August 30, 2012
Chicago Public Schools (CPS) today announced it is taking preliminary steps to implement its “Children First” plan to provide students with essential services should the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) leadership choose to strike. The plan includes providing a safe environment, daily meals and positive, engaging activities for students. CPS will partner with City Sister Agencies and Departments, faith organizations, non-profits and other stakeholders to ensure students receive the support they need in the event of a CTU strike.
More than 140,000 students started the school year nearly three weeks ago and launched the Full School Day, providing them with more quality time in critical subjects like math, reading and science, as well as new and increased exposure to music, art and physical education. More than 250,000 students in Track R schools will launch their Full School Day on September 4.
“As I’ve visited schools across the district these past few weeks, I can see that students, teachers and principals are excited to be in class and the Full School Day is working,” said CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard. “That's why we’re committed to being at the negotiation table every day until we reach a fair agreement for our teachers and avoid a strike so kids aren't removed from the classroom just as they're making progress. But, we need to be prepared to provide our students with services they need should CTU leaders decide to strike, and our Children First plan will do that."
CPS and its partners are committed to doing everything possible to put children first and provide them with essential services if needed, including:
- Keep approximately 145 school sites open from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday – Friday.
- Sites are selected based on the size and location of the building, with preference given to those with strong leadership, air conditioning, a gym and cafeteria, computer labs and proximity to public transportation.
- While instruction will not be provided, students will participate in positive activities to keep them engaged, including independent reading and writing, arts and journaling, sports activities, computer-based programming, among others.
- Elementary and high school students would attend separate designated facilities to address their unique needs.
- Staffing open sites with Central Office staff and other non-CTU employees as well as organizations who will be invited to submit a request for proposals (RFP) to help staff schools and provide programming.
- Staff-to-student ratio would be capped at 1 to 25.
- Providing daily nutrition services to all students attending a site, including breakfast and lunch.
- Partnering with City Sister Agencies to provide additional options for families and children such as:
- Extending 70-80 Chicago Park District summer camps, and providing students with online learning opportunities at 79 Chicago Public Libraries.
- Working with the Chicago Transit Authority and Chicago Police and Fire Departments to ensure safety and provide additional services.
In the coming days, additional information and details will be made available as needed, including site locations and resources for families. In the event that CTU leaders take the next step towards a strike, we will open up the process for parents to sign up their kids for services both online and by phone.
“Too much is at stake for our kids both inside and outside the classroom and that’s why we’re focused on reaching a fair contract for our teachers that keeps our kids in the classroom where they belong. But, if CTU leaders decide to strike, we must do everything we can to provide students with the nutrition they need as well as a safe environment where they are engaged in positive activities,” said Brizard. “These plans are simply a precaution, but we have an obligation and responsibility to our children and their parents to make sure they are not left behind in the event of a strike.”
A CTU strike would have a dramatic impact on students across the district, particularly in the areas of:
- Instruction. Students would not have access to instruction.
- Sports. Varsity games and practices would be cancelled, impacting the approximately 11,000 high school students who play fall sports, including: Football, Soccer, Swimming and Diving, Cross Country, Golf, Softball, Tennis and Volleyball; in some sports, such as Football, many student athletes could be shut out from participating in playoff and championship games.
- Nutrition. More than 400,000 daily hot breakfasts and lunches would not be served to students who need them. (84 percent of students, or more than 338,000 kids, qualify for the CPS free and reduced lunch program).
- High School Seniors. Seniors applying to college could have key elements of their admissions process delayed—the sending of their transcripts, ACT scores and teacher recommendations.
- Assessments. 20,000 high school juniors could miss practice tests for the ACT, and students in programs like International Baccalaureate (IB) could miss key coursework needed to prepare for exams.
For more information about CPS plans in the event of a CTU strike, the public can visit our Children First website at www.cps.edu/childrenfirst or visit our main website at cps.edu.
Chicago Public Schools serves 403,000 students in 675 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.