Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss – January 18th – January 24th, 2020

Join Hands “Peace Warriors” Advocate Kingian Nonviolence to Deliver Change

By Sheila Burton for St. Louis Post Dispatch

“It is one thing to talk about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Principles of Nonviolence, but even more courageous to live out those principles on a daily basis. Teens in East St. Louis are doing just that as “Peace Warriors,” teaching Kingian nonviolence to peers and enacting Dr. King’s vision in their schools and communities. These motivated youth from Join Hands, a community-based nonprofit in East St. Louis, are the second nationally-certified teen group in the United States to implement the peer-to-peer application of Peace Warriors. Since then, they have provided small group training to over 60 students and three administrators at area high schools in an effort to diffuse violence and promote peace.”


I’ll Believe Chicago Is Progressive When We Close the Gaps for Black and Brown Kids

By Tanesha Peeples for EdPost

“Shame on it all! In a new report, “The Secret Shame: How America’s Most Progressive Cities Betray Their Commitment to Educational Opportunities for All,” brightbeam (the umbrella org for Education Post and our other platforms) spills all the tea.  And as an early disclaimer, the report—and America in general—uses the term “achievement gap” to describe education proficiency lapses between different groups. Starting here and now, we’re going to get into the habit of saying “opportunity gap” because all of our students are entirely capable of succeeding—it’s the failure to provide them the opportunities to do so that causes the gaps. Now, we all know there’s a persistent and pervasive opportunity gap between Black, Latinx and White students. However, brightbeam discovered that some cities have waaaaay worse gaps than others. And the shade is, the cities with those divides are actually our beloved “progressive” cities! And, my hometown—Chicago—was on that list!”


Hey Chicago, Let’s Stop Cheating Our Kids out of Educational Opportunity

By Maureen Kelleher for Chicago Unheard

“In public schools across America, black and Latino kids lag behind their white peers in reading, math and high school graduation rates. We know the roots of those so-called “achievement gaps” lie in the opportunity gaps that children face in schools all over the country. Yet, as detailed in a new report by brightbeam — a nonprofit network of education activists I’m proud to be a part of — some cities are demonstrably better at closing this gap than others. But you might be surprised by which cities they are. The report’s researchers found that politically progressive cities, on average, have math and reading achievement gaps that are 15 and 13 points higher than politically conservative cities. In three of the most conservative cities the researchers looked at — Virginia Beach, Anaheim and Fort Worth — city leaders have effectively closed or even erased the achievement gap in either math, reading or graduation rates. The researchers found these surprising conclusions by comparing the education outcomes of America’s twelve most progressive and twelve most conservative cities, as determined independently by political scientists. They controlled for other factors that might explain the gaps, including per-pupil spending, poverty rates, population size and rates of private school attendance. None of these made a difference.”


White People: Here’s Why Moving to a “Good School” in a “Good Neighborhood” Is Racist

By ShaRhonda Knott-Dawson for Chicago Unheard

Many White folks, especially northern white liberals who voted for Obama, would argue they are not racist, even while they actively cause harm to Black folks by their racist actions.   Since so many people don’t know what racism is or how they are racist, here are three racist things that northern White liberals do: Engage in white flight—when poor Black folks move close to White folks, they flee and move to racially segregated, high-income communities. Today, white flight can also take on subtler forms, especially involving schooling—it can be the decision to apply for a magnet school with more white students than a family’s neighborhood school Live in high-income, racially-segregated communities that are not accessible to poor Black folks.  Enroll their children in racially-segregated, high-income schools that are not accessible to poor Black folks. My friends don’t understand this because, generally speaking in the United States of America, we don’t accurately define racism. Many White people, especially northern liberal white folks, define racism as “the belief that White people are superior to other races.” To them, racism is a personal belief. Racism is an attitude, not an action—a noun rather than a verb.”


Chicago Teens Find Their Political Voice In Iowa

By Adriana Cardona-Maguigad for WBEZ

“The Iowa caucuses are less than two weeks away and the state is filled with volunteers campaigning for their favorite candidates. Over the weekend, more than 100 teenagers from the Chicago area joined them, including Pamela Bojorquenz, Erick Gomez, Magali Romero and Ivan Ortega. They went door knocking, visited campaign offices and took part in a youth summit. The teens traveled with Mikva Challenge, a local group that promotes civic engagement among teens. WBEZ’s Adriana Cardona-Maguigad sat down with the four students, all from Instituto Health Sciences Career Academy, a Chicago public high school, to hear about their experiences. Click the play button above to hear the interview.”


Don’t let up, CPS, on hiring more school social workers and nurses

By the CST Editorial Board

“In August, we urged the Chicago Public Schools and City Hall to make good on a pledge to hire hundreds more school social workers and nurses. Like lots of parents, we were skeptical of the public commitment made by Mayor Lori Lightfoot and CPS CEO Janice Jackson to do just that. Two months later, in October, that hiring pledge became a rallying cry for striking Chicago Teachers Union members, who demanded that Lightfoot and Jackson “put it in writing” in a new contract. Fast forward a few months to January 2020, and the latest numbers actually show progress. CPS employs 91 more social workers and 57 more nurses compared to a year ago, according to CPS data first reported by WBEZ. Overall, CPS now has 332 nurses and 428 social workers districtwide, still short of the goal of having at least one of both for 500-plus schools. Whether the progress is due to public pressure, to city officials with the right priorities, or a combination of both — it’s worth calling attention to.”


In Illinois state board’s $9.64 billion budget ask: more money for teacher recruitment, testing

By Yana Kunichoff for Chalkbeat

“The board accepted state schools Superintendent Carmen Ayala’s ask for a $760 million boost. The board proposes $1.1 million for a new department that would help schools end practices of restraint and seclusion, which were detailed in a ProPublica investigation. The board also wants $10 million more for state assessments, to total $57 million, including a revamp of the annual Illinois Assessment for Readiness.  To address a dire teacher shortage, the board seeks $44 million for recruiting bilingual educators, mentoring new teachers and principals, offering a path for career and technical education teachers, and other investments into teachers. Illinois has 1,800 teacher vacancies this school year.”


Nearly one-third of all CPS students missed school on the strike makeup days after winter break

By HANNAH LEONE for the Tribune

“Nearly 1 out of 3 students in Chicago Public Schools were absent from class during the two most recent makeup days for the teachers strike this fall. The educator walkout lasted for 11 days and ended on Oct. 31 after the Chicago Teachers Union and Mayor Lori Lightfoot reached a compromise to make up five of the days. It was the final hang-up before the two sides settled their differences, with the union pushing to get all the days made up and the mayor initially insisting there would be none. More than 100,000 students failed to show up for school on Jan. 2, for an attendance rate of about 63%. The following day, a Friday, was slightly better, with about 67% of students attending classes. Those were originally the final two days of the winter break but were turned into attendance days to make up for the strike. The percentages, provided by CPS on Friday, were based on a total enrollment of roughly 293,000 students, which does not include charter, contract and options schools.”


Pritzker lays out his next steps in rebuilding Illinois’ early education system

By Cassie Walker Burke for Chalkbeat

“Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s early education agenda is beginning to crystallize, and it will center on expanding home visiting programs statewide and improving pay for a beleaguered set of educators who, in some parts of the state, earn little more than fast-food workers.  Pritzker announced Wednesday that the state will boost home visiting programs by two-thirds, reaching 12,500 more families by 2025 and spending $4.25 million to meet a first-year goal of 500 new families. His declaration was met with enthusiasm by a charged-up room of advocates and providers even while it stopped short of delivering on a campaign promise to build out a universal preschool system for 3- and 4-year-olds statewide.  The governor said that the reality of “constrained budgets” means the state can’t yet afford such an undertaking — and that the early childhood system needs to confront its chronic workforce issues first.”