Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss: November 21 – December 4, 2020

Amid a pandemic, a reckoning for a Chicago charter turning away from ‘no excuses’

By Yana Kunichoff for Chalkbeat

“At Noble Charter Network, the school year usually starts with a pep rally. This year, students tuned in to a video — preceded by a trigger warning — showing a series of news stories about the police killings, protests, and pandemic that have made 2020 a year like no other. Afterward, in a virtual town hall, Noble’s leaders apologized for past actions they said hurt Black students, from punitive discipline policies to steering students away from historically Black colleges and universities. And they made a promise: Noble, Chicago’s largest network of charter schools, would become antiracist. “We have taken racist actions that have created racist outcomes, and we can no longer operate under the illusion that everything is well,” Nigel Green, the network’s director of equity, inclusion and diversity, said.”


North Lawndale College Prep students return to in-person learning

By Fox 32

“Garland Thomas, principal at North Lawndale College Prep, talks about why they made the decision to bring students back to the classrooms while so many others are going through with remote learning.”


A Noble Day 2020: Virtual Homecoming Recap

By The Noble Network of Charter Schools

“Did you know, Noble alumni can be found in cities and towns across the country from Boston to Ann Harbour, Champaign to Claremont. With more than 17,500 Noble alum, the Alumni and Career office hosts an annual “Noble Day” celebration, designed to encourage graduates to connect on their respective campuses by wearing their Noble gear and spotting each other in class, the commons, campus courtyard – or office boardroom! Each Noble Day has resulted in stories of alumni celebrating their Noble pride and meeting new, and sometimes old, friends along the way. With many college and university campuses practicing social distancing or committed to online learning, this year’s Noble Day 2020 was revamped into a virtual homecoming event. In partnership with the Noble Alumni Association, the day began with breakout professional development…The event continued with a fireside chat with Noble’s CEO Constance Jones and Alumni Association President Lissette Hernandez…To end the event was a keynote address by Sir John, a world-renowned celebrity make-up artist, and fashion aficionado. Mr. John stirred the motivation of participants by sharing parts of his journey as an aspiring creator, telling the audience about the time he turned down one of the most prolific artists of this time – Beyoncé. He would later accept the superstar’s offer to join her team – albeit,  under his own terms.”


Noble Partners with CORE Response Team for FREE COVID Testing

By the Noble Network of Charter Schools

“With the Coronavirus pandemic continuing to surge across Chicago, there is a severe shortage of places in the city where people can get a free COVID-19 test. Currently, 1-in-17 people in Chicago have the virus. In response to this, Noble has partnered with the humanitarian relief organization CORE to equip our campuses to become temporary COVID-19 testing sites for the communities we serve. This week our Pritzker College Prep campus, located in the Hermosa neighborhood, offered free COVID-19 testing on-site. The result was more than 500 people from Hermosa, Belmont-Cragin, Humboldt Park, and surrounding neighborhoods were tested throughout the day. “We’re all in this together. If we have the resources and partners to support our communities, then we have to do what we can to help,” said Mike Madden, Noble’s Chief Operations Officer. “It feels good to know that Noble is a part of the solution, particularly when people need us the most. The free tests were administered by the CORE team in the school’s gymnasium. For safety, the CORE team ensured all testers were socially distanced and wore masks while they waited to be tested. Each test consisted of a painless mouth swab. Results are returned within 72 hours and no ID or insurance is required.”


Gary Comer Middle School Welcomes Back Student Advisory Council

By the Noble Network of Charter Schools

“This is part of a series of blogs from Noble campus representatives to give a deeper look at campus life. This year Gary Comer Middle School is welcoming back its student council with Mrs. Briggs as the sponsor! While Comer Middle has had a student council in the past, it has been over two years since the last one was active. As Gary Comer Middle, along with the rest of Noble, continues on its path to becoming an anti-racist organization, student leadership will be a necessary stepping stone in that work.”


CPS reopening plan so far: What you need to know about when and how Chicago schools will welcome students back

By Hannah Leone for The Chicago Tribune

“In the new year, Chicago Public Schools plans to start reopening schools, beginning with students in prekindergarten and special education clusters and phasing in upper elementary grades. The district released a reopening guide just before the Thanksgiving holiday. Here’s how it addresses some common questions. Which students go back first, and when? Students in prekindergarten and moderate and severe special education cluster programs may return Jan. 11. Other students in kindergarten through eighth grade who are enrolled in elementary schools may return in a hybrid model Feb. 1.”


CPS will reopen next month even if only a fraction of students opt in — and most teachers will be required to return, CEO says

By Fran Spielman and Nader Issa for The Chicago Sun-Times

“Chicago Public Schools will reopen in January even if only a small fraction of students opt to return to classrooms, schools CEO Janice Jackson said Thursday, and she warned that teachers without pre-existing conditions who simply “don’t show up” to school buildings will be fired. What’s more, schools officials are so convinced that reopening schools is safe, they’re now working on a plan to bring back at least some high schools during the second semester, Jackson said in an interview with the Sun-Times. The district had expected to keep older students home while elementary schools return Feb. 1 and special education programs come back next month. “We will educate any student who wants an in-person option. There is no threshold that we have to meet,” Jackson said, adding: “If 15% of the kids … decide that they’re gonna return at any given school, we will educate that 15% in-person.”


Obama, in surprise appearance, gives 105,000 CPS students free digital copies of ‘A Promised Land’

By Nader Issa for The Chicago Sun-Times

“High school students and teachers at Chicago Public Schools received an email Monday morning that didn’t tell them exactly who would be at their virtual assembly that afternoon but gave some strong hints: The speaker had “strong ties to Chicago,” “millions of Twitter followers” and “made history multiple times throughout their career.” Hours later, those who tuned in to the livestreamed assembly were greeted by former President Barack Obama, who surprised CPS’ 105,000 high schoolers and thousands of teachers with free digital copies of his new memoir, “A Promised Land.” The 15-minute appearance marked Obama’s latest stop on his busy media blitz to promote the long-awaited, 768-page book, which will be available to students and teachers in e-book and audiobook formats.”