Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss – Week of April 22nd, 2019

Dedicated teachers, overflowing bathrooms: What Chicagoans want Lori Lightfoot to know about their schools

By Cassie Walker Burke for Chalkbeat

“If you could tell Chicago mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot something about your school, what would it be? When we asked, more than 330 educators, parents, and students weighed in. Many parents praised their teachers, but said they are dissatisfied with special-education services, untended facilities, and unheeded complaints. They also didn’t understand why some schools get money for staff and repairs when others don’t, and wanted a clearer window into budgeting. Teachers said that their principals can help or hinder their teaching and that campuses needed more counselors, social workers, psychologists and arts educators. Many educators also worried that students reach secondary school with subpar math and reading skills. Below we’ve posted answers covering a range of topics. The survey did not ask respondents’ full names. Responses were edited and condensed for clarity and brevity.”

“Where Mission Meets Advocacy” Event Will Feature Chicago Peace Warriors

By David Dahmer for Madison 365

“The University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Community and Nonprofit Studies will host its annual event titled  “Where Mission Meets Advocacy” on Thursday, April 24, at the Madison Concourse Hotel in downtown Madison. “Based on individual projects and relationships, we really have a rich array of partners and examples that inform our work and we’re lucky enough, being a campus and academic entity that a lot of us are getting out into the national contacts and learning about these themes,” Mary Beth Collins, executive director of UW-Madison Center for Community and Nonprofit Studies, tells Madison365. “Our goal is to really take all of that stuff that has been coalescing at our center and listen to the communities in Wisconsin that we want to work with and support and hopefully deliver them some new information or new inspiration or new connections that will augment their work.”

When Mentors Commit From Kindergarten Through High School Graduation

By Sarah Karp for WBEZ

“Felix Kombwa started his career working with men who had just gotten out of prison, but he had a nagging feeling it was almost too late to change the trajectory of their lives. So, when he got the chance last year to work with young children, he immediately took it. The 25-year-old is now a mentor with a unique organization that has been around for a quarter of a century, but just opened a Chicago chapter last year. While many groups pair students with adult mentors, Friends of the Children stands apart because it commits to each child for 12 years, from age 5 through the end of high school. The mentors are full time with good salaries, and they work with just eight to 12 children at a time. The program targets low-income children from struggling families. The mentors spend four hours a week with each child: two in the classroom and two at parks, museums or taking the kids to activities or to receive services. According to Friends of the Children data, 83% of its students graduate high school, less than 10% enter the juvenile court system and almost none become teen parents.”

Chicago will start taking universal pre-K applications on April 30

By Cassie Walker Burke for Chalkbeat

“Chicago will start taking applications for public preschool on April 30, and it will offer 2,250 more seats than are available in the current school year. Those seats, offered for free and concentrated in public schools across 28 South and West side neighborhoods, are the first wave of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s universal pre-K expansion. The bulk of the new seats are intended for families whose children will turn 4 by Sept. 1. Among the neighborhoods that will see the most new seats next year are Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Avondale, and Lawndale. The city’s early learning portal, where families go to submit applications, offers a menu of preschool options at both schools and at community-based providers. The universal pre-K rollout is intended to expand seats at both; however, community providers have complained that the universal pre-K rollout has caused their enrollment to dwindle, as families defect for seats at schools. Chicago will continue to offer half-day programs for 3-year-olds, but there will be fewer available in schools. The idea is that, while schools bulk up programs for 4-year-olds, community centers can enroll more 3-year-olds in full-day programs, which will help offset their enrollment losses to schools.”

Chicago’s Boys & Girls Clubs Youth of the Year: ‘I was able to find my voice’

By Maudlyne Ihejirika for the Sun-Times

“I am Joshua William Houston. And this is my voice,” the teen said, his spoken-word delivery commanding instant attention from the audience of 1,000 at Navy Pier. “I am black. But being black holds so much more than just the melanin in my skin. Being black holds the stereotype that I am a danger to society. That I will at some point commit a crime. That no matter what I do, I will go nowhere in life,” Houston, 18, told those gathered for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago’s 2019 Youth of the Year Gala. “This is the stereotype. It frustrates me that people would rather look at the stereotype than look at me,” Houston finished. More than 1,000 people turned out to support the Boys & Girls Clubs  of Chicago at its March 7 Youth of the Year Gala at Navy Pier’s Aon Grand Ballroom. | Provided photo It was part of the youth’s speech, presented alongside five other finalists vying for the nonprofit’s highest local honor, presented annually to one of the 20,000 youth served citywide in recognition of leadership, service and academics. The six finalists had been whittled down from 125 youth nominated from the city’s 20 Boys & Girls clubs, serving at-risk youth in Chicago communities grappling with gangs and gun violence. When Houston was announced Youth of the Year, he got “goosebumps, all over my body,” he recounted in a most humble tone. The award comes with $1000, a laptop, four White Sox tickets and two United Airlines tickets. The teen graduates this year from University of Illinois at Chicago College Prep, a Chicago Public Schools charter. He heads to St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., to study psychology and pre-law next year — recipient of the uber-competitive, four-year Posse Scholarship provided by the Posse Foundation to remarkable teens nationwide — along with a support network of cohorts, to ensure success.”

Sharing A Passion For STEM With Middle School Girls

By Adriana Cardona-Maguigad for WBEZ

“At Bret Harte Elementary School in Hyde Park on the South Side, a group of sixth and seventh grade girls are fixated on their computer screens. They are trying to make a tiny robot, which looks like a mouse on wheels, move and change colors by entering the right computer code. “Okay who wants to go — me!” one exuberant middle schooler shouts. Standing over them are another group of young women — all University of Chicago students excited to share their passion for computer science. They have big plans for these girls. “There simply isn’t enough representation of women in kind of the most advanced computer science classes and … we really want to make a difference,” said Devshi Mehrotra, a UChicago senior studying computer science. “Of course, we can build a computer science female community on campus, but why not start much earlier?” To make that happen, Mehrotra and other UChicago students are bringing computer science to middle-school-age girls in Chicago public schools. Through a campus group called CompileHer, they created after-school computer science workshops to teach at schools like Bret Harte. They also organize “hackathons” and field trips for girls to Google, Microsoft and other companies.”