Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss: November 20 – December 3, 2021

“Come See Us”: Noble Student Shares Her Native American Heritage

By the Noble Network of Charter Schools

“I’m one of many, but also, I have my own story to tell.” Captain of the varsity volleyball team and varsity cheer team, varsity soccer player, and senior at Pritzker College Prep. Midwest representative for the largest Native youth organization in the country. Founder and leader of the nationally-recognized Chicago Indigenous Tribal Youth council. Angelina Serna is one of many Native kids in Chicago, but she certainly has her own story to tell. And especially for Native American Heritage Month, she wants to tell it. “When I tell my story, I know there’s always somebody either watching me or who can relate to me,” Angelina says, “This month means I can express myself and educate people. There are typical stereotypes, and we don’t always fit those stereotypes. We have our own culture, and we believe in our culture and our beliefs, and our grandfather teachings. They should be taught so people are aware and they’re not just following a stereotype.”


Catalyst Charter School Searches – and Creates—Scholarships for Students

By the Illinois Network of Charter Schools

“Scholarships provide financial support in the form of tuition, funds for books and supplies, or money directly to students to spend as they choose toward their future. Estimates show there are over 1.7 million scholarships worth over $7.4 billion available every year for students. But knowing where to find them, checking eligibility, completing the applications, writing the essays, and filing before deadlines can be extremely overwhelming. This is where schools, community leaders, and organizations can step in to ensure all students have the information and resources to apply for scholarships. At Catalyst—a charter school located in Chicago—the school prioritizes scholarships and dedicates class time for seniors to apply to opportunities. School counselors have also created a database with scholarship opportunities applicable to their students with links, notes, deadlines, and tips to follow for submission.”


University of Illinois creates partnership with Chicago High Schools to launch innovative student run 

By Brian Miller for MVP Sports Marketing

“A new digital television network is launching in the Windy City. The Chicago Arts and Athletics Network (CAAN) powered by the University of Illinois will highlight the talents of students on and off the field at various High Schools in Chicago and the suburbs…This educational-based program empowers students to put on headsets and get in front of – or behind – the camera to gain valuable experience in producing live broadcasts. Many schools in the area, have added broadcast journalism or digital media courses to their curriculum or have created student-run broadcast clubs to broadcast sporting events, activities, band concerts, theater productions, and even proms, homecoming dances, and graduations….“We’re extremely excited about the network! It will not only allow us to showcase our students to a broader audience, but it also allows our school community and families to support them [students] from afar. We’re just as excited about the programming opportunities this provides our students. They get to learn new skills in a very exciting and ever-emerging media field,” – Tiray Jackson, Director of Athletics at Perspectives Charter Schools.”


Illinois releases district-level data for school report cards showing declines across all demographics. Many students didn’t take the test.

By Karen Ann Cullotta for The Chicago Tribune 

“Illinois families from low-income communities and those living in some of the wealthiest enclaves in the state found common ground this week, with school district results from the state’s 2021 student assessments showing declines in academic proficiency during the COVID-19 pandemic across all demographics. The data from roughly 90% of Illinois school districts that delivered the mandated Illinois Assessment of Readiness to students in spring in third through eighth grades and the SAT to high school juniors were unveiled this week, revealing a stark yet not unexpected snapshot of the pandemic’s impact on academic achievement.”


Chicago’s substitute teacher shortage is hitting Black and Latino schools especially hard

By Sarah Karp for WBEZ Chicago

“The Chicago Teachers Union is sounding the alarm about new data that shows many schools this fall aren’t getting substitute teachers when they request them, especially in schools serving Black students. “Our teachers, clinicians and [support staff] are straining under the conditions,” CTU President Jesse Sharkey told the Chicago Board of Education this week. Over the first two months of this school year, substitute requests were filled just 63% of the time, according to school district data analyzed by the teachers union and given to WBEZ. Certain types of schools have it much worse. In about a third of the schools, when a substitute teacher was requested, no one showed up more than half of the time, according to the CPS data. Most of these schools serve all Black and Latino students. Frazier is in North Lawndale, a community where schools are having a particularly hard time getting substitute teachers, according to CPS data. Meanwhile, the schools in Forest Glen and Mount Greenwood — two mostly white communities on the edges of the city — mostly got their substitute requests filled.”


Illinois school district superintendents demand local control in COVID-19 policies: ‘The kids are telling us, go and fight for us’

By Karen Ann Cullotta for The Chicago Tribune

“Determined to loosen stringent COVID-19 mandates at Illinois schools, a contingent of school district superintendents on Thursday called on the State Board of Education to return local control to communities, and to take steps toward a less restrictive “post-pandemic” reality. The public educators — many of whom represent public school districts in central and southern Illinois — joined forces at Thursday’s state board meeting to express frustrations with Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s school mask mandate, and urged the board to allow schools to rely on local metrics to decide what is best for their communities. Since schools fully reopened at the start of the new school year, the state’s mask mandate has been the target of volatile parent protests at school board meetings, with critics saying the COVID-19 mitigation strategy recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is harmful to students’ mental and physical health, and violates parental rights.”


Substitute teacher shortage has Chicago Public Schools principals getting creative to cover classes

By Sarah Schulte for ABC7

“The sub shortage is hitting local schools hard, with some districts unable to find enough teachers to staff their classrooms. Walt Stallings took a job as an adjunct writing professor at DePaul University after giving up on a long-term gig as a Chicago substitute teacher. A substitute teacher shortage has become a nationwide problem, especially at some of Chicago Public Schools. According to October CPS data, Englewood STEM High School has only been able to fill 26% of its requested sub positions. A few schools on the South and West sides with Black and Latino students are struggling with rates even below 20%, while some schools, like Blaine on the North Side have filled over 90% of its requests.”


Less than 13% of CPS students under 12 vaccinated so far, officials say

By Nader Issa for the Sun-Times

“Chicago Public Schools CEO Pedro Martinez says he’s concerned by lagging student vaccination rates as the district sees infections and quarantines beginning to rise heading into the holiday season, and as a new COVID-19 variant causes worries. Just less than half of CPS students aged 12 and up have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 despite becoming eligible last spring, officials said Tuesday. And only 12.6% of younger students in the 5-11 age group approved for shots this month have received at least one jab, meaning far fewer are fully vaccinated. More than 90% of staff have completed their vaccine series. “I’m still very concerned on the percentages of our students,” Martinez told reporters at a City Hall news conference with Chicago Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady. “In terms of fully being vaccinated, we want to get well above 50%.”