Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss – Week of October 21, 2019

CPS strike updates: Classes canceled again Friday, but Chicago Teachers Union, city report progress after Thursday’s talks

By Marie Fazio, Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas, Paige Fry, and Hannah Leone for the Chicago Tribune

“The Chicago Teachers Union struck a notably more optimistic chord late Thursday on the sixth school day of its strike, with Chief of Staff Jennifer Johnson saying “today was a good day” in negotiations with progress and “substantive discussion.” It’s “absolutely our hope” to be back in the classroom on Monday, Johnson said, adding “we’ll see where we are tomorrow but we are making progress.” Chicago Public Schools officials — who in a departure from past practices also gave their own press briefing following the end of talks Thursday — echoed the union’s encouraging tone, saying there are still sticking points but that talks are moving in the right direction. Sybil Madison, deputy mayor for education and human services, said the team remains focused on productive conversations and “trying to get to a place where we can have teachers and students back in school.” If indeed talks have turned the corner, it didn’t happen soon enough to avoid CPS canceling classes again Friday, the seventh school day since teachers went on strike Oct. 17. The cancellation of Friday classes means the strike has now tied the last major CTU walkout of 2012 in duration. That work stoppage lasted seven school days. This time around, the CTU has made plans for rally and public shows of solidarity Friday and Saturday, which Johnson said was about showing the union’s resolve is still strong.”

As Chicago Teachers Union strike continues, ACT college testing canceled for hundreds of CPS students

By Hannah Leone for the Chicago Tribune

“In another casualty of the Chicago teachers strike, the ACT exams that were scheduled to take place at multiple Chicago Public Schools locations on Saturday have been postponed — bad news for students planning to use those tests in their college applications. Though the ACT is no longer a required test for Illinois high school students, it is accepted by many four-year colleges along with the SAT, which is administered by CPS during the school day. About 500 CPS students were planning to take the ACT this Saturday, CPS confirmed. But the cancellation could also affect non-CPS students who signed up to take the exam at CPS buildings, a district source said.”


By Stephen Hendershot for Crain’s

“First, the good news: Students at once-mired Chicago Public Schools are graduating and heading to college at a record clip. After a decade of steady gains, research shows the results for CPS are now in line with peer school districts around the country and within arm’s length of national averages. The same isn’t true once the students reach college. Far too few make it through to graduation…High schools can help. At Chicago’s Noble Network of Charter Schools teachers have office hours to prepare students for the college environment. Noble counselors stay in touch with students through the first year of college, offering encouragement and advice. “First-generation kids can feel like it would be cheating to build a better relationship with the professor, even though a lot of kids whose parents went to college know that that’s actually a really useful thing to do,” says Matt Niksch, Noble’s interim president.”

Lakers star Anthony Davis took root from humble beginnings in Chicago

By Taina Ganguli for the LA Times

“It’s not really a parking lot, this cracked blacktop underneath a row of cars. White lines denote a basketball court, and a sedan is parked on top of the blue painted area in front of the hoop. A man rushes out the back of Perspectives Charter School to tell another they have to get these cars out of there. This is a space for kids to play. Painted on the ground a few yards from them is a remnant of the reason this humble recreation area exists at all. It’s a white jersey with blue lettering and the number 23 — the jersey Anthony Davis wore when he was a student at this tiny school. In his day, they’d roll out a portable rim for pickup games and cover the back of it with enough rocks to withstand a dunk from the only student who could manage one. Davis partnered with a sponsor six years ago to donate this court, and he’s told people at the school he wants to build them a real gym someday. Davis is now a superstar in a town of superstars, giving hope to a once-glittering Lakers franchise that he and LeBron James are expected to save. But his path to stardom began in a place that didn’t make stars, a school where Davis’ transcendent ability swept everyone into a whirlwind impossible to forget. He never dreamed then that he’d be where he is now.”

Austin sites featured during Open House Chicago

By Suzanne McBride for Austin Weekly

“Hundreds of people were expected to visit nine historic sites in Austin last weekend as part of the Chicago Architecture Center’s annual “Open House Chicago.” Included in this year’s two-day tour — the ninth annual that will feature more than 350 sites across the city and in a few nearby suburbs such as Oak Park — are several Austin sites that participated last year, the first time Austin was part of the event…Many of this year’s Austin sites – all nine are found here – are centered along Central Avenue, like last year. Rogers said it’s ideal to have a “walkable cluster.” “Columbus Park Refectory is an exciting addition,” he said. “It’s a stunning space. … We’re excited to have that site in the mix.” The busiest of the 11 sites that participated in last year’s tour was Fraternite Notre Dame, at 502 N. Central Ave. French nuns operate the site, which saw over 1,000 visitors, Rogers said. “They were very excited to do it again.” So is Kehrein Center for the Arts. The new performing arts center at 5618 W. Washington Blvd. had more than 400 visitors last year for a “hard-hat” tour, as the $5 million theatre restoration was still in the construction phase, said Edmund Siderewicz, director of external relations for Catalyst Circle Rock. The 850-seat theatre, now completed, has been used the last several months by various community groups for dance, music and other productions, as well as public meetings. The building used to house an all-girls Catholic school and sat empty – until a nonprofit took it over a few years ago, Siderewicz said. Also located at the site is Catalyst Circle Rock, a charter school that educates 520 students in kindergarten through 8th grade. “Together we found a way to get the auditorium restored, it’s state of art,” Siderewicz said.”

And here’s a great blog post from earlier this week: 

Catalyst Schools Support Students Beyond High School
“Catalyst Maria, a K-12 school on the southwest side of Chicago, just welcomed their 4th class of seniors into alumnihood this June. Catalyst goes to great lengths to provide support and opportunities – their partnerships number over 40 – to their students the moment they enter the building. The issue they were seeing was not unique to Catalyst; once seniors graduated they were averaging 60-70% for college enrollment and persistence. While these numbers are above average for Chicago Public Schools, Catalyst did not feel it was fulfilling its ultimate benchmark – how our its students doing 5 years from now? 10 years from now? Our school wants strong SAT results, attendance, and a positive environment just as much as any school, but what is it all for if our graduates don’t take their experience at Catalyst and fully utilize it in their pursuit of becoming successful, independent, and happy adults?”