Rise & Shine: Community partnerships improve student performance in Decatur Township schools

Welcome to Wednesday! 

Filling out my first FAFSA — formally called the Free Application for Federal Student Aid — brought a mix of fear and excitement to my family. 

As a first-generation college student and the daughter of working-class parents, what money the government could provide us would prove critical to several major decisions as I entered my college years. Where I would live, how I would get around, and the number of hours I would have to devote to work outside of school would ultimately be determined by federal aid (and the scholarships I would eventually receive). 

To help families wrap their head around the process, Illinois is now requiring most high school seniors to complete the application in order to graduate. School officials also hope the law can help students with limited access to government funds — including immigrants and undocumented students — find alternatives. Read on for the details. 

We also have a story from our Memphis bureau outlining what the role of an inclusive, LGBTQ-focused curriculum could — and, from some perspectives, should — look like in Tennessee schools. 

— Erica Irish, reporter

Rise & Shine is Chalkbeat’s morning digest of education news. Subscribe to have it delivered to your inbox.

COLLEGE AND CAREER: To help pave the way to college, a new state law will require Illinois high school seniors to complete an application for federal student aid in order to graduate. Chalkbeat 

INCLUSIVITY: ‘Angry they haven’t learned it sooner,’ advocates want more LGBTQ curriculum in Tennessee schools. Chalkbeat 

CONTAMINATION: The Environmental Protection Agency removed soil contaminated with lead and arsenic from the grounds of a former elementary school in East Chicago. WFYI 

COMMUNITY PARTNERS: Decatur Township is reinvigorating its Community in Schools program to provide students with a support system that is improving grades and attendance. WTHR 

ALTERNATIVE ED: A new state law requiring school districts to send class materials to juvenile detention facilities could bring more attention to the students who are there. WISH 

MEMORIAL: A Rochester mother purchased billboards in memory of her three children who were killed at their bus stop last year. WTHR 

‘DAY ONE’: Struggling schools recently placed in South Bend’s “empowerment zone” are setting their sights on new goals for student-teacher interactions and staff training. South Bend Tribune 

NEW SCHOOL: A new Bargersville elementary school will offer a slide, solar panels, and more. IndyStar, Daily Journal, WTHR

SAFETY: School protection officers in Vigo County schools describe what it takes to keep students safe in the classroom. Tribune-Star