Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss: April 24th – April 30th, 2021

Mental Health Matters: Hope and Healing Series May 11-25th

By The Noble Network of Charter Schools

“Recognizing the importance of mental health, especially in the face of COVID-19 and racism, we believe that it is imperative that Noble holds space for healing. In honor of May, Mental Health Awareness Month, we will host a series of virtual healing spaces (healing circles by affinity, yoga & meditation sessions, & Town Hall) to address the mental, emotional, and physical wellness and health for the Noble community.  We are offering sessions for students, staff, alumni, parents, & community partners. Participants will have the opportunity to engage in the healing circles by affinity.”


5 Chicago high schools make top 100 of U.S. News & World Report’s annual ranking

By Stefano Esposito for The Chicago Sun-Times

“Five Chicago schools made the top 100 of U.S. News & World Report’s annual high school rankings, including Walter Payton College Prep, which came in fourth on the 2021 list. The report notes, among other things, that Payton has a 98% graduation rate and that 100% of students are enrolled in at least some advanced placement classes. Payton was also ranked as the nation’s third-best magnet school. North Side College Prep comes in at 26th on the list of the nation’s top high schools, with a graduation rate of 97%. Jones College Prep is ranked 57th, with Whitney Young Magnet School coming in at 70th. Lane Tech ranked 79th. Almost 18,000 schools were ranked on six factors based on their performance on state assessments and how well they prepare students for college, according to U.S. News & World Report.”


Adam Toledo shooting reinforces CPS students’ views on school police

By Nader Issa for The Chicago Sun-Times

“Attention faded in recent months on the movement to remove uniformed police officers from Chicago Public Schools, particularly while high schools remained closed because of COVID-19. But when high schoolers returned to classrooms this week for the first time in 13 months with those same cops in hallways, they also had to deal with fresh trauma from police violence. The city’s latest death at the hands of Chicago police, that of 13-year-old Adam Toledo last month in Little Village, the youngest victim of a CPD shooting in many years, has students across CPS — a system that’s 83% Black and Hispanic — hurting. Kids already facing unprecedented circumstances because of the pandemic have been left trying to grapple with their feelings after a Chicago cop fatally shot Adam, a Latino seventh grader at Gary Elementary.”


School cops won’t return to CPS high schools this spring, district says

By Nader Issa for The Chicago Sun-Times

“Uniformed Chicago police officers won’t return to patrolling the city’s public high schools for the rest of this academic year, Chicago Public Schools officials said Friday. The removal of school cops is temporary until the fall but is being welcomed as a good first step by students who for years have advocated for police-free schools. It comes as about one-third of CPS high school students returned for in-person learning this week for the first time since the pandemic began. “With less than two months remaining in the school year and reduced daily in-person attendance, we feel that the presence of full-time SROs is not necessary at this time,” CPS chief of security Jadine Chou wrote in an email to families. “Please be assured that the safety of your children remains our top priority, and we are confident that your school has the necessary staff in place to safely support the limited number of students who have returned to learn in person.” Chou said CPS would keep working with the Chicago Police Department to “ensure our school buildings receive attention from police officers in the neighborhood, particularly during high traffic times like dismissal.”


Illinois Senate approves proposal to not punish school districts financially for COVID-related attendance drops

By Steve Sadin for The Chicago Tribune

“Legislation sponsored by state Sen. Adriane Johnson, D-Buffalo Grove, designed to soften the financial impact of COVID-19 on Illinois school districts like those in Waukegan, North Chicago, Zion and Round Lake — which rely heavily on state funding — is a step closer to reality. Johnson’s proposed legislation was approved by the state Senate, 49-6, Thursday in Springfield, modifying the formula for evidence-based funding to eliminate inequities because of a drop in attendance for the current school year related to the coronavirus pandemic. Evidence-based funding was enacted in 2017 to assist the state’s “most under-resourced students,” according to the state Board of Education website. It is designed to ensure all schools provide quality education based on, “equity, adequacy and student outcomes.” Since the formula uses an average of the previous three school years’ attendance, Johnson said the proposed law would allow districts to use the greater attendance between the 2020-2021 school year and 2019-2020 to eliminate any penalty for a pandemic-based enrollment drop.”


With as few as 1 student in a classroom, CPS high schoolers return to unusually empty buildings but familiar faces

By Nader Issa for The Chicago Sun-Times

“Those who returned were generally happy to be back even though school felt somewhat unfamiliar. Some classes had as few as one student in person. There were half as many desks in classrooms, and they were spaced out across the room. Mid-day passing periods felt strangely empty without the normal high school commotion. Lockers were off limits, as were drinking fountains, and stairwells were marked off for one-way traffic. Senn is using the same schedule model as most high schools, with in-person students split into Monday-Tuesday and Thursday-Friday cohorts and teachers working with virtual and in-person students at the same time. In an IB history class, a projector and speaker at the front of the room showed the kids who were at home, while teacher Joseph Lev and five students sat at their laptops in class. Lev took a few minutes to split the class into groups for a project.”


CPS urged not to use $2 billion in COVID-19 relief toward debt but on direct help for students

By Karen Ann Cullotta for The Chicago Tribune

“Determined to repair what some describe as decades of debilitating disinvestment in Chicago’s Black and brown communities, parents and elected officials say that the nearly $2 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funding for Chicago Public Schools must be invested in students, not used to pay off debt. The $1.8 billion in federal assistance from the American Rescue Plan Act arrives after CPS already received hundreds of millions of dollars in previous federal pandemic support, and is intended to be used to help city schools recover from the hardships wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic. But some advocates say many neighborhood schools on the city’s South and West sides faced inequities in funding and needed services long before the arrival of the pandemic in March 2020, and the massive injection of federal dollars should not be used for debt relief.”


Chicago Public Schools to Allow In-Person Graduation Events

By NBC Chicago

“Chicago Public Schools will allow schools to hold in-person graduation ceremonies with capacity limits this year as schools and the city navigate a return to some activities amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the district said Wednesday. “As we look for ways to honor our graduates after what’s been a very difficult year, the district developed a plan to celebrate graduates while ensuring the safety of each school community,” CPS’ Chief Schools Officer Bogdana Chkoumbova said during a virtual meeting of the Chicago Board of Education. “Schools will have the opportunity to hold indoor, outdoor and virtual events where students can receive their diplomas and take pictures in their caps and gowns,” she added. Chkoumbova presented two options allowed under CPS’ guidelines: social events where mingling may occur and seated spectator events. For social events, held at venues like ballroom, banquets and restaurants, indoor events can have 50% capacity with no more than 50 people while outdoor events can have 50% capacity with no more than 100 people, she said.”