Rise & Shine: New fronts open up in Pence vs. Ritz war

What was supposed to be a day of healing for the Indiana State Board of Education Wednesday instead saw a couple of new fronts open up in the war between state Superintendent Glenda Ritz and Gov. Mike Pence’s appointees:

  • Meeting designed to heal the state board instead leads to new Ritz vs. Pence turmoil. (Chalkbeat)
  • Ritz: CECI is coming for my job. (Journal Gazette)
  • Document: How to solve the “problem” of Ritz as chairwoman. (Indy Star)
  • Pence spokeswoman: proposal was immediately rejected (Courier Press)
  • Knives came out early in state board’s mediation session. (NWI)
  • Ritz says keeping her as chairwoman “protects voters.” (StateImpact)
  • Document says powers of the state board chair are not in statute so they could be easily changed. (AP)
  • Initial optimism from mediation session tempered as new tensions arise afterward. (WIBC)
  • New strategies by the state board had Ritz on the defensive during the meeting. (WTHR)

Glenda Ritz’s failed public access complaints against the state board will be heard again thanks to a new lawsuit:

  • Four citizens revive Ritz’s complaint against the board with public access lawsuit. (StateImpact)
  • Lawsuit: State board can’t be allowed to do business by email. (The Statehouse File)
  • A Democratic labor lawyer filed the suit against the state board. (AP)
  • Fort Wayne school board member among those who made the complaint. (Journal Gazette)

In other education news:

  • John Krull: GOP should get rid of education agency jumble. (The Statehouse File)
  • What will happen if Indiana exits Common Core standards? (StateImpact)
  • Pence will outline his 2014 legislative agenda in a speech today. (AP)
  • Here’s how Chalkbeat’s engagement director will serve Indiana. (Chalkbeat)
  • Center Grove board president defended a big raise for its superintendent. (Indy Star)
  • Portage schools may import new students from China through a partnership. (NWI)
  • Former South Bend area teacher and administrator dies. (SB Tribune)

silver screen

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.