Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss: August 29 – September 3, 2020

A Year Focusing on Social Justice

By Elevate Chicago

“Accompanying the Catalyst Schools’ core value of relationship are its 5 principles of social justice, faith, quality education, inclusive community, and respect for all persons.  This year, the Legacy Teams at each school have decided to focus their year upon the principle of social justice. “There is a certain poignancy and timeliness to this theme, given the grave social injustices that have been committed against traditionally oppressed groups very visibly in the past months, and also systematically and intentionally since before our country was founded” said Catalyst Maria Legacy Chair, Tom Kingsbury.  “We are working to articulate the role that each one of us at Catalyst plays in deconstructing the systems that promote inequity and in working toward authentic racial reconciliation.”

Noble Annual Kick-Off 2020: “Get In Good Trouble”

By R. Powers for The Noble Network of Charter Schools

“Note: this post is part of a series about Noble’s preparation for the upcoming school year. Today, Noble launched the 2020 school year with our annual kick-off event. In years past we’ve gathered all 1,400+ staff along with Noble parents and supporters in the Roosevelt Theatre Auditorium, but this year was different, as we all gathered on Zoom instead. Although we were not together in the same space, the energy was still high and the message was clear, “2020 is NOT cancelled,” stated Constance Jones, Noble’s CEO. In her remarks, she reminded Noble that we have precious time with our students to impact their lives in so many ways. The theme for Kick-Off 2020 was “Get In Good Trouble”, honoring the mantra of U.S. Congressman and Civil Rights Activist John Lewis.”

Supporting Families Through the Pandemic: Noble Family Support Fund #NobleReadyForRemote

By M. McCabe for the Noble Network of Charter Schools

“The pandemic has meant incredible hardship for some in our Chicago and Noble community. When school buildings closed in the spring we knew that great remote instruction would be absolutely necessary but it wouldn’t be enough. That’s why Noble formed the Noble Family Support Fund to try to support our community by any means necessary. We sat down with Noble’s new Chief Development Officer, Maria Lefkow Sorensen to hear about how it came together and what’s next.”

Student and Parent Handbook Updates for Semester 1 #NobleReadyForRemote

By M. McCabe for the Noble Network of Charter Schools

“Note: this post is part of a series about Noble’s preparation for the upcoming school year. Every year the Noble Student and Parent Handbook goes through a thorough formal vetting and review process where voices from our Noble community shape revisions and updates to our policies and practices. Parents, students, alumni, and staff engage in multiple rounds of focus group conversations. Principals and campus leadership teams weigh-in on policies and language, and the document is examined from a lens of equity and equitable outcomes before a final legal review and approval. Given the nature of the upcoming semester, a few additional changes were made to ensure our students have an equitable experience during remote instruction.  Here’s a look at some of those key changes.”

Multi-Tiered Supports for Students During Remote Learning #NobleReadyForRemote

By M. McCabe for the Noble Network of Charter Schools

“Note: this post is part of a series about Noble’s preparation for the upcoming school year. At Noble we want all of our students to succeed on the paths of their choice. Sometimes a student might need additional support to make that happen so we implement our MTSS or Multi-Tiered System of Supports process to provide those supports. The system allows teachers and school leaders to keep track of students in need of additional support and interventions and gauge how effective those interventions are at supporting students to be successful in school. We sat down with Janine Franklin [Director of Student Culture and Support] and Nicholas Jones [Manager of Student Culture and Support] who support Noble’s 18 campuses to improve and maintain their MTSS systems, to learn a little more.”

Chicago Public Schools launches new website to help parents prepare for 1st day of school

By ABC7 Chicago Digital Team

“Chicago Public Schools has launched a new website to help families as children prepare for the first day of school next Tuesday. CPS said the new parent resource at will centralize important information related to the upcoming school year. CPS is encouraging parents to prepare for the start of the school year with these three steps.”

Chicago Public Schools to expand free meal sites for fall

By Cassie Walker Burke for Chalkbeat

“Starting Tuesday, Chicago will nearly double the number of school campuses where families can pick up free meals, up from 277 this summer to more than 450 this fall. The expansion of meal sites underscores the critical social service role schools have played during the pandemic, providing basic services to city families whose lives have been destabilized by illness, job loss, and temporary closings of schools and child care centers. The unemployment rate in the region continues to be in the double digits, with 12.3% of workers in Chicago’s metropolitan area out of work in July and rates in prior months reaching 16%. One year ago, rates were consistently less than 4% in the region in the summer months, according to the state’s department of employment security.”

Chicago’s push to buy computers for remote learning hit snags. New challenges await this fall. Illinois districts face looming tech costs, fiscal uncertainty.

By Mila Koumpilova & Kiannah Sepeda-Miller of the Better Government Association for Chalkbeat Chicago

“Like school districts across Illinois and the nation, Chicago set out to rapidly build up its technology arsenal under extremely trying circumstances. It ran into major supply issues, entrenched disparities in broadband access in the city, and an aging pre-pandemic fleet of devices. At a price of $30 million through July, Chicago’s push to get technology to students was a herculean lift; the district largely leaned on long-time suppliers and got reasonable prices. But an analysis by Chalkbeat Chicago and the Better Government Association of spring and summer purchase orders as well as interviews with technology experts, district leaders, and families also shows the district placed some device orders later than other large Illinois districts, left some families grappling with slower or malfunctioning devices from its stock and, in the case of the Meeting Tomorrow purchase, settled for buying used, older devices.”

CPS releases new rules for competitive selective enrollment application process

By Nader Issa for the Sun-Times

“The competitive and often stressful process of applying to one of Chicago’s 11 prestigious selective enrollment public high schools is changing this year amid the pandemic, and could put some students in a tough position without an opportunity to improve on old test scores. Chicago Public Schools officials released the new, highly anticipated admissions criteria this week as students gear up for fall classes. In a typical year, admissions considerations for eighth graders applying to a selective high school include, among other factors, academic grades; their score on the Northwest Evaluation Association, or NWEA, test in the spring of seventh grade; and an entrance exam. A student has to score at least in the 24th percentile on the NWEA to be eligible to even apply to a selective high school.”