Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss – Week of March 11th, 2019

First charter school gets funding from Chance the Rapper grant
By Yana Kunichoff for Chalkbeat
“For the first time since Chance the Rapper gave a $1 million check to a school in Chicago two years ago, a charter school will be a recipient of the Chicago-born rapper’s philanthropic dollars. LEARN South Chicago, a campus of the elementary-only LEARN charter network based in South Chicago, will receive $100,000 to fund three years of computer science programming. “The funding will be a good way to ensure that our scholars have access to engage in firsthand experience with STEM,” said David Lewis, the principal of LEARN South Chicago, referring to science and math education. The donation comes as pressure has grown on charter schools in Chicago, with both mayoral front-runners favoring of a moratorium on their growth.”

In Chicago, Teenage Peace Warriors Are Working To End Gun Violence
By Isaac Saul for A Plus
“A Chicago teen is taking up the fight against gun violence in Chicago by spreading love. Audrey Wright, a senior at North Lawndale College Prep High School, is the president of a student-led organization called Peace Warriors. The group helps console students who have lost loved ones to gun violence while also employing Martin Luther King Jr.’s methods of nonviolent reconciliation to diffuse situations. “Last school year, we did 178 condolence runs out of the 183 school days,” Wright said during a recent speech. “Most of them due to someone dying behind a bullet. But coming to Peace Warriors has helped me cope with my emotions.” Wright has called on Chicago’s city leaders to take up the fight against gun violence by putting more resources into minority communities and public schools. “We need a city that cares,” Wright said. “So I’m challenging our new government officials to listen to our voices that understand the pain that we have to go through every day and do something about it.” You can watch her full speech in the video above.”

Side-by-side: Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle’s plans for Chicago
By the Sun-Times Editorial Board
“The Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board sent mayoral candidates a list of questions to find out their views on a range of issues facing the city. Former federal prosecutor Lori Lightfoot and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle will face off in the April 2 runoff, with the winner becoming the first African-American woman to serve as mayor of Chicago. Here are their responses, pulled from their questionnaires…What is the appropriate role of charter schools within the Chicago Public Schools system? Preckwinkle: During the last administration, charters have become a weapon for corporate privatization of education. Given the scandals that occurred around Uno, Noble and other networks, it’s time to stop the expansion of school privatization so we can focus our efforts on improving oversight and ensuring that all our schools treat families, students, and teachers with respect. I support a freeze on any new charter schools until a fully elected school board can be implemented. Lightfoot: I support a freeze on new charter schools. We must hold existing charter schools accountable for educating our children just as we do Chicago Public Schools. We must change the relationship between CPS and charters. Charters play a significant role in the education of our children, but CPS’ approach is often to treat charters like just another vendor. That must change.”

CPS failed to collect $2 million in tuition from pre-K programs because of fraud, mismanagement, IG report says
By Juan Perez Jr. for the Chicago Tribune
“Chicago Public Schools failed to collect as much as $2 million worth of pre-kindergarten tuition in recent years because of fraud, mismanagement and limited oversight of an outside company’s work, according to a review by the inspector general’s office. Nearly 140 school district employees shorted CPS of approximately $215,000 by either ignoring their bills for pre-kindergarten tuition or understating their incomes on applications for seats in reduced rate programs. A company CPS hired to bill and collect tuition payments from parents worked for years without a contract. The district meanwhile spends tens of thousands of dollars to rent a 3,200-square-foot tuition monitoring office that’s now staffed by one employee. While district employees can be disciplined or fired if they don’t repay their parking tickets or other city debts, school board rules don’t carry similar penalties for not paying pre-K tuition.”

Audubon School seventh-grader Aaron Chang advances to National Spelling Bee
By Troy Closson for the Sun-Times
“After consecutive years of second-place finishes, seventh-grader Aaron Chang finally got to take home the big trophy. And even though he’d twice missed out on being named the winner, Aaron, from Audubon School, didn’t have much to say after coming out on top during Thursday’s Chicago Public Schools’ annual Citywide Spelling Bee Championship. “It feels pretty amazing,” he said. Coming into another year of the competition at Lindblom Math and Science Academy, Aaron said he “felt pretty confident.” But he also said that after getting this year’s list of words, he “was kind of nervous.” But those nerves didn’t stop him from acing all the words thrown at him throughout the Spelling Bee. After the other finalist, eighth-grader Maya Joshi from South Loop Elementary, tripped up over the spelling of “exaggerate,” Aaron correctly spelled “pembroke” — in addition to “privet” beforehand — to finally land the top honor.”