Thursday, December 22, 2011

RAGE: Englewood steps into action for quality schools

The Resident Association of Greater Englewood (RAGE) sends us this press release on Wednesday:
Englewood Steps into Action for Quality Schools!
Despite school actions, key stakeholders of Englewood
Have all hands on deck to implement Strategic Educational Plan.

Chicago, IL – The Englewood Community Action Council held a special meeting on Tuesday, December 8, 2011 to assure all hands will be on deck in order to implement an action plan that supports the students attending schools in the Greater Englewood neighborhood. Those involved include parents, educators, students, and community leaders; all eager to step into action to assure a quality education will be provided. This alliance will utilize the Strategic Educational Plan developed by the Englewood CAC as a roadmap to achieve premier educational opportunities.

Since October 2010, the leadership of this council has been guided by two co-chairs, Asiaha Butler and Latesha Dickerson, both residents of Englewood and advocates for quality education in their neighborhood. The initial charge of the Englewood Community Action Council was to review the current state of education in the Englewood community and make specific recommendations for improvement. The work over the past thirteen months has been global in nature, looking at education in the community from a birds-eye perspective.

During the last Englewood CAC meeting, it was suggested that the Community Action Councils were rumored to be “rubberstamps” of CPS and contributed to the proposed recommendations for school actions. All members of the Englewood CAC spoke out explaining that this information was completely inaccurate. “It was not our responsibility to make recommendations for individual schools, nor did we make recommendations to CEO Jean Claude-Brizard or other key district staff about specific schools needing action in Englewood. The Council’s strategic planning process focused on actions improving all Englewood schools, not specific actions for individual schools,” says Dickerson. Butler states, “The Englewood CAC was not prepared to give any recommendations regarding closing or turnarounds this was not the work of our council. Honestly the Stagg turn around news threw us all for a loop, especially since we have discussed how to strengthen the Montessori program which is currently working well for Stagg students.”

Throughout the strategic planning process, the council was painfully aware that many of the elementary and high schools could possibly face district actions. At this time, the role of the Englewood CAC is shifting its focus to provide support to students and families at schools with proposed actions. The group is striving to empower both students and families with information and resources to make informed decisions during this difficult time.

This cadre of key educational stakeholders is extremely excited about the work of the Englewood CAC and enthusiastic about the next phase of this process. The comprehensive strategic plan will be available for public review in January 2012; it is a blueprint for changing the state of education in the Greater Englewood community. The twelve goals of the plan incorporate all stakeholders and community resources to transform the lives of the children and youth in the community. Englewood developed a community vision for a cradle-to-college or career pipeline and is working collectively to assure that the plans will be carried out despite the proposed actions outlined by the district. “Our students and families are our top priority, so we are excited to see the community ready to work together to assure all our schools in Englewood received a world-class education”, says Butler.

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