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Samantha Smylie

State Education Reporter, Chalkbeat Chicago

Samantha Smylie is currently the State Education Reporter for Chalkbeat Chicago. Before joining Chalkbeat’s team, she worked at the Hyde Park Herald covering housing, education, retail and development in the Kenwood-Hyde Park neighborhoods on the city’s south-east side. She was a reporter fellow for City Bureau and participated in Propublica’s Data Institute. She had bylines in Block Club Chicago, the Chicago Reader and South Side Weekly.

Nearly 700 school leaders say the Illinois teacher shortage is getting worse and makes it difficult to find qualified teachers and fill vacancies in hard-to-fill positions like special education and bilingual education.
The Illinois State Board of Education named Tony Sanders as the next state superintendent. Sanders, who is currently the superintendent of Elgin’s U-46, will start his new job on Feb. 23.
Illinois public schools saw a 1.7% drop in enrollment this school year, according to data from Dec. 14. But the number of English learners is growing.
On eve of retirement, Superintendent Carmen Ayala talks to Chalkbeat Chicago about her work on equity and teacher recruitment, and what’s still unfinished.
Gun violence and reproductive rights dominated Illinois’ lame-duck session, but state lawmakers did pass education legislation. Here are some school-related bills you might have missed.
A bill that will give Chicago principals and assistant principals collective bargaining rights passed the state Senate 45-7, and heads to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s desk.
In 2022, investigators found dozens of instances of sexual misconduct and abuse, schools mislabeling truants as transfers, a surge in overtime payments, and an end to automatic JROTC enrollment.
Pritzker said he wants to make Illinois the number one state for making child care accessible to families during his second term in office.
On Monday, Benito Juarez students and staff returned to class after the fatal shooting of Brandon Perez and Nathan Billegas outside of school. Students led a walkout and march to protest gun violence and to honor both student victims.
Chronic absenteeism in Illinois rose to about 30% from 17.5% in 2019. Educators, researchers, and advocates blame the rise in COVID-19 cases, mental health, and struggling to adjust to classrooms after remote learning.
The Illinois state board of education wants to increase funding for the evidence-based funding formula for K-12 school districts, early childhood programs, and career and technical education. But concerns about an uncertain economy overshadow the process.
Local and national reading advocates speak about the need to help students read by using evidence-based reading strategies to get students on track early.
Early childhood education advocates have long argued that low wages prevent child care centers from retaining employees for a long time. A new study finds a gap in wages between early childhood teachers and teachers in kindergarten despite having the same degree.
Pritzker has said he will continue to increase funding for early childhood education, K-12 schools, and higher education while boosting pay for early childhood teachers.
The document was required as Chicago gears up to transition to an elected school board.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker sat down with Chalkbeat Chicago to talk about his priorities for education as he makes a bid for reelection.
The 2022 Illinois report card shows students have lost ground in math and reading due to pandemic disruptions
The Illinois Tutoring Initiative is expanding to more districts this fall as the state focuses on helping students recover from COVID-19 pandemic. However, funding for the program is set to expire in 2024.
As schools across Illinois bring back activities for students that happened pre-pandemic and protect them from the coronavirus, Jinsun Baek, a school nurse says that it will take balance to have both
Chicago students’ vaccination rates for illnesses like polio and measles rebounded last school year after taking a hit during the 2020-21 school year.
The Illinois State Board of Education held its first budget hearing Tuesday. Educators, school leaders, parents, and advocates called for more money for education.
Illinois education advocates gathered for a press conference on Tuesday morning to pressure the state to add more money to the state’s evidence-based funding formula to fully fund schools by 2027.
North Chicago SD 187 will transition to a fully elected school board by 2027. The state board of education decided on Wednesday that it was necessary to slowly transition the district to an elected school board with a few seats going up for election in 2025.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker names Steven Isoye, former teacher, principal, and superintendent from Chicago suburbs, to chair Illinois state board of education
As more young children get vaccinated, Illinois will no longer require unvaccinated school and child care employees to test for COVID twice a week.
Illinois is set to receive $760 million over the next 18 years after winning a lawsuit against major pharmaceutical companies for their role in the opioid epidemic. Law enforcement officials want part of the money to go to early childhood programs.
The Illinois state board of education announced eligibility guidelines for free or reduced-price meals as federal nutrition waivers expire.
A decade after Illinois took over North Chicago School District 187, the state board of education says it is looking into transitioning the district to an elected school board. The question still remains when it will happen.
As Illinois schools open, the state has adopted recent federal public health guidelines for COVID that ease quarantines and testing of students.