Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss – Week of June 17th, 2019

Editorial: Illinois politicians have school choice. But they want to curb it for other people’s kids.

By the Chicago Tribune Editorial Board

“As part of the General Assembly’s continued attack on school choice for underprivileged Illinois schoolkids, lawmakers sent Gov. J.B. Pritzker legislation abolishing a commission that has independently evaluated charter schools since 2011. The bill eliminates the Illinois State Charter School Commission. That would weaken the ability of new charter schools to open, and of existing ones to remain. If Pritzker signs the bill, it would mark another significant step backward for school choice options for low- and middle-income kids in Chicago and across Illinois. The commission most recently overruled a Chicago Public Schools decision to close Urban Prep Academies West Campus, an all-boys charter school on the city’s Near West Side that draws students from Chicago’s most challenged neighborhoods. The school’s academic success slipped in recent years, but charter schools like Urban Prep face much deeper scrutiny, higher expectations and stricter budget demands than ordinary public schools do. CPS moved to revoke the school’s charter. The commission overruled that decision, for now. That’s the rub. Illinois charter schools face tough oversight while underperforming neighborhood schools statewide are allowed to fail families for generations.”

South Side Creative Arts School Set To Open This Fall, Principal Says The Concept Is A Dream

By Katherine Newman for the Chicago Citizen

“For the last several weeks, there has been a steady buzz on the south side surrounding the new Art in Motion creative arts school that is set to open in South Shore this coming fall. The school, which is a Chicago Public Schools charter school, will be tuition free with no entrance exams or auditions and will not have a mandated attendance boundary thus making it fully accessible to students across the city. The principal of Art in Motion, Kara May, has been hosting meetings for interested students and their parents as well as engaging community stakeholders and local officials to spread the word that they are accepting applications for the first class. “Art in Motion is a dream,” said May. “We are focusing on creative arts for students on the south side. We will have visual arts, dance, vocal performance, and literally arts that will turn into a drama program. We will have all these opportunities for students to be more in touch with who they are as people and individuals while melding it with academics so they can be competitive when they leave.”

Lightfoot unveils $1.4M summer program for 400 high school students most vulnerable to violence

By Fran Spielman for the Sun-Times

“Four hundred teenagers “mostly likely to be impacted by gun violence” this summer will be offered a constructive, lucrative, and potentially “life-changing” alternative, thanks to a $1.4 million program unveiled Wednesday. Mayor Lori Lightfoot has vowed to confront Chicago’s cycle of gang violence by focusing “like a laser” on young people most at risk of becoming victims — or perpetrators. On Wednesday, the day before the school year ends for students in Chicago Public Schools, the mayor held a news conference at Percy Julian High School to take a small step toward delivering on that promise. Youth Advocate Programs and Children’s Home and Aid will join forces over a six-week period to provide 400 at-risk teens with “individualized mentoring” for four hours each day. The intensive program known as “Summer for Change” will also offer “group-based, trauma-informed therapy” several times each week that will give participating high school students a chance to talk through the violence they have either witnessed or the bloodshed that has somehow touched their lives.”

CPS Teacher Develops Toolkit To Fight White Nationalism

By Odette Yousef for WBEZ

“Two years ago, Nora Flanagan’s fifth grade son told her he’d found Nazi graffiti on the bathroom walls at his school. When she asked him if she should tell the principal, he said no. “So we worked out a deal,” said Flanagan, an English teacher at Northside College Preparatory High School in Chicago’s Albany Park neighborhood. “I taught him how to remove Sharpie with an alcohol pad, and he would go in there every day and clean swastikas off the wall with an alcohol wipe.” Flanagan said she regrets not reporting the incident to administrators at her son’s elementary school. That’s because 30 years ago, Flanagan saw a neo-Nazi youth movement take root in her childhood neighborhood of Beverly, on Chicago’s Southwest Side. She said she believes inaction by adults was partly to blame. “There were a lot of people in Beverly that didn’t think it was a big deal, or weren’t that bothered by it or passively condoned it,” said Flanagan. “And I now know that that was when there was a considerable concerted effort to recruit and mobilize white nationalists around the Midwest.” Flanagan said she believes she’s seeing the resurgence of a similar effort by hate groups to recruit students online and she worries that school communities are unprepared. So Flanagan co-authored a toolkit to help educators, students, parents and other school stakeholders recognize and fight white nationalism in student settings. The thin booklet, titled Confronting White Nationalism in Schools: A Toolkit, was published early this year by a progressive nonprofit in Oregon called the Western States Center.”