Survey: More dialogue needed from CPS

March 27, 2009 9:52:34 AM PDT
Results of a survey of parents and community groups about Chicago Public Schools came out Friday. It urges CPS to better communicate with parents. This was a chance for parents to speak their minds and to talk about problems in their community and in their schools. They had a lot of suggestions for CPS.

A new survey on CPS, spearheaded by community organizations, shows that schools need to do a better job of telling parents about how the district is faring academically.

The group surveyed nearly 1,400 parents in 43 city neighborhoods and six suburbs. They conducted focus group discussions with parents, students and community officials.

The survey also suggests that CPS needs to provide more information about future school closings and where their children will have to go.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the survey found that safety and violence among students is a big concern. Twenty-nine CPS students have been killed by violence during this school year. City officials and community leaders have called for stronger gun laws and more policing. And grassroots organizations have conducted outreach to young people.

As for academics, the overhaul of the city's failing schools began in the mid-1990s and has been held up as a national model for school reform. That's one reason why President Barack Obama picked former schools CEO Arne Duncan to be his education secretary.

Even though many have praised the educational improvements, others are disappointed with some of the consequences, like school closings and academic changes.

"You hear what the school says is what the school says, and that's it. You can't do it. You don't have no voice and no vote in what people want to see or do in our child's education," said Rosalda Naba, parent.

On Friday morning, 200 parents ate breakfast and were informed about the survey results.

"We're not being funded adequately for our children. We have a lot of problems in our schools that CPS should address," said Michelle Young, parent.

"A lot of times when they find out about trouble, they find out when they hear things on the news. And schools are not effectively communicating to the parents about problems that's actually happening in the schools," said Pastor Ron Taylor, who helped organize the study.

CPS spokesperson Monique Bond responded saying the school district wants to improve on communication, but she also said that there are already processes in place to let parents know about public hearings, schools that are closing and the academic status of schools. Bond says the school district is committed to fighting gun violence, but she also noted that none of the 29 student deaths this school year have occurred on school grounds.

Parents agreed that they too need to be proactive.

"Out of this summer, we're going to come up with something to help our children, our communities, the city of Chicago," Young said.