Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss: October 16 – October 22, 2021

Hansberry College Prep Celebrates Latinx Heritage Month

By the Noble Network of Charter Schools

“At Hansberry College Prep this month, Latin music played throughout the halls, tacos and nachos were served at lunch, and the building buzzed with excitement as the students could be heard cutting paper and vowing that their door decorating skills were the best. All this in celebration of Latinx Heritage Month. One of the biggest events: the Latinx Heritage Door Decoration Contest. Each advisory group chose a Latinx culture to celebrate and theme their door after. Take a look at some of the doors they created: In first place came Wilson’s advisory with their “I Am Afro-Latino” door celebrating Puerto Rico. In second place, Greene’s advisory with their door celebrating Colombia. And in third place, Santana’s advisory with another door celebrating Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico and several different countries were represented at Hansberry, including Ecuador, Spain, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Argentina, Mexico, and Bolivia. Their Latinx Heritage Month celebrations will wrap up with their dance team, the Bengal Dance Club, performing salsa dance during lunch this week.”


Latinx Heritage Month 2021 Diálogo

By the Noble Network of Charter Schools

“For this Latinx Heritage Month, we hosted a diálogo with some of our Noble community members and asked: What does it mean to be Latinx at Noble, in Chicago, and in the U.S. at large?  Hear from four Noble staff and alumni as they discuss what it means to them to be Latinx and other big topics that affect Latinx communities across the world.”


Illinois changes definition of COVID-19 school outbreaks to align with CDC guidance

By Karen Ann Cullotta for The Chicago Tribune 

“The Illinois Department of Public Health is recommending schools follow new federal guidance that would redefine the number of cases needed to constitute a school outbreak of COVID-19. The IDPH’s move to adopt the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists’ guidance for pre-K-12 school-associated outbreaks relies on a new national recommendation that defines a school outbreak as either multiple cases comprising at least 10% of students, teachers or staff within a core group, or at least three cases within a core group, officials said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention previously recommended that two cases associated with a school be considered an outbreak, officials said. “In an effort to more confidently establish whether transmission of COVID-19 occurred in school versus another location, IDPH is following CDC’s recommendations,” IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike said in a Friday statement.”


Chicago schools staff more likely than police, fire employees to be vaccinated

By Mauricio Pena for Chalkbeat

“More than 5,000 Chicago Public Schools employees remained unvaccinated as of late last week, but the district reported higher vaccination rates than other large city agencies, such as the police and fire departments, according to data released Monday. Chicago Public Schools said that 34,066 of its 39,732 employees were vaccinated, putting the district at 86% compliance. A total of 5,666 employees were not vaccinated as of 7 a.m. on Oct. 15. The majority of the unvaccinated employees — 73% — were non-teaching staff, according to data obtained from Chicago Public Schools. Among unvaccinated Chicago Public School employees, 1,547 — or 14 percent — had been approved for exemptions for medical or religious reasons. Citywide, 79 percent of employees across city agencies reported vaccination status. Of those, 84 percent were fully vaccinated, according to numbers released by the Department of Human Resources.”


Chicago’s 5-year high school graduation rate hits record amid the pandemic

By Mila Koumpilova for Chalkbeat

“Despite the pandemic’s disruption, Chicago high school students graduated at a record high rate for the second year in a row this past spring, with upticks for students of all races. Overall, 83.8% of students graduated in five years in 2021, compared with a rate of 82.5% last year, the district said Thursday. That increase comes after a year of largely remote learning, marked by increases in failing grades and drops in attendance, especially for students of color. The four-year rate declined slightly, from 80.8% in 2020 to 80.2% this school year. Officials said gains in graduation among Black students helped drive the growth, with Black males increasing by 2.1% year-over-year and Black females increasing by 1.8%. Graduation rate growth among Latino students did not keep pace with the district’s growth overall, with Latino males increasing by 0.3 percentage points and Latino females increasing by 0.5 percentage points. . The district also touted its lowest-ever dropout rate of just below 4%.”


Illinois to make teacher evaluations optional for second year

By Samantha Smylie for Chalkbeat

“For the second year in a row, Illinois school districts are being encouraged to evaluate teachers but will not be penalized for not doing so, the state board of education said Tuesday. Last school year, when districts were mostly remote due to the coronavirus pandemic, the state board of education provided districts with some flexibility on how to evaluate teachers. At the time, members said they hoped 2021-22 would return to normal. But with districts currently struggling to reopen amid staff and food shortages, board officials argued Tuesday that it would be best to pause their evaluation system for another year. “We know that our leaders are being substitutes, they’re driving buses, and handling so much more to address many of the challenges brought forth by the pandemic and meeting the needs of our students,” State Superintendent Carmen Ayala said at the meeting.”