Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss: December 10, 2022 – January 6, 2023

It takes a village to run a school

By  Sekou Robertson for The Sun-Times

“I don’t seek the spotlight. I think many school leaders can relate to that sentiment. We don’t go into education for the fame and glory; we choose this path for the kids. Plain and simple. And we all go into this career with the knowledge that it takes a village to raise one child, let alone a whole school of students.  Despite my discomfort with the spotlight, I received a recent honor: I am the Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS) Principal of the Year. What do I plan to do with this recognition? I plan to share the rules I have followed to navigate this role. Spoiler alert: The rules are for a team sport. A principal’s job is not a solo one. Together, our vision is to ensure students thrive academically while also providing memorable experiences beyond the classroom. As the school leader, I simply stand at the helm, and work with an exceptional staff to see students live up to our name and excel. Here’s how we do it.”


Centering Student Voice in Social-Emotional Learning (New Podcast Episode)

By The Noble Schools

“In this season’s second episode of Noble Schools’ video podcast, “Changing the Course: Building An Antiracist Education”, we talk with Ayanna Banks and Yesenia Maldonado, leaders of student experience and social-emotional learning* at Noble Schools. In their roles, both Banks and Maldonado have a great impact on how Noble Schools listens to students and what they do with that knowledge. In this episode, they talk about how Noble Schools is incorporating social-emotional learning into classrooms, how that learning is informed by student voice, and why it is important to building antiracist schools.”


The Noble Academy Students Share Their Thoughts on Human Rights

By The Noble Schools

“It is hard to put words together when describing “human rights” and discussing the deep topics it covers. But some of our students here at The Noble Academy took on the challenge. Two members of the Student Brand Ambassador club shared their perspectives on human rights. This club is about uplifting the school experience for current and future students, as well as, voicing thoughts and opinions on school rules and concerns. These two members who have different backgrounds, beliefs, and unique personal experiences shared their ideas and perspectives for this Human Rights Awareness Month.”


Mansueto Female Athletes Make Their Mark in the End Zone

By The Noble Schools

“Girls can play football, too. This is what Anthony Leigh, football head coach at Mansueto High School, set out to make sure that everyone knows. With that goal in mind, he launched Mansueto’s first ever girls flag football team in 2021. That year, Mansueto became one of 22 schools in the city to launch the inaugural Chicago Public Schools flag football league.”


Laying Down Bars in the Beats Club at Hansberry College Prep

By The Noble Schools

“Every Tuesday afternoon, you’ll find 15 Hansberry Bengals making music and having fun at the Beats Club. These Bengals are making all genres of beats, from rap to pop to lo-fi and more. For two years now, the club has been inviting all students who want to learn how to make beats that express their background, voice, and culture.  Take a look below to get a peek at what goes on in the club.”


Drama at Baker College Prep Helps Students Express Themselves

By The Noble Schools

“This is part of a series of blogs from Noble campus representatives to give a deeper look at campus life. “Drama gives you something you’ve never felt before. It gives you the opportunity to be the person you want to be deep inside.” – A sophomore at Baker College Prep. Confidence. Creativity. Teamwork. Empathy. These are values in every class of Drama at Baker that are explored and practiced. Bobcat Drama’s focus is to help every scholar grow in their own self-confidence and voice and honor their own creative self. How can an individual be seen and see humanity through creative arts? Every recitation and lesson is rooted in the students’ own connection and growth.”


Support the Small Businesses of DRW College Prep

By The Noble Schools

“This is part of a series of blogs from Noble campus representatives to give a deeper look at campus life. As the holiday season approaches and businesses are holding giant winter sales, we wanted to take this moment to promote some of the small businesses connected to DRW College Prep. Take a look at what some of our community members and students are doing.”


Chicago Public Schools doesn’t track COVID boosters for students, staff

By Mauricio Peña for Chalkbeat

“Chicago Public Schools is not tracking which students or staff have gotten the updated omicron booster, even though district leaders and the city’s health commissioner are urging students to get boosted to stave off another COVID surge. Chicago’s practice of not keeping tabs on updated booster vaccination by schools comes as parts of the country are experiencing an uptick in COVID-19, brought on, in part, by a new omicron subvariant known as XBB.1.5. This also comes as cities and school districts have largely eliminated most COVID-19 mitigations.”


New tool allows people to see how much federal COVID money Illinois schools have spent

By Becky Vevea for Chalkbeat

“Illinois school districts have spent less than half of the roughly $7.8 billion the state got in federal COVID recovery money, according to a new spending dashboard launched today.  The Illinois State Board of Education published the data Thursday and said it would provide “real-time updates” on how districts have reported spending the money aimed at helping students recover from the pandemic.  “These funds are providing an unparalleled opportunity to transform systems of learning in Illinois that are more equitable, more inclusive, and more responsive to student needs,” State Superintendent of Education Carmen Ayala said in a press release. So far, federal COVID recovery money has been spent on existing staff, technology, tutoring, and transportation. Some districts in Illinois and around the country are using the influx of cash to fix aging buildings. Others are using the money to expand pre-school and give high school students jobs.”


Freshman JROTC enrollment plunges after overhaul by Chicago Public Schools

By Alex Ruppenthal for The Sun-Times

“Freshman enrollment in a controversial military-run training program plummeted this academic year at some Chicago high schools after district leaders cracked down on schools that were effectively forcing first-year students to participate, according to a report from the district’s watchdog released Thursday.  Chicago Public Schools pledged last spring to end automatic enrollment in the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program, a daily class on military science and leadership taught by retired military officers.  The move followed an investigation by the district’s Office of Inspector General, which found that nearly all freshmen at some South and West Side schools were placed in the program “without any choice in the matter,” often as a substitute for gym. Some principals told the OIG they lacked the money to hire enough physical education teachers to offer PE to all students.”


Schools masking absenteeism by misreporting truant CPS students as transfers, dropouts, IG says

By  Nader Issa and Sarah Karp for The Sun-Times

“There appear to be widespread problems with the tracking of truant students at Chicago Public Schools, according to an inspector general report released Thursday that said chronic absenteeism is likely being masked by some administrators aiming to make their schools look better. The misreporting of truant students as missing, dropouts or outgoing transfers in many cases means schools didn’t properly check on children’s whereabouts and attempt to re-engage them with their classes as required, the report said. The investigation looked at issues prior to the pandemic but the practice likely worsened when schools closed and, by some estimates, CPS needed to reconnect with up to 100,000 children who weren’t regularly engaged with school. There’s a reason administrators might want to hide truancies: The district’s school rating system, currently suspended and under reform, has penalized schools for high absenteeism and dropout rates. Critics have often called the rating system punitive and inequitable.”