July 20, 2011
CHICAGO -- Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Jean-Claude Brizard today launched the 2011-2012 back to school campaign. This year, CPS will lead an aggressive campaign that will marry new media technologies and grassroots activities to increase attendance on the first day of school.
Mayor Emanuel will also issue a Call to Action for City departments and sister agencies, local businesses, faith leaders and community organizations to boost the Chicago Public Schools efforts to have students in school on the first day. His office will send out a letter to all city department and sister agencies heads outlining the actions he is asking them to take in promoting back to school awareness. The Mayor’s office volunteer initiative, One Good Deed Chicago, will also help to recruit volunteers for phone banking.
“We all have a role to play in helping Chicago’s children succeed – they are our city’s future. Students with good attendance habits are making the right choices to stay on track to graduate and succeed. We plan to use every available tool at our disposal to make sure that parents, students and communities know when school starts and we will work together to get kids to schools on day one,” said Mayor Emanuel.
The back to school campaign’s grassroots approach aims to mobilize citywide and community based partners to get the word out through a two week blitz prior to the two school start days - Early Start Schools (Track E) begin on Monday, August 8th and Regular Start Schools (Track R) begin on Tuesday, September 6th.
“Instruction begins on the first day of school and we need every student in class from day one so that they do not fall behind,” Brizard said at Harris Park where CPS students in Woodlawn are attending summer programs. “For children, the first day sets the tone for the entire year. Our schools provide them with a safe environment and the nutrition they need each day. This is where kids need to be and we have to make sure that they’re in class on the first day.”
According to national experts, it is vital that students start the school year with strong attendance. Studies show that students who build good attendance habits are making the right choices to help them stay on track to graduate and succeed.
While it is critical that students are in school learning on the first day, Brizard also noted that schools also provide students with a safe environment. Over the last two school years, reported crime in schools decreased by 22%.
Some of the back to school campaign activities CPS will lead includes:
- Door to door outreach
- Robo calls to CPS households
- Targeted literature drops at El stations, bus stations and neighborhood festivals
- Phone bank calls targeting parents
- CTA ad campaign
- Text messages and e-mail blasts to parents reminding them of back to school start dates
- Google and Facebook ads aimed at parents to remind them of back to school start dates
CPS this year will be placing a special emphasis to target the city’s areas with the highest truancy rates. These areas are Englewood, Humboldt Park, East Garfield, West Garfield, North Lawndale, Woodlawn, and Austin. CPS will place extra resources in these areas during the Track E and Track R blitzes.
Mayor Emanuel will call all City departments and sister agencies to aid in CPS’s efforts. They include:
- Agencies with summer programs for children will send home letters with kids reminding families of the back to school start dates
- Hang back to school posters at all public facilities, including offices, parks, libraries, etc.
- Post back to school date reminders and links to the CPS website on city websites and social media sites
- Place back to school date reminders in employee paycheck envelopes
- Send back to school e-mail blasts to staff members to remind them of back to school dates
- Announce back to school reminders via live and taped messages at all City-sponsored festivals and events
CPS is also working with the Illinois Retail Merchants Association to connect with over 40 different retailers and chains throughout the city to spread the word about back to school. They will participate by:
· Hanging CPS Back to School posters prominently in their stores
· Printing school start dates on customer receipts
· Placing back to school date reminders in employee paychecks
· Reminding employees of back to school start dates in employee communications, including newsletters and emails
CPS has enjoyed a long relationship with the faith community in promoting back to school. They are being asked to continue their support by:
- Enlisting Safe Haven Program faith partners to send children in their programs home with a letter to their parents reminding them of back to school start dates
- Reminding congregations of back to school dates during sermons
- Printing back to school information in church programs and bulletins
- Posting the back to school dates and reminders on church marquees
- Sending email blasts to their congregations and communities with back to school date reminders
This year, 52 more schools will begin the Early Start calendar (Track E), bringing the total number of Early Start Schools up to 247 schools, serving more than 115,000 Chicago students. CPS encourages parents to check with their school and visit www.cps.edu/firstday to be sure they know the correct start date for their child’s school.
Corporate sponsors have also helped in the back to school efforts through generous donations. Back to School sponsors include, Fleishman-Hillard, Peoples Gas, Chartwells, Comcast, Discover, HMH Foundation, Loop Capital, PNC and Target. Other sponsors will be announced in the coming days and weeks.
Parents can view a full list of Early Start and Regular Start schools at www.cps.edu/firstday or call the back to school hotline at (773) 553-3CPS (3277). They can also contact their school directly to confirm start dates.
Chicago Public Schools serves 409,279 students in 675 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.