Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss – Week of April 15th, 2019

A ‘Bot’ That’s Changing the Game for College Selection: Meet the Midwest Software Whiz Whose Program Is Now Helping Students Find Better Fits — and Earn More Degrees

By Richard Whitmire for The 74

In my 2016 book, The Founders, I tried to track down all the people who had something to do with creating the big charter management organizations that were making a difference in the lives of poor, minority students… By the end of the book, the list of major players grew to well over a hundred. Nowhere in The Founders, however, was the name Matt Niksch. Based on the interviewing for this book, I can now admit that was an omission. In the world of charter school breakthroughs in college success, which I believe is their biggest contribution in the education field, Niksch (pronounced as in New York Knicks) is one of the biggest names out there — and the biggest name you’ve probably never run across. Niksch occupies a unique position. He’s not a charter school founder, nor an operator. He’s a software guy, and his college-advising software programs, written for his Chicago-based Noble Network, have spread throughout the charter networks and now appear likely to get adopted by traditional school districts.”

Englewood students volunteer with IGrow Chicago

By Hosea Sanders for ABC 7

“A part of National Volunteer Week, Englewood students gave their time to help others.  Students from Perspective Charter Schools participated in philanthropic activities all year to earn a ticket to the WE Day concert at Allstate Arena. Students worked to create care packages for IGrow Chicago.  “The care packages that this particular organization put together so they can help people in the community,” said Perspective Charter School Peace Team Ambassador Rhonda Woods. “Someone comes in and says they don’t have hot water in their home and they need to take a shower. They can take a shower here and provide them with items that they can take a shower with and have some things to take with them.”  Socks, lotion, soap and other basic life necessities are packed inside the bags, along with personalized notes of encouragement to those who need it most.”

Chicago students send satellites into orbit with help of Adler Planetarium

By Natalie Bomke for Fox 32

“It was a countdown to success Wednesday at Chicago’s Adler Planetarium as a project built by Chicago students blasted off into space aboard a rocket headed for the International Space Station.  The rocket will be carrying tiny satellites that look like slices of bread. Back here on earth, students will study the information the satellites collect. The satellites were built by students at ITW Speer Academy in Belmont Cragin. With this mission, the Adler becomes the first planetarium in space!”

Illinois is doing better by its youngest learners — but it’s reaching too few of them

By Cassie Walter Burke for Chalkbeat

“After losing ground for many years in early education compared with other states, Illinois has started to play catch-up by boosting funding for young learners and building new tools to assess whether children are learning, according to a report released Wednesday by a prominent research group. But the state still lags behind most of its neighbors — and the national average — in the percentage of children it enrolls in preschool programs: Even with last year’s funding boost under then-Gov. Bruce Rauner, Illinois still only reached 27 percent of its 4-year-olds, compared with 33 percent nationally, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers Graduate School of Education, which authored the report. In comparison, Wisconsin and Iowa each enrolled more than half of their 4-year-olds. On the opposite end of the spectrum was Indiana, which has been slow to sign up children and has left federal money on the table intended to get a program off the ground.”