Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss: May 2 – May 8, 2020

Teacher Appreciation Week: Chicago principal surprises all 62 of his teachers at their homes

By Evelyn Holmes for WLS

“A Chicago principal surprised his teachers one by one on Wednesday to show his appreciation for them. With a handwritten card and a bottle of sparkling juice, Eron Powell gave his teachers at Perspectives High School Technology Leadership Academy something many people don’t see or feel nowadays: appreciation. “This was an idea that we could see them at a social safe distance as well as bring a little bit of cheer and say, hey, we love you, we miss you, appreciate what you do for our students,” Powell said.”

Barack Obama video chats with Chicago Public Schools educators to thank them during Teacher Appreciation Week surprise

By Hannah Leone for the Chicago Tribune

“Former President Barack Obama made video calls to three Chicago Public Schools teachers to offer his support during national Teacher Appreciation Week. Obama tweeted a video montage of the calls Wednesday morning that said he made the calls “to simply say thank you.” “There’s no limit to the devotion I’ve seen in teachers like these @ChiPubSchools educators,” Obama said in the tweet. “Their dedication shapes the best parts of who we become. I couldn’t be more thankful for their work, especially as they shift lessons online to keep students on track during this crisis.”

Chance the Rapper to honor 10 teachers on Instagram Live, announce $300K in donations to schools

By Nader Issa for the Sun-Times

“Chance the Rapper is laying out the virtual red carpet to host an award show this week, and it isn’t for musical artists or movie stars. The Chicago rapper is taking to Instagram for the first-ever “Twilight Awards” to honor — and surprise — educators during Teacher Appreciation Week. Chance, a Chicago Public Schools graduate who attended Jones College Prep, is hosting Instagram Live sessions on his page, @ChancetheRapper, Wednesday through Friday at 7 p.m. each night, with the first one entirely featuring CPS teachers who’ll join the livestream and share their experiences as educators. Over the three days, the Grammy-award winner plans to surprise 10 teachers and schools by donating school supplies and a total of $300,000 on behalf of Box Tops for Education, a school support program founded by General Mills in 1996.”

Drive-thru graduation? How Illinois high school commencement ceremonies might look this spring amid COVID-19 pandemic

By Hannah Leone for the Chicago Tribune

“Drive through, drive in or tune in to graduation ceremonies for the class of 2020. But expect no person-to-person transfer of diplomas, hugs or handshakes. The Illinois State Board of Education and Illinois Department of Public Health have provided new guidance for holding ceremonies while the coronavirus pandemic continues, with creative suggestions for recognizing graduates while adhering to social distancing mandates. Some of the possibilities would be more manageable for smaller schools to pull off than for larger ones. While each school or district can make its own decision about whether, when and how to host ceremonies, state officials “strongly” encourage virtual events, such as video-based online ceremonies with commencement speakers and acknowledgment of awards. Chicago Public Schools has already announced that Oprah Winfrey will give the main commencement address during a virtual ceremony in June for all of Chicago’s high school seniors, whether they attend district, charter or private schools.”

Illinois schools could be on again, off again for COVID-19 next school year, state chief says

By Samantha Smylie for Chalkbeat

“Illinois schools might close intermittently to protect against the spread of COVID-19 next school year, state Superintendent Carmen Ayala said during a Facebook Live conversation with state Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch, a Democrat representing several suburbs adjacent to Chicago’s West Side. Ayala spoke Tuesday night, hours after Gov. J.B. Pritzker revealed a plan to gradually reopen the state’s economy. The plan did not include a specific timeline for when schools might reopen; the governor had said in recent weeks that remote learning could extend into fall. But Pritzker said Tuesday that the state could reopen by region. Depending on the rate of new infections in the coming weeks, some regions might be able to offer limited child care and summer programs starting later this month.”

Summer school, promotion to the next grade: Here’s Chicago’s new grading policy, explained

By Cassie Walker Burke  for Chalkbeat

“Six weeks after Illinois shuttered school buildings amid the coronavirus pandemic, Chicago will relax its grading policy and automatically promote elementary students to the next grade. High school students won’t get an automatic pass. After this semester, those who have fallen behind or don’t show up will have to attend virtual “credit recovery” programs or summer school classes that the district is mapping out, according to plans released Thursday. The proposal still requires approval from the Chicago Board of Education. Chief Education Officer LaTanya McDade said the plan was a complex undertaking and that the district wanted to give students a chance to earn grades, while also acknowledging that some who won’t engage at all will need multiple chances to catch up. “When you have a crisis like this that significantly impacts education, doing nothing isn’t an option,” McDade said. “We have to have expectations for continued learning.” She said Friday that the district has distributed 100,000 loaner devices — out of 115,000 promised. Internet access, however, remains an issue. The plan includes schools providing paper packets every two weeks. A research brief in late April showed that as many as one in five Chicago children under 18 still lack the broadband access required to use them. Here’s a quick explainer of the new grading policy.”