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Samantha Smylie

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.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed into law a bill providing paid COVID sick leave for school staff and restoring sick days taken during the 2021-2022 school year. Here’s what to know about the law.
After serving as the Illinois state board of education’s chair since 2019, Darren Reisberg will leave to become the 11th president of Hartwick College.
Illinois advocates raise concerns about the state’s assessment plan, saying that it will halt learning for students.
After blowing past a midnight deadline on Friday, Illinois lawmakers emerged with a budget plan that includes more money for K-12 education with tax relief and direct checks to families.
Illinois’ spring legislative session ended early Saturday morning. This is where education bills landed.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a bill that gives school employees paid COVID sick leave and restores sick days to teachers who took COVID-related time off during the 2021-2022 school year.
Illinois school districts are adjusting summer lunch programs as federal waivers are set to expire June 30. These waivers allowed districts to give meals to more students over the last couple of years.
As Illinois plans to move away from the IAR, a bill banning testing for the youngest students has passed a House education committee on Wednesday.
With the pandemic taking a toll on teachers, Illinois’ lawmakers consider a bill that will allow them to use sick days for mental health.
The Illinois state board of education will use federal coronavirus relief funds to support bilingual teachers who want to earn a state license
The Chicago Principals and Administrators Association is pushing a bill that will give the organization collective bargaining rights.
Illinois appellate court denied Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s appeal to reinforce emergency COVID mitigation rules. However, the court gave school districts the ability to set their own rules.
From school board meetings to legal cases, Illinois’ COVID mitigations for schools are being contested throughout the state. That debate seems to be heading towards the general assembly.
Illinois mask mandate will lift for residents Feb. 28, but students will have to continue wearing masks at schools. This comes as school districts scrambled to reassess COVID mitigations after a judge granted a temporary injunction last week.
For the first time since 2020, the Illinois governor has proposed an increase in the state’s education budget with investments for students from preschool to higher education.
Springfield School District 186 and Joliet Public Schools 86 were among schools to cancel classes, while Chicago Public Schools said it would be open.
Chalkbeat Chicago will be watching six education issues over the Illinois legislative session.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced on Monday that he came to an agreement with the state’s largest teachers union to give paid leave to fully vaccinated school employees.
Some Illinois teachers testified against the COVID vaccine mandate at a public hearing held during the state board of education’s monthly meeting.
In Illinois, 88% of superintendents report a teacher shortage and 93% of leaders believe the problem will remain in 2023 and 2024.
Intent on keeping schools open, the Illinois state school board will adopt guidance from the CDC that reduces quarantine by half.
In mere days, the lives of Chicago educators, students, and families have been upended. Here are their stories.
According to the Illinois board of education, chronic absenteeism rose to 21.2% in 2021. It’s still a concern for districts this year as families’ needs have changed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Increases would go to hire more truancy officers, cover additional transportation and early childhood costs, and put more dollars into the state’s school funding formula.
Thirty-seven Illinois legislators asked the Illinois state board of education to hold off on any decisions to switch state assessment until there is more feedback on the process.
Pedro Martinez, Chicago’s new school chief, said this week he will work on staffing and services for students with disabilities, but he hasn’t said what he’ll tackle first.
Fewer than 1 in 5 Chicago third graders met state standards in reading and math on a standardized exam in spring of 2021.
Illinois is working with 24 colleges and universities to create best practices to recruit and hire teachers of color.
Illinois legislators heard concerns from school leaders and advocates about lack of transparency in plan to revamp the state’s assessment system