DISTRICT | January 23, 2019
Dear CPS Community,
As a CPS parent, I have ambitious goals for my children, and every child in Chicago, because I believe in their potential and it’s clear after listening to you this past year, that we have the same dreams for our children. I have also heard your thoughts and concerns about where we need to improve.
You were concerned about your child being able to attend a high-quality program, wanted additional funding for your child’s school, and asked what the district was going to do for our vulnerable students who needed more supports. In short, you wanted to know the district’s plan the coming years.
I hear you loud and clear. I also hear our teachers and principals who want to come together to collectively reshape the district to better serve students. My goals for the district are ambitious and they will not be achieved overnight, but if recent progress is any indication, we are making steady and sustainable progress.
CPS is a district on the rise. As the New York Times highlighted last year, our students receive six years of instruction in just five years of school and are improving at a faster rate than 96 percent of school districts in the U.S and a UIC study concluded that our students on average repeatedly outperform their peers from around the state, regardless of ethnicity or income level. Our record-high graduation rate is 78.2%-with the biggest improvements coming from African American and Hispanic males. Less than ten years ago, just over half of CPS students earned a high school diploma.
More CPS graduates are earning college and career credentials than ever and nearly half of the Class of 2018 earned at least one early college and career credential. These post-secondary programs help make college more accessible and affordable for our students and families. And through our innovative partnership with City Colleges and the STAR scholarship program, our city is coming together to lower the financial barriers for any student who wishes to attend college. While college will remain the North Star for the district, we’re creating multiple pathways to success by developing innovative Career Technical Education programs such as Chicago BUILDS at Dunbar, a new wing at Prosser as well as other career training programs.
To achieve more, we must continue to face our challenges head on with integrity and not shy away from addressing them. In May, we launched the district’s first ever Equity Office with the primary focus in year one on bridging gaps in test scores between black and Latino students and their white peers. We hired more social workers and Special Education Case Workers to support our diverse learners. We adjusted the Student Code of Conduct to further address racial disparities, protect students from bullying or harassment based on immigration status, and created the Office of Student Protections and Title IX to support students and ensure we are a district free of sexual harassment, bullying, and abuse.
As an educator, I am proud of these gains, and I am clear on the dedication, hard work, and focus required to achieve them. As a leader, I am also confident in our ability to reach for more. As you may know, CPS’ current strategic plan ends in June, and we are working to chart our path forward. We’re inviting all stakeholders – our educators, our partners, and especially you, our families – to help us shape that vision. The survey takes a few minutes and can be found here.
Your feedback will be combined with feedback from students, educators, and community members and inform the CPS Five-Year Vision. A summary of the feedback from parents will be posted publicly on our website for you to review.
For me, this is the job of a lifetime. I am proud of what we have accomplished together and excited about sustaining our progress in the years ahead. Thank you for your willingness to hear my story, to share yours, and to work together on the district’s next chapter.
Janice K. Jackson, EdD
Chief Executive Officer
Chicago Public Schools