Top Education Stories You Don’t Want to Miss – Week of September 23, 2019

Black and Brown Students Can Learn, But You Have to Want to Teach Them

By Tanesha Peeples for EdPost

“We complain about what’s wrong with the public education system all the time. Admittedly, I’m probably on the long list of tough critics. Some of our complaints stem from personal experience—I know mine do. Others could be influenced by news feeds that instigate political scuffles, are cluttered with scandals and invite the privileged to pity parties where marginalized communities are the main attraction. So, sometimes it’s difficult to see the good when it’s so often overshadowed by the bad. Now my initial plan was to put the system on blast for its B.S. as much as I could. To be clear, that’s still the plan—however, a conversation with my sis in the struggle and mentor, Tosha Downey, changed my thinking. See, the outrage is absolutely necessary—but so is the hope. There needs to be a healthy balance of both that ignites a fire under the asses of those of us who are outraged by these inequities and injustices, driving us towards creating solutions and demanding the change we know is possible.  So if I—if we—continue to only amplify the failures and not the wins, we’re guilty of perpetuating this narrative of educational despair in underserved communities with undertones of, “We’re doing all we can but Black and Latinx kids just can’t learn.” Newsflash—it’s completely untrue that Black and Brown students can’t learn. Founder and principal at Purpose Preparatory Academy in Nashville, Lagra Newman, is an educator who’s doing a damn good job of teaching them. In fact, Newman was recently honored at the annual Congressional Black Caucus for being a superb leader…Then you have the Noble Network of Charter Schools, led by the dynamic Constance Jones. People have come at this network time and time again, but there’s no negating the success it’s had in underserved communities. In fact, 13 of their campuses landed in Chicago’s top 40 best public high schools. Constance Jones has worked diligently to maintain the network’s legacy of academic excellence, while also being a voice to dispel charter school myths and the negative stigma associated with Noble.   She even dyed her hair purple symbolizing her commitment to nurturing an evolving school culture by abolishing former strict policies that included rules around student hair color.”

Chicago students to get free books in expanding UChicago program

By Nader Issa for the Sun-Times

“About 8,000 Chicago students are set to get free books to take home this school year as a University of Chicago program expands to include more than a dozen Chicago Public Schools. University of Chicago President Robert Zimmer and CPS CEO Janice Jackson launched the expanded program, “My Very Own Library,” with a Monday morning pep rally at Fiske Elementary School, 6020 S. Langley Ave. ”The reason this is critically important is because it’s the single most important way to improve academic performance,” Jackson told an auditorium full of elementary students. “If you learn to read just for the sake of reading and for enjoyment, you will see your test scores improve, and more importantly you will see opportunities increase for you. But we know in order for you to do that, you need to have books at your fingertips.” The program was created in 2011 but brought to Chicago in 2015 at four UChicago charter schools. That’s when the university took it over and expanded the program to a few CPS schools. This year, in addition to more than a dozen other CPS schools, “My Very Own Library” is bringing books to students in five cities around the country and 11 schools in the Dominican Republic.”

After refusals, Chicago extends funding for longtime child care agencies that saw cuts

By Cassie Walker Burke for Chalkbeat

After digging in its heels over its award of $200 million for child care and preschool providers, Chicago late Wednesday reversed course and said it will reinstate funds for some longtime agencies that had received dramatic cuts.  Some 25 nonprofits and community organizations — including the University of Chicago’s charter schools and the Montessori Network — will see some funding extensions through June 2020, the mayor’s office said Wednesday.  A small for-profit Englewood center, Little Angels, that was promised a new building by the then-outgoing mayor, Rahm Emanuel, will also get additional funding to continue operations through the spring. Find the full list of agencies that will should receive additional funding below. The extension will cost the city $6 million, according to a news release. The city did not explain where that money would come from.”