Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss: May 9 – May 15, 2020

Lightfoot determined to open CPS schools this fall

By Fran Spielman for the Chicago Sun-Times

“Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Friday she is determined to reopen Chicago Public Schools on time this fall, but do it safely, perhaps by using “alternate days, kind of a platoon” system to limit the numbers of students and teachers in schools at one time. Declaring “students need their teachers,” Lightfoot recalled how moved she was to see video during the pandemic of an elementary school teacher who “literally drove to her student’s house, sat in the driveway” to maintain social distance and read the young girl a book.”


Millions of students are taking AP exams from home. They hope technology and internet glitches won’t hold them back.

By Kalyn Belsha for Chalkbeat Chicago

“Some 2.4 million students are expected to take their AP exams from home by laptop, tablet, and smartphone this week and next, a change brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. The tests are shorter — 45 minutes instead of three hours, in most cases — and will focus on content students learned earlier in the year before classes were upended.”

It’s official: summer school will happen remotely, says Illinois State Board of Education

By Samantha Smylie for Chalkbeat

“Summer school, an integral part of grading and promotion in Chicago schools, will have to take place remotely this year, the Illinois State Board of Education has decided. The board issued a policy covering schools throughout the state, which remains under stay-at-home orders except for essential services. Gov. J.B. Pritzker has said he will not permit school buildings to reopen until new COVID-19 cases decrease significantly. Even so, some regions may ease shelter-in-place rules later this month. But state health officials expect COVID-19 cases to peak in mid-June — a projection that means that schools are unlikely to resume in-person classes. Last week, state schools Superintendent Carmen Ayala said that learning might remain remote in the fall, or schools might open and close intermittently.”


Chicago still issuing grades, while Noble Network will automatically promote students in June

By Yana Kunichoff for Chalkbeat

“As a response to the disruption in schooling caused by the coronavirus, the state’s biggest charter network will automatically promote all students to the next grade, allow them chances through January to boost this year’s grades, and offer optional summer school. The first detailed look at the Noble charter network’s remote learning plan shows a markedly different approach to that taken by Chicago Public Schools, where high school students won’t get an automatic pass and teachers will still give letter grades this year. Noble educates 12,500 Chicago students across 18 schools. Ellen Metz, the network’s head of school, said the grading and promotion policy was created to acknowledge that Noble students, many from Chicago’s low-income neighborhoods, were likely caring for siblings, affected by the illness of family members, or struggling with mental health issues. However, she said, the school would still keep a high bar for achievement. “Any lowering of our high expectations for our students to honor starting points and barriers runs counter to what diversity, equity and inclusion mean and look like in action,” Metz said. Noble will make all grades from the current semester temporary until January, and any assignments done by then may be used to boost a grade. Students satisfied with their second-semester grades may lock them in as well, according to Noble officials.”


Two Rogers Parkers Named 2020 Cubs Scholars

By the Rogers Edge Reporter

“The Cubs Scholars program, launched in 2013, offers high-potential Chicago students with demonstrated need financial contributions and a team-sponsored mentorship program designed to promote academic achievement and post-secondary educational advancement, according to the Cubs. Winners this year are Chicago Lawn resident Lizbeth Barajas (Eric Solorio Academy High School);  Roseland resident Yakeena Coleman (Noble Charter-Johnson College Prep); East Garfield Park resident Kymora Dillard (George Westinghouse College Prep); Douglas resident Mya Jackson (Northside College Prep); Dunning resident Brian Lensegrav (William Howard Taft High School); and North Lawndale resident Brianna Townsel (Collins Academy High School).”


Chicago Public Schools teacher surprised with Golden Apple award

By Nader Issa for the Sun-Times

“Mary Kovats logged on Wednesday morning for a virtual assembly with her fifth grade class at Linné Elementary in Avondale. Little did Kovats know, the assembly was for her. Within seconds, Kovats was in tears, surprised by colleagues, family and her students congratulating the veteran teacher for winning a Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching. “One minute I was scolding my kids to make sure they were sitting up because the principal was going to come online, and then the next thing I knew there were 100 people on the call,” Kovats said a few hours later. “It was more than I ever expected,” she said. “It was overwhelming and I was overcome with a lot of gratitude and love.”


President and Mrs. Obama drop by Chicago Public Schools Town Hall

By the Chicago Defender

“President and Mrs. Obama dropped by a Chicago Public Schools Student Civics Town Hall where they engaged in a conversation around how the CPS community can stay connected, engaged in civic life, and build a sense of belonging while living apart.”


I Miss School, And I’m Adapting to Pandemic Learning, Too

By Bryan Meeker for Chicago Unheard

“The Covid-19 pandemic and its subsequent effect on our lives have left many feeling aimless, confused, and even helpless. In many jobs, seasoned professionals and novice learners alike have done their best to adjust to working at home while also trying to stay motivated and positive in isolation. As a biology instructor at a high school on Chicago’s South Side, I know I speak for many educators who might find these struggles familiar, feeling distant from our professions and our students we care about. During this first month away from my classroom, I have found myself managing a multitude of emotions, from an undeserved sense of relaxation to a growing sense of anxiety and loneliness…How then do we fill the gap and provide the best ongoing meaningful education from a distance? It’s not a mystery, and yet it’s a challenge. The answer is for us to stay open-minded and adapt…Education is not simply an amalgam of worksheets and essays, but the community within our schools, the often thankless work and the love your children’s teachers, coaches, janitors, secretaries, and principals have for each of them. We are all indeed suffering, but perhaps more importantly, we are all in this together.”