Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss: February 12 – February 18, 2022

Noble Schools Welcomes Three New Board Members

By The Noble Schools

“Over the past few years, Noble Schools has focused on ensuring our board matches the incredible diversity of our broader Noble Schools community. We are excited to announce three new board members.”


Black History Month at Bulls Prep: Celebrating Black Fraternities and Sororities

By The Noble Schools

“At Bulls Prep, our goal as a collective community is to acknowledge what Black History means to all of us. It is to have students and alumni who can unashamedly acknowledge how African Americans have contributed to the world, country, state, city, and this school. Black History is every time Bulls Prep alumni like Aloni Harris, Natalia Dixon, DeBorah Brooks, Ora Aguirre, Shakira Little, and Alexia McCampbell defy the odds and leap over hurdles that have been strategically set to tear them down. The consensus among these alumni is that they are unapologetically BLACK. They are their ancestors’ wildest dreams. The sacrifices of their ancestors’ blood, sweat, and tears drive our alumni and the current Bulls Prep student body to finish what they started.”


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

By The Noble Schools

“In this episode, we talk to Dalonte Burns, the principal of UIC College Prep, one of Noble Schools’ 18 campuses. Burns speaks to his experience as a first-year principal leading anti-racism work at his school during a pandemic. He also talks about his experiences as a Noble alumnus and former paraprofessional and teacher at Noble Schools, and how his experience back then differs from now. He touches on topics from what role teachers and school staff play in providing an anti-racist education for their students to how making space for student power in the school community can create more equitable experiences.”


Chicago sees COVID cases drop by 60% in schools, health officials say

By Mauricio Pena for Chalkbeat

“Chicago Public Schools is seeing a steep decline in COVID-19 cases across the district – in line with a similar drop seen across the city – but cases remain above pre-omicron levels, health officials said Tuesday. That decline means far fewer students are in quarantine and missing school. Health officials said they were still concerned about risks to students at schools where vaccination rates are the lowest. Last week, CPS reported that 439 students and 121 staff members tested positive, a drop of about 60% compared to two weeks ago, when 1,068 students and 284 staff tested positive for the week of Jan. 23, Dr. Allison Arwady, the city’s health commissioner, said at a weekly COVID-19 press conference.”


CPS Taking Student Applications For Program That Aims to Increase Educator Diversity

By Matt Masterson for WTTW

“Seniors in Chicago’s public high schools who are interested in a teaching career can begin applying to a prep program aimed at boosting the number of CPS grads working as educators within the district. CPS on Tuesday announced it is now accepting applications for its Teach Chicago Tomorrow program, a district initiative offering post-graduate learning opportunities to help ​​boost diversity among district teachers. “Diversity is one of CPS’ greatest strengths and we value our diverse workforce, especially when it comes to who is standing before our students in the classroom,” CPS CEO Pedro Martinez said in a statement. “It’s vital that children can see themselves in those leading their classrooms, schools and our District and we continue to keep diversity, equity and inclusion in mind as we recruit and retain our team members.”


Legislation would make it easier for CPS to hire retired educators in effort to address teacher shortage

By Clare Spaulding for The Chicago Tribune

“For more than a decade, schools in Illinois and across the nation have felt the squeeze of a teacher shortage. The pandemic — with divisive rulings on mask mandates disrupting schools and fear of illness still widespread — has only exacerbated the problem, with more than 4,000 unfilled teaching positions statewide, according to the Illinois State Board of Education. Searching for an immediate stopgap measure, a bill nearing a vote in the state Senate would expand to Chicago Public Schools a measure passed last year for the rest of Illinois that makes it easier to rehire retired teachers to work in schools without putting their pensions at risk.”


Chicago schools see slowdown in COVID vaccine uptake for 5- to 11-year-olds

By Mauricio Pena for Chalkbeat

“Three months after Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine received authorization for 5- to 11-year-olds, vaccine uptake in the age group has seen marginal movement with less than a quarter of Chicago Public Schools students fully vaccinated. While Chicago Public Schools pediatric vaccination rates surpass national numbers, the gradual uptake locally — with rates especially lagging in schools on Chicago’s South and West Side — is a point of concern for local health officials. They have stressed that schools should be the centerpiece of any strategy to boost rates — and are trying to learn from schools that have launched dedicated campaigns or hosted forums for parents.”


Illinois legislature poised to be next arena for school mask, vaccine mandate debate

By Samantha Smylie for Chalkbeat

“Illinois’ General Assembly is poised to be the next battleground in the fight over COVID-19 public health requirements in schools. Republican lawmakers have filed several bills about masking and vaccine mandates in schools that would limit decision-making by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, the state board of education, and the Illinois Department of Public Health. HB 4083 by Rep. Adam Niemerg would prevent the state board of education, local school districts, and schools from requiring school staff or students to wear masks. The Parental Medical Choice Act, HB 4149, sponsored by Rep. David Welter, would prevent the state or any local government or institution from requiring a child to receive a public health service. HB 4575, sponsored by Rep. Deanne Mazzochi, would block the state board of education from revoking or removing a school district’s recognition, a tool the state board used at the beginning of the year to pressure districts into implementing the state’s mask mandate. Removing state recognition pulls state funding from schools and blocks students from participating in events sponsored by state athletic associations. Several House Republican legislators have also signed onto the COVID-19 Religious Exemption Act, HB 4239, also sponsored by Niemerg, which would expand the definition of “religious exemption” and offer more loopholes for those who do not want to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.”