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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
6:05pm
Mon May 19, 2014

Education Groups Demand Investigation Into Chicago Board Of Ed's Ties To AUSL (VIDEO)

Chicago education activists and grassroots organizations have taken their fight against recently-approved public school turnarounds to the inspectors general of the school district and the U.S. Department of Education.

On April 30, the Chicago Citizens United to Preserve Public Education coalition filed complaints with the two inspector general offices, requesting an investigation into possible conflicts of interest surrounding the Chicago Board of Education's decision last month to hand three academically struggling schools over to the Academy for Urban School Leadership, a controversial school turnaround contractor. 

In its complaints, the coalition specifically cites Board of Education President David Vitale and board member Carlos Azcoitia as having potential conflicts due to their ties to AUSL. The education coalition, which believes the three recent school turnarounds are invalid due to the alleged conflicts, also notes that Tim Cawley, CPS' Chief Administrative Officer, is the former managing director of AUSL and "is in a position to approve CPS contracts, including the AUSL contracts."

"There seems to be a swinging door relationship between CPS and AUSL," said Valerie Leonard with Chicago Citizens United to Preserve Public Education, which includes groups such as Blocks Together, the Lawndale Alliance, Teachers for Social Justice and other members.

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
4:27pm
Fri May 9, 2014

Sodexo Workers Rally To Save Food Service Jobs At The Thompson Center (VIDEO)

In the face of expected layoffs, food service workers from the Thompson Center cafeteria rallied Friday morning in downtown Chicago, calling on Gov. Pat Quinn to protect their jobs in the building that houses his local office.

“We need Quinn to step in and save our jobs, we’re in his house, serving his employees and—while he’s saying he wants to raise the minimum wage—we’re about to be unemployed,” said Sharon Nix, 35, a contract Sodexo employee at the James R. Thompson Center, at 100 W. Randolph St., for roughly 13 years.

Nix’s manager at Sandella’s Flatbread Café told workers in April that Sodexo, one of the nation's largest contracted food and facilities companies, plans to leave its post at the Thompson Center’s Great State Fare cafeteria by June 30, she said. Nix claims she was told she and her colleagues would be laid off, and would have to reapply for a position with the new company that takes Sodexo’s place.

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
7:44pm
Wed Apr 23, 2014

Chicago Board Of Education Votes To Turnaround Three CPS Schools

Despite opposition from a swath of parents and community members, the Chicago Board of Education voted on Wednesday to "turnaround" three underperforming elementary schools at the request of the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) district. Progress Illinois provides a recap of what happened at Wednesday's board of education meeting.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
9:45pm
Mon Apr 21, 2014

Dvorak Elementary Supporters Urge CPS To Hold Off On Proposed AUSL Turnaround

Supporters of Dvorak Technology Academy in North Lawndale held a rally Monday night in a last-ditch effort to save their school from having its entire staff fired and replaced next year by the Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL), a controversial school turnaround contractor. 

Parents, students and other community stakeholders held a protest outside of Dvorak to call on the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) district to put in place a moratorium on school turnarounds.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
1:13pm
Thu Apr 3, 2014

Dvorak Elementary Supporters Furious About CPS Turnaround Plan

A passionate crowd begged the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) district at a community meeting Wednesday night to spare Dvorak Technology Academy from having its entire staff fired and replaced next school year.

The district wants the controversial school turnaround contractor Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL) to manage Dvorak, located in Chicago's North Lawndale community, due to the elementary school's less than stellar academic performance.

"If our school is turned around, my concern is that our students who have challenges and issues will be turned away only to end up on the streets of our community," said Tracie Worthy, a member of the North Lawndale Community Action Council who previously served on Dvorak's Local School Council (LSC). "I'm asking that CPS provide the necessary support for Dvorak to stay open as a community school to serve our students ... What we need now are resources and support from CPS to make a difference for our school."

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
6:19pm
Wed Mar 26, 2014

Breaking Down Quinn's State Budget Address

During his state budget address Wednesday, Gov. Pat Quinn said he wants to keep in place Illinois' temporary income tax hike that is set to expire in January. Progress Illinois takes a closer look at the governor's proposal and offers some expert reaction to Quinn's election-year budget speech.

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