Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss: May 15 – May 21, 2021

With Attendance Down And Hardship Up, One Principal Goes Out Looking For Students

By Adriana Cardona-Maguigad for WBEZ

“On a recent sunny morning, Miracle Moss, the principal at Chicago’s Rowe-Clark High School, climbs in her car to drive around the West Side looking for her students. She brings along laptops and homework packets for the seven to 10 teens on her list. The students aren’t turning in schoolwork. Some aren’t showing up for remote class either. She wants to check in and remind them that in-person school is starting the following week. Her Humboldt Park charter school enrolls nearly 400 mostly Black students. The first student is Miguel, a junior who hasn’t been turning in assignments. Moss asked not to use his last name to protect his privacy. Miguel walks slowly toward her from the back door of the gray brick building where he lives. She calls out his name with excitement. He wears a black hoodie and sweatpants, and looks like he just woke up. Moss is not there to scold him. Instead, she acts more like a concerned aunt. She jokes with him, makes herself approachable. They agree he’s got some catching up to do. ”It’s a lot. That’s all I can say, a lot,” Miguel says. “I have been falling off track. So I got to pick up all my stuff.”


COVID-19 turns prom into a promenade — at Soldier Field

By the Chicago Tribune

“Very little about the this year’s prom for seniors from the Chicago Noble schools could be considered typical. But it will certainly be memorable. Prom for about 3,000 seniors at the network of 17 public charter schools is taking place Friday and Saturday at Soldier Field, with each school getting 45 minutes to join their classmates at the iconic stadium, strut their stuff and take photos against the iconic skyline. But they can’t gather too closely, since social distancing is in effect, meaning no dancing. And no heels were to be allowed on the field. “The premier location and special effects will make a night to remember!” the school network said on its website, adding that though there was to be no dress code, “we will be rolling out the red carpet and hope our guests will dress for the occasion.” Juan Carlos Rodriguez II, a senior at Mansueto High School, one of the Noble schools, earlier told the Tribune he planned to wear a tuxedo for “a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”


Noble Graduates Show Steady College Enrollment, Greater Persistence Despite the Pandemic

By the Noble Network of Charter Schools

“Amid a global health crisis that has upended national college access, 80 percent of Noble’s Class of 2020 graduates enrolled in college immediately after graduation. New data shows that four out of every five of the Noble Network of Charter Schools’ graduates last year from the Class of 2020 enrolled in college immediately after graduation, according to Noble’s post-secondary experts during a live Zoom presentation and Q&A.  The online event, titled “What Happened to the Class of 2020?” focused on analyzing data associated with college access, matriculation, and persistence in the midst of a global pandemic. The event was jointly presented by Noble’s Chief College Officer Dr. Aidé Acosta and Manager of College Analytics & Insights JY Sun. The full presentation can be viewed below.”


“We let teachers be teaching specialists, my goal is not to get in the way.” Acero-Tamayo Principal Matthew Katz Supports Excellent Teaching

By Illinois Network of Charter Schools

“What distinguishes a high performing school is the quality of the teachers and what’s going on in the classroom. The real success happens with students and teachers,” says Principal Matthew Katz of Acero–Rufino Tamayo. Tamayo is one of the highest performing elementary schools in Chicago, serving 280 students on the city’s Southwest side. Like the charter public schools recently featured in INCS’ “Beat the Odds” brief, Principal Katz owes Tamayo’s success to a strong adult culture. “Our school is a place where teachers feel valued from the inside out and have the freedom to innovate.” At Tamayo, senior leadership is intensely focused on supporting teachers without micromanaging what happens in the classroom. Guided by shared frameworks for instruction and planning, teachers have a lot of autonomy over curriculum choice and can design many aspects of their own schedules. Importantly, leadership works to remove any barriers to letting teachers do what they do best. Teachers are not responsible for designing school wide initiatives or planning events. “We let teachers be teaching specialists,” shares Katz. “My goal is not to get in the way.”


Jeremiah Paprocki revels in his dream-come-true job as the Chicago Cubs PA announcer: ‘Awesome to hear my voice coming out of the speakers. That is magical.’

By Phil Rosenthal for The Chicago Tribune 

“Jeremiah Paprocki has come a long way to become the Chicago Cubs’ new public address announcer at Wrigley Field this week. It also has been a journey of only about 5½ miles that began seven years ago. That’s the distance separating Wrigley Field from Chicago International Charter School-Northtown Academy on West Peterson Avenue, where Paprocki, 21, first got behind the microphone. Paprocki channeled the same determination, energy and unflagging confidence that would win him his press box seat above home plate at Wrigley — even while he still pursues his communications degree from the University of Illinois-Chicago. Usually, it was a senior who made the morning announcements at his high school. But Paprocki, always intrigued by the PA announcements he heard during the sports events his mom took him to, wasted no time making his interest known, much as he did this spring with the Cubs.”


Chicago Lawn Community Rallies for Cleanup

By Tom Kingsbury at Catalyst Charter Schools

“Three south side organizations teamed up today along with nearly 100 people to help clean up the Chicago Lawn neighborhood.  Catalyst Maria, Southside Cleanup and Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP) worked collaboratively over the last month to help organize today’s event.  The day began with breakfast, and people then gathered in eight groups of a dozen people each to clean up different parts of the Chicago Lawn neighborhood. Catalyst Maria teachers, Tony and Lula Springer, were the inspiration for this community service event.  They reflected on what gave them the inspiration to do this: “As educators, some of the issues we face are years in the making, and they may take years to rectify. My wife and I, were thinking, “What could we do that would have an immediate impact on the community we serve?  While driving and walking through the neighborhood, seeing the trash in some spots was like fingernails screeching across a chalkboard.  So, this community clean-up project, which has been embraced by the Catalyst Maria Legacy Team and other community organizations, is a result of our desire to do something.”


Chicago Kids Are Required To Learn About Police Torture. So How’s It Being Taught?

By Yana Kunichoff for WBEZ

“The curriculum, mandated for public schools citywide, was one part of a package of reforms demanded by the movement against police torture in Chicago. On May 6, 2015, Chicago City Council passed the Reparations Ordinance, which included cash payments, free college education and a range of social services to 57 living survivors of police torture, as well as a formal apology from Mayor Rahm Emanuel and a mandate to teach the broader public about the torture. Much like the nature of the ordinance itself, the curriculum — which Chicago requires in seventh or eighth grade and tenth grade classrooms — goes beyond just teaching about history. Teachers can request a survivor of police torture to come and speak to students through Chicago Torture Justice Center, a support center created under the ordinance. And along with talking circles, or discussion groups, the curriculum prompts students to reimagine what public safety could look like, perhaps without police.”


Illinois schools must reopen full time this fall, but mandate raises new questions about who will still qualify for remote learning and how quarantines will work

By Hannah Leone for The Chicago Tribune

“The Illinois State Board of Education on Wednesday adopted a resolution requiring daily in-person learning next school year with limited exceptions for remote learning. Several parents speaking at the ISBE meeting had implored the board to reject the proposal, in part to account for children who may still be too young to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Though some board members expressed reservations about the resolution’s language during an hourlong discussion, they voted unanimously in favor. Their concerns, however, raise questions about options left for families in the absence of pandemic-related allowances, such as when Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s disaster proclamation lifts. Much discussion Wednesday centered around the “and” stipulating that schools only had to provide a remote option for vaccine-ineligible students who are under a quarantine order. ISBE spokeswoman Jackie Matthews said the resolution was “based on feedback from the field” and supports a declaration by state Superintendent Carmen Ayala which is enforceable.”


CPS Expects to Have New CEO Selected by Late July

By Matt Masterson for WTTW

“City officials hope to have a new Chicago Public Schools CEO selected by late July and the district  will host dozens of focus groups in the coming months to gather community feedback before making any decision. A week after Mayor Lori Lightfoot promised “unprecedented” public participation in the selection of a new CEO, CPS on Thursday announced the launch of an “extensive stakeholder engagement process.” “As the executive search and stakeholder engagement process is underway, it is vital that we seek out and draw upon a diverse pool of perspectives to ensure that the next CPS CEO has a deep understanding of our successes and challenges as a district,” Lightfoot said in a statement. Current CEO Janice Jackson will be leaving the district when her contract expires at the end of June, along with Chief Education Officer LaTanya McDade and Chief Operating Officer Arnie Rivera.”


This family fought a West Side school’s ban on Black hair styles — and now Illinois could ban hair discrimination

By Pascal Sabino for Block Club Chicago

“When a West Side preschooler was banned by his school from wearing his hair in braids, his mother resolved to take a stand against the school’s hair policy. Though the school, Providence St. Mel, has not backed down, the family’s fight to wear their Black hair with pride has inspired a state bill that would bar schools from discriminating against students based on their hairstyle. The bill drafted by Sen. Mike Simmons (7th) with the Illinois State Board of Education would require schools to remove any language from their policies and handbooks that prohibits students from wearing Black hairstyles. The bill was overwhelmingly approved by the state Senate last week and will now move to the House.”