Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss – Week of November 4, 2019

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Top Five Myths About Charter Public Schools

“We’d like to believe that everyone working in education can get along and do what’s best for kids. At a minimum, adults should be able to put aside their differences and agree on the same set of facts. Unfortunately, certain organizations have a habit of spreading misinformation about charter public schools to create doubts about the work happening in our classrooms. We want to make sure that when you hear one of these falsehoods, you have the information you need to respond quickly and accurately. Here are the top five myths about Chicago’s charter public schools partnered with the facts to correct that misinformation.”

Charter Chatter

Lakers’ Anthony Davis again teases possibility of playing for hometown Bulls

By Eric Woodyard for WLS

“Although Anthony Davis is widely expected to re-sign with the Los Angeles Lakers as a free agent this summer, he continues to entertain the possibility of playing in Chicago, which he still considers the “Mecca of basketball.” Soon after the Lakers wrapped up Monday’s practice, Davis had to fulfill another personal obligation that meant a lot to him. He surprised members of the boys and girls basketball teams at his alma mater, Perspectives Charter School, at local favorite Lulu’s Hot Dogs. “If you get a chance to come home and play for the Bulls would you do it?” a young athlete asked Davis in the midst of a Q&A segment of the Nike-sponsored event. “Honestly, it’s nothing like playing at home,” Davis responded, after the room filled with laughter. “I don’t know. … I mean, I am a free agent next year, but we’ll see. It’s a possibility.”

Under the radar: Chicago teachers contract rolls forward limits on charter schools

By Yana Kunichoff for Chalkbeat

“Among the many demands on class size, staffing and prep time, one line item in the Chicago teachers proposed contract has escaped much public discussion: a continuation of a moratorium on charter schools.  Passed as a side letter in the tentative agreement during the early days of the strike, the charter moratorium promises no new charter schools and limits charter enrollment over the course of the five-year contract. It essentially continues a moratorium from the Chicago Teachers Union contract of 2016, which broke new ground in Chicago.  While it comes at a time when charter schools are already seeing a freeze from both the state and the city, it shows how the Chicago Teachers Union continues to wield its contract negotiations to impact district policy, particularly on controversial areas like charter school growth…The charter moratorium in the tentative agreement says charter student enrollment by the end of the contract will not exceed 101% of charters’ enrollment capacity as of last school year. Furthermore, there will be “net zero increase” in the number of charter schools.  But while they’re unhappy with the continued limit, charter advocates say that it’s unlikely to make a material difference when many of Chicago’s charter schools, like district schools, are focused on retaining students as overall district enrollment shrinks. Most charter schools are not near their enrollment maximum, and even the most resilient Chicago charters say they are focused on sustaining enrollment. Charters grew in the past decade, although recently at a slower pace. They now serve 15% of Chicago students, up from 9% a decade ago. The gap between actual charter enrollment and the cap is still large, said Andrew Broy of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools.  “There are about 59,000 charter students enrolled today, but the capacity is 14,000 or 15,000 more than that,” Broy said.  Even with the number of new charter schools capped, Broy said the district must receive charter applications, even if it doesn’t move forward with them. If a charter school closes, another could open in its stead according to the agreement, he said.  But union officials say the charter freeze highlights how their activism and contract demands have shifted broader policy.”

The Impact of the CTU Strike

Chicago Public Schools back in session, but students still feel aftermath of teachers strike

By Evelyn Holmes for WLS

“Chicago Public Schools is officially back in session, but the effects of the strike are still taking a toll on teachers and students. Simeon High School’s football team is happily taking on Lakes Community High School in the playoffs after the strike threatened to end their dreams of a state championship. It’s one of the final opportunities players like senior quarterback Jacquez Woodland has to show off his athletic skills for a scholarship to college. While the student athlete’s dream of going to college remains a reality, teens like Cobe Jones say their career aspirations could be another casualty of the Chicago teachers strike. Jones, who wants to become a pediatric dentist, is trying to figure out next steps after the SAT exam he needed to take to apply for early college admission was cancelled for a second time. “Since the strike happened, I missed the deadline, which is November 1st for a lot of schools,” Jones said. “So I have to apply regular decision now.” Jones said he wanted to re-take the exam Saturday after getting a score he wasn’t happy with last month. The teen said he needs to improve his score so he can qualify for scholarships to help pay for his enrollment at Howard University in Washington, D.C. “A lot of scholarships he would have been eligible for, he’s not eligible for,” said Jones’ mother, Antoinette Johnson.”

Judge Rules Chicago Public Schools Athletes Can Take Part in Sectionals

By Chris Hush and Natalie Martinez for NBC Chicago 5

“A judge granted an emergency injunction on Friday evening, which allowed Chicago Public Schools cross country student-athletes to automatically advance to sectional races, nearly a week after a separate judge denied their request to compete in a regional tournament.  In accordance with Illinois High School Association policy, hundreds of CPS athletes weren’t allowed to take part in competitions during the Chicago Teachers Union strike, which ended Oct. 31. In his ruling Friday, Judge Neil Cohen said irreparable harm would have been done to student-athletes if they weren’t able to run, and said allowing them to compete won’t hurt the IHSA. “I’m overwhelmed,” said Kent Sterling, an attorney and father of a runner. “As we were walking, I said, ‘there’s no time left on the clock. This is our last chance.'” On Friday morning, the IHSA board rejected the schools’ request to allow CPS cross country programs to take part in sectionals on Saturday. The IHSA contended upset parents would be violent at Saturday’s tournament if they allowed students to compete.”

Chicago Teachers Union sets dates for members to ratify new contract

By Tom Schuba for the Chicago Sun-Times

“Chicago teachers will vote next week to ratify the tentative contract agreement struck last week with Chicago Public Schools that suspended the union’s longest strike in more than three decades. Eric Ruder, a Chicago Teachers Union spokesman, confirmed the union’s 25,000 members can vote Nov. 14 and 15 at their schools or the CTU’s West Town headquarters. According to the CTU’s constitution, teachers must “vote in a secret ballot referendum” within 10 school days of a strike being postponed. While the CTU’s House of Delegates approved the tentative deal Wednesday in a tight 362-242 vote, members continued to strike Thursday as union leaders negotiated a deal with Mayor Lori Lightfoot to make up five of the canceled school days. Children ultimately returned to class Friday after missing 11 days. If a majority of CTU members who cast ballots accept the tentative contract — which is expected to cost $1.5 billion over five years — the strike will officially end. Then it’s up to the Chicago Board of Education to adopt the contract before it’s finalized. Should union members reject the deal, delegates are required to meet within five days to set a date to resume the strike.”

Property taxes will fund most of CTU’s $1.5 billion new contract

By Greg Hinz for Crain’s Chicago Business

“Chicago homeowners and other property owners will be on the hook for most of the cost of Chicago Public Schools’ record $1.5 billion contract settlement with the Chicago Teachers Union, CPS officials are conceding. “We’ve repeatedly called for more progressive forms of revenue to support CPS public schools: a reinstatement of the corporate head tax; an end to TIF districts and TIF handouts that privilege the wealthy few at the expense of public needs,” CTU spokeswoman Chris Geovanis said in an email after I asked for a response to the CPS statement. And, she added, “CPS needs to reset its priorities to reduce the waste of public dollars, and support more equitable mechanisms to support public education across the state, including right here in Chicago.”

Chicago teachers’ abuse of sick days should leave us all feeling ill

By the Sun-Times Editorial Board

“Lots of Chicago teachers call in sick when they are not sick. Just because they can. Yes, we’re talking about those very same members of the Chicago Teachers Union who just staged a two-week strike to fight — so they told us time and again — for Chicago’s kids. As reported by Matthew Hendrickson of the Sun-Times, that sad fact lies behind a little noticed provision in the teachers’ new tentative contract. The teachers will be allowed to accumulate as many as 244 sick days, which they can put toward an earlier retirement with a full pension. Some teachers will be able to retire about a year and half early. Why would Mayor Lori Lightfoot, the Chicago Public Schools and CTU agree to this change in the contract? To give teachers who are not sick a greater incentive not to call in sick, which is among the more inexcusably disruptive things that can happen to a classroom. CPS found that teachers have been calling in sick about 150% more often since 2012, which is when a provision was eliminated that allowed teachers to save up and cash in — for hard money — up to 325 unused sick days when they retire. No longer allowed to accumulate and cash in so many unused sick days, teachers have been treating them like personal days under a different name.”