Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss: June 20 – June 26, 2020

Parents Say, When It Comes to Helping Kids Find the Right High School, LEARN Charter’s Carol Huck Gets the Job Done

By Maureen Kelleher for Chicago Unheard

“Micah Peace is proud of his daughter, London, who just graduated from eighth grade and is on her way to Westinghouse College Prep. And he’s very pleased with the support he got from Carol Huck, counselor at LEARN Charter, to help London find the right school for her and for their family. (Carol Huck is pictured at the far right of the photo above this post.) “You could tell she had this well planned,” proud papa Peace says of counselor Huck. “There was nothing I encountered that she hadn’t prepared us for. We did all the work in the seventh-grade year. She made it as simple as it could get for the transition to high school.” Peace works with students in other public school systems who don’t have this kind of guidance, and could see the difference it makes. One of the most important elements of Huck’s work came at the end of seventh-grade, when she sat down with each student and their family and filled them in on the schools that were truly within reach based on their previous grades and test scores. “That was right on time, because it helped my daughter understand” how to prioritize her selective enrollment application, he said. Westinghouse was the family’s best fit for many reasons, not just the numbers, he says. It was close to home and Huck introduced Peace to Westinghouse staff, so he felt comfortable with the transition. “I was sort of West Side from the get-go,” he says. “It was just like talking to Ms. Huck talking to the counselors over there. That’s what made me comfortable with it.”

Mayor Lightfoot announces plan to provide free internet to 100,000 Chicago children after coronavirus reveals ‘unacceptable disparities across the city’

By Hannah Leone for the Chicago Tribune

“When the internet signal from a relative’s apartment downstairs fails to reach Yolanda Williams, it can disrupt the school day for her 13-year-old daughter, a student at William Penn Elementary in North Lawndale. In those moments, Williams will say it’s time to take a break, and the pair might go outside or bake brownies. She’s hopeful they’ll be beneficiaries of an ambitious plan announced Thursday by Mayor Lori Lightfoot to provide free high-speed internet to more than 100,000 Chicago students and their families. District officials cited census data showing that’s close to the number of students who lack high-speed internet access. Billionaire hedge fund manager Ken Griffin and the Obamas are among the initiative’s financial backers. “I think that it’s wonderful it can help some people who are not in the position that I am in, to be able to use my uncle, a relative’s hotspot,” said Williams, whose daughter is what’s known in CPS as a diverse learner. “Some people don’t even have that option.”

School’s in? Pritzker says classrooms can reopen in fall — with masks, temperature checks, other precautions

By Mitchell Armentrout for The Chicago Sun-Times

“Reading and writing and — restrictions. Illinois’ 2 million-plus elementary and high school students will return to classrooms this fall for the three R’s and more under a set of public health requirements issued Tuesday by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, as schools across the state look to bounce back from a school year cut short by the coronavirus pandemic.”

Chicago school board votes 4-3 to keep police contract — for now

By Nader Issa for The Chicago Sun-Times

“Chicago’s school board has voted against ending a program that puts police officers in public schools, following the wishes of the mayor and top Chicago Public Schools leadership while rejecting the demands of students and activists who for years have called for police-free schools. While the narrow 4-3 vote, the most suspenseful by the Board of Education in years, keeps intact a scrutinized $33-million contract between the school system and the Chicago Police Department, another vote is likely in the next two months on whether to renew the contract that’s set to expire at the end of August. Ahead of the highly anticipated vote that for now leaves more than 200 officers in about 70 schools, students and activists held protests across the city, including in front of the board president’s house, to give one final push toward dumping the contract. The decision marks a defeat for activists who have protested in massive numbers against school police since the killing of George Floyd last month, and who hoped to see one of CPS’ most significant policy changes in recent memory in a rebuke of Chicago police.”

At Some CPS Schools, Conversations And Peace Circles Will Replace Traditional Punishment

By Sarah Karp for WBEZ

“Activists in recent weeks have called out the practice of police being stationed in schools as they say it contributes to the school-to-prison pipeline. But studies show harsh discipline practices, such as suspensions and expulsions, also disproportionately harm poor black and Latino students, and result in poor academic outcomes and eventual incarceration. For at least a decade, school district leaders and its policy have advocated the use of restorative justice. They also have frowned upon suspensions, expulsions and calling the police to deal with discipline. In fact, the numbers of students subjected to these have dropped precipitously. According to school district data, only about 30,000 suspensions were issued, down from more than 100,000 in the 2018-2019 school year. Police were notified less than 2,000 times in the same period; down from more than 5,000 police notifications.”