Rise & Shine: Glenda Ritz and the state board go supernova

The long simmering tension on the state board finally exploded in confrontation:

  • A debate over Common Core standards escalates until Ritz walks out. (Chalkbeat)
  • Ritz says she was trying to stop an illegal resolution from the state board. (WTHR)
  • The underlying issue is who controls education policy in Indiana. (The Statehouse File)
  • Ritz says the state board is trying to usurp her authority. (NWI)
  • Ritz: Pence is undermining the Indiana Department of Education. (StateImpact)
  • Communication breakdown is part of the state board story. (WIBC)
  • This feud has been long running. (Indy Star)

Before the meeting went south, the state board actually approved a limited plan on A to F grades:

  • The A to F plan defers most of the tough issues. (Chalkbeat)
  • Schools would be graded on a 100-point scale. (Journal Courier)
  • The new A to F plan cleared its first hurdle. (NWI)
  • Categories are set for A to F but the data is not ready. (The Statehouse File)
  • The state board was leery, but they approved the concept for a new A to F system. (StateImpact)
  • After a moment of unity, chaos erupts. (AP)

There were dueling newspaper columns by Pence and Ritz, along with a pretty harsh editorial:

  • Gov. Mike Pence called for Ritz to join him in a “civil, respectful,” debate over education policy in a newspaper column. (Indy Star)
  • See also Ritz’s Tuesday newspaper column assailing Pence’s “complete education takeover.” (Journal Courier)
  • Editorial: Ritz’s actions were an embarrassment and a disservice. (Indy Star)

In other education news:

  • A deer breaks into an Indiana school and there’s video. (WTHR)
  • Amos Brown interviews robot-making IPS students. (WTLC)
  • Erika Smith: Robot competition is good for kids. (Indy Star)
  • Patrick Riccards: Both sides are to blame for vitriol in education debates. (Eduflack)
  • New York City may have issued its last A to F grades Wednesday. (Gotham Schools)
  • A handful of states are actively trying to save cursive writing. (AP)
  • Struggling to understand a young person’s suicide. (Indy Star)

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United Federation of Teachers drops more than $1 million on new ad campaign

PHOTO: Courtesy photo/UFT
In a new ad released by The United Federation of Teachers, a teacher crouches at a student's desk and smiles.

Amid a wave of teacher activism nationwide and major threats to the influence of unions, the United Federation of Teachers is expected to spend more than $1 million on a primetime television and streaming ad featuring local educators.

The 30-second spot hit the airwaves on Jan. 23 and will run through Feb. 1, with an expected audience of 11 million television viewers and 4 million impressions online, according to the union.

Featuring a chorus of singing students, bright classrooms, and a glamour shot of the city, the ad is called “Voice.” A diverse group of teachers declares: “Having a voice makes us strong. And makes our public schools even stronger.” It ends with the message, “The United Federation of Teachers. Public school proud.”

The union, the largest local in the country, typically runs ads this time of year, as the legislative session in Albany heats up and city budget negotiations kick-off. But this time, the campaign launches against the backdrop of an emboldened teaching force across the country, with a teacher strike in Los Angeles and another potentially starting next week in Denver.

UFT is also eager to prove its worth after the recent Janus Supreme Court ruling, which could devastate membership by banning mandatory fees to help pay for collective bargaining. So far, membership has remained strong but the union could face headwinds from organized right-to-work groups and the sheer number of new hires that come into the New York City school system every year.

The ad will run locally during programs including “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” and “Good Morning America,” on networks such as MSNBC and CNN, and on the streaming service Hulu. You can watch the ad here.


These were our 10 most-read Chicago education stories in 2018

PHOTO: Adeshina Emmanuel / Chalkbeat
A story about a 16-year-old student struggling to read was one of our most-read stories of the year. Here his aunt, Katrina Falkner, heads into his high school for a meeting with the special education team.

From a principal’s first-person column on personalized learning to a profile of a teen struggling to read, these were our most-read stories of the year.

  1. Trauma can make it hard for kids to learn. Here’s how teachers learn to deal with that. This conversation with a child psychologist from Lurie Children’s Hospital who advises local educators on identifying and handling trauma resonated with educators and parents alike.
  2. Meet Javion: He’s 16 and struggling to read in Chicago schools. How did 16-year-old Javion Grayer end up in high school barely able to read? This story examines how many forces in the city and its schools can threaten learning.
  3. I’m a principal who thinks personalized learning shouldn’t be a debate. This first-person column from Lisa Epstein, the principal of Lee Elementary, was the most read column we published this year. “Personalized learning looks different in every classroom,” she writes, “but the common thread is that we now make decisions looking at the student.”
  4. Rauner and Pritzker are at odds over most education issues — but agree on this one point. Hint: It’s money. But listening back to the interviews with the candidates, which we conducted in partnership with WBEZ, helps paint a picture of the state of education in Illinois.
  5.  How one Chicago principal is leaning on data to help black boys. The stakes are high. Black boys, especially those from low-income households, are more prone than their sisters to falling behind in school and running into the juvenile criminal justice system. Here’s how one principal is making inroads at her school.
  6. Secret CPS report spotlights big vacancies, lopsided options for students. The report has already been cited as reasoning in district-level decision-making.
  7. Is your school one of the city’s top rated? Our database of school ratings included a school’s total points scored on the Chicago rating system, known as SQRP.
  8. Three out of four kids aren’t ready for kindergarten. The data is the first look statewide at how many children show up to kindergarten prepared.
  9. Three Chicago principals and the war against Fs.“Fs and Ds are worthless,” one principal exclaimed. We looked at his case. 
  10. Why Noble teachers say Noble CEO’s downfall could boost unionization efforts. This story is one of many we’ll continue to watch in 2019.