Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss: February 26 – March 4, 2022

‘This is really the shot in the arm that we needed.’ Five CPS schools partner with Hope Chicago to help send roughly 4,000 students to college debt-free.

By Tatyana Turner for The Chicago Tribune 

“Tonya Hammaker, the principal of Farragut Career Academy high school, had been hearing students make comments like ” Can you believe it?” and “I wish that was us” in the hallways all throughout the week. The young scholars were referring to the Chicago Public School students who got the news that their college education has been paid for with the help of Hope Chicago, a citywide, multigeneration scholarship program that covers tuition, room and board, books, fees and surcharges for CPS students and one of their parents or guardians. This past week the Hope Chicago team, led by former CPS CEO Janice Jackson and Pete Kadens and Ted Koenig, Hope Chicago’s co-founders and co-chairmen, visited high schools — including Benito Juarez High School, Al Raby High School, Morgan Park High School and Noble-Johnson College Prep — that are part of their inaugural cohort to announce to 4,000 students that their postsecondary education will be fully funded. The last stop for Hope Chicago was Farragut in the Little Village neighborhood.”


How Noble Schools’ Mask Policy Might Be Shifting

By The Noble Schools

“Noble Family, I hope you are staying safe and warm. I’m writing to provide clarity on the masking policy in our schools. As you may have seen, on Friday, the CDC updated its guidance on masking to recommend masking only in areas of high transmission, based on new key metrics. Additionally, Governor Pritzker and the Illinois State Board of Education followed this update late Friday with an end to the statewide mask mandate in schools. We are currently evaluating this guidance, particularly as it relates to any requirements that might still exist within the Chicago Department of Public Health. For this reason and to minimize the disruption a last minute change would cause in our schools, Noble will continue to have a mask mandate in our schools on Monday, 2/28, and for the entire week. (Because of staff professional development, there is no school on Thursday or Friday.)”


Chicago Public Schools mask mandate expected to end ‘in the near future,’ CEO says

By Tracy Swartz and Karen Ann Cullotta for The Chicago Tribune

“Chicago Public Schools CEO Pedro Martinez expects that the school district — the largest in the state to still require masks indoors — will move to a “mask optional model for all students and staff in the near future,” according to a memo he sent to principals this week. “We understand that this will be a major adjustment for our school communities, and we are committed to providing you with all the support you need during this transition,” Martinez wrote. “We will provide you with materials shortly, including communications to be shared with your families and staff and more details about how we will operationalize this change in schools.” The district released a statement Wednesday afternoon saying more details about the move to a mask-optional policy will be shared early next week.”


While red states debate CRT, Illinois looks at curriculum transparency

By Samantha Smylie for Chalkbeat

“A trio of Republican-backed bills have popped up in the Illinois legislature that appear to increase parents’ access to what’s being taught in classrooms. One bill would require all Illinois schools to post textbooks and learning materials online for parental review. Another would require libraries to provide full lists of books if asked, and a third would give parents and students the power to formally oppose a unit of study they find objectionable. But a closer look at these bills shows they aim to exclude content that cover an array of topics like race, gender, sexuality, immigrations or religion — much broader than some of the anti-CRT bills — from being taught in classrooms and mirror similar curriculum bills in other states. Recently, anti-critical race theory bills to prevent schools from teaching about racism and LGBT issues in classrooms surfaced across the country in Republican-led states. There have been efforts in 36 states to restrict education on racism and contributions of specific racial or ethnic groups to U.S. history. Legislation has been successful in states like Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Texas, and many more throughout the country. But in Democrat-led states, like Illinois, an emerging trend appears to be attempts to require teachers to post curriculum and lessons online.”


Illinois schools wouldn’t have to serve cheapest food possible under new bill

By Nader Issa for The Chicago Sun Times

“A new bill in Springfield would change the way Illinois school districts solicit food service contracts, allowing officials to negotiate for higher quality products amid complaints that many schools offer unhealthy food.”