Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss – December 21st through January 10th

Get to Know to Baker College Prep

By the Noble Network of Charter Schools

“How would you describe Baker College Prep? Baker College Prep is a place where I feel safe, challenged, and a sense of belonging. Each night, I can’t wait for the morning to go to school…Baker College Prep is like my second family. Staff members and students are there for anybody no matter what, and you can tell them anything without being judged or left out. Therefore, I like going to school just knowing that I can trust anyone.”


Turning Music Into Power

By Kamani Mayes, Tyrice Jackson, and Sushmitha R Ram for Elevate Chicago

“These boys give me hope for how communities can come together and thrive. Their music isn’t about the random ideas that pop into a teenager’s head. It’s very centered on their perspectives on how we can redefine relationships that we can have with one another, ending violence in all forms. They are my hope for the future.”


Three Takeaways From Chicago’s Largest Charter School Network

By Emily Richmond for the Education Writers Association

“When it comes to the Noble model, there’s no shortage of stories that have been written — by local as well as national reporters. There have also been numerous studies of its approach to recruiting and retaining students, campus discipline, and postsecondary achievement. Since 1999, Noble has grown from one campus with about 150 students to serving 12,000 Chicagoans at 17 high schools and one middle school. In February 2019, Chicago Public Schools renewed the network’s contract for an additional five years. (There have been some bumps in the road, including the founder of the network stepping down last fall amid allegations of inappropriate behavior that triggered a Chicago Public Schools investigation.) There’s also been criticism of Noble’s “no excuses” model and approach to school discipline, examined closely by The Chicago Reporter in 2017. And in a 2018 interview with NPR Illinois and EWA member Dusty Rhodes, one teacher went so far as to call Noble’s strict campus culture “dehumanizing.” In the same segment, however, another teacher said the discipline policies, in the context of the school’s overall mission, are not out of line. Here are three takeaways from the recent visit.”


More charter operators are offering a plan B to alumni who drop out of traditional college. Will it work?

By Kalyn Belsha for Chalkbeat

“…The Noble charter network in Chicago launched its partnership last year, following the IDEA network in Texas and Match Charter School in Boston. Together, the three programs now enroll nearly 1,000 students, and other charter operators say they’re watching closely. It’s a notable extension of those networks’ mission, which for years has been to send their mostly low-income students of color to college. More recently, though, it’s become harder to ignore the reality that many of their alumni are leaving higher education without degrees. “It’s clear for students who stay in college and complete how that support looks through our alumni counseling, but it just didn’t feel like we were doing enough for the students who were ‘stopping out’ of college,” said Eric Rapp, who oversees Noble’s program. “We saw this as an opportunity to provide something different and new and innovative to help re-engage those alumni.”


Fraud, Waste, Misconduct: Inspector General’s Report Details Year Of Cases In Chicago Schools

By Cassie Walker Burke for Chalkbeat Chicago

“Chicago schools’ investigative office discovered a swim coach who pocketed nearly $30,000 in pool-rental fees, the district’s failure to collect nearly $2 million in pre-kindergarten payments, and school employees underreporting their income to obtain free preschool. And the office opened nearly 500 investigations into alleged sexual abuse. The board of education’s Office of the Inspector General details those and other findings of waste and misdeeds in a 72-page report released Monday summing up last school year’s cases in Chicago Public Schools.”


Chicago’s teaching corps is becoming whiter. How the district hopes to entice — and keep — more teachers of color

By Ariel Cheung, Adeshina Emmanuel for Chalkbeat

“One question surfaced again and again during the Chicago Board of Education’s first public meeting about better diversifying its teacher workforce: What about doing more to keep teachers from leaving? “Take care of those who are already in the system,” Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Stacy Davis Gates asked of the district Monday. “Begin to see educators of color as partners and experts in the field.” Retaining teachers of color is vital for a district where half the teachers are white and 89% of the students they teach are not. Since 2011, black teachers have left the district at higher rates than have teachers of other races. As a result, the city has lost a quarter of its black teaching force over a six-year period. At the same time, more than nine in 10 white teachers remained in the district, and the number of Latino teachers grew, according to a Chalkbeat analysis of district data.”


New CPS-CTU fight over veteran teacher pay could hold up entire contract that ended historic teachers strike

By Nader Issa for the Sun-Times

“The controversy boils down to a simple question: A bonus or a base pay raise? But there are no easy answers in the unfolding, $25 million dispute over extra pay for Chicago Public Schools’ longest-serving and most experienced teachers. And now the latest tension between the district and the Chicago Teachers Union is threatening to hold up the newly negotiated teachers contract and reignite some of the labor discord that led to last fall’s 11-day strike. While the union accuses CPS of “illegally reneging on our deal” by offering bonuses instead of permanent raises to those teachers, the district insists it didn’t agree to a provision that could cost millions of dollars more after the contract ends.”