Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss: January 30 – February 5, 2021

New Year, Healthy You: Mental Health Resolutions from Noble Street College Prep Social Workers

By The Noble Network of Charter Schools

“Since January was pretty strange to say the least, maybe we can officially look back in our rear view mirrors and say adios to 2020 and please don’t come back! And though we are now well into 2021 with some of the same worries, restrictions, and fears, there is something so liberating about entering a New Year. Despite all the lows that were experienced in 2020, let’s remain hopeful with a glass-half-full approach to life and take what we’ve learned from 2020 as we create new resolutions and intentions for this new year. Let’s take a moment to reflect shall we, two thousand twenty was a year for the books, we were hit with the loss of Kobe Bryant, a world-wide health pandemic shutdown, economic downturn, forest fires throughout the West Coast, more Black lives being murdered across our country inciting world-wide protests, a historic election season, and ending with an increasing number of the lives lost due to the rising numbers of COVID cases. Now that is a mouthful and yet not everything was included. One thing is for sure, if you are reading this right now you are one resilient and surviving human being! When looking back at these events one thing is for certain, our mental health was (and still is) on overdrive. Therefore, let’s put our mental health at the forefront of this year’s resolutions!”


Amplitude Maximized: Rowe-Clark Senior Chooses Division 1 Tumbling Program at University of Oregon

By the Noble Network of Charter Schools

“Blessyn McMorris, a class of 2021 student and member of the cheer team at Rowe-Clark Math & Science Academy, was recently awarded a 50 percent Division I scholarship to the University of Oregon, where she will be joining the university’s acrobatics and tumbling team with the roles of base and tumbler. She was also offered a Division I scholarship to Baylor University in Texas, though she chose to attend the former and expects to transfer up to 23 college credits through advanced placement and dual enrollment courses following graduation. With her roots in acrobatics and tumbling since age seven when Blessyn first joined cheer, she spent her first years mastering the fundamentals and learning new skills. At age 10, Blessyn tried out gymnastics and power tumbling, and although short-lived, the new experiences allowed her to realize where her strengths lie – in floor-based tumbling – leading her back to cheer, where she continued to refine her craft. Acrobatics and Rowe-Clark intersected early for Blessyn, who began helping the school’s cheer team while still in middle school, even coaching them through stunts and tumbling before officially joining the cheer team upon her enrollment. “I have always had a love for tumbling,” said Blessyn. “It’s really where I feel that I can express myself the most, and it’s what I enjoy most. I’m always in the gym, working on something new, trying to better myself.”


Illinois lawmakers call on Chicago mayor to compromise with teachers to avoid a CPS strike. But Lori Lightfoot says her patience has run out.

By Gregory Pratt, Hannah Leone, and Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas for The Chicago Tribune

“Despite Chicago Public Schools extending a “cooling off” period through Thursday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot started the day casting blame on the Chicago Teachers Union for the lack of an agreement over reopening schools. “We are deeply disappointed to announce that we still have not reached a deal,” the mayor said at a Thursday morning news conference, later adding, “We are out of runway. … Time is running out.” Lightfoot and Jackson later issued a joint update on negotiations: “As of 12:30 p.m., we have yet to receive anything back from CTU leadership since yesterday.” Thursday evening, the two leaders released a terse joint statement: “Late this afternoon, we received a counter proposal from CTU leadership and we are working on a response.” They gave no further details and any indication of further progress. During the morning news conference, Lightfoot said she was waiting on the CTU, and not patiently. “My patience with delays from the CTU leadership is over,” Lightfoot said.”


Missing from Chicago’s reopening debate: high schools. ‘We are a forgotten group.’

By Mila Koumpilova for Chalkbeat Chicago

“Johanna Fernandez’s students at Juarez High School on Chicago’s Southwest Side often ply her for clues about what the remainder of a trying school year might look like. The social studies teacher does not want to tell them she has no answers: Her students grapple with so much uncertainty. Perhaps the district might start reopening high schools in April, she speculates instead. Chicago has made improving its high school experience a central goal, but for now, it has no high school reopening plan or target date. Officials have not broadly sought input from high school students and parents on how to make the most of what remains of this school year — and some families feel left out of the loop amid a contentious debate over reopening the district’s elementary schools.”


Archdiocese of Chicago Students Maintained Learning Progress Despite Pandemic

By NBC Chicago 5

“An overwhelming number of students with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago exceeded learning goals set out by an annual assessment exam even with the COVID-19 pandemic, archdiocese officials said Monday. Overall, the archdiocese said, students met academic expectations by staying on track. According to a study by McKinsey and Company, schools with predominantly white students who took the i-Ready exam lost an average of one to three months of learning over the spring of 2020 closures, and schools with predominantly Black and Latino students fell further behind, losing three to five months. CPS, CTU Continue to Negotiate Vaccinations, Other Sticking Points in Return to Classrooms

The study, which was cited by the archdiocese, found that students in their sample learned only 67 percent of the math and 87 percent of the reading that grade-level peers would typically have learned by the fall of 2020. Based on the same i-Ready platform data, 7,382 archdiocesan students, who took the i-Ready exam in the same fall-to-fall period, performed on average at 105 percent of the expected learning growth in math and at 130 percent of the expected learning growth in reading.”


A troubling trend in Chicago’s school reopening: More students disengaged

By Yana Kunichoff for Chalkbeat Chicago

“As Chicago planned to reopen its school buildings for the first time since March, it surveyed prekindergarten and special education families about who planned to return. The district offered a clear escape clause: Families could always opt out. This week, Chicago Public Schools released data that showed the majority of white families reported to school buildings as expected, while nearly half of Black families chose to stay home. About 62% of Latino students — the district’s dominant demographic — reported to campuses roughly in line with the districtwide average of 59%. Of the 5,352 students expected to return for in-person learning, about 3,250 did. On the heels of Chicago’s sharpest enrollment decline in two decades, the numbers signal trouble beyond the tug-of-war of remote versus in-person learning. After a year of pandemic schooling, more students are disengaging entirely.”