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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
4:48pm
Tue Oct 14, 2014

Chicagoans Speak Out Against School Actions Cited In Federal Civil Rights Complaint

U.S. Department of Education officials heard first-hand stories about the impact public school closings and consolidations are having in Chicago at a South Side community meeting held Monday night with parents, students and their supporters.

The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights is currently looking into a complaint filed by education activists alleging "racially discriminatory" school actions and closings in Chicago. Organizers with the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO) and the Coalition to Revitalize Dyett High School spearheaded the town hall meeting, held at First Unitarian Church of Chicago in Hyde Park. The discussion was designed to allow education department reps to hear directly from the people affected by the school actions cited in the complaint. The two education department officials were at the meeting strictly to listen.

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
6:50pm
Tue May 20, 2014

Report: School Closures, Charter Expansion Causing 'Catastrophic' Harm To U.S. Minority Communities

On the heels of the 60th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision, which declared state-mandated public school segregation unconstitutional, dozens of grassroots organizations across the country say the push by education "reformers" to close and privatize schools is having a devastating and disproportionate impact on communities of color. Progress Illinois takes a look at a new report on the matter released by Journey for Justice Alliance, a national network of grassroots community groups.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
6:05pm
Mon May 19, 2014

Education Groups Demand Investigation Into Chicago Board Of Ed's Ties To AUSL (VIDEO)

Chicago education activists and grassroots organizations have taken their fight against recently-approved public school turnarounds to the inspectors general of the school district and the U.S. Department of Education.

On April 30, the Chicago Citizens United to Preserve Public Education coalition filed complaints with the two inspector general offices, requesting an investigation into possible conflicts of interest surrounding the Chicago Board of Education's decision last month to hand three academically struggling schools over to the Academy for Urban School Leadership, a controversial school turnaround contractor. 

In its complaints, the coalition specifically cites Board of Education President David Vitale and board member Carlos Azcoitia as having potential conflicts due to their ties to AUSL. The education coalition, which believes the three recent school turnarounds are invalid due to the alleged conflicts, also notes that Tim Cawley, CPS' Chief Administrative Officer, is the former managing director of AUSL and "is in a position to approve CPS contracts, including the AUSL contracts."

"There seems to be a swinging door relationship between CPS and AUSL," said Valerie Leonard with Chicago Citizens United to Preserve Public Education, which includes groups such as Blocks Together, the Lawndale Alliance, Teachers for Social Justice and other members.

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
6:56pm
Wed Apr 23, 2014

Rand Paul Visits Chicago To Talk Politics, Education Reform (VIDEO)

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) was in Chicago Tuesday to discuss politics and education reform at two events in the city. Progress Illinois recaps some of the highlights from the discussions. 

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
11:59am
Thu Apr 17, 2014

CPS Students Want State Lawmakers To Fix 'Broken' School Discipline Policies

A group of Chicago students is ratcheting up the pressure on state lawmakers to get behind "common-sense" school disciplinary policies.

Student leaders with Voices of Youth in Chicago Education (VOYCE) argue zero tolerance discipline policies have resulted in zero gains in schools across the state. Dozens of students demonstrated at the Chicago Public Schools' (CPS) downtown headquarters Wednesday morning before marching to the Thompson Center to call on state officials, including Gov. Pat Quinn, to fix "broken" school discipline policies across Illinois. The group wants state lawmakers to set limitations on the use of disciplinary actions that eat up classroom learning time and have a disproportionate impact on students of color.

"Students want to stay in school. Students want to learn, and they want discipline (policies) that make sense," said Jose Sanchez, VOYCE's Safe Schools Consortium coordinator.

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