Chalkbeat

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“For every child in the US at this moment, we have lots of concern about their learning. But, for one particular group o...
08/10/2020
Two Chicago families, two experiences: Stories spotlight challenges ahead for special education

“For every child in the US at this moment, we have lots of concern about their learning. But, for one particular group of students, the difficulty is much harder because of the pandemic, lack of adequate support and bureaucracy, ” says Chris Yun, an education policy analyst at Access Living.

Remote learning in the summer has been riddled with some of the same issues as the spring: limited access to clinicians, difficulty navigating online applications, and not enough time with teachers and classroom assistants. Chicago parents and advocates wonder what the fall will be like.

If schools choose to reopen knowing the potential health risk, it raises an important question: How liable are school di...
08/10/2020
Learn at your own risk? Indiana schools hope to avoid lawsuits as they reopen

If schools choose to reopen knowing the potential health risk, it raises an important question: How liable are school districts if a student or teacher contracts COVID-19?

Within the first week of reopening schools, Indiana districts saw several COVID-19 cases — which raises an important question about liability.

“Our district would face $28 million in cuts as retribution for protecting our children’s health, and anyone who walked ...
08/10/2020
‘We will all suffer’: Indianapolis districts respond to threat of funding cuts if they don’t reopen

“Our district would face $28 million in cuts as retribution for protecting our children’s health, and anyone who walked a day in our shoes over the past five months would not dare to suggest that schools could operate under the current context with less funding,” Indianapolis Public Schools Superintendent Aleesia Johnson wrote in an op-ed.

The Indiana GOP leader’s threat forces "an impossible choice" on schools: take deep cuts or put people at risk of contracting COVID-19, IPS Superintendent Aleesia Johnson wrote.

“We’re not saying that we don’t want to go back to school. I think all of us would rather be in a building with kids… bu...
08/10/2020
‘Can we be safe?’ Manhattan teachers worry the HVAC system poses dangers

“We’re not saying that we don’t want to go back to school. I think all of us would rather be in a building with kids… but nobody can give us assurances,” says special education teacher Sarah Kuhner. “Can we be safe?”

Only about half of the building’s exhaust fans — which are supposed to pull air out of the school — work.

“It’s all interconnected. It takes one person to go to a frat party to have an impact on your life,” says college studen...
08/10/2020
What one Colorado college learned trying to run safe in-person classes this summer

“It’s all interconnected. It takes one person to go to a frat party to have an impact on your life,” says college student Sejal Porter. “I just want to see a general respect among peers, which is not something a school can deliver, but something that we as a society have to deliver.”

Colleges and universities in Colorado and across the country are hoping that the protocols developed and practiced over the summer can help them bring students back to campus without major outbreaks of the coronavirus.

A new report in the wake of Indiana’s virtual charter school enrollment scandal reveals how most of the state’s $7.5 bil...
08/10/2020
Report: Indiana trusts schools too much to catch funding fraud

A new report in the wake of Indiana’s virtual charter school enrollment scandal reveals how most of the state’s $7.5 billion school funding system is largely based on trust — and lacking controls that could flag potential fraud.

After the scam involving Indiana’s virtual charter school enrollment, a report reveals how most of the state’s $7.5 billion school funding system is largely based on trust — and lacking controls that could flag potential fraud.

"There are thousands of people around the world struggling. It might seem like you’re alone, but trust me, you aren’t." ...
08/10/2020
In their own words: What remote learning has looked like around the world

"There are thousands of people around the world struggling. It might seem like you’re alone, but trust me, you aren’t." Newsroom by the Bay asked students from Africa, Asia, and Europe how their remote learning was going. Here's what they had to say.

From Africa, Asia, and Europe, students share the benefits and pitfalls of going to school at home.

NEA Today's incoming president, Becky Pringle, is "ready to turn up that heat." How? By supporting local strikes or prot...
08/09/2020
Incoming NEA head Becky Pringle says it’s time ‘to turn up that heat’

NEA Today's incoming president, Becky Pringle, is "ready to turn up that heat." How? By supporting local strikes or protests over teacher safety in the era of the coronavirus, filing lawsuits to block reopening plans that teachers see as unsafe, and other efforts to put teachers at the center of the national conversation.

Becky Pringle says that means the NEA is willing to support local strikes or protests over teacher safety, lawsuits, and other efforts to put teachers at the center of the national conversation.

"There might not be time or enough money to send a second child to a private school ... And now I fear that my grandmoth...
08/09/2020
The pandemic has placed my daughters on unequal footing. I’m not sure what’s next.

"There might not be time or enough money to send a second child to a private school ... And now I fear that my grandmother’s grit and my mother’s sacrifice have only taken me so far. I worry that I have placed my own daughters on two unequal tracks, that for the first time I’m not going to be able to give them both what they need to succeed."

The school decisions we never wanted to make could have long-lasting consequences.

In mid-July, the city began searching for external spots for schools to use for instruction and programming. Now, the po...
08/09/2020
NYC looks for new school spaces — and considers some surprising options

In mid-July, the city began searching for external spots for schools to use for instruction and programming. Now, the possible sites include space inside a dim sum restaurant and a cathedral. (via THE CITY NY)

One councilwoman has floated the idea of using a dim sum restaurant and a cathedral as classroom space.

Tentative reopening plans across the state show some wealthier districts are bankrolling expensive changes while financi...
08/09/2020
As Illinois school districts reimagine education, the wealthier could have yet another advantage

Tentative reopening plans across the state show some wealthier districts are bankrolling expensive changes while financially strapped districts are relying on low-budget precautions — differences that could affect the quality of education students receive and the conditions in which they learn.

Tentative reopening plans across the state show some wealthier districts are bankrolling expensive changes while financially strapped districts are relying on low-budget precautions.

Churches, day care providers, and other places are scrambling for state permission or funding to provide schoolchildren ...
08/09/2020
Most Memphis students are starting the school year online. But from where?

Churches, day care providers, and other places are scrambling for state permission or funding to provide schoolchildren supervision and space to log on to online learning during the day.

The YMCA and Shelby County Schools are hoping to provide working parents in Memphis space for their children to log into class during the school days.

An Indiana school district is being asked to repay $2.2 million that the state says stems from fraudulent enrollment inf...
08/09/2020
Indiana seeks $2.2 million from Daleville district after alleged virtual charter school fraud

An Indiana school district is being asked to repay $2.2 million that the state says stems from fraudulent enrollment inflation by two virtual charter schools overseen by the rural district.

Indiana auditors found that Daleville failed to hold Indiana Virtual School and Indiana Virtual Pathways Academy to their charter contracts, review the schools’ finances, or press for improvements.

Higher education is a milestone for many students, especially those who are first-generation college students or from di...
08/08/2020
College during COVID-19: Here’s what Newark students want you to know

Higher education is a milestone for many students, especially those who are first-generation college students or from disinvested communities. Now, that milestone is shrouded by the cloud of COVID-19. Hear how these students are navigating college amid the coronavirus — and what can be done to help.

For first-year students headed to college this fall, their first semester of higher education is fraught with uncertainty. The usual in-person rituals and rites of passage won’t exist as the threat of the coronavirus upends on-campus learning and activities across the nation.

As districts gear up for the fall and release reopening plans, Chalkbeat Chicago wants to hear from teachers about how t...
08/08/2020
Illinois educators: Is your district adequately preparing you for fall?

As districts gear up for the fall and release reopening plans, Chalkbeat Chicago wants to hear from teachers about how their school districts are training them for these unprecedented times and whether the training has been beneficial. Share your thoughts at the link below ⬇️ ⬇️ ⬇️

We want to know how educators are being trained for the unprecedented year ahead.

“School districts are facing an uphill battle, not just because of the uncertain nature of this virus, but because of th...
08/08/2020
‘We’re out of time for excuses’: Michigan school leaders say lawmakers must finalize education spending

“School districts are facing an uphill battle, not just because of the uncertain nature of this virus, but because of the funding shortfalls that make it difficult to meet the challenges associated with returning our students and staff to school safely," said Robert Shaner, superintendent of the Rochester Community Schools district.

Some Michigan school leaders are urging state lawmakers to act to give schools the guidance and resources they need to begin the 2020-21 school year.

A former member of the Tennessee education commissioner's executive team is seeking $1.5 million in damages from the Ten...
08/08/2020
Schwinn’s former chief of schools sues Tennessee for $1.5 million over firing

A former member of the Tennessee education commissioner's executive team is seeking $1.5 million in damages from the Tennessee Department of Education in a lawsuit that says she was fired after being hospitalized and taking a medical leave.

A former member of Commissioner Penny Schwinn’s executive team is seeking $1.5 million in damages from the Tennessee Department of Education in a lawsuit that says she was fired after being hospitalized and taking a medical leave.

The recent issues with transparency illustrate how much the councils operate outside of the school district’s purview, a...
08/08/2020
As Chicago makes headway on school council transparency, some say it doesn’t go far enough

The recent issues with transparency illustrate how much the councils operate outside of the school district’s purview, an issue that has long been a source of frustration for some parents and members of community organizations who see the councils as a critical link between neighborhoods and schools. (in partnership with Block Club Chicago)

The recent issues with transparency illustrate how much the councils operate outside of the school district’s purview.

Mohammad Ahmad was in fourth grade on 9/11. As an American Muslim, the teacher faced hateful backlash from his peers. He...
08/07/2020
This NYC teacher is determined to diversify computer science — and to help his school navigate a monumental loss

Mohammad Ahmad was in fourth grade on 9/11. As an American Muslim, the teacher faced hateful backlash from his peers. He was called a terrorist and was subjected to jokes about his faith. Here's how that painful experience motivated him to create safe, inclusive spaces for his students.

Mohammad Ahmad, of Bronx Academy of Letters, was recently named Amazon Future Engineer Teacher of the Year, for his commitment to diversity in computer science.

Since school buildings closed, many of Michigan's 1.6 million students have become familiar with virtual instruction. Ye...
08/07/2020
5 key questions that could shape the future of virtual learning in Michigan

Since school buildings closed, many of Michigan's 1.6 million students have become familiar with virtual instruction. Yet experts estimate that at least 25% of those students still don’t have the technology they need to learn online. Here are five issues to watch as this experiment with virtual learning enters a new phase.

The widespread shift to virtual instruction could accelerate the state’s long-running push to offer more education online, a move with enormous but uncertain implications for students.

Teacher Keith Thomas stood in "one of the worst places in world history" — a cell, not much bigger than a room, where th...
08/06/2020
How this Indianapolis middle school teacher created a study abroad trip to Ghana

Teacher Keith Thomas stood in "one of the worst places in world history" — a cell, not much bigger than a room, where they kept hundreds of slaves at a time. But there's much more to Ghana besides slaves castles, he says. Here's why he found it valuable to bring students there.

Paramount Brookside teacher Keith Thomas started study abroad trips to take students to Ghana to see slave castles and visit local schools.

New York City is the only major school district in the country forging ahead with plans to reopen buildings this fall, a...
08/06/2020
NYC announces coronavirus tracing team just for schools

New York City is the only major school district in the country forging ahead with plans to reopen buildings this fall, and Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration is hoping to maintain that status.

New York City will dedicate a team of contact tracers to investigate coronavirus cases in schools, something the United Federation of Teachers had demanded.

Indiana’s top health official said it’s impossible to keep COVID-19 out of the state’s schools as they reopen — but that...
08/06/2020
Reopened schools can’t avoid COVID-19 cases, Indiana’s top health official says

Indiana’s top health official said it’s impossible to keep COVID-19 out of the state’s schools as they reopen — but that doesn’t necessarily mean they should close their doors again.

Indiana Health Commissioner Kristina Box said it’s impossible to keep COVID-19 out of the state’s schools as they reopen — but that doesn’t necessarily mean they should close their doors again.

“If they feel it’s not safe for their students, their colleagues, their families, to return … we will defend them public...
08/06/2020
‘We have their back’: Michigan teachers union says it’ll defend teachers who refuse to return to school buildings over COVID concerns

“If they feel it’s not safe for their students, their colleagues, their families, to return … we will defend them publicly and if necessary through legal action,” said David Crim, spokesman for the Michigan Education Association. "We have their back."

Michigan’s largest teachers union says it will support any of its local units whose members decide it’s not safe to return to school for in-person learning. "If they feel it’s not safe for their...

Each one of Colorado’s 178 school districts is coming up with its own school reopening plan. The plans vary, but there a...
08/06/2020
Hybrid, remote, or in person? Colorado back-to-school plans carry big trade-offs

Each one of Colorado’s 178 school districts is coming up with its own school reopening plan. The plans vary, but there are three basic options. “I am calling it a lose-lose scenario,” said Denver high school teacher Katie Nethery.

Each option has upsides and downsides. Any decision Colorado school districts make is going to meet with pushback from parents and teachers who would face real struggles under that scenario.

“The overwhelming vote of approval on the renewal millage tells us that our reform work is supported by the community," ...
08/06/2020
Detroit voters approve renewing school district fund that supports debt payment

“The overwhelming vote of approval on the renewal millage tells us that our reform work is supported by the community," Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said. "The vote should only motivate us more to continue to work hard to provide our children with the education they deserve.”

It was the first millage election since 2016, when Michigan lawmakers OK’d a $617 million plan to address crushing debt in the city’s school district.

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Chalkbeat launched in 2013 to address an alarming collision: the business model for news was collapsing during a period of dramatic upheaval in American education. Read about what's in store for our network of bureaus in the next 5 years: chalkbeat.org/about/strategic-plan/

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Chalkbeat launched in 2013 to address an alarming collision: the business model for news was collapsing during a period of dramatic upheaval in American education. In particular, local news faced an existential threat just as public education — which is inherently local — was undergoing transformation in how schools were governed, funded, and assigned students.

Six years later, Chalkbeat is one of the largest nonprofit news organizations in America, reporting on the most critical topics in education across seven states. We have published thousands of stories and spurred real-world changes in every state where we operate, from the shuttering of a flagrantly mismanaged virtual school in Indiana to the abolishment of a high-school admissions method in New York City that penalized low-income families. We’ve won 60 local and national journalism awards and mobilized 1,345 donors and sponsors to support our work.

While Chalkbeat has expanded, the local news crisis has accelerated, leaving Chalkbeat with a formidable challenge: We are chasing growing demand for high-quality local education news at a time when resources for news have never been more scarce.

The task is daunting, but our unique model — a nonprofit newsroom covering a single topic in multiple locations — represents a promising path forward. By accepting the economics of the internet and using them to our advantage, we have mobilized new and diverse sources of support for an essential public good. We’ve reimagined what local news can be as we’ve rebuilt it, elevating a subject that was previously a stepping-stone beat for rookie reporters, treating readers as partners, and focusing exclusively on the education story that matters most: the almost 30 million children in America who live near or below the poverty line.

Keep reading Chalkbeat’s strategic plan.

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