plan to school closings today, including a comprehensive community strategy to provide wraparound services and capacity building for schools targeted for closure.

The meeting at the Better Boys Foundation comes a day after news leaked that the Chicago Public Schools has plans to close 50 schools, which would be the largest round of schools closed at one time in the nation.  WBEZ is also reporting that additional schools may be turned around to address low performance.

It’s rumored that CPS could release the names of those schools slated to close today.

“There were 12 schools on the list for North Lawndale that were slated to be closed as of yesterday,” said Valerie Leonard, with the Lawndale Alliance and a member of the ad hoc Committee to Save North Lawndale Schools. “We understand that this list could change today. We understand that principals are being notified as we speak as to whether or not their schools are on the list.”

Quick Hit
by Aricka Flowers
Wed Mar 20, 2013

CPS Rumored To Announce Some 50 School Closures Thursday

The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is set to announce Thursday that some 50 schools will be closed at the end of this school year. If this is accurate, it would be the largest number of schools in the nation to be closed at one time, the newspaper reports.

CPS has notified several aldermen to prepare for school closures in their wards, according to the Sun-Times.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Wed Mar 20, 2013

CTU President, Education Justice Advocates Slam High-Stakes Student Testing

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, students and other advocates for educational justice blasted high-stakes student testing at a community forum last night, calling it yet another battle in the war on public education.

Proponents of standardized testing say it helps to close the achievement gap, but Lewis said the objective is “to rank and sort.”

“What do these tests do?” Lewis asked the crowd at Mount Carmel Missionary Baptist Church. “They answer one simple thing. Who are the winners and the losers ... but who made the rules to the game?”

“The winners are telling the losers these tests will tell you what you really know. These tests will tell you the value that a teacher adds to your child. These winners are telling the losers that if you don’t do well on these tests, you have no future.”

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Tue Mar 19, 2013

How The Ryan Budget Would Impact Food Assistance For The Needy

More than 2 million low-income individuals in Illinois rely on the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for food aid, but the program could face a big setback under U.S. House Budget Committee Chairman U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R, WI-1) proposed budget released last week.

Ryan’s plan aims to block grant the flexible SNAP program, which has about 47 million participants.

Under the plan, the federal government would give pots of cash to states to run the program, leaving them to customize it to their recipients’ needs and determine eligibility requirements.  

“Like Medicaid, SNAP suffers from a flawed structure,” the budget plan says. “States receive more money if they enroll more people in the program — so their incentive is to get people onto the rolls. They have little incentive to help people get off the rolls and find work. In fact, these programs make it harder to become independent.”

That’s not the right approach, said Beverly Henry, associate professor of nutrition and dietetics at Northern Illinois University’s College of Health and Human Sciences.

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
Tue Mar 19, 2013

Education Activists Head To Springfield Calling For Moratorium On School Closings (VIDEO)

A group of education activists boarded a bus to Springfield this morning to campaign for a moratorium on school closings in Chicago Public Schools (CPS).

Leaving shortly after 6:30 a.m., the group of approximately 30 CPS staff members, students and supporters plan on attending a 1 p.m. Senate Education Committee hearing at the Illinois Statehouse. Organized by the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) the group aimed to petition for lawmakers’ support and testify on behalf of SB 1571, legislation that would place a two-year moratorium on school closings.

“Before they instill policies and close schools they should listen to the people who actually do the job,” said Dorothy Clabaugh, a librarian at Alexander Graham Elementary School in Canaryville, which is one of 129 schools that is facing a potential school action.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Tue Mar 19, 2013

North Side Residents, Alderman Meet To Discuss Potential Impact Of School Closings

Although the 47th ward appears to be safe from potential school closings at the end of the academic year, Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th ward) and other education panelists at a North Side forum last night said all Chicago communities would feel the impact of shuttered neighborhood schools.

It’s likely some schools in the 47th Ward, and others, would take in students from nearby schools that Chicago Public Schools decides to close, the alderman said.

Pawar cited one nearby public school, Trumbull, on CPS’ potential 129-school closing list. About 30 percent of students at the elementary school near Ashland and Foster avenues have special needs, he said. 

“I think some of the schools in the area will absorb those students, and we’re OK with that,” Pawar said. “I just think what makes this a little frustrating is we’re not moving cattle around. These are children, and whether they’re special ed or not, how we count them matters.”

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Mon Mar 18, 2013

Lane Tech Students Hold Morning Sit-In To Protest Persepolis Book Ban

Hundreds of Lane Tech College Prep students staged a sit-in this morning inside the school in response to Chicago Public Schools’ controversial announcement last week that it would remove the graphic novel “Persepolis” from its seventh grade curriculum.

Progress Illinois went to the school as classes began this morning but was told by one of the school’s assistant principals that members of the media were not allowed to attend the sit-in within the school or speak with faculty or students on school property about the protest, or other events, citing CPS’ communications policy.