Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss: May 21 – May 27, 2022

A Note from Our CEO

By Constance Jones from The Noble Schools

“Dear Noble,I am writing today with a heavy heart as we grieve the loss of 21 souls–nineteen children and two teachers–at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas. My heart hurts for Uvalde, the predominantly Mexican working-class community in Texas that will not see these children and educators live up to their full potential. The grief I am feeling today is compounded by the passing of Seandell Holliday, a scholar at Gary Comer College Prep, last weekend due to gun violence. And, just a month before that, the passing of another scholar, Maleek Smith from Muchin College Prep, also due to gun violence. These tragedies within our Noble community are part of the continued gun violence and mass shootings we are seeing throughout Chicago and our country. And, it is outrageous that we live in a country that appears to love guns more than children, especially Black and Brown children who are disproportionately impacted by gun violence. But, this is not new. From Buffalo to Irvine to Uvalde in a span of 10 days, the national pain is unbearable today.”


Hope Chicago: Charity sending students from Chicago high schools to college for free

By Scott Pelley for CBS 60 Minutes

“You have to admire the ambition of an inner-city high school that calls itself Johnson College Prep. Especially when a third of the students have no permanent home and many dodge violence just to get to class. But the students in this Chicago public school believe in their name. They’ve done the work. They’ve been accepted to college. Trouble is, few have the money to go. Johnson College Prep needed something like a miracle. And we were there when the miracle called Hope Chicago arrived. Johnson College Prep, on Chicago’s South Side, embraces nearly 500 students. Jonas Cleaves: Every student that walks in our door deserves an opportunity to be engaged by staff members who love them for no other reason except the fact that they are one of our students. Principal Jonas Cleaves knows the names and the dreams in the halls of Johnson College Prep.”


Over 2000 Students Attend Noble’s 13th Annual College Fair

By The Noble Schools

“Last month, over 2000 students across all 18 Noble campuses logged on to the 13th annual Noble College Fair to hear from prospective colleges and universities across the United States. This was the second time the fair has been held virtually – a change since the start of the pandemic. More than 100 colleges and universities attended the fair and connected with Noble juniors and seniors to share the array of college options ahead for them. In addition to Illinois schools like the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the college fair attracted an impressive list of schools from across the country like Harvard, Washington University in St. Louis, Yale, Wake Forest, and a growing number of HBCUs like Alabama State, Fisk, Jackson State, Tennessee State, and more.”


Creating Space for Asian American Stories in Education

By Laura Houcque for The Noble Schools

”I am the daughter of Cambodian Genocide survivors. It has taken me many years to feel proud of that part of my identity rather than to associate it with shame. My family’s trauma made me feel like a burden. My complicated upbringing in France and America erased my Cambodian identity, including my original family name of OUK. I grew up normalizing my family’s story of surviving the Khmer Rouge Genocide of Cambodia from 1975 to 1979, when an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians were killed by Pol Pot’s regime. The genocide displaced survivors all over the world, from Australia to France to America. With the displacement came the unprocessed trauma that survivors passed down to their children through intergenerational trauma.”


Changing the Course: Building An Antiracist Education Episode Five features Claudia Rodriguez, Chief of Public Affairs at Noble Schools, and Ellen Moiani, Senior Manager of Government and Community Affairs at Noble Schools

By The Noble Schools

“In this episode, we talk with Claudia Rodriguez and Ellen Moiani – two members of our Government & Community Affairs team here at Noble Schools. Claudia and Ellen have both spent years at Noble connecting with the parents and families of our students to make sure their voices are heard, both by Noble leadership and government officials. In this episode, they touch on topics from advocacy trips with Noble parents to Springfield to our recent Family Experience Survey. Listen to learn more about their work and how it is an integral part of our Anti-Racism Commitment.”


DRW College Prep Freshmen Talk About How They Feel Seen

By The Noble Schools

“This is part of a series of blogs from Noble campus representatives to give a deeper look at campus life. We had a chance to sit down and hear from a few of our freshmen at DRW College Prep about how they feel welcomed in their school community, especially as it relates to our Anti-Racism Commitment. Check out what they had to say.”


Chicago Teachers Union elects Stacy Davis Gates as new president, keeping CORE slate in power

By Tracy Swartz for The Chicago Tribune

“Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Stacy Davis Gates was elected president of the union Friday following a months-long, hard-fought battle against two challengers to succeed outgoing president Jesse Sharkey. Friday’s election results show the strength of Davis Gates’ Caucus of Rank-and-File Educators, which has been criticized in recent months for mishandling the union’s response to the winter surge in COVID-19 cases and not being transparent enough about union finances.”


Chicago Public Schools requires masks at one school, 20 other classrooms as COVID cases increase

By  Mauricio Pena for Chalkbeat

“As COVID-19 cases surge across Chicago and in a number of city schools, the district has reinstated a mask requirement at one elementary school and 20 classrooms at other campuses. On Chicago’s North Side, students and staff at Oscar Mayer Magnet School, which has recorded 108 COVID-19 cases since May 1, will be required to mask until May 28, based on guidance from Chicago’s Department of Public Health, district officials said. As of last week, a 10-day masking requirement also went into effect for 20 classrooms at other schools. The mask requirement will be lifted at various times throughout this week. The last classroom will flip back to mask-optional on May 29, according to district officials.”


‘A glaring concern’: Chicago’s support staff substitute pool stretched thin amid pandemic

By  Mila Koumpilova for Chalkbeat

“When Chicago classroom assistants take time off or quit, Stekeena Rollins steps in to fill a crucial void. She guides students with disabilities through lessons. She helps them eat lunch and go to the bathroom. And she “puts out little fires” amid an uptick in disruptive behaviors, sometimes feeling like a one-woman trauma team. During a school year marked by unprecedented support staff shortages, Rollins has been in high demand.  This school year has trained a spotlight on a dearth of substitute teachers in Chicago and beyond. But the district’s special education classroom assistant, or SECA, substitute pool has also been stretched thin — even as the city hired more than 140 support staff substitutes last fall, growing that pool by more than 20%.”


No hoodies. No do-rags. No spaghetti straps. In Chicago Public Schools, dress codes leave many students feeling slighted.

By Emily Hoerner for The Chicago Tribune

“At Cassell Elementary in Mount Greenwood, girls are instructed in this year’s student handbook that their shirts “must meet the waist and not reveal cleavage.” The dress code at Ashburn Community Elementary permits girls to wear pants, shorts or skirts, but boys are limited to pants. Boys also can’t wear earrings or bracelets, though girls can. In Pullman, only the girls at Corliss High School are told not to show their thighs or to wear clothing with writing on the buttocks. The student code of conduct for the Chicago Public Schools has stated for a decade that dress codes and uniform policies should be gender neutral. Yet in a comprehensive review of hundreds of recent school policies, the Tribune identified 95 schools that set separate rules for girls and boys in apparent violation of district rules. Such policies may subject transgender and nonbinary students to increased discipline, research suggests.”


How I’m helping my fifth graders cope with the Texas school massacre

By Rebecca Gamboa for WBEZ Chicago

“Rebecca Gamboa is a veteran fifth-grade teacher at Madison Elementary in west suburban Lombard. Reporter Susie An asked her to recount her reaction to Tuesday’s school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, and how she navigated the aftermath with her 11-year-old students on Wednesday. Gamboa’s recounting has been edited for brevity and clarity. I got the CNN notification about five minutes before students were dismissed [on Tuesday] … so, in that crazy time when everyone’s packing up, I saw “Elementary school shooting.” And immediately I was like, “Again?” Then I got in the car to drive home and turned on CNN to listen. They announced the first update, which was 14 students, and I was sitting at a red light and I just started sobbing. As an elementary teacher, you can picture it in your mind. I have 19 kids in my class. A gray, heavy feeling. Today, as I walked into school, I was just like “Man, I should be thinking about ‘How are we going to get everything packed up and cleaned and like get all the fun stuff in [before the year ends]?” One of my students actually said the gray, the grayness of today outside kind of matches the mood. It’s that gray, heavy feeling. I am incredibly lucky to teach where I do for many reasons. Today just spotlighted it because we have really put a focus this year on social emotional learning. We always start [our mornings] with, “How are you feeling?” Today, I had a student who was like, “Well, I’m feeling really sad for Texas.” I had one student who I think was up a lot of the night, looking online and researching because he made the comment, “Don’t research about school shooters.” My heart broke because at 11 years old, you should be up at night playing Among Us, or Roblox or Minecraft. And then one student asked, “Would that happen here? And so we talked … [I told them] we have locked doors. We all carry walkie talkies. We do drills. We practice. [I told them] “You are in a building full of adults who will do whatever it takes to keep you safe.” They were like, “How do you know what to do? And I said, “We actually practice. And they were like “It is scary? And I was like, “Yeah, it’s scary. That’s a lot of responsibility.” We talked about just being kind of gentle, more gentle with each other and with adults. There’s some people who had maybe some fear walking into school today. There are some people who were like, “Well, it was a long way away.” I was able to draw on when we talked about empathy and when we talked about reacting to situations differently and really listening to each other. So, it’s weird to say, but all of those lessons that we’ve done this year kind of came together today.”