As CPS prepares to close a record number of schools, the fate of students and communities is in question.
The court is watching
The court monitor assigned to oversee implementation of Corey H. is keeping tabs on both CPS's Education Connections program and the state's new monitoring initiative. Education Connections, part of CPS's 1998 settlement provides grants to school to carry out inclusion. The monitor is retired Judge Joseph Schneider. Schneider hired Rod Estvan, formerly of Access Living, to assist him, and Estvan hired a team of one head consultant and two part-time consultants. The team already has visited a number of Education Connections schools on an informal basis.
Schneider and his helpers review and approve all of the improvement plans and budgets prepared by Education Connections schools. To ensure that the plans address the schools' specific problems, Schneider's team examines school and student records, interviews teachers and other staff and observes classrooms. The team will make follow-up site visits to a sample of Education Connections schools.
Central office also evaluates the Education Connections schools, which are reviewed by Schneider's office. Schools will be evaluated based on how well they meet the goals of their plan, but a formal evaluation from Schneider's office won't be prepared until the end of the program in 2005.
Schneider's office also will review the monitoring reports prepared under the state's program, as well as schools' corrective action plans. Using those documents, Schneider and his team will determine whether they need to visit schools that need support.
Schneider issued a statement to Catalyst. "The Corey H. case has as its goal the change in the culture of the schools, through its impact on principals, teachers, parents and most importantly the students,'' he wrote. "Judge Robert Gettleman wrote: ... 'As the Supreme Court ordered in connection with racial integration, the State should act with all deliberate speed to correct the segregation that afflicts disabled children in Chicago.' In the final analysis, our job is to ensure that this ordered is followed."