Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss: July 30 – August 6, 2021

How This Brownfield Transformed into an Aspirational School Campus

By Janelle Penny for

“The only option is success at Chicago’s Mansueto High School.  The 67,000-square-foot, two-story school building, part of the Noble Network of Charter Schools, is shaped around a courtyard to resemble a college campus, helping prepare Mansueto’s 787 students to progress to higher education. The school serves the Brighton Park neighborhood in southwest Chicago. “We’re hoping for aspirational,” Chris-Annmarie Spencer, principal for Wheeler Kearns Architects and project architect for Mansueto High School, said of the project. “This is what it could feel like when you’re on a college campus.”


Chicago gets elected school board — Pritzker signs bill opposed by Lightfoot, looks ‘forward to ongoing conversations’ with her

By Rachel Hinton for The Chicago Sun-Times

“Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Thursday signed legislation ushering in an elected school board in Chicago over the strong objections of Mayor Lori Lightfoot. That legislation, which the governor signed into law without the fanfare that has accompanied other bill signings, would create a 21-seat board in January 2025, initially split between 11 mayoral appointees — including the board president — and 10 elected members. The mayor currently appoints a seven-member board, including the president, without an approval process. She has been a vocal opponent of the new legislation, characterizing it as creating an “unwieldy” school board. In a statement, Pritzker said the plan laid out in the bill he signed will “help students and their families have a strong voice in important decisions about the education system in Chicago. Since the General Assembly’s spring session adjourned, Pritzker has held a series of bill-signing ceremonies to spotlight legislative victories ahead of his reelection campaign.”


CPS Starts School Before Labor Day For First Time ‘in Many Years’

By NBC Chicago

“One month from Friday, students and faculty will return to Chicago Public Schools before Labor Day weekend, on Aug. 30. Most students will return to school for a five-day week with in-person learning for the 2021 to 2022 academic year, a CPS spokesperson said Friday. “For the first time in many years, Chicago Public Schools’ start date is before Labor Day,” CPS said.  In the upcoming school year, CPS will serve free breakfast and lunch, according to the website. For students enrolled in the district’s Virtual Academy, families can pick up meals at their nearest school. For specific school hours, search individual locations using the CPS School Locator.”


Pritzker issues universal mask mandate for Illinois schools

By Samantha Smylie for Chalkbeat

“The mask mandate, announced at a press conference Wednesday afternoon, extends to extracurricular activities such as sports. Student athletes and coaches will be required to wear masks for indoor sports. Masks will not be required for outdoor activities. “My goal has always been to safely bring all kids back into the classroom. At the start of the school year and, crucially, to keep them there,” said Pritzker. “Without these measures, we would likely see more outbreaks than in the latter half of the last school year.” Pritzker’s order comes as schools in Illinois prepare for full-time, in-person learning and grapple with the emergence of the highly contagious delta variant. His decision follows the Illinois Department of Public Health recommendation to adopt new guidelines issued last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which urged universal masking in schools, regardless of vaccination status.”