December 4, 2012
Mrs. Barbara Byrd-Bennett
Chief Executive Officer
Chicago Public Schools
125 Clark Street
Chicago, Illinois 60603
Dear Mrs. Byrd-Bennett:
I write you today because I am concerned that the Chicago Public Schools administration has not engaged the participation of the citizens of Chicago regarding the CPS Education Facility Master Plan provisions. The CPS 2012-2013 Guidelines for School Actions states: "Decisions surrounding actions will be made with a rigorous community engagement process that gives parents and CPS communities a voice in the process and respect they deserve as part of that process."
As you know, House Bill 1957 and Senate Bill 547 extended the date, to March 31, 2013, for Plan provisions to unveil their list of school closing. However, to date, the CPS administration has not provided the community an opportunity to participate in this process.
It seems that the CPS administration is rushing to close schools without a comprehensive plan supported by its constituents. In addition, the information provided to the public in the recent press release did not clearly delineate the information about the self-appointed commission, nor did it provide precise information regarding the five-year moratorium. I believe that it is time for a CPS administrative plan that: values community participation; does not perpetuate futile academic and social efforts; and promotes the displacement of students, which in turn, destabilizes our communities. I am a concerned citizen who prefers to work along with the CPS administration in developing our children and communities, rather than as a voiceless spectator in civic engagement. I believe in democracy and ask that the CPS administration provides the community with an opportunity for public input.
I humbly request that the CPS administration considers rescheduling meetings that do not offer a minimum of a two-week notice to the public. It would be of great value to post public notices citywide, utilizing newspapers, posters, radio, and the CPS website. In addition, it would be beneficial to everyone involved if the CPS administration provided an opportunity for a public comment session during each meeting. Also, please consider appointing individuals, parents, teachers, and community activists who are “grass roots conscious” as part of the team making the final decisions on school closures.
Finally, to ensure the community is given a “voice” during town hall or commission meetings, it would be helpful to provide advanced notice of these meetings, along with opportunities to voice concerns during the meetings. Public input is an important component of the civic empowerment process and can, in many instances, provide solutions to the concerns discussed during these types of meetings.
Sincerely Concern Citizen