Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss: December 12 – December 18, 2020

Op-ed: CPS’ charter schools offer a lesson in flexibility during the pandemic

By Andrew Broy for the Chicago Tribune

“The COVID-19 pandemic has upended public education as we once knew it. As Chicago Public Schools has wrestled with how and when to reopen school facilities, families and students, especially our most vulnerable, have been left in the lurch. Uncertainty due to the pandemic has made it difficult for the district to craft broad policies that apply across its portfolio of public schools while also meeting the needs of families and students in Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods.Fortunately, there is one part of CPS that demonstrates why administrative flexibility is so important: its charter public schools. As part of the public school system, charter schools educate over 54,000 CPS students. Together, they demonstrate how we can build a modern public education system that serves every Chicago student, no matter the type of public school they attend.At the Illinois Network of Charter Schools, we study Chicago’s student results in great detail, looking for trends to identify the ways we can all build a better public school system.”


14 Chicago Public School Educators Receive Elite “Distinguished Teacher” Recognition Including Annual $10,000 Awards

By David Brown for the Noble Network of Charter Schools

“The Noble Network of Charter Schools is announcing 14 new teachers into its Distinguished Teacher program. Distinguished Teacher provides an industry-changing approach to celebrating and rewarding teachers who are achieving an exceptional impact with students. Among other benefits, each Distinguished Teacher will receive $10,000 annually for as long as they remain teachers at Noble.

“We launched the Distinguished Teacher program in 2018 following years of prior research on how to best identify, celebrate, reward, and learn from Noble’s most impactful educators,” said Constance Jones, CEO of Noble. “This year, we’re delighted to announce 14 truly outstanding teachers who both cultivate and lead transformational classroom spaces that empower our students to live exemplary lives.” These Distinguished Teachers applied for the program by submitting written narratives and a portfolio of artifacts including comprehensive data. Finalists then participated in classroom observations and debriefs, student surveys, a panel interview, and reference checks over the course of several months.”


Humans of The Noble Academy: Joni Rogers

By Joni Rogers for The Noble Network of Charter Schools

“This is part of a series of blogs from Noble campus representatives to give a deeper look at campus life. How are you? I mean I am doing really well; I logged into a bunch of different classrooms today. Many students were participating in different classes, unmuting themselves and engaged. I woke up early because I was celebrating my kids’ birthday. Mickey Mouse was a hit so we made them Mickey Mouse waffles, and it was a great way to start the day. Matter of fact, it was a beautiful way to start the day. One thing you can repeat every morning? Eat breakfast with the family. Slow down and stop and look around and see the people around you. Drink coffee out of a mug! My favorite is regular dark coffee. I stopped using sugar and using cream. I read 44 pages out of a book, and in the pages I read, it said I need to eat better so that is what I got out of it. The book is “Eat, Move, Sleep” by Tom Rath. It was given to me by another Principal at that time, a very wise principal, Vincent Gay. He gave it to me at the principal’s retreat which was 2 days before we went to remote learning due to COVID.”


Galapagos student wins charter school excellence scholarship

By Kristin Crowley for WREX

“Rockford student, Autumn Burks, just accomplished what no other student in Rockford ever has. She won the Illinois Network of Charter Schools Excellence Award. The award means Burks gets a $500 academic scholarship. Burks goes to Galapagos Rockford Charter School. The school said this is the first time a student from Rockford has won the scholarship. “I was also on my way to going to Costa Rica and stuff until this all happened. I’m glad that I won this because it didn’t make it feel it was all for nothing,” Burks said. The 8th grade student participates in scholastic bowl, has gone to gifted programs at NIU and Northwestern University, and enjoys Model United Nations.”


Chicago Public Schools’ reopening plan a step closer to reality after teachers union injunction is denied

By Hannah Leone for the Chicago Tribune

“The Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board on Thursday declined to pursue an injunction sought by the Chicago Teachers Union, clearing a hurdle for Chicago Public Schools to move forward with its plans to reopen schools in the new year. Unwilling to accept defeat, the CTU is escalating its fight for staff and students to return to classrooms only when the union agrees it’s safe. With unresolved factual disputes between the union and school district, the labor board decided the case fell short of legal requirements for seeking an injunction from the Illinois attorney general. In a 2-1 vote, the board agreed with general counsel Ellen Strizak’s recommendation to deny the request. Strizak said the union had not established reasonable cause to believe CPS had violated the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act, and that a hearing was needed to resolve factual disputes.”


More than 6 in 10 CPS kids — including most students of color — won’t be in schools when in-person learning resumes

By Nader Issa for The Sun-Times

“Nearly 80,000 Chicago Public Schools students plan to return to classrooms once schools reopen in the new year, accounting for 37% of K-8, preschool and special education cluster program students who will initially be eligible for in-person learning, according to data released by the district Wednesday. Matching a trend seen in other large urban school systems that have already resumed some in-person instruction, a disproportionate number of those CPS families that opted to send their children back to schools were white, while families of color were more likely to decline the opportunity to return, CPS data shows. That reality raises questions about the argument that has been made for weeks by Mayor Lori Lightfoot and CPS officials that reopening schools will help reduce racial inequity gaps caused by remote learning — a belief the district repeated at Wednesday’s virtual Board of Education meeting. “While we have continued to refine and improve upon the online learning experience, online learning has been a significant struggle for many of our working families,” LaTanya McDade, CPS’ education chief, told the board. “Providing our families with a safe, in-person learning option is simply put an issue of equity, which we continue to say, and we look forward to bringing our students back.”