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PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
Wed May 15, 2013

Federal Lawsuits Filed Against CPS Closings As Chicago Clergy Holds 'Pray-In' For Public Schools (VIDEO)

Two class action lawsuits looking to put a stop to the Chicago Public Schools' plan to shutter 53 elementary schools at the end of the academic year were filed in federal court today. 

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Tue May 14, 2013

Restoration Of Early Childhood Education Funding Is A Must, Say Community Groups & Parents (VIDEO)

Chicago-based community groups, parents and advocates for the state's most vulnerable children called on Illinois lawmakers to restore $25 million in funding for early childhood education at a gathering in Pilsen Tuesday morning.

About 100 parents and members of eight local community organizations, such as the Latino Policy Forum, Gads Hill Center and El Hogar del Niño, among others, plan to travel to Springfield Wednesday for a subject matter hearing on education funding cuts.

Gov. Pat Quinn's budget for fiscal year 2013 slashed $25 million from the Preschool for All program, which provides assistance for Illinois' most at-risk children.

“We believe that the state is going through a tough time financially, but the balance in the budget cannot be done on the back[s] of poor children," said Maricela Garcia, CEO of the Gads Hill Center. "The message tomorrow is going to be that we need to see the restoration of $25 million that [was] cut [from] the Early Childhood Education Block Grant last year." 

Quick Hit
by Steven Ross Johnson
Tue May 14, 2013

Chicago Teachers Union To Ramp Up Protests Against Proposed School Closings (VIDEO)

Vowing to keep up the fight to stop a Chicago Public Schools’ proposal to close more than 50 schools, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis unveiled plans Monday for protests that will include three days of marches beginning this weekend.

Lewis, who was joined by parents as well as neighborhood and labor activists, held a press conference in front of William & Charles H. Mayo Elementary School on the city’s South Side.  Mayo is one of 54 schools slated for closure by CPS, but was one of 13 plans rejected last week by an independent panel of hearing officers.  

A final vote by the Chicago Board of Education is still needed for CPS to move forward with its plan, which if approved would be the country's largest number of closings by a single school district at one time. The Board of Education will vote on the proposal May 22.

Lewis, who has called for a moratorium on all school closings, said it is not too late for the Illinois General Assembly to intervene, adding that the CPS proposal would be detrimental to the education of many of the students the district claiims to be helping.

“They’re bad public policy,” Lewis said. “We have been looking at school closings for over 10 years, they have not improved education, will not improve education, and even though they say it over and over and over again, there is no proof.”

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Tue May 14, 2013

Illinois Senate May Vote On Comprehensive Sex Ed Bill This Week

A state measure that looks to revamp sex education in Illinois’ public schools was approved in the House last month and could possibly go up for a full Senate vote this week.

The bill, HB 2675, would require schools with sex education classes for grades 6 through 12 to stress abstinence, but also incorporate contraception into the discussion. Schools would also be required to provide students with information on how to avoid contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). 

Under the measure, schools currently teaching sex education would also have to adopt medically-accurate and evidence-based information into lesson plans.

As it stands now, those components are not part of the Illinois School Code related to sexual health education, said Joy Messinger, deputy director of the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health.

“That piece is extremely important,” Messinger said. “We believe, and we know based on lots and lots of research, that abstinence-only until marriage education is ineffective, and it often presents an inaccurate view of sexual health.”

PI Original
by Ashlee Rezin
Fri May 10, 2013

Women Speak Out On CPS School Closings & Immigration Reform As Mother's Day Weekend Begins (VIDEO)

Including the voice of women, and particularly mothers, in pending issues across the city, state, and country is increasingly important, according to several organizations which saw the start of Mother’s Day weekend as an opportunity to advocate for their causes.

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
Thu May 9, 2013

Education Arts Non-Profit Could Play A Role In Easing The Transition For Students Affected By CPS School Closures

The Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has asked Changing Worlds, a non-profit arts and education organization with a presence in schools across the district, to consider offering programs that will support welcoming students in schools slated for closure.

“This has had a dramatic impact on many communities,” said Mark Rodriguez, executive director for Changing Worlds, regarding a CPS proposal to close a recordbreaking number of schools across the city.

With 11 of Changing Worlds’ 32 school partners included on CPS’ proposed list for school actions, Rodriguez said the program is in dialogue with district officials regarding ways Changing Worlds can soften the blow to affected students.

“We’re trying to support the young people and help provide solutions and programming that will help schools that are welcoming new students,” he said, adding that Changing Worlds has provided testimonials and letters of support for several of the schools slated for closure.