Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss: October 9 – October 15, 2021

A Note From Our CEO: Reflecting on the First Month of School

By the Noble Network of Charter Schools

“Dear Noble, It has been a little over a month since we reopened our doors to a new school year. I have had a range of emotions these past few weeks, from hope and inspiration to moments of sadness and heartbreak. Like many of you, this summer, I was full of so much hope for what it would mean to be together again, in our schools, side by side. And now, I realize that despite my hopes, this school year is still not normal.  I am acutely aware of the challenges we are facing in and out of our buildings right now. It is impossible to ignore that we are surviving in the midst of an ongoing pandemic, that stress and fear linger over many of us – including our students and families, and staff every day. It infiltrates thousands of decisions we must make to keep ourselves and our families safe. Violence has flared across the nation and Chicago in unforeseen ways. We all have witnessed a tremendous uptick in violence in our communities, and it is spilling over onto our schools’ doorsteps and in our hallways. A number of our campuses have lost students, alumni, and family members. This is all heartbreaking and exhausting. And, it is not lost on me that the fighting and violence we are seeing from our students in our schools is distressing and a symptom of the trauma they are carrying with them. The fighting we are seeing across all of our campuses impacts staff, students, parents, alumni, and leaders alike.”


“Bringing You In”: A Noble Teacher’s Reflection on National Coming Out Day

By M. Dev Childs for The Noble Schools

“Hello, my name is MC (M. Childs) and I am a Learning Specialist at Pritzker College Prep. I have been out as a queer person for six years now, and within the last year, I came out as nonbinary. My pronouns are they/them. When I started working at Noble this school year, I decided to share my pronouns with everyone– which, not gonna lie, was pretty nerve-wracking. I felt that I needed to bring all of myself to work every day. This started with my name and pronouns. As I write this, I can’t help but feel a little nervous about speaking so candidly about my experience as a queer person in the field of education. But I also understand how being openly queer can help a lot of students who may also be exploring their own journey with gender and sexuality. Being a teacher that is openly a member of the LGBTQ community can help students who are questioning their gender and sexuality feel safe and supported at school. As an educator, I aim to create safe and brave spaces for students to be their authentic selves.”


As Many Chicago Schools Remove Cops From Hallways, Data Shows Some Schools Send Kids To Police At Alarming Rates

By Dave Savini for CBS Chicago

“In January 2019, a cell phone video from inside Marshall High School on Chicago’s West Side was posted to Facebook. It shows a student, then-16-year-old Dnigma Howard, at the bottom of a staircase, and two Chicago Police officers trying to handcuff her. One of the officers fires his Taser at Dnigma as she’s on the ground. Now, more than two years and a $300,000 settlement with the school district later, many Chicago schools have opted to remove police from their hallways. At the same time, newly released body camera video sheds light on what happened to Dnigma, and data from the US Department of Education shows some schools send huge numbers of their students like her to the police. It all started at about 9:45 a.m. on January 29, 2019. Dnigma, then a junior, can be seen on the body camera video in a hallway as an officer approaches her. It’s all because of a seemingly ordinary disciplinary matter: having her phone out during school. But things quickly escalated.”


Beyond COVID-19, there’s another crisis emerging in Chicago-area schools: A critical shortage of workers

By Karen Ann Cullotta for The Chicago Tribune 

“As the leader of suburban River Trails School District 26, Superintendent Nancy Wagner begins each morning with the formidable task of ensuring the latest numbers do not portend a calamity for her students and staff. Like all educators, Wagner is keeping close tabs on COVID-19 rates during the pandemic to make certain the school community is safe. But the data proving perhaps most daunting for Wagner these days has less to do with the virus, and everything to do with a steep shortage of essential employees needed to keep the Mount Prospect-based district’s four schools up and running. “Since the start of the school year, there have been a number of days, including today, when we’re asking ourselves, ‘What can we go without today?’” Wagner said in a recent interview. “It’s an all-hands-on-deck kind of thing, and our staff is amazing, but it’s starting to take its toll.” A critical shortage of essential school employees in Illinois and across the U.S. this fall — including a scarcity of substitute teachers, school nurses, bus drivers and food service workers — has hit a tipping point this month, nearly forcing officials at one of the state’s largest school districts to cancel classes recently.”


Big changes in how students are picked for CPS’ elite high schools start today

By Sarah Karp for WBEZ

“Chicago eighth graders can start applying to the city’s test-in and specialty high schools beginning Wednesday under a new process designed to increase accessibility, though people wonder if it will indeed give poor students and students of color a better shot of getting in. New CPS CEO Pedro Martinez said he is carefully watching and will not be afraid to make more changes in coming years if there are barriers for some students. Among Chicago’s 11 test-in schools are some of the top schools in the country. But the most competitive ones, including Payton College Prep and Jones College Prep, disproportionately enroll white, Asian and higher income students. Meanwhile, the number of Black students and students from low-income families enrolled in these schools has dwindled in recent years. Eighth graders can also apply to dozens of other competitive programs in other schools, including International Baccalaureate and honors programs.”