Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss – March 1st, 2019

Janice Jackson supporters stump for Chicago schools chief as changes loom at City Hall
By Adeshina Emmanuel for Chalkbeat
“One day after a historic election propelled two black women into a runoff for Chicago mayor, the civic conversation quickly turned to how Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle each plan to distinguish herself on school policy — and whether either would keep homegrown schools chief Janice Jackson in the district’s top seat. Anticipating that decision, several Jackson supporters seized Wednesday’s school board meeting as a platform to stump for the schools chief. Whoever wins the April 2 mayoral runoff election between Lightfoot and Preckwinkle will have the power to keep or replace Jackson. Both candidates have declined to say whether or not they would retain her. Jackson, a product of Chicago Public Schools who has emphasized transparency and equity, enjoys broad support among principals and educators. That contrasts with her predecessor, a bureaucrat with no classroom experience. Forrest Claypool stepped down in December 2017 in an ethics scandal. The dozen people who spoke at the school board meeting bore that out. Ald. Carrie Austin of the 34th Ward praised Jackson as a role model for students in the district — a homegrown leader “who started at the bottom and has worked her way to the top.”


Measure to abolish charter school commission advances
By Greg Bishop for the Illinois News Network
“A state representative sponsoring a bill to abolish the statewide commission that approves proposed charter schools said that he’ll work with members of the charter school community to find common ground on the proposal after it advanced out of committee. Charter schools are public schools, but offer different curriculum and have different rules. While there’s a cap on the number of charters in Illinois, and most are located in the Chicago area, there are charter schools throughout the state. New charters have to go through the local school board. If denied, the Illinois State Charter School Commission, which was established by state statute in 2011, can override the denial and approve the new school. State Rep. Chris Welch, D-Westchester, said his House Bill 2100 to abolish the nine-member commission was aimed at creating a fair process. “This is about respecting local control and providing a fair process for when decisions are made by a local school board,” Welch said.”


Chicago schools have led nation in academic growth — under an appointed board
By Arne Duncan for the Sun-Times
“Polls suggest that a majority of Chicagoans favor an elected school board or some hybrid version of elected and appointed members. Both candidates for mayor, Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle, also have expressed a preference for one of these alternatives instead of a board fully appointed by the mayor. I’d like to make the case that abandoning mayoral control would be a mistake, one with significant consequences for students….Those who favor an elected or hybrid school board seem to want greater representation and accountability. When decisions like school closings are on the docket, people want to feel that their concerns are being considered. And when a school district chief commits fraud, or questions arise about how special education is being handled, we want accountability. I not only understand those emotions and objectives, I share them. That said, it is clear to me that mayoral control is by far the better approach — not just for true accountability, but as means to accomplish what we all really want — schools that serve our children well.”


Suburban skating duo outshine in world of competitive rollerskating
By Erin Ivory by WGN
“While most teenagers are buried deep in their phones and social media accounts, Darius Sanders and Samantha Krusza are lacing up old school style. They’ve been rollerskating for as long as they can remember and now the duo is beating skating competitors twice their age around the world. The two have been locked arm in arm ever since they were paired up four years ago collecting medals and gracing front page articles. This fall, the duo took fourth place in the 2018 Roller Skating Championship in Paris beating out competitors twice their age. “I feel awesome when I’m the youngest cause I just feel like I can prove everything and there’s nothing to lose there,” Krusza said. Sanders’ smile stretches ear to ear when talking about their Paris performance. “After all those years of practice, it is still a shock to think we pulled it off at such a young age,” he said. The two will have a home court advantage for the national competition to qualify for worlds in Barcelona, next July it’s being held right at the Lynwood Sports Center where they practice. The two split their practice time between the Lynwood rink and the Glenwood rink closer to Sanders’ home in Washington Heights.”


Illinois new chief educator: Pritzker board appoints first woman of color to the top job
BY Yana Kunichoff for Chalkbeat
“Gov. J.B. Pritzker recommended the first Latina to the state’s top schools job on Tuesday, a day after he replaced all but one of the state’s nine school board members. Carmen Ayala, formerly the superintendent of west suburban Berwyn North SD 98, was sworn in immediately after the announcement of her appointment to Illinois’ top education post, at the board’s monthly board meeting on Tuesday. “This is a historic day in Illinois… and I’m very grateful and blessed to be part of that,” Ayala said in a brief statement after officially taking the job. “I hope to roll up my sleeves and work hand in hand with this board as well as everyone across the state to make sure that … we are second to none in providing the best education we can for the children we serve.” She began her career at Chicago Public Schools, where she was a teacher for five years. In her most recent role, Ayala was both the first Latina and the first female leader. The suburban district, just west of Chicago, serves 2,900 students, 81 percent of whom are Latino and 89 percent low-income.”