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Mayoral candidates talk public education and more at CTU forum

This week, Chicago’s race for mayor heated up in earnest, with five of the top candidates appearing at a forum that was, at times, raucous. Organized by the Chicago Teachers Union, the event focused on the exodus of black residents from Chicago. Naturally, education found its way into the conversation. After all, the troubling trend of fleeing families has caused school enrollments to plunge, budgets to shrink and schools to close. Each of the candidates on the invite list pledged to invest more in neighborhood schools. Here’s what else they said.

We’re Cassie Walker Burke, Adeshina Emmanuel and Yana Kunichoff, and we round up Chicago education news every week — just for you. Please send any tips or story ideas our way: chicago.tips@chalkbeat.org. And support local journalism! Sign up for our newsletter, here, and share it with a friend.

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The Week in Review

Big questions about SpEd reform: How will Chicago schools compensate students with special needs who were harmed by the district refusing them services? That’s one of the big, lingering questions surrounding state-led reform of the district’s special education program. Chalkbeat Chicago reports.

The view from the trenches: An on-the-ground childcare provider’s 3-minute plea shook awake a gathering of the state’s top early childhood leaders this week. Chalkbeat Chicago was there.

A plea for neighborhood high schools: The question of enrollment in neighborhood schools — and the forces pushing South Side students to attend schools elsewhere — dominated a forum Monday exploring ways to put top-rated schools and programs within reach of all Chicago students. Parents and other speakers called for more resources for neighborhood schools to stem the tide of students fleeing South Side elementary and high schools. Read about it at Chalkbeat Chicago.

Letters to J.B.: How would you advise J.B. Pritzker as he plots his first 100 days in office? We asked educators to weigh in. Here’s what they told us.

Background checks: The school district’s decision to double down on background checks has led to the departure of nearly 130 employees. The  Chicago Tribune looks at the numbers.

Abuse of authority: In most states, school employees are obligated to report suspicion of neglect or abuse. But the Hechinger Report and Huffpost found that schools sometimes wield that authority inappropriately. Here’s their full story.

Looking Ahead

Charter decisions: On December 5, Chicago’s school board will decide whether to greenlight three new charter schools. Here’s a closer look at the proposals.

Applications are due: Families have until December 14 to apply to schools outside their neighborhood via the district’s GoCPS application. How some schools are trying to woo families.

Annual Regional Analysis meeting: The school district has seven community meetings left in a series of community discussions to review a report on enrollment trends and school options. The report, known as the Annual Regional Analysis,  has spurred conversations about barriers to education equity — and fears of painful decisions to come amid an ongoing enrollment crisis.

Here’s a list of the remaining meetings, all of which begin at 6 p.m.

#HighFive

Chicago Military Academy student Rayvon Savary won the Project Soapbox challenge.

What happens when hundreds of Chicago high schoolers are asked to stand on their soapboxes and speak to an issue that’s critically important to them? You see teenagers at their best — that’s what. Taking home the judges’ honors from Project Soapbox 2018, which is put on by the student engagement nonprofit Mikva Challenge, was Chicago Military Academy’s Rayvon Savary, who spoke about opioid addiction and mental health. The public engagement series has become an annual tradition, with schools across the city participating in classroom competitions and the competitive finals. Topics ranged from tackling the city’s violence and poverty issues to encouraging higher graduation rates of students of color.