Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss: October 10 – October 16, 2020

When school is home and home is school, which rules prevail?

By Kathleen Foody for ABC News

“Toys that look like weapons. Barefoot students. Disruptive imagery in the background. Pets roaming the room. All a clear violation of rules inside most American classrooms. But that was when most American students were actually inside schools. How do standards like these translate when everyone is logging on from home? Schools are struggling to figure it out this fall — yet another adaptation demanded of educators during the coronavirus pandemic…Angela McByrd, a statistics teacher at Mansueto High School in Chicago, says she’s been horrified by lengthy rule lists shared by other teachers in Facebook groups for educators. Mansueto is part of the Noble Charter Schools network, known for its demerit-based system enforcing a strict dress code and other rules. McByrd said teachers began pushing back against that approach before the pandemic and demanded more leniency as they prepared for virtual learning this fall. When her classes began this month, McByrd told her high schoolers that they were expected to participate in class activities but she wouldn’t require video cameras to be on. She had to reassure some students repeatedly that there was no need to wear their usual uniforms.”


Chicago Public Schools will announce ‘very soon’ if in-person classes will resume next quarter, CEO says: ‘We know that parents are anxious’

By Hannah Leone for The Chicago Tribune

“Little more than three weeks remain of Chicago Public Schools’ fall quarter, but CEO Janice Jackson and Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Tuesday would not say when they will let everyone know if schools will reopen for the winter.“We know that parents are anxious to hear from us on this, and we’ve committed to making an announcement very soon,” Jackson said during an unrelated news conference at City Hall. “We know that the second quarter is approaching quickly and we want to be sure that the plan that we put out will be as thoughtful as our parents anticipate.” When a reporter pressed for specifics, asking, “This week?” Lightfoot simply said, “Soon.” Fall quarter ends Nov. 5. While praising what teachers and principals have done to make remote learning work, Lightfoot said some students are struggling, especially the youngest and those in special education programs. In addition to monitoring the course of the pandemic, she said the district is looking at Catholic schools and other private, charter and preschools that have been partially or fully open.”


CPS Principals Are Told Students Will Continue Remote Learning, Except For Pre-K And Special Needs Students

By Sarah Karp for WBEZ

“Chicago Public Schools principals say they were told on Thursday that the school district is planning on resuming in-person instruction for preschool students and some students with disabilities who receive special education services.But most CPS students will not return to the classroom for the second semester, which starts on Nov. 9. Neither the mayor’s office nor Chicago Public Schools officials responded to a request for comment on this plan. But Mayor Lori Lightfoot hinted at this earlier this week when she said that she was particularly concerned about remote learning participation of young students and students with disabilities. “There are some categories of students who really struggle with remote learning, where they need the touch of being in a classroom, with their teachers and having those additional supports,” Lightfoot said.”


Illinois school budget hearings open with tales of inequities from COVID-19

By Samantha Smylie for Chalkbeat Chicago

“At a state school board budget hearing Wednesday, Alex Parker, a fourth-grade teacher at Cossitt Avenue Elementary School in suburban LaGrange, told the story of a new teacher getting thrown into virtual learning this fall without proper training after her prep program was cut short by the coronavirus pandemic. “She’s learned to be a classroom teacher with an incomplete foundation from a teacher preparation program,” said Parker, who met the educator through a Teach Plus Illinois mentor program. “The story of this educator is not idiosyncratic. In fact, there are 4,000 newly licensed teachers in the state facing similar challenges.” Parker recommended to the board that $8 million be put toward supporting new teachers. He was one of about 20 educators, advocates, and district leaders who testified at a virtual state board of education hearing Wednesday that the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated some of the inequities felt by school administrators, teachers, and students. It’s unlikely, however, that school districts’ leaders and advocates will see an increase in state funding anytime soon. The pandemic has made Illinois’ shaky financial position worse. The governor has said he plans to hold school funding flat this year, but there are mounting concerns about the toll of plunging revenues on future budgets.”


Chicago Public Schools Enrollment Plummets

By Sarah Karp for WBEZ

“Amid a pandemic and all remote learning, Chicago Public Schools saw its biggest decline in student enrollment in two decades. Enrollment is down by about 4% or about 14,500 fewer students this year compared to last year, according to school district figures released Friday. This accelerates a downward trend over the last nine years. Just a decade ago, the school system had nearly 403,000 students. This year, the official enrollment count is at 340,658. But Chicago’s enrollment loss is not unique. This year, most big city school districts have seen enrollment drops of between 3% and 5%, said Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council of the Great City Schools. In Chicago and many other school districts across the nation, much of the drop is due to preschoolers and kindergarteners deciding not to enroll. Fifty-seven percent of the drop in enrollment compared to last year is among these young students, according to CPS. Forty-one percent of the enrollment drop is in pre-K alone.”


CPS students petition to shorten the class day — and end homework — during remote learning, citing headaches, stress and too much screen time

By Hannah Leone for The Chicago Tribune

“After a month of remote learning, Idalia Rizvic was getting headaches, feeling stressed and struggling to finish her schoolwork early enough to hang out with her family before bedtime. So last week, the eighth grader at Boone Elementary in West Rogers Park started an online petition to shorten the virtual school day. “Covid has been a stressful time for all, and online school adds onto that,” Idalia wrote. “We still get the same amount of work, and ‘homework’ has lost its purpose.” After spring’s abrupt transition to remote learning, many students indicated they wanted more live instruction and engagement. But for some, stricter schedules this year have been too much. As families and educators wait for Chicago Public Schools to say whether the second quarter will bring students back to classrooms, many feel that either way, something needs to change. Idalia’s mother, Senada Rizvic, said the past month has been “too much screen time, less sleep, more headache.”