Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot today joined Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Dr. Janice K. Jackson in announcing a series of investments in CPS schools over the next five years designed to increase equity and meet the needs of all students. After meeting with dozens of teachers, principals, parents, and community members to hear their ideas for improving education in Chicago, Mayor Lightfoot and Dr. Jackson have committed to reexamining school funding, expanding staffing, and strengthening career and technical education (CTE) programming. These changes will give schools and educators more resources to meet the changing needs of their students, and to ensure better academic outcomes for all learners.
“Chicago’s students are making continued progress, thanks to the unwavering commitment by teachers and school leaders all throughout the city,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “Over the past weeks, we’ve met with educators and community members from across the city to learn about how we can address the needs facing our school communities and better meet students where they are. The improvements we are making are a direct result of those conversations and will better support schools across the city in providing a safe, healthy and inclusive experience for all of our children.”
Earlier today, Mayor Lightfoot sent CEO Jackson a letter memorializing the following commitments that the two leaders are making to better support student achievement:
- Strengthen CTE programming: To support more high school students in achieving college and career success, Mayor Lightfoot and Dr. Jackson are setting new goals to increase the quality of career and technical education programs. Under their plan, by 2023, all CTE students will receive some form of career exposure experience by the time they graduate, such as a job shadow, mock interview, or career site visit. CPS will also expand employer partnerships to ensure half of all eligible CTE students are matched with a career development experience, like an internship or apprenticeship, by 2023. These new goals will strengthen CPS’ CTE programming by providing meaningful, hands-on work experiences for students by the time they graduate.
- Expand staffing to meet students’ needs: Based on feedback from educators, the Mayor and CPS have committed to increasing the number of nurses, special education case managers and social workers in the district’s highest need schools. Due to the national shortage of qualified professionals in these fields and the significant cost of this expansion, these investments will be made over a multi-year period.
- To meet the needs of both special education and general education students, CPS will add at least 200 more school social worker positions to CPS schools over the next five years.
- CPS will add at least 250 additional full-time nurse positions over the next five years, so every CPS school has access to full-time, stable nursing services. At the same time, CPS will cut its reliance on contract nurses in half so that contractors are only used in supplemental and substitute roles. To meet this need for certified school nurses, health services nurses, and licensed practical nurses, CPS will work with stakeholders including the Chicago Teachers Union to develop a plan to increase the pipeline of nurses to fill these positions.
- Over the next three years, CPS will increase the number of special education case manager positions at schools with relatively high numbers of diverse learners. By the 2021-2022 school year, schools with 240 or more students with IEPs (Individualized Education Program) will have at least 2 full-time case managers; schools with more than 120 students with IEPs will have at least one full-time case manager; and schools with more than 50 students with IEPs will have at least one part-time case manager.
- Examine school funding: To help ensure schools have resources to meet the changing demographics and needs of their students, CPS has committed to examining its school funding formulas and resource allocations. Specifically, CPS will work to determine if there is a more equitable way to fund schools across the district. CPS will engage and solicit feedback from its stakeholders throughout the 2019-2020 school year to ensure that voices of educators and community members are taken into consideration.
“CPS schools have never been stronger, but to continue our exceptional progress we must increase our investment in the resources our students need most and ensure equity is our north star,” said CPS CEO Dr. Janice K. Jackson. “The commitments announced today will help ensure our schools reach new heights and guarantee that every child in Chicago receives a high-quality education that meets their unique needs.”
Throughout the summer, Mayor Lightfoot convened a series of roundtable meetings with teachers, principals, parents, and community members. During discussions about the most pressing issues facing schools today, educators highlighted some of the barriers students face, including student trauma and poverty, as well as some key solutions including expanded social emotional learning and expanded career training. These conversations informed the investments announced today, which are designed to address barriers to student learning and inequities within the district.
Mayor Lightfoot is committed to supporting equitable funding and resources to support the needs of students and families in every neighborhood. Since entering office, Mayor Lightfoot has implemented a series of reforms designed to improve education and address the barriers faced by school communities in Chicago. Among these reforms, was the appointment of a new school board that represents Chicago’s students, families and communities and that will work to confront inequity in schools, support educators and invest in the academic success of every student.
Chicago Public Schools serves 361,000 students in 644 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.
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