Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss – Week of October 28, 2019

Jamyle Cannon uses boxing to help West Side kids overcome life’s obstacles

By Manny Ramos for the Chicago Sun-Times

“As students trickled into a repurposed classroom on the third floor of Frazier Preparatory Academy in North Lawndale, they started skipping rope, wrapping their hands in cloth, putting on boxing gloves and shadow sparring. A heavy bag decorated with signatures rocked back and forth as a student threw a left-right punch combination. But Jamyle Cannon, the man overseeing the makeshift gym at 3711 W. Douglas Blvd. last week, was just as concerned as how the kids were doing academically as he was focused on helping them with their boxing technique…Cannon, 31, is the executive director and founder of The Bloc, a boxing club committed to helping West Side kids. But while the Bloc aims to “spread the love for boxing,” it also focuses on providing educational tutoring and academic opportunities and makes sure kids in the program are focused on their studies as well. “They can come and have a sense of belonging here,” he said. Cannon grew up in Lexington, Kentucky, and saw firsthand how inequities in education affected the lives of young people. He had his own problems and was even arrested at the age of 13 after getting into a fight. He believes it stemmed from his internal battle with “false confidence” and wanting to feel a part of something. But it wasn’t until he was in college at the University of Kentucky that he found boxing — and realized it could help with more than just staying in shape…In 2008, Cannon entered the National Collegiate Boxing Association’s Collegiate National Championships tournament and made it to the semifinals before suffering a torn rotator cuff, ending his tournament run. He was devastated, he said, but refused to let the injury define his boxing career, so he continued to train. Then, in 2009, he won the NCBA Collegiate National Championships’ welterweight division. That bout ended up being his last boxing match after he tore his rotator cuff again. After graduation, he joined Teach for America and spent two years in Phoenix. In 2012, he moved to Chicago and started working as a teacher at DRW College Prep, 931 S. Homan Ave.”


Chicago Teachers’ Strike, Longest in Decades, Ends

By Mitch Smith and Monica Davey for the New York Times

“More than 300,000 public school students prepared to return to school as Chicago leaders on Thursday announced an end to an acrimonious teachers’ strike that lasted 11 days, the longest here in decades, and turned life upside down for families across the nation’s third-largest school district. In the end, the clash between the teachers and Chicago’s new mayor, Lori Lightfoot, appeared to have brought mixed results. The city agreed to spend millions of dollars on reducing class sizes; promised to pay for hundreds more social workers, nurses and librarians; and approved a 16 percent salary increase over the coming five years. But not all union members were satisfied; a vote to approve a tentative deal was noticeably split, and some teachers wanted to press on to seek steeper reductions in class sizes, more teacher preparation time and aid for special education. Still, the strike in Chicago, which followed a series of major teacher walkouts in conservative states like West Virginia and Oklahoma as well as liberal cities like Los Angeles and Denver, reflected a renewed wave of activism from teachers. “What it says is that West Virginia and Oklahoma wasn’t sui generis; it wasn’t an isolated moment,” said Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, who made several trips to Chicago during the strike. “This is now a strategy.” Teachers in Chicago drew attention to matters far beyond salary to broad issues of social justice, casting their fight as a battle for equity among the city’s poor and rich families, for safety for immigrants and for affordable housing in an ever more expensive city. And some Democratic presidential hopefuls and others were quick to line up behind the teachers, a pivot from the political mood a decade ago when even some on the left criticized the power of teachers’ unions.”


Chicago teachers’ strike ends after 11 days. CPS will have 5 make-up days of school

By Grace Hauck and Erin Richards for USA Today

“The Chicago teachers’ strike ended Thursday afternoon with the mayor and the union president agreeing on one last detail: Teachers and students will make up five of the 11 days lost to the historic strike. Students in the nation’s third-largest school district will return to class Friday.  The strike had idled academics, sports and college prep for about 350,000 students and their families. As it wore on, students missed lessons, state playoff tournaments and an ACT exam date. The gap in instructional time approached the amount experts point to as detrimental to kids’ learning. Still, parts of the deal could be seen as the latest victory in a wave of labor action by teachers. Since early 2018, teachers have taken charge of education policy debates, marching in the streets and filling state capitols to push for changes in how states educate kids and pay their teachers.”


Chicago posts mostly flat scores on national math and reading exam — and big gaps remain

By Phillissa Cramer for Chalkbeat

“Chicago schools posted several years of gains on the district’s own tests before scores flattened out more recently. Now, an exam that is considered the most reliable measure of student performance nationally shows a similar trend line. Chicago fourth- and eighth-graders’ reading and math scores on the test, formally known as the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, were flat from 2017 to 2019, according to results released Wednesday by the federal government. The results suggest that the significant gains Chicago students made in previous years were not a fluke — but also that the city has not figured out how to extend them. In eighth-grade reading, scores showed a small but significant decline. That’s also the grade and subject area where scores have barely budged in the 15 years that individual cities have gotten NAEP scores. The test, also known as “the nation’s report card,” is administered by the federal government to a nationally representative sample of students in every state and many major cities. Because it is not given to all students and carries no consequences for the students who do take it, its results are considered a reliable marker for how America’s students are doing and how that has changed over time. The new results put Chicago students on par with their counterparts in other big cities — but far behind where they should be. Less than a third of Chicago students scored “proficient” or better in any of the tested grades and subjects.”


And here is a great blog post from earlier this week: 

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, organizations like the Chicago Teachers Union 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.”