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.

At a Senate committee hearing, lawmakers hear conflicting views on when they should approve district boundaries.
The district said it will begin to mail out checks of up to $500 this week. Parents can pick up checks from their child’s school.
Officials said about 40% of kindergarten through second grade students were at or above grade level by May, up from 9% in September. They declined to share school-level data or any information about how students fared on early math assessments
Chicago’s office that manages special education hasn’t had a chief since June. Now the board of education is searching for the next department head and asking the public for its input on who the next chief should be.
Illinois Action for Children’s report on child care in Cook County found that federal emergency relief funds allowed many providers to keep their doors open. However, families still face barriers to get affordable care.
The Parent Mentor Program started in Chicago in 1995. After 28 years, the program has expanded to over 2,000 parents at almost 230 schools around the state. On Friday, the program kicked off the new school year welcoming parent mentors back to the classroom at a celebration at Harry S. Truman Community College.
Illinois lawmakers and school officials want the state to increase funding for school meals to provide meals for all students regardless of income.
The Illinois State Board of Education has issued several warnings to Chicago Public Schools to comply with state law governing restraint and timeout. Chicago said that it is in compliance as of Monday.
As roughly 320,000 students went back to class across Chicago, the district faces a number of challenges for the new school year.
The Illinois Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity report found that about an additional 500 students who already work in early childhood education enrolled in college.
While COVID-19 testing and vaccinations are widely available, contracting the virus is still a concern for students — especially for those who are medically fragile
Due to a drop in low-income student enrollment and an increase in local property values, the district could continue to get a smaller share of new state dollars.
Teachers discuss their first day-of-school memories, favorite supplies, and what they are looking forward to this school year.
With only half of the 1,300 drivers needed to transport students who require bus service, Chicago said it will instead prioritize transportation for students with disabilities and those experiencing homelessness.
Illinois schools are set to welcome back schools to classrooms as summer comes to a close. Chalkbeat Chicago wants to cover topics that are important to parents, students, and educators throughout the year. Let us know what we should cover this year.
Chicago must train school staff on student restraint and timeout to comply with state law. It’s unclear how many are currently trained or if the district will meet the state-imposed deadline.
The 54-page document provides guidance for schools on how to teach reading and how educators and school officials can support efforts to transition schools to evidence-based instruction.
From increasing early childhood education funding to changing how literacy is taught in schools, Illinois lawmakers passed a number of education bills. Here are some that passed and those that didn’t.
Chicago Public Schools announced that Stephanie Jones, department head for the district’s special education office, left the district on Friday.
The Illinois State Board of Education has given Chicago Public Schools several warnings to comply with state law on restraint and seclusion since November. However, the district has yet to train all staff on restraint policies, stop restraining students who are not a danger to themselves or their peers, and notify parents within 24 hours when a student has been restrained.
A boost in early childhood education, more funding for K-12 schools, and a major investment in accessing higher education are in the final version of the 2024 budget that the House passed early Saturday morning. It now heads to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s desk to be signed.
The Illinois governor announced Wednesday that there is a 2024 budget deal with lawmakers. Here’s what it could mean for education.
Illinois legislators pass bill that requires school districts to have a full-day kindergarten bill by 2027 as spring legislative session starts to wind down.
Illinois legislators passed a bill on Friday that will require the State Board of Education to create a literacy plan for public schools to ensure that schools are teaching evidence-based reading.
The controversial Illinois tax credit scholarship program known as Invest In Kids will sunset unless lawmakers agree to an extension. Here’s four things you should know.
Illinois lawmakers are tasked with drawing Chicago’s elected school board map by July 1. Advocates want to see state officials ensure that Latino families are fairly represented and able to vote for school board members.
The Illinois State Board of Education told after-school providers that due to an error, they will not receive additional funding after fiscal year 2024. Now, students, parents, providers, and school districts are calling on the state board, Gov. J.B. Pritzker, and the general assembly to make up the funding to continue programs.
Illinois Teacher of the Year Briana Morales supports her students in East St. Louis District 189 by using written and spoken word to navigate poverty, gun violence, and personal loss.
One bill moving quickly in Illinois’ general assembly would require state education officials to develop a statewide literacy plan aimed at improving reading instruction.
State lawmakers are considering a bill that would require school districts to have a full-day program beginning in 2027.