Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss: May 30 – June 5, 2020

Catalyst Maria scholarship winner aims to help her community and others around the world

By Taylor Littleton for Elevate Chicago

“…I also have a strong desire to help others throughout the world. We are living in a hard time right now – with the Coronavirus, racial injustice, and leaders that are not thinking of us when they make decisions. However, I do feel like around the world, we will recover stronger. Our young generation is doing great things. We are out there protesting and telling people how we feel. We are stronger than people think we are. We are going to make a change.”


Speak On It

By Dr.Garland Thomas-McDavid for Elevate Chicago

“…Yesterday, I learned about more crimes happening toward the Black community in front of the whole world. It is not a new thing and the crimes that have come before these are no less terrible and embarrassing. Our community hasn’t even even been given a chance to finish grieving the loss of Ahmaud Arbery. I imagine speaking for so many others who feel bombarded by the onslaught of unnecessary violence and aggression toward Black men…I woke up realizing that this is not about blaming the victims or expecting the targets to fix/survive something that we all KNOW is happening and KNOW is wrong. This is not about turning to God in disappointment because God is not the cause. The cause is our lack of unity in demanding this end immediately, loudly and openly as human beings. I will not allow anger to make me negate my well meaning non-Black sisters and brothers who are equally outraged. I know that these acts don’t reflect the hearts of all White people. But We ALL need to speak on it.”


‘They know what they see’: Chicago educators reach out to students about racism, police brutality after George Floyd’s death

By Cassie Walker Burke and Samantha Smylie for Chalkbeat

“Dwayne Reed teaches fourth and fifth graders on Chicago’s West Side. After the death of George Floyd spurred protests throughout Chicago, he has been speaking to his students about police brutality. To get them more comfortable with hard discussions about racism and policing, Reed starts the conversation with an open-ended question and tells his students that they can just listen, or speak. Reed thinks that, at this moment, educators should guide the conversation but not lecture. “I have to be willing to let the conversation morph into whatever my scholars are desiring for it to morph into. It can’t just be ‘I’m gonna check all these marks off and, great, we had a great conversation about race.’” Across Chicago, teachers seized on a moment that felt familiar: helping students cope with trauma and express feelings and thoughts amid national outrage over the killing of a black man by a white police officer. After the death of Chicago teenager Laquan McDonald in 2014, and the murder trial of Chicago officer Jason Van Dyke, the city encouraged teachers to help students process rage, sadness, and confusion but to “stay neutral.” Not all educators participated then. With the country grappling with the killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minnesota, not all educators are participating now. But many, still running classes with two weeks left to go of school, are reaching out in their virtual meeting rooms to help their students.”


Chicago protests: Kanye West joins CPS students at South Side march demanding CPS cancel contract with CPD

By Cate Cauguiran for WLS

“Rapper and Chicago native Kanye West joined Chicago Public Schools students Thursday at a protest demanding CPS cancel their contract with the Chicago Police Department. The rapper and Chicago native (in the gray hoodie and khakis) joined CPS students to demand the school system cancel their contract with CPD. The march was organized by Ja’Mal Green to fight CPS’s $33 million contract with the police department. Recently, Minnesota Public Schools canceled their contract with the Minneapolis Police Department. “We are here today to tell CPD we don’t need them in our schools no more,” one protester said. Hundreds of current and former CPS students and their allies marched through the streets of the South Side. They said justice for Chicago Public Schools starts with cutting ties with the Chicago Police Department.”


It’s Time To Learn the Languages Our Students’ Families Speak

By Rachel Brick for Chicago Unheard 

“Even in Remote Learning, We Can Take Small Steps to Bridge Language Divides. Building bilingual school and staff communities takes time, and we need solutions now more than ever. Here are a few things to do right now: Use Google translate for texting and emailing, which allows for open-ended conversation and processing time for all parties. Get on Duolingo or another language platform to start building both linguistic capacity and understanding of new language learning. Keep trying. Even when imperfect, the effort to reach out to families, especially when our closure is indefinite, is the first step in building community. While we are applying our short-term solutions, we must also recognize that the task of creating language-inclusive schools requires long-term vision. Supporting legislation at both state and federal levels elevates the role of bilingualism in schools and makes concrete strides towards the systemic change that we so gravely need.  As we continue to identify the inequities in access and opportunity brought even further to light by this pandemic, it is imperative that we include the home languages of our students and their families in our strategy. Noah also wrote that, “Language, even more than color, defines who you are to people.” We must ensure that as schools, we define ourselves as accessible, open, and welcoming for all families, starting right now and into the future. Rachel Brick is a 9th grade English and ESL teacher at Pritzker College Prep in Chicago and a Teach Plus Illinois Policy Fellow.”