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Jobs and schools promise to be top issues in next year’s city elections. The mayor’s education agenda faces its toughest test in the African-American communities that gave him strong support in 2011.

City, CPS start reviewing early childhood applications

 More than 200 agencies have applied for early childhood funding under a new process requiring schools and community organizations alike to compete for preschool and infant education dollars. 

CPS principals have until Nov. 2 to apply, but other agencies’ applications were due on Oct. 1 and are already being rated.

When that is done – around the end of the year – CPS and city staff will decide which programs get funding and how much, according to neighborhood need. Final decisions are expected by February or March.

Principals who could lose their programs, or who hope to start new ones, will have to wait in uncertainty. Belding Elementary Principal Heather Yutzy says that she has no idea whether she’ll be able to keep her preschool program.

When she asked for more information, she says, CPS told her neighborhoods with more high-need students could be prioritized. “It is hard on our end to know – do we stand the chance?” she said.

More than 500 principals and teachers have so far attended information sessions, according to material that Beth Mascitti-Miller, chief early childhood education officer in the district, distributed at an Oct. 22 Illinois Early Learning Council meeting.

At the meeting, Maria Whelan of Illinois Action for Children asked if Chicago has a minimum quality standard for the programs they would fund. It appears the city and CPS do not.

Mascitti-Miller explained that the district doesn’t yet know what the quality of the applications will be. “We are going to be looking at whether we need to provide additional supports, if there isn’t a high-quality provider in (a high-need) area,” Mascitti-Miller said.

Brynn Seibert of SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana – a union that represents some Chicago preschool teachers – asked at the meeting if there would be a chance for community input. Mascitti-Miller replied by saying that decisions will be based on data from the University of Chicago’s Chapin Hall, which has already engaged community members in assessing the need for preschool and early childhood slots in each area of the city.

A total of 161 agencies have submitted applications to CPS to offer Preschool for All or Prevention Initiative (state birth-to-3) programs. Of those, 39 would be new to CPS early childhood funding. Both CPS and external reviewers will rate the applications.

In addition, 56 agencies have applied to the city’s Department of Family and Support Services to offer Head Start or Early Head Start slots. All but nine have worked with the city before.

The Head Start applications turned in to the city are being reviewed and scored by contractors at Western Kentucky University, a process that is expected to wrap up before Thanksgiving. Then the federal government will review and approve them. Finally, applications turned into and the city will be prioritized according to neighborhood need.

So far, the city and the district are on track to get more than enough applications. The agencies that applied to CPS asked for 13,291 preschool spots – nearly double the number of children currently served by community agencies through district funding.

Another 14,900 children were in Preschool for All programs at CPS schools as of June, according to the district. It remains to be seen how many principals will turn in applications.

Harlee Till, the principal at Swift Elementary, says she thinks the application process for schools is “pretty straightforward.”

“I guess they are looking for a little more equity across the district in the program,” Till said. She thinks that is going to be a good thing.

She’s not worried about losing her school’s preschool program because of the number of high-need students – many of whom are learning English.

“It’s a new process and it’s work that has to be done, but everybody who has preschool already knows the impact of it, and we can all absolutely explain the need for it,” Till says. “Those that don’t already have it should be able to apply.”


Anonymous wrote 2 years 12 weeks ago

You do not understand Ms. Till-CPS is spliting a split pie

There will be less for CPS schools and more for Rahm to grant to organizations who are to remember him at election time. No surpirses if there are LESS CPS preschools next year--good way to reduce CTU membership too.

Concerned Advocate wrote 2 years 12 weeks ago

Review of CPS Application

Who will be reviewing the applications for CPS funding? I don't believe the article includes that information. Certainly NOT the current staff. They could not even answer even basic questions about the process or what was required. There are no remaining "experts" in Early Childhood Education left in the office. Don't we want experts making decisions about programs for our most at risk children at a cost of over $100M dollars?

Anonymous wrote 2 years 12 weeks ago

This principal does

This principal does understand! In fact, she understands that if she puts her name and face out here as the principal poster child she increases her chances of receiving funding. This is her way of ensuring that she get her piece of the pie.

Jan Ickes wrote 2 years 12 weeks ago

Greed Perspective

Lots of things have been done wrong in ways of favoritism at some schools. More shakeups are destine to happen; because some schools are run in a coverup manner; to hide things that are not right at that particular school. After all; what goes around; comes around. A lot of those people who lost their jobs were not the ones to have lost their jobs. But ditches were dug. Those people are not to be miserable alone. For the wrongs that were done to them; they do not have to suffer in vain. But they are suffering. They don't know which way to turn. Now some of those Principals who were unfair; will know how it feels to not have a job. How it feels to save cans to take in for pennies. This is why it is only fair for Cps to go in and audit these programs; and schools. Because the minute handful of teachers did not take these schools down by themselves. A lot of it came from poor administration at some schools. You have to have right leaders in order to succeed. Some Principals are so bent on still putting in family and friends. They are the ones who lounge around schools all day and do nothing. Then some of those poor hard working teachers who were given Unsatisfactory ratings and lost their jobs and careers were locked out of the educational door.Those teachers and para will feel a sense of justice being honored; because those who did them wrong will now walk in those shoes. Those are sad shoes to walk in. Teaching or working in Cps schools is not a calm job or promising job to be in. It has become a job you just need to steer clear of. Hopefully those people who lost their jobs can mend. Because those people are really struggling; financially and emotionally. Just don't know which way to turn. And the bad thing about it is the love the children; and often make and attempt to be there for the children; and Cps won't even open the door and allow them to share the expertise they achieved along the way. These teachers are highly qualified. Another area; district; or state would not have done this to their lives. These people are human and needed their jobs also. But one good thing; they don't have to deal with the stress of ALL those new demands that are just not needed demands. And when the dust clears; poverty will still be here; and hopefully people will stand back and see problems are still not solved; and say a little prayer for those poor, distraught teachers who needed and lost their jobs.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 11 weeks ago

A piece of the pie

This is all about taking away the resources for public schools to give to Charters and private schools. When the grant was opened to everyone , this meant for charters and private day care centers to access public funding. I only hope that they serve the neediest children indeed and they are monitored for compliance.

Concerned Advocate wrote 2 years 11 weeks ago

Most At Risk and Compliance

Have you seen the Office of Early Childhood lately? The department has been demolished. No experts are left - they don't have enough staff to monitor the compliance of a quarter of the school based programs let alone the agency based programs. And as far as the most at risk being served - good luck with that. Who is caring for our children - our most needy and at risk children? It certainly is not this group.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 11 weeks ago

Office of early childhood

You are right there is no more OECE in CPS. Rahm has demolished and demoralized many ec educators. What is the future of ec in CPS? As I recall this is plan started when Barbara Bowman came on board and she asked why CPS preschool teachers were paid the same as elementary ed teachers and more than teachers in community based programs, she did not understand that the level of education was different and that we belonged to the CTU. From then on, many changes came on board such as no meals and no naps for full day preschoolers. She set the demise of our programs. And now with Ms. Masitti-Miller things got worse, but at the end she and BB are just the executioners of Emanuel's plan of privatizing and "charterizing" all public schools. Maybe because Ms. Mascitti-Miller is a friend of Brizard and he brought her in, she is not going to last either. It was very obvious in her meetings with the principals that she did not know about CPS and our schools. It was sad that we did not recognize anybody and a nouvie to CPS and Ec is now in charge of the RFP (Samantha A.). What a tragedy indeed!!!

Concerned Advocate wrote 2 years 11 weeks ago


The demise did not begin with Barbara Bowman. The programs all became much stronger that ever before. What exactly do meals in a classroom teach children? Is there proof that children find learning to read easier because their classroom teacher serves them lunch? Or does spending 30 minutes for breakfast and another 30 minutes for lunch in a 2 1/2 hour day help our children prepare for kindergarten and what comes next?? It is doubtful - and by the way the children were all able to have those meals before and after their school day. Naps--- if a child needs a nap in a 5 1/2 hour day - then he/she belongs in a half day program. Again - what do naps teach our children?? We are supposed to be preparing our children to succeed in school. This is not day care. The programs advanced more under Barbara Bowman than in the previous 20 years. As far a the new chief from Rochester - yes that is pretty obvious - Brizzard must have owed her a position - she has no experience in ECE - and she brought in Samantha A - from the Ounce of Prevention - at a salary higher than any other individual of the same experience. What a twisted web they are weaving as they all say "children first" - they don't know a thing about our children and are certainly not putting them FIRST!!

Concerned Advocate wrote 2 years 11 weeks ago

Who Are the Expert Readers of the Proposals

Does anyone know who CPS has hired to read and score the agency and school based proposals? Certainly they will hire from the outside as they have no ECE experts left at CPS. DFSS has announced their contracted readers but I have heard nothing about CPS. School based proposals are one thing - but agency proposals are totally different. Is the Community Partnership Office even in operation? If not - then there is not one person who will know what to look for. My this is an interesting turn of events. Just another way to short change our most needy and our youngest children.

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