Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss: July 17 – 23, 2021

Chicago Public Schools will spend more than $9 billion this school year. Where will it go, and how will COVID relief money be used?

By Tracy Swartz for The Chicago Tribune 

“The Chicago Board of Education is prepared to vote later this month on a $9.3 billion budget that officials say will address student needs as they return to full-time in-person learning 17 months after the pandemic took hold in Chicago. “In keeping with our commitment to equity, schools that need more will get more,” interim Chicago Public Schools CEO José Torres told reporters. The proposed budget — which is supported by $1.06 billion in coronavirus-related emergency federal funding — is an increase from the $8.4 billion budget approved last year. Here are five things to know ahead of the July 28 board vote.”


Chicago School Staff Will Visit 18,000 Students Who Detached During The Pandemic

By Sarah Karp for WBEZ

“Schools across the country prepare to return to full-time, in-person learning. They’re trying to find ways to reengage students who became disconnected during the pandemic. In Chicago, public school officials are taking a literal approach to FaceTime to try to help remedy the problem. Like many teachers, Mueze Bawany says there were some students that he didn’t see regularly in his online classes. Bawany teaches at a neighborhood high school of mostly Latino students from disadvantaged families. It’s in a part of Chicago with extremely high COVID numbers. Like other school districts across the country, Chicago Public Schools is confronting an acute problem. The number of students showing up to classes regularly plummeted, while those failing their courses shot up. A school district analysis shows some 18,000 students became very disengaged during the pandemic, and another 80,000 were somewhat checked out. Sherly Chavarria is the head of teaching and learning for Chicago Public Schools.”


As Delta variant cases mount, Chicago parents worry CPS will reverse in-person reopening plans

By Maia Spoto for Chalkbeat Chicago

“More than 60 adults sat around a rectangle of folding tables at Bronzeville’s Dr. Martin Luther King Community Service Center, Dua Lipa’s song “Levitating” playing in the background. A box of rain ponchos sat by the door, ready to shield the members of the city’s COVID-19 Community Response Corps during a day of educating fellow residents about the vaccine. The room buzzed with anticipation. COVID-19 project coordinator Danny Marshall told the group: “I see billboards everywhere: ‘Let’s get back to going to barbecues.’ ‘Let’s get back to going on dates.’ ‘Let’s get back to going to the zoo.’ What is our goal?” For one lead vaccine canvasser, one goal is top-of-mind: Joe Hall wants to send his 11-year-old son back to Chicago Public Schools in the fall. But he fears Chicago will again pull the rug out from under students.”


Chicago archdiocese announces return to ‘near-normal’ operations in Catholic schools this fall

By Talia Soglin for The Chicago Tribune

“Fully vaccinated students, teachers and staff will not need to wear masks in Catholic schools this fall, the Chicago archdiocese announced Tuesday. The archdiocese said it is planning a return to “near-normal, pre-pandemic” operations, including the return of school masses, all extracurricular activities and before- and after-care programs. Lombardo said the archdiocese “hope[s] there will be no need” for students and staff to provide proof of vaccination in order to go unmasked in schools, but that the organization will continue to evaluate the situation with guidance from public health officials and medical advisers. Guidelines regarding masks for unvaccinated people will be released by early August, the archdiocese said. The archdiocese based its updated protocols on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Illinois Department of Public Health in addition to a team of medical advisers and a COVID-19 task force.”


Final tally: Majority of Chicago high schools will reduce police presence on campus this year

By Maia Spoto for Chalkbeat

“After months of deliberation, the majority of Chicago high schools with campus officers have voted to reduce the size of their in-school police forces this year or remove them entirely. So far, of the 53 schools that currently have officers, 31 schools have moved to reduce their in-school police force. Two votes are still pending, and another 17 schools had already decided to remove officers last year. Among the 31 campuses deciding to reduce their in-school police force, seven have voted to fully remove officers, including Jones College Prep and Lake View High School. The remaining 24 — including Marshall High School and Hyde Park High School — have voted to retain one of two officers this coming year and use the savings from the force reduction for programs such as social workers and private security. Chicago high schools had until last week to vote on safety plans for the school year, the second such vote in 12 months. This time, the conversations were more nuanced and informed by more comprehensive data showing students of color are more harshly disciplined and overpoliced than their white peers.”


More Police Voted Out Of Chicago Schools — But They Remain In Mostly Black Schools

By Sarah Karp for WBEZ

“In the wake of calls to defund police, a new wave of Chicago public high schools voted this summer to remove officers from their buildings and replace them with counseling, mediation and other programs. But a stark racial divide remains between schools — those with mostly Black students are holding onto their officers far more often than schools serving other students. This summer, seven schools voted to remove both of its assigned police officers and 24 decided to remove one of two, according to a Chicago Public Schools tally updated this week. Last summer, 17 voted to remove both officers. This is leading to dramatic change: Two years ago, more than 90% of the city’s traditional 84 public high schools had police officers. This fall, it will be about half. One charter school also has an officer through the district’s police-in-school’s program. However, the schools keeping one or both officers tend to serve mostly Black students. Come fall, about two-thirds of Black students in traditional high schools will still see a regular police presence, according to a WBEZ analysis of CPS data. Less than a third of Latino, white and Asian students will have an officer in their schools.”