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

The Latest Elevate Chicago & Partner Blogs

Noble in the News: Noble Schools Continue to Lead Rankings Across CPS

“Chicago Public Schools (CPS) released the 2019 school ratings and again Noble schools secured top marks. The 2019 School Quality Rating Policy (SQRP) placed Noble public charter high schools in 10 of the top 12 ranking slots, including four of the top five spots. Noble schools are public schools, open to any student in Chicago, they have no testing required for admission, and as with all CPS schools there is no tuition. Additionally, Noble serves diverse learners at higher rates than the district average.  In the overall rankings, Noble schools outperformed schools that are selective through test-in admissions criteria or which require residency within a certain attendance boundary. “We’re incredibly proud of these outstanding results,” said Constance Jones, Noble’s CEO, “Our students, teachers, and families work extremely hard each day, and these scores are a reflection of that collaborative effort.”


Charter Chatter

40 Under 40: Meet the 2019 class

By Crain’s Chicago Business

“They are social activists. Vice presidents at Fortune 500 companies. They are firsts: First woman to hold their position, first person of color. They are doctors and professors and professional coaches and serve on civic boards. They hold influential roles in government and have created thriving companies. The one thing they have in common? None has yet celebrated their 40th birthday. Inspiring? You bet. Read on for more on Crain’s 2019 40 Under 40 class…Constance Jones. When Constance Jones was named CEO of Noble Network of Charter Schools last year, she started tearing down the dress code and other restrictive policies. A 20-year-old rule required hair color to be natural and tattoos covered. “These things have no impact on academic results,” Jones says. On the day of the changeover in February, Jones dyed her hair purple and visited each of Noble’s 18 campuses. “If I say we’re doing it, I’m going to model it,” Jones says. “Yes, we’re doing it. My hair is purple.” The reforms were important because “as a woman of color, I struggled with bringing my authentic self to work,” she says. “I was holding back a lot for fear of rejection.”


Midewin, I&M Canal and other natural history spots seek to engage younger crowds

By Frank Vaisvilas for the Daily Southtown

“When officials named a portion of the former Joliet Arsenal the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, it was a lie, said archeologist Joe Wheeler. That’s because it’s not actually a prairie. At least not yet. He said nature conservationists are about 24 years into a 100-year project to restore the prairie on the 20,000-acre site in southwest Will County. “This will be for our great-grandchildren 76 years from now,” Wheeler said. And therein lies the basis for a new push to get younger people interested in the facility and other natural and historic sites in the area. “We can’t continue to do this work if no one cares about it. We’re being very diligent in trying to engage future generations,” Wheeler said. He was speaking at the seventh annual Canal Alliance Congress, a meeting of groups associated with the Illinois and Michigan Canal National Heritage Area. The theme of this year’s meeting was to exchange ideas about how to attract and engage younger generations to help enjoy and preserve the amenities around the heritage area. Wheeler cited the Midewin Youth Corps, which offers students from North Lawndale College Prep in Chicago some exposure to nature and conservation efforts at Midewin. “Kids often come back as volunteers,” he said. “We want to turn tree-hugging kids into tree-hugging adults and, eventually, tree-hugging old people.”


The Impact of the CTU Strike

I’m a Chicago Teacher and I Want You to Challenge Me, Not Honk for Me

By Sara Urben for Chicago Unheard

“I am a teacher.  I care about my students and work really hard.  I have spent my entire 14-year career working in urban schools, and wouldn’t change it for anything.  Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, allow me to share some of my unpopular opinions. Here’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately, in light of the recent Chicago teachers strike.   Was it really necessary to #PutItInWriting and mandate that every single Chicago public school have a full-time nurse on staff? Maybe. Maybe not. Wait, can I say that out loud? I can almost hear you thinking, “What a-hole is going to come right out and say that the most vulnerable among us don’t deserve access to healthcare?!?”  I still remember fondly the kindly woman who used to give me band-aids during elementary school. Nurses are angels! Don’t mess with the nurses! Allow me to explain.”


Will the Chicago Teachers Union vote to accept its contract deal and formally end the strike? Results expected today.

By Hannah Leone and John Byrne for the Chicago Tribune 

“Voting will end Friday to determine if the Chicago Teachers Union will accept the tentative contract deal that suspended the teachers strike two weeks ago. The ratification vote began Thursday, and results are expected to be announced later Friday. The balloting comes as the union president said the labor organization is gearing up for future fights, such as what he said were Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s plans to announce a round of school closings — a claim a Chicago Public Schools officials criticized as misleading. But the current fight is not over. If the “no” votes prevail, the teachers strike could start again. And a union official said details still have not been worked out on how $5 million earmarked for veteran teachers pay in each of the five years of the deal would be distributed, so members are voting on the tentative agreement without that information.”


Here’s what CPS teachers will make under the new contract

By Matthew Hendrickson for The Sun-Times

“The Chicago Teachers Union says two upcoming votes — the first by its members and the second by the Board of Education — will provide the dual benefit of helping Chicago Public Schools attract and retain seasoned teachers by giving them more credit and more pay for their years of experience. Members of the CTU will begin voting Thursday on a new contract that, if approved, would raise teacher salaries by more than 16 percent over the five-year deal that was negotiated to end the longest teachers strike since 1987. The result is a starting salary for a teacher with a bachelor’s degree at $58,365 this year, while on the other end of the scale, a veteran teacher with 32 years of experience and a doctorate degree would earn $111,490, according to figures released by the union late last week.”


Here’s how much Chicago’s tentative deals with CTU, SEIU will cost taxpayers

By Cassie Walker Burke for Chalkbeat

“The final numbers are in, and Chicago Public Schools laid out its plans Tuesday on how it will cover the first year of generous deals it struck with the unions representing its 32,500 teachers and support staff.  For the current school year, it will cover the costs — pegged at $137 million additional this year for the contracts with the Chicago Teachers Union and Service Employees International Union Local 73 — in part with $68 million it saved in salaries not paid for six days educators were on strike. The district also received $66 million more than it originally budgeted from a tax surplus fund managed by the city. But those are both one-time solutions, members of the city’s Board of Education acknowledged Tuesday. They reviewed the numbers and raised questions about how much of the city fund, known as tax increment financing dollars, to expect in future years (the answer: no guarantees).  “In the end, we still have a balanced budget,” board President Miguel del Valle said of the district’s revised 2019-20 plan, which the school board weighed Tuesday in advance of votes to finalize the union contracts. But it was not entirely clear how the district plans to pay for the contracts in the next four years.”


General Education News

Chicago Public Schools’ enrollment drops another 6,000 students, extending long downward trend

By Hannah Leone for the Chicago Tribune

“About 6,000 fewer students go to Chicago Public Schools now than last year, but the loss is mitigated in part by more preschool and kindergarten students, according to CPS data. That assessment is based on 20th-day student counts released Friday by CPS, which reported 355,156 total students in its 642 schools. Last year, that number was 361,314. While the numbers continue to drop, the district noted this year’s decline is “significantly reduced … compared to the previous three years.” Last October, the district reported 10,000 students fewer than the previous school year, when 20th-day enrollment was 371,382.”


Lots more Latino students, not so many Latino teachers: Data reflect Illinois’ disparate changes

By Ariel Cheung for Chalkbeat

“The state’s population of Hispanic and Latino students has surged over the past decade, but the slower-evolving teacher force has failed to keep pace, according to the latest state data. This year, one in four Illinois students is Latino, up from one in five a decade ago. In contrast, only 6.7% of teachers are Latino, a slight rise from 5% a decade ago. Despite efforts to diversify Illinois’ teaching corps, 83% of Illinois teachers are white, a figure that has barely budged in the last 15 years, according to Chalkbeat analysis of new data from the 2019 Illinois Report Card. To accelerate hiring of more teachers of color, district leaders in some areas are investing in residencies and grow-your-own programs — but those cost money that many cash-strapped school systems don’t have.”