CEO, Janice Jackson, Chicago discussed on All Things Considered

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The person responsible for their education and safety is Janice Jackson CEO of Chicago public schools she is also mom to two students in those schools Janice Jackson welcome hi thanks for having me okay so Chicago's already made the call you're going to do remote learning for the remainder of this academic year how is it going how is attendance well we're we're currently tracking both student attendance and contact with our students because it's critically important that there a contact you know there's contact between teachers and students I don't think there's anything more significant than that during this time we're really proud of the program that we put in place in our efforts to distribute devices across the city but like so many other districts were dealing with the new system and there are some growing pains with that to speak to that I mean to the to the question of attendance how are you tracking that what's showing I think well first it's important to note that our process has always centered on flexibility understanding that this is unchartered territory in at these times are like no other and so what we are doing is first establishing contact with our students and families and making sure that they have the things that they need in order to access our remote learning programs but then we're doing the things that we're uniquely positioned to do as a school system so meeting those basic needs like distributing food and we have thousands of families that rely on us every single day for that making sure that there are devices there addressing the digital divide where that's an issue for many of our students and temporary living situation so great we're keeping a contact with them but also engaging them on platforms such as Google meet and others so that we can offer them high quality instruction during the day you you mentioned devices a couple times and I know it about a third of kids in Chicago didn't have personal computers when the city shut down which obviously makes it harder to do or if not impossible to do remote learning yeah do they have them now how's that going they do our goal was to distribute a hundred thousand devices we have surpassed that read about a hundred and two and we've adjusted that plan so now we're looking at distributing about a hundred and fifteen thousand devices and so far that's good we started with those that were in our inventory but also purchased another thirty thousand to support our students and families you have got something like sixty seven thousand ESL English as a second language students on your system you've got of course the disease taking a disproportionate toll on Chicago's black community do you have the resources to make sure kids in in these groups that are facing some extra challenges that they don't fall behind you know this is a large district and burst facing the same type of uncertainty that we see across the country but I've been very proud of the flexibility that that we've been able to use in our plant so again we started with those basic needs even in our remote learning plan we make sure that we wanted to A. provide additional guidance for students that are English language learners as well as our special needs students who are at home with their parents who need additional support in order to to meet their needs and so we didn't just put out a plan we train our teachers around that and we also provide a guidance for parents as well sure you do have what you need to make sure that these kids are keeping up to the to the maximum extent possible I mean I think that's a broad statement to make this this I don't think any district or city can say that they have what they need to turn on the news every day and there's a call for something but I think we're responding very quickly and ended in extremely flexible ways to many of our families I think that people see the school system as a trusted institution and they rely on us and we're serving thousands of meals a day distributing devices people are coming to us for support and resources so I think we're doing a good job responding on the support efforts and add in the city as a whole all right we thank you for your time that is Janice Jackson CEO of Chicago public schools thanks again thank you for having me today in Italy the lockdown is leading up after eight weeks of restrictions NPR Sylvia Poggioli reports that Italians are emerging from their homes cautiously discovering a new and unfamiliar world.

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