Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss – January 11th through January 17th, 2020

Bringing Together the Whole Family with The Catalyst Schools & Mather

By Kate Paz for Charters For Change

“Here at Mather, our mission is to create ways for people to age well. This mission is deeply aligned with the mission of our partner, The Catalyst Schools, which is “to holistically educate the young men and women entrusted to its care by a school community committed to teaching minds and touching hearts.” Because of this, our organizational partnership has felt natural from the beginning…We create experiences for people who are aging. Our partnerships really help us to do this because our partners and their locations are the ones that create experiences. Catalyst is a school. They focus on the young. But those children have family members of all ages who care for them. No one is giving those older adults support, so we do that! We offer monthly luncheons where people age 50 and better can come together to share a meal. They share a few hours of their day to enjoy each other in a safe place that is familiar to them. We want to show them that they, too, have an important place at the school and in the lives of their children. They are welcome.”

Noble in the News: New Noble Hires Featured in Crain’s People on the Move

By the Noble Network of Charter Schools

“Noble Network employees were recently featured in Crain’s Chicago Business “People on the Move”…Dr. Aidé Acosta has been named Chief College Officer of the Noble Network of Charter Schools. Dr. Acosta has over 15 years of experience in working towards educational equity for underserved populations…Moon Lee has been named Chief Data and Innovation Officer of the Noble Network of Charter Schools. Prior to joining Noble, Moon served as the Chief Technology Officer for Chicago-based Regroup Telehealth, where he helped build what is, today, the largest tele-psychiatry company in the United States.”

LEARN Charter Internships Boosted This Alumna’s Career Prospects

By Taylor Stewart for Chicago Unheard

“The past seven years have taught me that although I graduated from LEARN years ago, LEARN will always be with me. Throughout my time as a scholar and then as an intern at LEARN, a charter public school network based on Chicago’s West Side, I heard the same phrase many times: “Building a foundation for the future.” LEARN has helped me do that in my education and also in providing important career experiences. I attended LEARN as a student, went on to Walter Payton College Prep and then to New York University. LEARN hired me as an intern for the summer following my freshman year of high school. Then, each summer for the past seven years, they invited me back. My internships helped me develop basic skills in Microsoft Office and Google applications. They also helped me improve vital soft skills: time management, accountability, project management, communication and public speaking. My LEARN internships have been tremendous opportunities, filled with growth, and most importantly– experience.”

Chicago is clamping down on charter growth. But some are still finding a way.

By Yana Kunichoff for Chalkbeat

“Arianna Williams first heard about the Intrinsic charter network’s new high school while on a tour of a neighborhood school last winter. As an eighth grader moving to Chicago from Evanston, she was nervous about the complicated, competitive and often tense journey to find a high school that would be the right fit.  Other students were talking about Intrinsic’s school, Williams said, because it was new, located downtown, drew students from the entire city, and offered an intriguing model of personalized computer learning in rooms called “pods.”  Best of all, students could apply outside of Chicago’s GoCPS application system that asked high schoolers to rank a maximum number of schools, making it essentially an extra choice…The network invests in building a parent community, with parent advisory committees at each campus and advisers who communicate with parents through weekly updates. Intrinsic also holds regular student-led conferences. It’s another way to ensure that generations of families will see their school as an option.  To be sure, other networks have used similar strategies to continue growing, or maintain enrollment, in an increasingly hostile climate. Noble, the city’s largest network, has a recruitment and outreach team for its 15 schools. Acero, formerly UNO, invested heavily in building connections with local lawmakers and relied on its political muscle and aggressive borrowing to fuel its growth. And Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s capital plan promised another Chicago charter school $31 million for capital improvements last summer.”

We Have to Get Education Right for Black Students and Families in 2020

By Tanesha Peeples for Chicago Unheard

“I’m just going to get straight to the point. In 2020—and beyond—we have to get education right for Black students and families. Point blank and period. I don’t subscribe to the “new year, new me” mantra anymore because I recognize change doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, I’m a  practitioner of consistency—knowing that change takes time and is possible with determination, constant practice and conviction. But in some cases, the “new year, new me” mantra is still applicable because some changes absolutely have to be made with urgency.  In the context of our public education system, the practice of consistency has worked—but only to intentionally obstruct our kids’ academic success. This broken system has lied to, cheated, belittled and abused Black students and families. The blatant belief that Black skin makes people inferior—and therefore, less deserving—is what’s contributed to the consistency of failure and overall indifference in supporting our academic success.  So in this case, we can no longer allow the space and leeway for the system to get it right—we have to continue to apply pressure. And metaphorically speaking, the public school system needs a character assessment, a reset and it needs a “new year, new me” makeover.”

ISBE Seeks More Funds In Pursuit Of Equity

By Dusty Rhodes for NPR Illinois

“The Illinois State Board of Education yesterday approved a budget request seeking $9.6 billion dollars in state funds, most of which will go to the state’s “evidence-based funding” model, designed to bring all school districts up to adequate funding. Three years ago, Illinois changed its school funding structure to try to fix the extreme inequities. That fix established a formula that first measures how much each school district needs to achieve adequacy, and lawmakers promised to appropriate at least $350 million per year toward that goal. But even though they’ve made good on that pledge, curing those inequities remains a distant goal.”

Illinois Lawmakers Are Calling for a Nationwide Ban on Isolated Timeouts of Students

By Jodi S. Cohen and Jennifer Smith Richards for ProPublica Illinois

“Saying tens of millions of children are at risk, two U.S. senators and 10 members of the House of Representatives, all but one of them from Illinois, on Wednesday urged the nation’s top education official to tell schools to stop putting students in seclusion rooms. They also asked Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to issue federal guidance to prohibit physical restraints that restrict breathing and instead promote “evidence-based alternatives” for dealing with challenging behavior that don’t involve hands-on contact. “We are gravely concerned by harmful student seclusion and restraint practices occurring in schools around our country,” reads the letter, spearheaded by U.S. Rep. Sean Casten, a Democrat who represents the 6th Congressional District in Chicago’s west and northwest suburbs.”

City won’t give in to union in fight over veteran teacher pay, mayor says

By Fran Spielman and Nader Issa for the Sun-Times

“Mayor Lori Lightfoot was drawn back into an argument with the Chicago Teachers Union Friday over how to reward veteran teachers, an issue that was only partially resolved at the end of last fall’s teachers strike. Lightfoot told reporters at City Hall she feels “very, very confident about our position” that $25 million earmarked in the new teachers contract for veteran teachers will be doled out in the form of bonuses — not as a pay raise as the union wants. “We don’t have a problem,” the mayor said. “I don’t want to get into negotiating it. But we were very, very clear. We have a lot of witnesses.” The dispute isn’t over the amount of money to doled over the life of the five-year contract— both sides agree that their deal includes $25 million the school district’s 10,000 most experienced and longest-serving teachers.”

Chicago Wants A Nurse For Every School — Are There Enough?

By Sarah Karp for WBEZ

“In their 11-day strike last fall, Chicago teachers won a commitment from the school district to hire hundreds more nurses over five years based on the idea that Chicago Public Schools would finally have one nurse in every school, every day. But the school district and union left open the question of what kind of nurse — whether each nurse could treat and manage students with chronic illnesses as well as work to help keep the entire student population healthy. It is now clear the nurses likely won’t primarily be certified school nurses, who are specially trained to do it all. Matt Lyons, CPS’s chief talent officer, said the problem is that almost all of these school nurses already have jobs and are not on the market. “Our goal is to get the most qualified people into the schools as possible,” Lyons said. “This is a question of what is possible.” According to the Illinois State Board of Education, only 900 certified school nurses work in schools across the state. Illinois has more than 4,100 schools and 850 school districts.”

Number Of Social Workers Growing In Chicago Public Schools

By Sarah Karp for WBEZ

“Chicago teachers fought successfully in their fall 2019 strike to secure a written commitment from the school distinct to hire a social worker and nurse for every public school. Chicago Public Schools has almost 90 more social workers on staff compared to last year at this time, according to the school district. These numbers come just months after the school district committed in the teachers contract to employing 680 school social workers by June 2023. Currently, it has 508 positions and 428 of them are filled. The goal is to staff each of the 500-plus schools with at least one social worker, with large or high-needs schools hiring more than one. The Chicago Teachers Union made this a central demand because for years social workers have been forced to cover more than one school and had little time to work with students outside those in special education.”

New rules for cops in CPS prevent officers from intervening in school discipline

By Nader Issa for the Sun-Times

“Chicago police officers posted at schools are no longer allowed to intervene in student discipline but will, at least for the time being, remain in more than 70 schools. Those are among the changes laid out in a $33 million agreement between Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Police Department — the details of which have been newly released — that sets the ground-rules for a much maligned program that puts officers in school buildings. CPD cops called “school resource officers” have been in CPS schools for years, but concern over a school-to-prison pipeline that sees students arrested for in-school behavior has ratcheted up the intense public scrutiny on the program in recent years. A few notable incidents of excessive force have shined the spotlight even stronger in the past year.”