Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss: June 18 – June 25, 2021

Noble’s Anti-racism Journey, A Conversation with Carlos Rivas

By the Noble Network of Charter Schools

“At the outset of the 2020 school year, Noble set a bold and ambitious goal of becoming a more antiracist organization. Since then, Noble announced our anti-racism commitment (ARC), we engaged thousands of families in surveys and feedback to guide a reexamination of policies and practice. Since February, grounded in that feedback from parents, students, and alumni, ARC design teams have been meeting to guide the way forward on Noble policy and practice as it relates to our student code of conduct, uniform, promotion and graduation requirements, curriculum design and more. Those design teams then shared draft proposals with groups of Noble stakeholders for intensive feedback – hundreds of Noble family members, staff, students, and alumni engaged in these refine team spaces. This post is part of a series of updates on that work in progress. Carlos Rivas is the Alumni Support & External Affairs Manager at UIC College Prep. We sat down with Carlos Rivas to have a conversation about his role in the ARC design and refine work this year.”


Set of Triplets Earns Top 3 Spots in Graduating Middle School Class

By Chris Coffey for NBC Chicago

“A set of triplets earned the top three merit-based spots in their graduating middle school class in the Chicago area this spring. Aaron, Brandon and Christopher Williams-Orr were all ranked at the top of their class at Learn 8 Middle School in the city’s Garfield Park neighborhood. “This is a very important day to know that we helped each other and we made it,” Christopher said. “It was good to know I’m top three with my brothers,” Aaron added. The triplets’ reading teacher, Abdus-Salam DeVaul, called the journey and success of the three a “marvel to witness,” noting that each brother has a unique individuality. “We’ll never leave one brother behind. We all stick together,” Brandon said. In the Williams-Orr household, the boys are sure to finish all schoolwork before hitting some of their favorite activities like playing video games and basketball. “It’s something that their dad instilled in them and they knew that they could not touch a controller until they did what they needed to do as far as education,” mother Ava Williams said. The trio is headed to Providence St. Mel High School, in hopes of continuing onto bright futures. Aaron said he’d like to become an electrical engineer, while Brandon wants to be a hardware engineer and Christopher hopes to become a math teacher.”


Illinois elementary, high school students to learn about Asian American history under measure awaiting governor’s signature

By Maggie Prosser for The Chicago Tribune 

“… In Illinois, the state education board requires students to study women’s history, Black history, LGBTQ history, the forced deportation of Mexican Americans during the Great Depression, and the disability rights movement. It does not specify any mandated units on Asian American and Pacific Islander history…Across the country in Georgia, where the shootings took place last spring, fifth grade state social studies standards prescribe only that students learn about “Japanese aggression in Asia,” major wars in the Pacific, and the U.S.’ atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan. But educators like Noble Network of Charter Schools teacher Laura Houcque Prabhakar say this limited history tells an incomplete and inaccurate story, one that has been exacerbated by the pandemic and an increase in anti-Asian hate crimes.”


School of Education alumna named ‘Outstanding Public Interest Law Student’ for 2021

By University of Wisconsin-Madison

“Crystal Stonewall, a UW–Madison School of Education alumna and current UW–Madison law student, has been honored by the State Bar of Wisconsin as a 2021 Outstanding Public Interest Law Student of the Year. Stonewall earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the School of Education’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction in 2019. Explains a story on the State Bar of Wisconsin website, at just 23 years old Stonewall already has an impressive CV including numerous examples of her commitment to be a “change agent, an interpreter of the law, an advocate of legal rights, a representative of the ‘invisible,’ and a voice for the voiceless.” The story adds: Crystal’s passion for serving others was cultivated at a young age, long before she enrolled in law school. Raised on the Southside of Chicago, Crystal shared in an October 2020 interview with the Wisconsin Alumni Association​, “As a Black young woman from Chicago, I’ve witnessed poverty, food deserts, and lack of political representation.” Thus, even as a busy law student and a member of the University of Wisconsin’s prestigious Law Review, Crystal maintains close ties to her hometown, devoting countless volunteer hours to Chicago public schools, the Chicago Public Library, and her alma mater, Chicago International Charter School.”


CPS looks to re-engage students this summer with search on for next CEO

By Nader Issa for The Chicago Sun-Times

“With Chicago Public Schools wrapping up an unprecedented, largely virtual school year earlier this week, district officials are shifting their focus to the fall, particularly to reconnect with families who might not have been well-served by remote learning. The school system has spent the past few weeks identifying students who need to be re-engaged and enrolling them in summer programming, while connecting with families to better understand the root causes of their disengagement, Michael Deuser, CPS’ chief of college and career success, said at Wednesday’s Board of Education meeting. Students will be prioritized for the district’s “relentless re-engagement interventions” based on several factors, including their attendance and engagement history, grades, housing status, discipline record and community and COVID-19 trauma.”


A strange and challenging year of pandemic learning is almost over as CPS breaks for summer: ‘I don’t take things for granted anymore.’

By Elyssa Cherney & Hannah Leone for The Chicago Tribune

‘A grueling pandemic-altered school year that pushed parents, students and educators to the brink is finally coming to an end Tuesday, when Chicago Public Schools adjourns for a much-needed summer break. For some, it closes the door on 10 straight months of remote classes, replete with all the technological growing pains of pivoting to online learning. Other families chose to send their children back to CPS buildings in some capacity beginning in January, but that hardly compared to a normal experience. And then there were the days of intense uncertainty as the Chicago Teachers Union and Mayor Lori Lightfoot feuded over reopening plans, nearly resulting in the second strike since late 2019. “It’s been a long year,” said Ramiro Lopez, whose two sons attend Skinner North Classical Elementary School in the Goose Island neighborhood. “I’m excited that we’re done with this year and also looking forward to resuming a more in-class set up next year.”


CPS unveils pandemic recovery plan funded by half-billion in federal relief money

By Nader Issa for The Chicago Sun-Times

Chicago Public Schools officials unveiled a half-billion dollar, two-year pandemic recovery plan Wednesday that they hoped would address many of the demands families and educators have made in recent months. In a presentation at a special Board of Education meeting held virtually, the district laid out its vision for $525 million in federal relief funding for school and student supports, including $267 million this upcoming school year. The recovery will prioritize students’ social and emotional needs and grade-level content and instruction, officials said.”


Chicago will limit when schools call police. Do changes go far enough?

By Maia Spoto for Chalkbeat

“Chicago will limit when school administrators can call police and advise them to first consider factors such as a student’s disability or past trauma. The revisions to the student code of conduct policy come in the wake of years of lobbying by student activists, a renewed urgency sparked by protests for racial justice, and some high-profile cases at campuses. Chicago Public Schools’ chief safety officer, Jadine Chou, told the school board on Wednesday that the changes are “just the next step” toward the district’s goal of eliminating the school-to-prison pipeline and cited year-over-year reductions in suspensions and expulsions as evidence of that progress. But some advocates and activists say the policy still does not go far enough to deter police involvement. Under the student code of conduct approved Wednesday by Chicago’s Board of Education, school administrators should only dial 911 when there is an immediate threat of danger or harm to those on school grounds. Emergency situations include the use of a weapon or violence on campus that is “unable to be safely de-escalated.”