Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss – Week of May 6th, 2019

Illinois Senate approves plan to expand college aid grants to undocumented, transgender students

By Benjamin Yount for the  Illinois News Network

“The Illinois Senate wants to add more people to list of students who can ask for state help in paying for college. Right now, Illinois students who are in the country illegally and transgender students who do not register for Selective Service are banned from applying for a Monetary Award Program grant. That could soon change. The Illinois Senate voted to add both groups to the list of people who can ask for state aid. State Sen. Omar Aquino, D-Chicago, said it’s about fairness. “These students are Illinois students,” Aquino said on the floor of the Illinois Senate on Wednesday. “They are not undocumented students, they are Illinois students. We’ve already put an investment and a commitment into them in the K through 12 system.” But some lawmakers, like state Sen. Jim Oberweis, R-Sugar Grove, said it’s unfair to the students who follow the rules to dilute the amount of MAP money that’s available. “If we’re going to add new people, who are not citizens, and give them some of the MAP funding, that means we are taking away that funding from other, legal citizens,” Oberweis said. “Does that seem fair?” The plan has already passed the House, and will next head to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s desk.”

Emanuel adds 12 Catholic high schools to Star Scholarship program

By Fran Spielman for the Sun-Times

“Two weeks before leaving office, Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Monday made a dramatic and controversial change to his signature plan to help parents put their kids through college without going to “the poor house.” Instead of limiting the Star Scholarship program to Chicago Public School graduates who maintain a “B” average, City Colleges of Chicago will extend the lucrative benefit to low-income students from 12 Catholic high schools in Chicago. The Star Scholarship covers tuition and books at Chicago’s seven City Colleges for up to three years and qualifies participants for a host of scholarships from dozens of participating colleges and universities. The benefit will now be available to the dozen Catholic high schools that partner with the Big Shoulders Fund, provided that students: live in Chicago; graduate with at least a 3.0 grade-point average; are “nearly college-ready”; have a family income less than $50,000.”

When Migrant Students Come To Illinois, Schools Adjust And Embrace

By Susie An for WBEZ

“There’s been an uptick in students from Guatemala enrolling in schools in the northwest suburbs. Many are undocumented and waiting for their cases to be processed in immigration court. Across the Chicago metro area, the numbers of Latin American immigrants has been growing as well. Students at Fenton High School in northwest suburban Bensenville rise for the Pledge of Allegiance on a recent morning. A spiky-haired boy named Elder puts his hand over his heart, faces the flag and quietly recites the pledge. It’s still new to him, but he takes any chance he gets to practice his English. And he’s not the only one. Elder is one of 48 students from Guatemala enrolled at Fenton this year, part of an uptick of new immigrant Latin American students at his school and others nearby. “In Guatemala, the life is difficult,” Elder said, using his new English skills. “The money is not enough. I need to help my family.” WBEZ is only using Elder’s first name because he has a case pending in immigration court, and he doesn’t want to jeopardize it. Illinois State Board of Education data shows the number of new students born outside of the U.S. has been increasing, especially those from Mexico. Cook County is home to the most Mexican students — nearly 5,000 new kids this year. That’s up from 4,300 in 2016. And of counties in the metro area, Will County has had the highest rate increase. From 2016 to now, the number of students from Mexico has grown by more than 25% to 625 students.”

Illinois Senate considers requiring civics class for middle school students

By Benjamin Yount for the Illinois News Network

“Students in sixth, seventh, and eighth grades in Illinois could soon have a new class in voting and government.  The Illinois Senate is going to take up a proposed requirement to teach civics in middle school.  Illinois high schools already teach civics, but Shawn Healy with the Robert R. McCormick Foundation said students need an earlier start than that. “We also know that the more knowledgeable and confident a person is in their own civic competency and skills, the more likely they are to vote regularly, participate in a wide range of civic activities, and believe that the government is a source for good,” Healy said Tuesday.  A Senate panel cautiously approved the idea.”