Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss – Week of May 20th, 2019

CPS Pledges To Offer “High-Quality” Curricula For All Grades, All Schools

By Sarah Karp for WBEZ

“For the first time, Chicago Public Schools says it plans to offer equal access to quality learning materials for all grades and all schools. Chicago Public Schools is planning to spend as much as $135 million over the next three years to make sure all students preschool through 12th grade have access to high-quality learning material. The plan will be up for approval at the Chicago Board of Education meeting on Wednesday. Chief Education Officer LaTanya McDade said the initiative is one way the school district is addressing the issue of black students performing notably worse on standardized tests than Latino or white students. She said this initiative is about tackling the “opportunity gap.” Currently, she said, “students will be in one school and will have access to grade-appropriate curriculum that is rigorous with high expectations for students and, in another school that is just not the case, and students are not getting what they need.” Somewhat surprisingly, McDade said the school district has not previously offered teachers access to curriculum or learning material across all grade levels at one time.”

‘We must meet our educational challenges together’: What Lori Lightfoot said about schools on her first day as Chicago’s mayor

By Cassie Walker Burker for Chalkbeat

“Speaking Monday before a jubilant crowd at Chicago’s Wintrust Arena just south of the city’s booming downtown, a steely and sometimes emotional Lori Lightfoot stressed that she will work to “put equity first in education” and to support educators, nurses, and other adults working to create a “safe and nurturing environment” so children can learn. She also pledged to broaden opportunities for the city’s youngest learners as well as vocational options for teens for whom college may not be the right path. The first black woman to be mayor of Chicago, Lightfoot gave a poignant inaugural speech that evoked the image of the city’s flag and her hope of “building and rebuilding” a city that has been divided by race, economic inequality, and violence.”

Lori Lightfoot makes it official: She’s keeping Janice Jackson as Chicago schools chief

By Cassie Walker Burke for Chalkbeat

“Following weeks of speculation about how she’d fill senior leadership roles, Chicago’s new mayor Lori Lightfoot said Tuesday that she’ll retain homegrown schools chief Janice Jackson in the top job at Chicago Public Schools. That decision was largely expected. Lightfoot said during the campaign that she recognized the need for stability atop schools. Until previous Mayor Rahm Emanuel named Jackson schools interim chief in December 2017 — she became permanent a month later — Chicago schools had been overseen by a seven schools chiefs in a span of five years. One left under a cloud of an ethics scandal; another ended up in prison. Five days after the election, Lightfoot told the Chicago Sun-Times that she “came away very impressed” in an early meeting with Jackson.”

Chicago Teens Dream Big For Their Schools, Their City

By Adriana Cardona-Maguigad for WBEZ

“One day after Chicago inaugurated its new mayor, hundreds of Chicago students put their ideas together and presented solutions to tough problems facing their schools and their city. From building portable closets for homeless students to developing a radio show to help find missing people, students from 60 Chicago public schools dreamed up about 100 projects. They showcased their ideas at an event organized by Mikva Challenge, which helps promote civic engagement among youth, and CPS on Tuesday. Students from at least eight schools also highlighted school cleanliness, building maintenance and school food quality as areas that need to be improved. Kelsey Campbell, a student at Juarez High School, described the food at her school as “90% of the time disgusting.” A regular lunch, she said, is burned pizza and warm milk. She said students often complain of stomach aches after eating and blame it on the food. Campbell belongs to a civic engagement program for CPS students that brings in partners like Mikva Challenge to connect students with experts and resources. She and other students hope to meet with school officials to offer solutions, including allowing outside food in schools and ending CPS’ contract with Aramark, the company that distributes the food and cleans schools. Campbell said the district should hire smaller nearby vendors instead.”

Surprise — Lori Lightfoot’s first City Council address is to high school students

By Cassie Walker Burke for Chalkbeat

“On Thursday, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot stepped up to the Chicago City Council podium for the first time. Her audience wasn’t the city’s aldermen, but rather 50 Chicago Public Schools students representing some of the very schools she pledged during her campaign to revitalize. The students, who were participating in a mock government day, represented 10 neighborhood high schools that sometimes struggle to attract students drawn by the city’s rigorous selective-enrollment schools. Students spent the day writing and debating ordinances covering such of-the-moment topics as culturally-relevant curriculum and better training for the police who staff their schools. Midway through the votes, Lightfoot arrived, surprising the students, many of whom quickly whipped out their mobile phones to snap close-ups of the first black woman to lead Chicago.”