Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss – February 29th – March 6th, 2020

Chicago Parents and Activists Say “Our Kids Can’t Wait”

By Josh Stewart for Chicago Unheard

“Our Kids Can’t Wait” That was the overarching theme of a recent education-focused, community town hall in Chicago, led by activist Tanesha Peeples and Chicago Unheard. The gathering saw parents and advocates brave a snowstorm to talk about real solutions for meeting the needs of each and every student in Chicago.  The night was a powerful reminder of the value of community organizing and collective work on behalf of children. A panel made up of students, parents, educators and advocates gave impassioned messages to the community members in attendance to know their own power in advocating for children and to be willing to work toward a better future for children in Chicago. From the event page: OUR CITY STILL SUFFERS FROM SOME OF THE WORST OPPORTUNITY GAPS IN THE NATION FOR OUR BLACK AND BROWN STUDENTS. NOW IS THE TIME FOR US TO RISE ABOVE THE POLITICS AND CREATE A PLAN FOR OUR CITY TO #CLOSETHEGAP. Here are some highlights from a incredible night of education stakeholders coming together to learn, organize and plan steps for action to advocate for children.”


Noble Seniors March to the Polls for Early Voting

By the Noble Network of Charter Schools

“Ahead of early voting by dozens of students from Chicago’s Pritzker College Prep, earlier this month, students and staff from the Noble Network of Charter Schools delivered over 2,100 students’ new voter registration forms to the Cook County Board of Elections.  “It is important that we register to vote so that everyone has a voice,” said Jada Banks, senior at Muchin College Prep in the Loop. “I’m currently in an AP Comparative Politics class, so I’m learning more about what is going on in the world, and it is inspiring me to be more active and make a change in the world” Noble schools are not able to engage in any sort of political action or support any political candidates, and no portion of the voter registration process implied any sort of endorsement for or against any candidates or potential candidates. Noble schools simply made voter registration forms available and answered their questions through the registration process. Through the help of an online platform provided by Gads Hill Center and on the ground support from the League of Women’s Voters, Noble was able to register the largest number of eligible students ever.”


By Working with Braven, Monroe Elementary’s Kyle Schulte Is Helping First-Gen Chicago College Students Land Their Dream Jobs

By Kyle Schulte for Chicago Unheard

“Editor’s note: Monroe Elementary Assistant Principal Kyle Schulte offers this reflection on serving as a Leadership Coach with Braven, a nonprofit with a mission to increase the numbers of first-generation college graduates landing strong first jobs. Here, he reflects on his work and how he has grown professionally as a mentor and leader. What do you wear to a job interview? Should I include my high school on my resume? How do I search for a job opening? Do I need to have an internship before I graduate college?  These are just some of the questions I have helped answer while a Leadership Coach with Braven. Braven partners with universities to provide a course that focuses on empowering promising college students with the skills, confidence, experiences, and networks necessary to transition from college to a strong first job. As an educator in Chicago Public Schools for the past decade, I know firsthand the impact and benefits that a strong mentorship has on our youth. I have taught for seven years, coached multiple sports, ran summer school, volunteered for Big Brothers and Big Sisters, and currently am in my fourth year as an assistant principal. A common theme I have encountered throughout my experiences working with children and young adults is that they all need someone to have their back, guide their passions and interests, help them develop skills, and most of all, believe in them.  We need these same supports as adults!”


Here’s How Redwood Grow Deftly Brings the Science of Reading to Teachers

By Maureen Kelleher for Chicago Unheard

Last month, I wrote about my visit to Redwood Day School, where teachers use structured phonics and an explicit approach to reading instruction that is proving effective for students who have experienced persistent reading challenges. The goal of Redwood Day is to help students catch up to their grade-level peers and return to more traditional schools. But many more young people need that kind of instruction than Redwood Day can serve. Given this reality, Redwood piloted a new initiative this year, Redwood Grow, which aims to bring multi-sensory, research-based phonics teaching to every Chicago Public School. I asked co-founder Kait Feriante what she is learning from Redwood Grow’s first year about helping experienced teachers continue to improve their teaching practices.”


My Chavez Students Are One in a Billion

By Lindsay Singer for Chicago Unheard

Recently, Chicago Public Schools released a report from the CPS Inspector General’s office questioning how the NWEA test is given to students. While the report mainly focuses on lengthy testing times and frequent pauses during tests, it also includes a table that lists schools, grades and subjects where students achieved huge growth.  This table includes Chavez Elementary’s third-graders, for growth in math. I believe that it was highly unethical to include my students in the report without any other information except a growth percentile, and therefore I think it’s only fair for me, their math teacher, to offer some context. This is not a defense of the test, this is a defense of my students.  At Chavez, this level of growth is not a surprise, although the report characterized our third-graders’ gains as “surprising.”


Sick CPS students ‘will be sent home immediately,’ district says, as coronavirus fears spread

By Nader Issa for the Chicago Sun-Times

“Chicago Public Schools officials on Wednesday sent a letter to families and staff laying out preventive measures being taken in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak — and emphasizing that “students who are sick will be sent home immediately.” Anyone who’s sick should call a doctor and stay home from school, and student absences will be marked excused, Fox and Arwady said in the letter. If a student goes to school sick, their parent or guardian will be called immediately to schedule a pick-up.”


Why you should care about those testing ‘irregularities’ in Chicago schools

By the CST Editorial Board 

“When Chicago Public Schools Inspector General Nicholas Schuler began to get numerous complaints of alleged cheating on standardized tests, he did what a good IG should: Investigate. The public, after all, should be told if widespread cheating on standardized tests is happening in schools. Our city must feel confident that the district’s test score gains are real, the product of improved teaching and learning and not gaming the system. There’s a lot riding on scores for the NWEA MAP (Measure of Academic Progress), the national test administered twice a year — in the fall and spring — to students in the second through eighth grades. NWEA scores are a factor in teacher and principal evaluations, admissions to selective high schools, and a school’s overall quality rating. Few people will say it out loud, but that means there’s an incentive to cheat. Testing scandals have rocked other big-city districts, like Atlanta and Washington D.C., for just these reasons. And there’s no reason to believe Chicago is immune.”


Deputy Governor: Chicago Public Schools expected to get state aid hike

By Crain’s Chicago Business

“Chicago Public Schools should get a “significant increase” in state aid next year, according to a top Illinois budget official, even as some 2021 education funds hinge on whether voters decide the rich in the state should pay more in taxes. Governor J.B. Pritzker’s $42 billion spending proposal for the year starting July 1 includes $1.4 billion that won’t be spent unless a November referendum passes to change Illinois’s flat income tax to a progressive rate. The budget includes a $350 million jump in state aid for schools in 2021, though about 40 percent of that increase is contingent on the graduated levy going through. “We believe the funding that will be going to CPS is going to represent a significant increase,” Dan Hynes, Illinois’s deputy governor for budget and economy, said in an interview. “They are not going to be greatly impacted by the way we had to structure the budget this year.” The budget caveats due to the uncertain state revenue have raised questions about how much of an increase in state aid Illinois schools will receive. Pritzker’s 2021 proposal earmarks $7.6 billion for so-called evidence-based funding for schools, about $350 million more than in fiscal 2020 if the graduated-income tax vote is approved, budget documents show.”


CPS students get living history lesson from one of the Little Rock Nine

By Maudlyne Ihejirika for the Sun-Times

“Terrence Roberts, one of the Little Rock Nine students who desegregated Little Rock Central High School in 1957, in the wake of Brown v Bd of Ed, speaks at an assembly of students from several Chicago Public Schools on Tuesday, at Fernwood Elementary, 10041 S. Union. The assembly was part of the Facing History and Ourselves curriculum helping CPS teachers teach students about race issues. Chicago Public Schools. Terrence Roberts was 17 when he volunteered to be one of the Little Rock Nine — African American students who would desegregate one of the nation’s largest schools, Little Rock Central High School, in the wake of the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education case. Today a respected psychologist — a former assistant dean at University of California Los Angeles, now retired — the 78-year-old held rapt some 300 Chicago Public Schools students this week at an assembly that brought them face to face with living history. Roberts’ visited as part of a CPS partnership with Facing History and Ourselves, a global nonprofit that develops educational materials on historic incidents of racial prejudice and injustice, helping teachers teach and talk to students about those difficult subjects.”