Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss: February 6th – February 12, 2021

“We Gon’ Be Alright”: Encouragement from Butler College Prep

By The Noble Network of Charter Schools

“This is part of a series of blogs from Noble campus representatives to give a deeper look at campus life.  Let me ask you a question! If we challenged you to ask anyone in your immediate family or circle to give you a brief synopsis of 2020, you would probably expect the majority to mention at least one challenge that they’ve faced, right? If we took the time to put those challenges to paper, we would probably see a few trends: Covid-19, the presidential election, police brutality and civil unrest, social injustice, and fear of the unknown have all plagued us in some capacity or another. Talk about the “Baskin Robins of Pain”! But guess what! There’s hope on the other side! Before we go further in our first blog of the year we would like to encourage you to believe that things can and will get better. We know that society, the government, experts, nor us have it all figured out but we want to challenge you to push through and look for a reason to smile. Along with looking for daily reasons to smile there are a few steps that we at Butler would like to present to you that we feel would create a little ease as we journey through the rest of the year together.”


Father of Five Noble Grads and Staff Member Appointed as New Parent Advisory Council Leader at ITW Speer

By The Noble Network of Charter Schools 

“This is part of a series of blogs from Noble campus representatives to give a deeper look at campus life.  Speer is excited to announce that Mr. Sanabria has been named as our new Parent Advisory Council (PAC) Representative. As a proud parent of five Noble Alumni, we are excited for the work that Mr. Sanabria will do alongside our Speer parents this year. We are grateful for all that Ms. Francois has contributed to PAC, and we know that Mr. Sanabria will pick up right where she left off. We met over Zoom and talked about how his experience as a Noble Parent and Noble Employee has prepared him for this new role.”


CTU members approve CPS reopening deal, sending tens of thousands of students and teachers back to schools

By Nader Issa for The Chicago Sun-Times

“The deal puts school workers on a fast-track for vaccines, creates health and safety standards and committees for over 500 schools, lays out a comprehensive testing plan and delays the return of most students until March — all measures the union pushed for in protracted negotiations. The union’s rank-and-file teachers and support staff approved the agreement in a one-day vote held Tuesday, with 68% of voting members — 13,681 of 20,275 — favoring the deal, surpassing the simple majority needed, the CTU announced after voting ended at midnight. But the tally was even closer than it appeared, with more than 5,000 members not voting, a sign of the split views on reopening schools during the pandemic.”


As Some CPS Students Return To Classrooms, Officials Eye Opening High Schools Next

By Kelly Bauer for Block Club Chicago

“Mayor Lori Lightfoot and public schools chief Janice Jackson celebrated as some students returned to classrooms Thursday, the first day kids are back after officials struck a deal with the Chicago Teachers Union to reopen schools. The deal was called a “disgrace” by CTU President Jesse Sharkey, who said it didn’t go far enough to protect teachers, students and school communities during the coronavirus pandemic. The union said 67.5 percent of its members who voted approved of the plan, and the majority of CPS families are opting to keep their students at home for now. But Lightfoot and Jackson, speaking at a news conference Thursday morning at William Brown School of Technology, said they’re already beginning discussions with the union over their next goal: reopening high schools. “The goal really is to have a return to in-person instruction as a school system,” Jackson said. At another point, Jackson said bringing back high school students to in-person learning is officials’ “top priority.”



By Ann Miller for Illinois Policy

“As the Chicago Teachers Union is deciding whether students can return to classrooms, parent groups are clamoring to be heard. Unfortunately, Illinois law prohibits them from having much say about schools reopening. The Chicago Teachers Union and Chicago Public Schools engaged in a caustic negotiation over returning to in-person learning. Their deal faces a vote by 25,000 rank-and-file union members. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot acknowledged the cost to families of the prolonged dispute: “This has been a very tough process for everybody in the CPS ecosystem, notably our students and their parents. I will do everything I can to make sure that they have a seat at the table on anything that relates to their education and the education of their children.” But the reality is parents and students don’t have a say.”


Some Latino Parents Say Their Voices Are Being Drowned Out In Chicago School Reopening Debate

By Adriana Cardona-Maguigad for WBEZ

“Casas is now considering transferring him to a Catholic school. He was among the parents who came together Thursday for an online discussion hosted by Chicago Unheard, a digital platform focused on Chicago education. Parents spoke openly in Spanish about their views on the school reopening controversy. As the tug of war between CPS and CTUUnion drags on, these parents said the discussions on social media among people on opposite ends of the issue and the back and forth between the district and the union are getting toxic. “If from the beginning, people are telling you ‘Oh, you are not looking at the science,’ or ‘Oh, you want everyone to die, including the teachers,’ who is gonna want to dialogue with someone who says that?” asked Carolina Barrera Tobon, a parent of two kids who go to a CPS elementary on the North Side. As opinions keep getting louder, these parents said the voices of Spanish-speaking Latino families are drowning in this debate. This is happening even though nearly half of all students in CPS are Latino. According to a CPS survey of parents in December, 31% of Latino families say they wanted their preschool and elementary students to return for in-person classes.”


Chicago leader Karen Lewis, who changed the face of teacher organizing, is dead at 67

By Cassie Walker Burke & Yana Kunichoff for Chalkbeat Chicago

“Former Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, who steered a sea change within public education organizing before stepping down in 2018, has died. She was 67. The Chicago Teachers Union confirmed her death in a statement shared Monday morning. She died after several years of struggling with brain cancer. “Karen taught us how to fight, and she taught us how to love,” the statement said. “Before her, there was no sea of red — a sea that now stretches across our nation.” Lewis presided over the union from 2010 until she stepped down in 2018 to focus on her treatment for brain cancer. News of her death came as the Chicago Teachers Union weighs a tentative agreement with Chicago Public Schools over reopening campuses in a pandemic — an effort that unfolded after a high-profile battle. The protracted negotiations showed the force of the union in shaping education policy using strategies that Lewis — a former chemistry teacher — forged in her eight years at the helm.”