Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss: December 19, 2020 – January 8, 2021

Noble In the News: Free Spirit Media senior Zachary Webster making his mark in music, media communication

By the Noble Network of Charter Schools

“Zachary Webster is determined to bring innovation to Chicago through the arts. The 17-year-old high school senior at Gary Comer College Prep is a member of Free Spirit Media, an organization providing teens and young adults in communities on the city’s West and South Sides with a foundation in media literacy through hands-on media production experience. The program offers in-school art education, after school programs, summer digital media courses and advanced creative workforce development programs. Webster credits his motivation to create to a solid friend group and the network of other teens at Free Spirit Media. “I put myself in a circle of people that have really great work ethic,” Webster explains. “It pushes me forward to create amazing projects. My friend group is business-oriented as well as artistic, so we all create different types of art.” 


INCS partners with local Alderman, Community Organizations, and Schools to provide a Christmas drive-through & free COVID tests for families

By the Illinois Network of Charter Schools

“On Saturday, December 19, the Illinois Network of Charter Schools partnered with the Great Chicago Food Depository, Grace and Peace Church, Gap Community Center, Lowell Elementary, and CORE Response to provide families with toys and food. The event was held at Lowell Elementary School from 10 am through 2 pm in Humboldt Park. Families could receive gifts for children under 12 and a care package with meat, milk, and vegetables. INCS and partners were able to distribute over 1000 toys and 500 boxed foods to community members. Thanks to the efforts of community members who were able to volunteer and made sure families received some resources before the holidays. Ald. Felix Cardona attended in person and stated, “Families are going to be appreciative, especially during these times.” Principal Rivera and Rodriguez were supportive and informed families about these opportunities. Additionally, with Noble Network, Seed of Abraham, INCS, and CORE Response, community members received free COVID tests at Pritzker College Prep. CORE’s team administered over 600 exams in the surrounding zip codes of 60651, which have experienced a spike in positivity rates. Thanks to our Proud Contributors: ACERO Schools, Teachers of ASPIRA, Noble Network, Alderman Michael Scott, Ariel Reboyras, Felix Cardona, Committeeperson Angee Gonzalez, Lowell Elementary Local School Council Manuel Jimenez, Chicago Food Depository, Grace and Peace Church, Gap Community Center, CORE Response, Seed of Abraham Christian Church, MAP INC, Takorea, Joey G’s Mac & Cheese, Domestic Violence Organization for the 25th district, 14th District Police Department.”


Half of Chicago pre-K, special ed teachers report back to campuses

By Mila Koumpilova for Chalkbeat Chicago

“Half of the Chicago Public Schools pre-kindergarten and special education teachers and about 70% of support staff who were expected to return to school buildings Monday reported to work, district officials said Tuesday. Schools chief Janice Jackson called the turnout significant given what she described as pressure from the district’s teachers union not to return to work — and she said she believes more employees will start coming to school buildings in the coming days. But as the district gears up to resume in-person instruction for pre-K and some special education students next Monday, it is not clear whether it will have enough staff to gradually reopen campuses as planned. The district asked teachers to return to school buildings a week before students do to prepare for the transition as they continue learning remotely this week. How the district’s first week of reopening goes could impact broader plans. The bulk of K-8 educators and teachers are slated to return later this month.”


Half of CPS teachers expected to return to schools Monday did not show up

By Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas and Hannah Leone for The Chicago Tribune 

“More than half of Chicago Public Schools teachers who were expected to return to schools Monday did not show up, CEO Janice Jackson said. Her comments came at a news conference Tuesday, days after the Chicago Teachers Union said some of its members would not report to schools because of ongoing concerns about adequate COVID-19 safeguards. Overall, 62% of staff members showed up Monday, including seven out of 10 paraprofessionals, Jackson said. But for teachers, just under 50% reported to work. About 5,800 staff members were expected to work in person starting Monday, with the first students due to return for in-person classes on Jan. 11.”


Illinois teachers could get vaccines within weeks, Pritzker says

By Mitchell Armentrout for The Chicago Sun-Times

“Teachers will have access to coronavirus vaccine doses in the next phase of Illinois distribution, Gov. J.B. Pritzker confirmed Wednesday. They’re among the “frontline essential workers” included in Phase 1B of the state’s historic vaccination effort, along with education support staff and childcare workers. That means teachers across the state could begin receiving shots within “a few weeks,” Pritzker said. “As the vaccines arrive they’ll be able to visit one of the sites that we’re setting up or any other provider that’s registered in order to get vaccinated,” Pritzker said. Teachers are among about 3.2 million more people who are next in line for shots. The “frontline” category also includes first responders, postal and public transit employees, corrections workers, incarcerated people and manufacturing, distribution and agriculture workers, including grocery store workers.”