Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss: January 9 – January 15, 2021

Anti-racism at Noble: Our Commitment

By the Noble Network of Charter Schools

“Yesterday, Noble’s Equity Team hosted A Noble Conversation – Our Antiracist Commitment with over 350 staff members around Noble’s antiracist work. This commitment statement was the culmination of months of work to answer our CEO’s charge: that Noble will become an antiracist organization. This conversation was the first opportunity for staff to see the commitment, which was created to push Noble to be a more just organization while honoring the work, voices, perspectives and experiences of all the people we serve. Staff members read the statement in affinity groups – breakout rooms with others who share a similar racial identity, to ensure that staff felt safe and comfortable while engaging with Noble’s commitment. The affinity groups were facilitated by DEI Steering Committee members of the same identity, who along with the equity team, spent the last several months crafting the commitment statement.”


A look back at the Staff Retention Steering Committee and the resulting changes aimed at staff sustainability

By The Noble Network of Charter Schools

“In December of 2019, Noble announced the formation of a Staff Retention Steering Committee (SRSC) charged with coming together to discuss and recommend changes at Noble that would continue to make work more sustainable in the long term. The group met six times between January and February 2020 before COVID-19 mitigations interrupted and slowed work down a bit. Despite shifting to remote learning, the group was able to land on recommendations that were shared with the Noble community during the first quarter all-staff professional development. As we returned from winter break to kick off 2021, we sat down with Ellen Metz, Noble’s Head of Schools who led the committee, to learn more about the SRSC and the work ahead.”


Parent Leadership Series 2020-2021: Engage, Inform, Empower

By the Noble Network of Charter Schools

“Noble’s Government Affairs team held the first installment of Noble’s Parent Leadership Series (PLS) Workshops for the 2020-2021 school year on October 14th.  This training series, one of three, has two purposes. First, it aims to support and connect parents to the information they need in order to ensure they can support their students successfully throughout their time at Noble. Secondly, it aims to develop and empower parents to be leaders in their student’s school and community.  With the effects of COVID-19 on the forefront of everyone’s mind, this year’s first PLS looked much different than it has ever looked. Over 150 participants joined us via Zoom for a 90-minute event. Noble’s CEO, Constance Jones, addressed parents by providing updates on remote learning and how Noble is moving towards becoming an anti-racist organization. Families then had the opportunity to participate in breakout sessions that addressed specific questions submitted during registration.”


After Capitol Riot, A Teacher Asks Her Students: ‘How Do You Want Things To Change?’

By Adriana Cardona-Maguigad for WBEZ

“One day after the nation watched a mob of Trump supporters violently force their way into the U.S Capitol, many high school students across the Chicago area tried to make sense of what happened. In one remote classroom on Thursday, a group of students and their teacher from Loomis-Longwood High School, a Chicago International Charter school on the South Side, dissected the day’s events and the police response. These Black juniors raised questions about who has the right to protest and compared the light police response on Wednesday to the often heavy-handed response during racial justice protests in recent months. “I feel like if it was Black people, the outcome would have been way more different,” said student Robert Edmonson. “It would have been more harsh.” Press play above to hear what the students had to say.


Chicago Students Return to Public School Classrooms For The First Time Since March


“On Thursday, nearly 900 teachers required to be back to prepare the return to class did not show up. If that continues this week, their students will likely have to work with a different teacher as early as Monday. CPS also said these teachers will be considered absent without leave. But on Friday, CTU attorney Thad Goodchild argued that school staff have the right to decline to work in unsafe environments. He said teachers will report to work remotely and should be paid. Overall, about 5,800 staffers are required to be back in classrooms this week. On Thursday last week, 65% of all teachers and other staff reported for work, according to CPS. Some 58% of teachers returned to their classrooms. The relatively low percentage of students returning for in-person learning is one of many reasons the Chicago Teachers Union, aldermen and others have been pushing back against CPS’ reopening plan. Black and brown students, who have been hit hardest by the pandemic and are often struggling with remote learning, are less likely to return to schools than white students.”


Black Caucus wins passage of education package, criminal justice reform still under discussion

By Rachel Hinton for The Chicago Sun-Times

“Lawmakers sent a bill designed to address racial inequities in education and the resulting divisions to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s desk on Monday, while a second crucial pillar of the state’s Legislative Black Caucus agenda — criminal justice reform — was discussed in a House committee. The bill, which touches on education from early childhood to higher education, would allow most children to continue to access early intervention services until the beginning of the school year; require two years of lab science and a foreign language — or sign language — to graduate high school starting in the 2024-2025 school year; and creates math and English placement requirements at community colleges among other things.”


Lame duck legislative session ends with no passage of Chicago elected school board bill

By Samantha Smylie for Chalkbeat

“The reopening debate in Chicago renewed energy around a bill that would create an elected school board. But a tumultuous lame-duck legislative session ended Wednesday, at least temporarily slowing progress for the effort. The day after schools reopened to some students in Chicago, state senators were expected to debate HB 2267, which would create a 21-member board of education and establish elections beginning in 2023. The bill received multiple hearings in the session, but it did not get called for a final vote in a session that had been dominated by behind-the-scenes political maneuvering to replace Speaker Michael Madigan, the state’s powerful longtime speaker of the House. It will be up to the next legislature whether to take up the bill or back another effort.”