Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss: November 7 – November 13, 2020


By Marcell Kirk for CICS Voices Blog

“Marcell Kirk is Dean of Students at CICS Lloyd Bond. He is also the Director of Climate and Culture, a role that is his passion. He has been at Lloyd Bond for 11 years and works with teachers, staff, students and their families to create a positive school culture that promotes students’ learning successes, reinforces collaborative interactions between all stakeholders, posits shared values and celebrates excellence. Mr. Kirk believes that the culture at CICS Lloyd Bond is what draws students and their families to enroll in the school. The following is Mr. Kirk’s perspective of school culture at Bond. It’s a story on why it is important to connect with students and build a community of trust and motivation for all children in an educational setting.”


The Power of the Vote #NobleVotes

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.  We have seen the word VOTE inundate our social media feeds. Celebrities urging us to vote. We have seen signs through our neighborhood. Walked by individuals asking us if we would like to register to vote. And if we have been lucky, friends and family who have also been asking, “are you registered?” “Did you get your mail-in-ballot yet?” And the most important question, “Who are you voting for?”  In a time where our country feels flooded with quarantine restrictions, protests against racism, and Mother Earth’s fury due to climate change, it makes sense why the stress to vote is there. But, why is this year any different than the rest?  For many Americans, this election year has been heightened by fear.  Fear of picking the “right” leader to represent the people, fear of spreading COVID-19, and fear of  election fraud. This year, there were ten states that decided to conduct their voting entirely by mail. A decision supported by some and opposed by others. “


‘The kids still need somewhere to go:’ Charters, community sites balance need for supervised learning with rising COVID-19 rates

By Yana Kunichoff for Chalkbeat Chicago

“After closing down in the spring, Namaste Charter School in Chicago’s McKinley Park neighborhood decided to open its usual summer academy to support South Side families with working parents. “Our parents really needed a place for their children to be while they were at work,” said April Shaw, the school’s executive director. The school’s staff spent weeks putting together safety protocol — from an online symptom screener to front-door temperature checks and plexiglass shields — and the summer passed without any cases of COVID-19 among staff or students. When the new school year started, Namaste offered families a chance to apply for supervised learning. Then COVID-19 cases surged across Chicago. As some school districts across the state and country pull back on plans for in-person learning, a handful of charter schools, including Namaste, have stayed open, even if it’s just to provide a place where students can do their remote learning with adult supervision. Some child care centers, too, have offered supervision for remote learners. At CICS Irving Park, one part of the larger Chicago International Charter School network, officials decided to suspend a “community care” program that served 20% of its students last week amid rising rates. A spokeswoman there said that the decision was made out of concern for what was happening in the community around them and not driven by any incidents or outbreaks at the campus. Before CICS Irving Park suspended its program, it had a similar plan to that proposed by Chicago Public Schools, including a daily online symptom questionnaire. A staff member took students’ temperatures before they entered the building. Students and staff had to wear masks at all times and socially distance. One challenge to staying open, however, was staffing. Not everyone is willing to come to work amid a pandemic, and schools must weigh how best to keep those who do safe. (One of the biggest barriers to Chicago Public School’s efforts to reopen is an ongoing dispute with its teachers union.) CICS Irving Park had hired hourly workers who used to staff its afterschool program. The move prevented layoffs.”


Rising COVID-19 rates statewide prompt reopening delays, setbacks among Illinois’ largest school districts

By Samantha Smylie for Chalkbeat

“Among Illinois’ 10 largest school districts, eight have paused plans to reopen school buildings or reverted to virtual learning amid a spike in COVID-19 cases. Many school districts across the state had proposed to shift the youngest students from remote learning to some in-person instruction later this month. With cases on the rise — even higher than they were when schools abruptly closed in March — it no longer seems possible. Instead, almost 500,000 students in those eight districts will continue to do virtual learning. That accounts for more than a quarter of Illinois’ public school students. Only Elgin and Rockford, the state’s second and third largest districts respectively, have brought students into school buildings. At the beginning of the school year, Rockford allowed hybrid-learning for students and Elgin brought in Pre-K to second grade students this week. Chicago Public Schools, the state’s largest district, has not yet set a return date for pre-kindergartners and special education students, who were supposed to return later this month, as officials warn of a spike in the city.”


Here’s What A Joe Biden Presidency Could Mean For Chicago and Illinois


“The White House will go from Red to Blue in January 2021 after the Associated Press called the presidency for Democrat Joe Biden, a change of political party leadership that could have big implications in Illinois. For Chicago Public Schools, a Biden presidency could potentially mean a change in leadership. Chicago’s frosty relationship with the White House is sure to thaw once President-elect Joe Biden is sworn into office in January. Mayor Lori Lightfoot campaigned for him during the presidential race and has said she has “great confidence” in Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. CPS CEO Janice Jackson’s name has been floated as a candidate for U.S secretary of the education. More broadly, Biden’s K-12 and higher education agenda is vastly different than Trump’s. Biden is pushing for universal preschool, boosting teacher pay and dollars for low-income students and making public colleges and universities free for families earning below $125,000.”


Lightfoot confident CPS can safely move forward with in-person learning despite huge spike in COVID-19 cases

By Nader Issa for The Chicago Sun-Times

“Mayor Lori Lightfoot and city health commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady painted a grim picture of the city’s pandemic outlook at a news briefing Thursday, saying the situation is worse today than it was in its darkest days in the spring. Even so, Lightfoot and Arwady said they remain confident they can safely send students and teachers back to schools “when the time is appropriate.” Lightfoot repeated her stance that the city would be “guided by the science” and would not “do anything that puts kids in harm’s way,” but it was notable that the mayor’s messaging on schools did not change in the face of otherwise increasingly dire public health circumstances. Chicago has far surpassed thresholds set by Arwady in July — seven-day rolling averages of 400 new daily cases and 8% test positivity — that she declared would have led to continued school closures. The latest figures reported by the Chicago Department of Public Health put the city at an average of 1,395 daily cases and 10.9% positivity. Illinois on Thursday passed the 10,000-death mark and reported a staggering 9,935 new COVID-19 cases, dwarfing the previous high of 7,899 set last Saturday.”