Teacher testifies about complications of 'Ready To Learn' and suggests CPS is undermining ability of poor families to get children into preschool

Good afternoon. My name is Kati Gilson. I am a National Board Certified Teacher. I’ve been teaching for over 20 years. I am currently on workmen’s comp for a back injury. My assistant went six weeks without a substitute teacher.

I spoke to you at the February hearing regarding the school closings and the preschool Ready to Learn application. When the school closings list came out, the CPS website listed the programs at the receiving schools.

Kati Gilson testifying at the April 24, 2013 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.One of the programs listed was preschool, which, was interesting because no one had been told their Ready to Learn Application had been accepted. In fact, many principals didn’t know their application had been accepted until a representative came to their school to explain the application process.

You’ve really done it this time with the Ready to Learn Application. What a joke. Parents can only enroll their children from April 8 to May 3. Many schools weren’t even notified of application process til the 8th putting them at a disadvantage to be prepared in advance to let parents know of the dates and procedures.

Schools were given a 2-hour period on one day to enroll students. There is a list of 13 “central sites” where parents can apply Monday through Friday and 3 sites open on Saturday. None of these sites is located on the west side. All parents need to enroll their children is proof of residence, income and birth certificate.

Proof of income is new because now you are charging a sliding fee for preschool, which many lower income families will be unable to afford.

There is no reason the schools can’t take in applications and verify documents. They’ve been doing it for years. This application process is discriminatory towards preschool children because their siblings are able to enroll at anytime at a school of their choice. On top of that, each community-based program handles its own enrollment.

Many preschool students come to enroll at the beginning of the school year. This process does not allow for the flexibility parents need. Currently, CPSs has 397 schools with preschool programs, many with multiple classrooms and early childhood special Ed. 16 sites will be lost by the school closings.

This is another attack on public education and will leave many of our neediest children behind. You should be ashamed of yourselves.

Kati Gilson, NBCT

Early Childhood Science Specialist

Preschool for All Teacher Sumner Math & Science Academy


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