Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss: June 6 – June 12, 2020

This Catalyst Maria Scholar Stands Up for What is Right

By Elevate Chicago

“Micheal Wiley is a Catalyst Maria graduating senior in the class of 2020. He has received a full tuition scholarship to Adrian College through a unique partnership with Project Intersect – an organization that a former Catalyst teacher, Taylor Docking, created with his father, who is President of Adrian College. Micheal has done a lot throughout his time at Catalyst Maria that really established himself as a leader and helped others. First of all, Michael is an advocate who stands up for what is right. In his own words: “The injustice and the protests around us right now are helping kids my age to really learn about what’s been happening to us for hundreds of years. We are not OK with it. We will change it for the better. Whether change happens within my lifetime or after, everyone deserves to be treated equally and that’s what I fight for. What I believe is the most important and what I tell my friends and classmates is that it is important to stay unified in what we believe and what we know is right. Even if it’s hard, be your own person and change what you believe is wrong, even if it’s been one way for hundreds of years.”


Teen activism in Chicago spurred by police killing of George Floyd: ‘We are fed up and this is the last straw’

By Hannah Leone for the Chicago Tribune

“Young Chicagoans like Shayla Turner say they have seen too many black people killed by police or had friends shot dead in cases that go unsolved. The Chicago Public Schools survey was started while Floyd was still alive, but his death at the hands of police has underscored a campaign for schools to be free of sworn officers. Activists want Chicago to follow the lead of the Minneapolis Board of Education, which last week ended its contract with that city’s Police Department. It’s one of many steps Turner believes is necessary to fix racial inequities hurting children in Chicago.”


West Side Neighbors Clean Up After Looting, Then Spruce Up Long-Neglected Lots: ‘We Should Be Doing This Anyway’

By Pascal Sabino for Block Club Chicago

“Hundreds came out to help clean up the West Side on Saturday. Volunteers helped clean up areas impacted by rioting and vandalism sparked by the outrage of the police killing of George Floyd. But the project also helped to spruce up littered streets and empty lots long overdue for beautification, organizers said. Saturday’s clean up was organized by young community organizers Kaleb Autman from North Lawndale and Destiny Harris from Austin. Their West Side Cleanup Crew partnered with Alderman Michael Scott Jr. (24th) and local organizations including UCAN, North Lawndale College Prep and the Safer Foundation to provide supplies and encourage Chicagoans to show up for the West Side. “Today is the best day I’ve had in the last, I’d say, two weeks,” Scott said. “To see all of these people out here supporting the 24th ward and supporting our community is nothing short of amazing.”


Class of 2020: Battle-scarred and resilient amid new crises

By Martha Irvine for Carolina Coastline Online

“Sagia Mitchell was 14 when 90 people were shot to death in her hometown of Chicago — one of the deadliest months in the city’s history. But that month doesn’t stand out in her memory. In her North Lawndale neighborhood, she says, “You’re never safe, and bullets don’t have a name.” Sagia plans to leave this violent place, and study criminology at Lake Forest College, north of the city. But like many, she’s waiting to see if her classes will be online – a trickier prospect for her because, sinc September, she’s been living in transitional housing for students at her school. Her parents are not in the picture; an older sister asks that the difficult details of their family history be kept private. Sagia has kept fighting, despite the setbacks. She was a Peace Warrior at her high school, North Lawndale College Prep, where students use the teachings of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to counter violence. In 2018, they formed an alliance with students from Parkland, Florida, after 17 people were killed by a gunman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Sagia also joined a youth program at the Chicago Police Department. She plans, eventually, to become a police officer and return to North Lawndale, to combat crime but also to help build better relations with the community – something she sees as more important than ever as cities burn in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. “It could change, but it’s not going to change overnight,” Sagia says. “And it’s not going to change if people don’t come together.”


Two marches, led by Chicago students and alumni, call for school policing changes

By Yana Kunichoff for Chalkbeat Chicago

“Some of the marchers Thursday called for removing police from Chicago schools, a demand that has drawn more support since Minneapolis schools cut ties with its police department earlier this week. Others pointed to the underfunding of schools, and said that money now spent on police would be better spent on education. In a statement, Chicago Public Schools said that schools could remove their police officers through their Local School Councils, which last year were given the authority to vote on keeping officers in a school. The district also said the police department would create a school police working group to incorporate statements from the public collected through recent public comment.”


Scholars: You are loved, supported, valued and cherished.

By Andrew B. Jones for Elevate Chicago

“Dear Scholars, I know many of you have been shaken by the recent and tragic murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. I know that you are discouraged by the fact that those are just the most recent three names on a long list of lives that have been wrongfully ended. I know that you are frustrated by the reaction, or lack thereof, from many in popular culture, the media and political leadership. I know that all this is happening in the backdrop of a pandemic that is disproportionately affecting the communities closest to you. I know this personally because I am a black man. I have been unlawfully stopped, questioned, searched and even arrested more times than I care to recall. I have been the victim of both overt and subliminal racism. I have felt the fear, anger, defenselessness and survivor’s guilt. I have grieved and cried for complete strangers, just as I have for my own friends and relatives, that have been taken too soon. I have also been blessed, mentored, educated, and frankly lucky enough to advance myself and my family beyond the socioeconomic status I grew up in.”


Mayor Lori Lightfoot names new watchdog for Chicago Public Schools

By Cassie Walker Burke for Chalkbeat

“Mayor Lightfoot has named William Fletcher, a former deputy investigator, to a new role as chief watchdog for Chicago Public Schools. Fletcher is a former park district investigator who will serve as the new inspector general. He will lead the charge into student complaints of sexual misconduct by educators and staffers, as well as investigating possible district wrongdoing more broadly. “Through challenging times, our office will remain committed to the priority of making CPS a safe environment for children to learn. I also look forward to strengthening the working relationships with the Board of Education and (Chicago Public Schools) management,” Fletcher said in a statement provided by the mayor’s office.”

CPS changed its ‘whitewashed’ US history curriculum last fall: ‘Even if it’s not a good story, it’s something I need to know’

By Nader Issa for the Chicago Sun-Times

“Before George Floyd, before the coronavirus pandemic, Chicago students started learning America’s real history. Not the whitewashed history, the disjointed one that jumps from European settlers “finding” America, to a sanitized version of slavery, to the Civil Rights Movement and finally to a seemingly racism-free present time. No, the real history.”


DJ Khaled, Common, Cubs’ Kris Bryant join roster of stars celebrating Chicago graduates during virtual commencement Sunday

By Ariel Cheung for the Chicago Tribune

“As Chicago prepares to honor its high school graduates with a virtual ceremony, DJ Khaled, Common and a host of other celebrities and sports figures have joined the lineup. Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the additional participants Thursday, ahead of the hourlong citywide commencement airing at 1 p.m. Sunday. Among the new additions is an array of top Chicago athletes, including Cubs players Kris Bryant, Jason Heyward, and Kyle Schwarber; White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson; Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane; Bulls power forward Daniel Gafford; Bears offensive tackle Charles Leno, Jr.; and Chicago Sky players Diamond DeShields and Cheyenne Parker. An aftershow will feature performances by hip-hop artist DJ Khaled, singer Ellie King, country artist Thomas Rhett, pop-rock singer Andy Grammer, DJ Louis the Child, rock band X Ambassadors, The Second City and performers from the musical “Jagged Little Pill.”