Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss: April 23 – April 29, 2022

Don’t burden charter schools with tighter rules on federal funding

By Greg White for The Sun-Times

“Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona recently expressed his support for charter schools in an interview with the Washington Post, citing them as innovative options for families and students. As the leader of a charter school network,I have seen this success first-hand. I am surprised, therefore, that the Biden administration is considering a series of rules changes that would significantly impact how charter schools are able to access start-up funding through the Charter School Program (CSP). The rules stipulate that new charters would not be eligible for CSP funding unless they can show there is unmet demand in the district’s public schools. Not only is this extremely difficult to quantify, it unfairly shifts power back into the hands of school districts rather than families and students who may be looking for a different public school option.”


Meet Mike Madden, Noble Schools’ New President

By The Noble Schools

“Our former Chief Operating Officer, Mike Madden, has now stepped into the role of President at Noble Schools. While he’s been working at Noble for over 13 years, we wanted to take this opportunity to introduce Madden to our wider community as he is poised to take Noble to greater heights of success. Mike Madden was born the oldest of triplets and raised on the Southwest side in the village of Oak Lawn. He attended public school through 5th grade, a parochial school for middle school, and ultimately ended up at Brother Rice High School. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. After undergrad, Madden went into banking operations. But after a few years, he soon realized that his true passion was working in the public sector.”


Meet Jennifer Reid Davis, Noble’s New Head of Strategy & Equity

By The Noble Schools

“Jennifer Reid Davis, our former Chief Equity Officer, is now moving into her newly minted role: Head of Strategy & Equity. Davis has been at Noble Schools since 2010, serving in a variety of roles. She kickstarted our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) work in 2017, and now she’s looking to take DEI to an even higher level at Noble. Read more about Davis, her journey through education, and what her new role will look like. Jennifer Reid Davis was born in Chicago but raised in Gary, Indiana. Attending Spelman College, an HBCU (historically Black colleges & universities), Davis got her bachelor’s in psychology and developed a passion for urban education. “I can tell you without equivocation or argument that going to Spelman was for sure the best thing I did and changed the trajectory of my life,” Davis said, “It’s one of the reasons why I went into education – because of how education changed my life. It’s personal to me.”


“Changing the Course: Building An Antiracist Education” Episode Four

By The Noble Schools

“In this episode, we talk with two leaders in the restorative justice field: Terrence Pruitt and Rev. Dr. Robert Spicer. Both Pruitt and Spicer have done extensive work with organizations and school systems across the U.S., including Noble Schools, to help them integrate restorative practices into their spaces. Pruitt and Spicer recently presented at a professional development session for our Culture teams in March. In this episode, they not only talk about what they presented to our teams but delve further into what it means to bring restorative justice into our schools. They touch on topics from how to incorporate restorative practices like circles and mediations in school spaces to the school-to-prison pipeline.”


Measures aimed at easing ongoing teacher shortage signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker

By Clare Spaulding for The Chicago Tribune

“Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Illinois is on a “trajectory to overcome” a shortage of qualified teachers that will be further spurred with measures to increase the pool of substitutes and remove barriers for new and returning educators that he signed into law Wednesday. The new laws lower the minimum age to become a paraprofessional in pre-K through eighth grade classrooms by one year, to 18; reduce the reinstatement fee for lapsed teaching licenses from $500 to $50; allow college students in education programs to apply for substitute teaching licenses if they have at least 90 credit hours; and triple the time short-term substitutes can spend in a single classroom, to 15 days, during periods when the state is under a disaster declaration.”


CPS employee vaccine mandate reinstated by Illinois appellate court

By Nader Issa for The Chicago Sun Times

“Chicago Public Schools officials can take action against employees who refuse to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit to weekly testing, an appellate court ruled this week in vacating a temporary restraining order that had prevented the district from enforcing its policy. The downstate court’s decision Wednesday represents a win for CPS and lets officials resume enforcing their vaccine mandate while a lawsuit challenging the policy plays out. It’s the latest turn in ongoing court battles over school districts’ rights to enact pandemic safety measures.”


CPS to scrap school ratings, replace them with less ‘punitive’ system

By Nader Issa for The Sun-Times

“Chicago Public Schools officials are set to nix their controversial campus rating system known as SQRP as they develop a new method of “school accountability” without assigning “punitive” and comparative scores. The change will be welcomed by the many teachers and advocates who have fought to get rid of SQRP, which stands for School Quality Rating Policy. Those who opposed the system likened a poor rating to a scarlet letter to criticize schools — and has been used as a reason to close them — for factors out of students’ control.”


CPS Looking to Improve Transparency, Accountability as It Continues to Rethink School Safety

By Matt Masterson for WTTW

“Chicago Public Schools said it expects to begin publishing student discipline and safety data in the coming weeks, a year after dozens of high schools voted to reduce or eliminate their school resource officer (SRO) programs. Amid calls for increased transparency and accountability in CPS’ safety plans, the district’s Chief Safety and Security Officer Jadine Chou said she hopes to have school-level data from the first semester of this year published soon in order to show parents where the current plan is working and where it’s not. “That is what we’ll plan, again, to be more transparent on,” she said. “So it’s on our website, so that people who send their children to XYZ school, they can go on our website and see how that’s working, what does the data show, what are the perceptions.” The police killing of George Floyd in 2020 sparked a push to reform policing across the country, including in Chicago, where student-led protests pressured CPS to terminate its existing contract with the Chicago Police Department to provide resource officers in high schools.”


CPS, Lurie Children’s Hospital Expanding Student Mental Health Pilot Into All District Schools

By Matt Masterson for WTTW

“In order to better support the mental health needs of its students, Chicago Public Schools says it’s planning to expand a pilot program with Lurie Children’s Hospital into hundreds more schools around the city. CPS and Lurie announced Thursday they’ll ensure every district-run school can participate in the program, which helps identify and address students in need of mental health support. “We are immensely fortunate to expand this proven mental health model with a world-class children’s hospital,” CPS CEO Pedro Martinez said in a statement. “We know that this collaborative work with Lurie Children’s Hospital will help our students heal so they can get back on a path to learn and thrive.” Through this program, behavioral health teams at individual schools work to provide early identification of students with mental health needs, and connect those students with evidence-based interventions to help address issues such as anxiety, depression, substance use, trauma-related symptoms, peer problems and attentional problems — issues that may have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.”