- It all started with a few tweets:
- Let's back up a little bit. "LSCs" are Local School Councils. At most Chicago Public Schools, the elected LSC selects the school principal and approves the budget. In other words, LSCs have an extremely important role to play in running their schools. Around the time these tweets were sent, we had a serious problem: with more than 6,800 Local School Council seats across the District, only 2,060 candidates had agreed to run.
- Despite the dearth of candidates, there were plenty of folks out there who felt like Chris -- they knew that a school can't function without a full LSC and were willing to serve, but only if their school really needed it. They didn't necessarily want to toss their hat into a fiercely contested local election.
- That's why Seth's "Is Anyone Running for My LSC?" app idea made so much sense. We jumped right on it.
- A few minutes later, Open City Apps -- a group of civic-minded developers who work with open gov't data -- sent us a tweet linking to a searchable map template created by @Derek_Eder:
- The bare minimum we needed to push out this web app was a list, by school, of the number of candidates who had already filed to run for their LSC. It wasn't too hard to rustle up a spreadsheet with the information. After a little bit of concatenation in Excel, we plugged the spreadsheet into a Google Fusion Table and a rough draft was ready to go. Seth's suggestion came on a Friday; we were able to push out a rough version of the "Is Anyone Running for My LSC?" app on Monday:
- Seth liked it... And he helped spread the word about the new web app.
- The PURE Blog (Parents United For Responsible Education), which is frequently critical of CPS, wrote up the new tool:
"CPS has actually posted an awesome map that allows you to click on your local school and see how many candidates are signed up.
And I think that’s probably the FIRST TIME I have ever used the words “CPS” and “awesome” in the same sentence."
- Not that the map was perfect. Far from it! Twitter users chimed in to point out flaws in the map, which helped us make it even better.