Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss – Week of March 25th, 2019

New Numbers Show Low-Income Students at Most of America’s Largest Charter School Networks Graduating College at Two to Four Times the National Average

By Richard Whitmire for The 74 Million

“A fresh look at the college success records at the major charter networks serving low-income students shows alumni earning bachelor’s degrees at rates up to four times as high as the 11 percent rate expected for that student population. The ability of the high-performing networks to make good on the promise their founders made to struggling parents years ago — Send us your kids and we will get them to and through college — was something I first reported on two years ago in The Alumni. Writing the new book I’m about to publish with The 74, The B.A. Breakthrough: How Ending the Diploma Disparity Can Change the Face of America, provided the chance to go back and revisit those results. The baseline comparison number is slightly different but still dismal — just 11 percent of low-income students will graduate from college within six years — while for the big, nonprofit charter networks that serve high-poverty, minority students, most of them in major cities, the rates range from somewhat better to four times better and, in some cases, even higher…Noble Network of Charter Schools (Chicago): Noble has 2,259 alumni who are six years or more out of high school. Among that group, 35 percent have bachelor’s degrees, 7 percent have associate’s degrees and 9 percent are still in college.”

Noble CEO Constance Jones faces a major sales pitch: convincing Chicago’s next mayor to warm to charters

By Yana Kunichoff for Chalkbeat

“On a freezing winter day, Constance Jones walks purposefully through the busy hub of the Noble charter school network’s central office. That decisive stride conveys the approach Jones has taken since becoming CEO of the state’s largest charter network: Don’t hesitate. “As leaders, we are bringing our values and our perspectives and experiences to our leadership,” Jones said. “As a new leader, I brought this value around diversity, equity and inclusion … particularly for our students of color.” In the three months since she was named to the job, Jones, 37, has wasted no time in putting her mark on Noble Network’s 18 schools. She rolled back harsh discipline, opened her office doors to students and parents, and relaxed a restrictive dress code.”

Big day for preschool: Illinois governor says state universal pre-K coming in 4 years; Chicago invests $77 million in early learning

By Cassie Walker Burke for Chalkbeat

Despite “significant’ state structural budget deficit, Illinois and Chicago will continue investing in early childhood education, leaders made clear on Friday. In line with his vision of expanding early education, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Chicago will add more than 100 pre-kindergarten classrooms in 28 communities next school year, an initiative that will cost $27 million. The city also will steer $50 million to community preschool and day care providers to help them expand their clientele to infants, toddlers and 3-year-olds. And statewide, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said for the first time that he expects that universal preschool for 4-year-olds would become a reality within four years. Speaking to reporters Friday, Pritzker said investments in early childhood would start with an additional $100 million in his first budget cycle. “If you really want to save money in a state budget, [early childhood education] is actually one of the best places you put your money.”

Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson unveils 5-year vision

By Mitchell Armentrout for the Sun-Times

“Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson on Tuesday laid out an ambitious long-term strategic road map for the district, with an emphasis on “academic progress, financial stability and integrity.” Presenting the five-year vision to teachers and administrators at Bronzeville Classical Elementary School, Jackson outlined a series of goals for the district to reach by 2024, including: having 90 percent of CPS students graduate in five years or less, with 60 percent leaving with an early college or career credential; having 70 percent of students meet or exceed national averages on standardized reading and math tests; and increasing the number of kindergarteners meeting readiness benchmarks by 50 percent. Jackson said CPS will aim for a 1-to-1 student to digital device ratio while evaluating funding models “with an emphasis on supporting underserved populations.”

Chicago Public Schools Budget Winners And Losers

By Sarah Karp for WBEZ

“With Chicago Schools CEO Janice Jackson on the verge of getting a new boss, about a dozen principals came to the Board of Education meeting Wednesday to pump her up and thank her for awarding their schools specialty programs. The city’s mayor appoints Chicago Public Schools’ CEO, as well as members of the school board, but Mayor Rahm Emanuel is on his way out. Voters on Tuesday will select his successor. Of the two women vying to replace Emanuel, only one, Toni Preckwinkle, has vowed to keep Jackson. Lori Lightfoot has said she would make a decision after she’s elected. The show of support comes after principals on Monday received school-level spending plans for next year, which is earlier than in past years. Overall, the school district plans to spend about $59 million more on schools next year.”