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Chicago school board extends union-backed community schools for a year

We’re Cassie Walker Burke, Adeshina Emmanuel, Yana Kunichoff, and intern Catherine Henderson, and we round up the Chicago public education news you need to know every week. Please send any tips, story ideas, or general shoutouts our way:

Chicago educators, we want to know what you’re doing this summer outside of the classroom. Take our summer survey and tell us about your travel plans, book recommendations, professional development, and continued education. 

Week in Review

Student funding reform: An unlikely group of allies, from a rebranded school choice group instrumental in charter school expansion to the Chicago Teachers Union, is ramping up lobbying of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and district leaders to rethink the way Chicago funds its schools. Chalkbeat has more about the strange bedfellows.

School police reform: The coming changes to Chicago’s embattled school police officer program are beginning to take shape. Proposed updates include allowing principals to help select school officers, taking those officers’ disciplinary history into account prior to placement, and encouraging them to help out with extracurricular activities. Here’s more, at Chalkbeat.

Curriculum equity: The board of education voted to pay a Washington state-based organization $235,000 to help six schools close gaps in access to AP and International Baccalaureate classes. Since 2011, Chicago has increased enrollment in rigorous Advanced Placement courses by 53%. But the growth obscures lingering gaps in the program by gender, race, and class. And a handful of Chicago high schools don’t offer students the option of taking AP at all. Chalkbeat reports.

Metal detector debate: The school board approved $2.4 million to replace metal detectors with newer versions in schools, even as it discussed whether the hulking metal devices actually keep students safe or whether such investments are misplaced. Chalkbeat has the story.

Sizing up sex ed: The current political environment — both at CPS, which has been embroiled in a sexual abuse scandal, and in the wider culture with #MeToo — has created a new urgency for improved education on sexuality, relationships, and consent. Chicago so far isn’t measuring up, a group of parents told the Chicago Reader. 

A new chapter at King: After ousting the school’s controversial principal earlier this year, members of the school council that governs King College Prep High School hope new principal Brian Kelly can shift the culture at the school. Block Club Chicago reported from a welcoming party.  

Sexual misconduct investigations: The school district’s inspector general is investigating hundreds of sexual misconduct allegations against adults, including staff, especially security guards. The Chicago Tribune reports. 

Is $135 million justified? CPS, which just two years ago was on the brink of financial collapse, has plans to spend up to $135 million developing and licensing new teaching materials from textbook giant McGraw-Hill and several other education companies. The Chicago Tribune examined the district’s justification.

Laid off and looking for a job: As neighborhood demographics change and school district enrollment declines, Chicago has sought to right-size its education workforce with layoffs in the spring and rehires before school starts. Chalkbeat filed this dispatch from a district job fair.

Looking Ahead

Chicago’s back-to-school bashes: It’s become an annual event — the more-than-a-dozen back-to-school bashes across the city where families can get free backpacks, supplies, and even immunizations. The events kick off Tuesday, July 30, in Albany Park. Find the full lineup here. 


Hyam Elsaharty, a teacher at Mather High School in West Ridge, received an award at the school board meeting on Wednesday, honoring her work as a leader in social and emotional learning in her school. Elsaharty just returned from a three-week trip to Peru as a Fulbright Teachers for Global Classrooms fellow, where she learned about international approaches to care for the “whole child,” especially with immigrant and refugee students.  

The post Chicago school board extends union-backed community schools for a year appeared first on Chalkbeat.

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