Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss: September 25 – October 1, 2021

The Story Behind Our Logo

By the Noble Network of Charter Schools

“You might have seen Noble Schools’ new logo around Chicago on billboards, masks, and t-shirts. Now, we’re telling the story behind it, who was part of creating the logo, and what it took to make it come to life. This fresh new look reflects the way we are changing — the way we are overhauling our policies and practices to provide an anti-racist education. Each part of our new logo is significant to visually represent this evolution. Here’s a quick breakdown of the meaning behind our logo.”


Chicago Public Schools Enrollment Nosedives Again

By Sarah Karp & Adriana Cardona-Maguigad for WBEZ

“Enrollment in Chicago Public Schools dropped dramatically again this fall as the pandemic appears to be exacerbating a decade-long slide. District-run schools are down about 10,000 students compared to last fall, according to a WBEZ analysis of individual school data from CPS’ website. Public charter and alternative schools, which are included in CPS’ total enrollment figure, also appear to be down but it is unclear exactly how much. Total enrollment is expected to be less than 330,000, according to WBEZ’s estimate of enrollment data from late last week. Last year’s total was 341,000 — down 14,500 from the year before the pandemic began. The school district may no longer be the third largest in the country. Miami-Dade County Public Schools reported about 334,000 students last year. CPS officially counts fall enrollment on the 20th day of school, which is Monday. The school district could release its count then, but in the past the release is usually delayed.”


Some Chicago schools in high-poverty areas lost 1 in 7 teachers to layoffs

By Maia Spoto for Chalkbeat Chicago

“Laila McKinney was dreading senior year at Chicago’s King College Prep. Not just because of COVID-19. Not just because last year was disrupted by remote learning. But because the 18-year-old’s long-term dance teacher, someone she considers a cherished mentor, and her journalism teacher wouldn’t be there. The two were among the 562 educators — 272 teachers and 290 non-teacher employees — laid off by Chicago Public Schools at the end of last school year. The number of layoffs this past spring was the lowest in several years. Still, a Chalkbeat analysis found the layoffs hit small schools in high-poverty areas disproportionately hard. Most schools with clusters of three or more teacher layoffs were shrinking campuses, with at least seven of the 22 schools considered “underutilized” by the district, meaning their enrollment falls significantly short of the building capacity. Chicago’s teacher layoff numbers are under particular scrutiny this fall for two reasons. Advocates and the Chicago Teachers Union say the district should have used federal pandemic relief money to prevent the layoffs.”


Pritzker bumps up against the limits of the law in enforcing pandemic safety restrictions

By Rich Miller for The Chicago Sun-Times

“After well over a year of successfully fending off every legal challenge to his executive powers during the pandemic, it now appears that Gov. J.B. Pritzker might have reached the limits of his authority. The brick wall is Illinois’ decades-old Health Care Right of Conscience Act, which originally was designed to protect doctors and other health care workers from any repercussions if they refused to participate in abortions or other medical procedures/treatments they opposed. The statute is so broadly written that it’s being seized upon by folks who are attempting to evade the state’s vaccination/testing mandates. Nobody at the IASB or the Illinois Association of School Administrators knows yet how widespread the use of this law is, but, said one official, “It’s the most chaotic period I’ve ever seen in Illinois schools.” “It’s really difficult right now because there’s just no clarity,” said the IASB’s Bertrand. There is talk of attempting to require HCRCA refusers to somehow prove their beliefs are “sincerely held.” But that could be fraught with problems. Both teachers’ unions supported the governor’s vax/test mandate. But several of their members are now raising money to hire attorneys. And that means the unions are caught in the middle.”