Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss – February 15th – February 24th, 2020

‘You can create positive change in small moments’: Lake County Golden Apple finalists reflect on mission of teaching

By Phil Rockrohr for the Lake County News Sun 

“Tesha Castillo, a fifth- to eighth-grade teacher at LEARN 6 Charter School on the Great Lakes Naval Base, and Kathy Garneau, a kindergarten to eighth-grade teacher at Bannockburn School in Bannockburn, were chosen from a record 732 teachers nominated for the honor, according to Madeline Spiker, spokeswoman for Golden Apple. Recipients of the 2020 Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching will be announced this spring. Each winner receives a spring semester sabbatical at Northwestern University and a $5,000 cash prize.”

Q&A — 3 Minutes With Charter School Founder Diana Shulla-Cose: An SEL Curriculum for a Lifetime, & Her School’s Most Famous Alum, Lakers Star Anthony Davis

By Greg Richmond for The 74

“Richmond: Twenty-three years ago, when you started Perspectives Charter School, many other schools were focusing on raising test scores. You went against the grain by proposing a school based on something called “A Disciplined Life.” What is “A Disciplined Life”? Shulla-Cose: “A Disciplined Life” is our school culture, and it is created with deep intention. We have a set of 26 principles. We have a set of social, emotional and ethical core practices, and they sit under three buckets: self-perception, relationships and productivity. We study these principles the way we study algorithms or revolutions and grapple with principles like: “Demonstrate honesty and integrity.” “Demonstrate a hard work ethic.” “Be reliable.” “Love who you are.” “Seek wisdom.” “Be open-minded.” “Respect the differences in others.” “Challenge each other intellectually.”

Noble in the News: UIC College Prep Senior Jaylin Holmes Wins 24-Hour Kobe Bryant Contest

By the Noble Network of Charter Schools

“Jaylin Holmes, a graduating senior at UIC College Prep had the opportunity to pen an essay in 24-hrs about Kobe Bryant for the Ezekiel Taylor Scholarship Foundation . Jaylin’s essay earned him VIP tickets to the 2020 NBA All Star Legends Basketball Rising Stars Game.”

Noble Connects Local Employers with First-Generation College Students

By The Lawndale News

“One hundred one alumni from the Noble Network of Charter Schools recently completed an annual Winter Externship Program in which the Network partners with local Chicago area companies to host first-generation college students for a short-term assignment and career exploration activity with the potential to job shadow during their winter break. This year, over 60 companies across 26 industries hosted Noble alumni for unforgettable experiences. Out of post-externship survey respondents, over 97 percent of students said they would do the externship again and 100 percent of participating companies reported that they would participate in the program next year. While students often detail tangible work experience and lasting impact, they aren’t the only ones who stand to gain from the program. Multiple companies who participated have submitted decisively positive testimonials along with their post-program survey responses.”

Our Kids Can’t Wait Till You Show Up for Them on Tuesday Night

By Tanesha Peeples for Chicago Unheard

“Chicago, our kids can’t wait–and we’re not going to make them wait anymore, either.  Our kids can no longer wait on our city’s leadership or Chicago Public Schools to figure out how to close the opportunity gaps that exist between Black, Latino and White students. I recently wrote about brightbeam’s report, “The Secret Shame: How America’s Most Progressive Cities Betray Their Commitment to Educational Opportunities for All,” where it was found that progressive cities were doing worse than coservative cities at closing opportunity gaps between Black, Latino and White students. Chicago – our beloved progressive city – was on that list. So next week we’re meeting up at the “Our Kids Can’t Wait” education town hall to talk about why these disparities exist in our public schools and how they impact the academic success of our students. Most important, we’re going to develop our own–that is, Black and Brown communities and our allies, our own–solutions for mitigating these issues.”

If Student-Based Budgeting Is the Slicer, We Need a Bigger Pie

By Maureen Kelleher for Chicago Unheard

“Chicago Public Schools recently wrapped up a series of workshops discussing how student-based budgeting works and asking parents, school leaders and community members for their ideas about how to make sure the neediest schools and students get an equitable share of funds. Critics charge the current budgeting process creates a vicious cycle of disinvestment when already under-resourced schools lose students. A September 2019 study showed that “low-budget” CPS schools are clustered in Black neighborhoods with higher numbers of charter schools (that may be drawing students away from district-run schools). As currently structured, the CPS student-based budgeting process has no built-in avenue to increase funds when a school has small, high-need enrollment. That’s a problem in a system where enrollment is declining, and perhaps most rapidly in Black neighborhoods. There are some good ideas on the table. In a memo to Mayor Lightfoot, Kids First proposed creating an “equity index” that would use census tract data and other measures to direct funds to schools with the highest concentrations of high-need students, not simply by enrollment numbers. The Center for Tax and Budget Accountability thinks CPS could change its school funding formula to work like the state’s new method and send more money to schools with more high-need students. That could actually also be done by tweaking the current student-based budgeting process to “weight” students with more money when they come with higher needs. Other cities, like Boston, are already doing this. However, Boston has an important advantage Chicago does not–a more adequate share of state money to fund schools. Until Illinois and the City of Chicago get serious about creating a bigger pie for schools, arguing about how to slice it feels like re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic.”

Summit Learning emphasizes role mentors play amid ed tech pushback

By Kalyn Belsha for Chalkbeat

“Teacher Traci McCullough sat beside an eighth-grade student, her laptop open, scanning the notes he had left her ahead of their mentoring session. Lots of complaints about science, she noted. “Without teacher-bashing, what is the deal?” asked McCullough, who teaches English and history.  As the student started to explain, McCullough clicked through a computer program. He hadn’t submitted a science project on time, she saw, hurting his grade. She nudged the student to email his science teacher. “We’re going to word this correctly — you get more flies with honey than you do vinegar,” she said. “I would start off with what you have done, and then build off of that and what you need help with.” “Science is not my specialty,” the student said, as his classmates worked independently on math problems behind him. “But this looks good,” McCullough said, pointing to a chart he’d made for another assignment. “Give yourself some credit.” The interaction took place earlier this week at Chicago International Charter School Bucktown, an early adopter of Summit Learning, the Mark Zuckerberg-backed “personalized learning” program that launched five years ago and is now used in some 400 schools across the country.  That kind of one-on-one communication between teachers and students is increasingly at the heart of Summit Learning’s public pitch, as it tries to make its way into more schools amid skepticism about students’ screen time and pushback in schools where some say the program relies too heavily on computers.”

Tanner: Is Listening the Antidote to Teacher Turnover? Research Shows It Could Be

By Dr. Brenda Tanner for The 74

“Even halfway through a new school year, some district administrators are frantically racing to fill teaching positions. As a former superintendent, I well recall the joy of our human resources director when the announcement was made that all positions had been filled. During my tenure, I became disheartened each year as I saw the list of “hard to fill” positions steadily grow from science, math and special education to almost every teaching category. The day that I heard that elementary teachers had been added to the critical shortage list, I knew that the world of not just recruitment, but retention, as we know it, had changed. The Economic Policy Institute found that the percentage of schools that were working to fill a vacancy but couldn’t tripled from the 2011-12 to 2015-16 school years. During this same period, the percentage of schools that found it very difficult to fill a vacancy doubled. While some teachers are retiring, being promoted or leaving for personal reasons, dissatisfaction with teaching itself is unfortunately another cause of departures. For many years as an administrator, I fell into the trap of thinking I could fix the teacher retention problem from the top down. But as it turns out, education’s leaky bucket is fueled by a confluence of forces that can confound even the most discerning district leaders. Salary raises, benefits, professional development and even mentoring may not address other critical issues that are driving teachers away…In Newton County, Georgia, for example, leaders heard and responded to resource-allocation frustrations of hard-to-replace science teachers by boosting school-level budgets to provide the supplies needed for class experiments. One principal acted on teachers’ desire to become more involved in hiring by inviting them to identify core traits they look for in a colleague and to take part in job interviews. And at Chicago International Charter School’s Bucktown campus, part of the Distinctive Schools network, leaders responded to teachers’ interest in parent partnership by bringing educators and families together to redefine the scope of parent engagement, including newly designed events that increased opportunities for involvement. This type of timely, school-level data empowered leaders by giving them access to meaningful feedback that contributed to an 11 percent increase in teacher retention. In following the successes of these districts, it’s not surprising to see that listening and retention may be two sides of the same coin.”

Here’s what to watch in Chicago’s school budget revamp

By Yana Kunichoff for Chalkbeat

“At Chicago’s first-ever round of public feedback meetings in recent memory on the school budgeting system, parents and educators turned out in droves to explain and demand what the school district should fund. Now, a working group of educators and administrators, brought together by Mayor Lori Lightfoot, will consider the suggestions and recommend how Chicago should change its complicated school budgeting system, and what schools should offer. Here is what to watch as it moves forward.”

Unwelcome surprise: Illinois governor proposes holding back some school funds unless tax passes

By Cassie Walker Burke, Yana Kunichoff for Chalkbeat

“Saying he had to make hard choices in a hard budget year, Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Wednesday disappointed education leaders and advocates by proposing the state hold back part of an expected bump in education spending beginning in July — potentially upending a milestone agreement to reform Illinois school finance. The governor would deliver the reserved funds later — but only if Illinois voters approve restructuring the state income tax in November. A proposed graduated income tax would raise taxes on the wealthiest Illinois residents and lower taxes for low-income families, and is expected to generate $1.4 billion annually. But even if passed, the tax’s added revenues wouldn’t materialize until well into next school year. School districts would not be able to count on it to hire teachers or invest in new programs.”

Elected school board bill to get a renewed push in the Illinois legislature

By Marie Fazio for Chalkbeat

“Backers of a bill that would establish a 21-member Chicago school board say they are building momentum again, this time in the Illinois Senate.  If the bill passes the legislature, Chicago could hold school board elections starting in 2023. The bill has supporters, including Illinois Sen. Robert Martwick, a Democrat who represents Chicago’s Northwest Side and some adjacent suburbs. But it has had its share of detractors, too, who say that a 21-person board would dwarf that of any other major urban school district’s governing body and would be too large to govern effectively.”