February 2021 Leading News

In today’s Leading News, CPS juggles the hopes to open more classrooms with demands for improved remote learning. Also in the news, read more of the ups, downs, and decisions as school districts respond to the extended coronavirus upheaval.

With 1 million Illinoisans now fully vaccinated for COVID-19, here’s a look at what the data says about who those people are
Jonathon Berlin, Chicago Tribune, March 6

As parents push demands, CPS says it aims to reopen high schools before year’s end, while teachers union laments ‘inhumane’ negotiations: ‘We need to do better’
Alice Yin, Chicago Tribune, February 24
CPS open to improving remote learning as F’s increase, attendance drops
Nader Issa, Chicago Sun-Times, February 24
Is COVID the end of snow days? Some southwest IL schools want to keep remote option open
Megan Valley, Belleville News-Democrat, February 20
Wheaton school district investigating ‘highly inappropriate images’ shared in virtual class
John Keilman, Chicago Tribune, February 22
Sherrard schools update Return to Learn plan
Cala Smoldt, Quad Cities Dispatch-Argus, February 22

In today’s Leading News, contract negotiations continue between Bourbonnais DC 53 and its teachers. Also in the news, big-picture pandemic news: parents respond to improving vaccine availability with increased demands; school choice proponents seek to push their cause; and the state extends pandemic food aid to children.
Bourbonnais teachers, school board to continue contract talks
Stephanie Markham, Kankakee Daily Journal, February 24
During town hall, President Biden promises reopening of majority of elementary schools, says 600 million doses of vaccine will be available by July
Aamer Madhani, Associated Press/Chicago Tribune, February 16
Parents Push For More In-Person Learning Amid COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout
Peter Medlin, Northern Public Radio, DeKalb, February 22
School voucher advocates hope frustration with remote learning during pandemic bolsters their cause
Associated Press/Chicago Tribune, February 24
Pritzker expands pandemic food aid for kids: ‘One step closer to ending hunger for those in need in Illinois’
Rachel Hinton, Chicago Sun-Times, February 23

In today’s Leading News, there is talk in Rochelle CCSD 231 of moving to attendance centers. Kansas CUSD 3 discusses replacing a bus. West Prairie SD 103 sets a tentative calendar. Litchfield looks to super-power its summer school. Also in the news, schools Rock Island County school districts aim for wi-fi upgrades.

District 231 administrators discuss potential transition to attendance center model
Russell Hodges, Roselle News-Leader, February 11

Kansas BOE is OK with bus lease, but not trade-in
Gary Henry, Prairie Press, Paris, February 22

West Prairie discusses tentative 2021-2022 school year calendar
Tabi Jozwick, McDonough County Voice, February 22

Board Hears Summer School Plans
Mary (Galer) Herschelman, Hillsboro Journal-News, February 18

Grant boosts Wi-Fi goal for UTHS, feeder schools
Alma Gaul, Quad Cities Dispatch-Argus, February 21

In today’s Leading News, Lake Zurich CUSD 95 discusses boundary change plans. Quincy SD 172 assessment data shows student growth. Decatur SD 61 identifies needs and possible changes for facility use. Windsor CUSD 1 looks at course and curriculum updates. Also in the news, a “crowded field” for school board elections in Huntley Community SD 158.

Lake Zurich school board approves redistricting plan expected to shuffle 200 students, tells parents ‘it’s the right thing to do for the district’
Elizabeth Owens-Schiele, Pioneer Press/Lake Zurich Courier, February 16

Testing data shows QPS student growth
Deborah Gertz Husar, Herald-Whig, Quincy, February 18

Decatur school board work session focuses on boundaries, building use
Valerie Wells, Decatur Herald and Review, February 19

Windsor School Board Makes Changes to Course Catalog
Greg Sapp, WXEF, Effingham, February 19

Crowded field for Huntley School District 158 Board includes 10 candidates vying for four spots
Kelli Duncan, Northwest Herald, Chicago suburbs, February 21

In today’s Leading News, school districts update plans for return to the classroom. Bourbonnais SD 53 teachers picket as the district plans for negotiations  to continue. Decatur-area schools aim for career training. Also on the news, take another look at the news-making Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning standards.

District 300 looking to expand in-person learning in March
Cassie Buchman, Shaw Media/Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, February 18

United District 304 students return to classrooms March 1
Sheila Pressley, Galesburg Register-Mail, February 15

Bourbonnais teachers rally: 'fair contract, fair pay'
Stephanie Markham, Kankakee Daily Journal, February 18

Survey looks to develop more workforce training programs at local high schools
Garrett Karsten, Decatur Herald-Review, February 15

New 'Culturally Responsive Teaching' standards approved for Illinois
Katrina Lamansky, WQAD, Quad Cities, February 18
In today’s Leading News, educators receive vaccines and districts talk about how the jabs are obtained. This week’s winter weather brought dueling theories on snow days. Also in the news, Illinois long-time House leader Michael Madigan resigns his seat, marking the end of the end of an era.

McDonough County teachers receive vaccinations
Tabi Jozwick, McDonough County Voice, February 15

How Elmhurst District 205 secured vaccine access for its workforce
Katlyn Smith, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, February 16

Springfield-area school districts are closed or go remote
Steven Spearie, State Journal-Register, February 16

Michael Madigan resigns from Illinois House after being ousted as speaker, defends his legacy in face of ‘vicious attacks’
Rick Pearson and Dan Petrella, Chicago Tribune, February 18

Lawmakers, political observers reflect on Madigan's downstate legacy
Kelsey Watznauer Bloomington Pantagraph, February 19


In today’s Leading News, read three early takes on Governor JB Pritzker’s budget address. Also in the news, find out what's next with potential and proposed changes to curriculum. 
No tax hike in slimmer Illinois budget, reliance on federal aid
John O'Connor AP/Southern Illinoisan, Carbondale, February 17
Pritzker pitches budget mix of corporate tax changes, flat spending as ‘right equilibrium’ – but GOP rival dubs plan ‘out of whack’
Rachel Hinton and Andrew Sullender, Chicago Sun-Times, February 17
Lawmakers from southwestern Illinois react to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s budget proposal
Kelsey Landis, Belleville News-Democrat, February 17
Legislative panel approves ‘culturally responsive’ teaching standards
Peter Hancock, CNI/ State Journal-Register, Springfield, February 17
30 states require sex ed in public schools, but Illinois doesn’t. Some are fighting for a change.
Jessica Villagomez, Chicago Tribune, February 12

In today’s Leading News, tread a few of the hows and whys of the efforts against coronavirus in Illinois school district.

COVID-19 Illinois: Huntley COVID vaccine site gives McHenry County educators access
Diane Pathieu, WLS ABC7, Chicago, February 12

Parent wants to get more NK95 masks to teachers
Michael Romain, Wednesday Journal, Oak Park, February 10, 2021

Sandwich Parents: Children Are Suffering
Mark Harrington, WSPY, Plano, February 11

For pandemic-era high school students, the thrill is gone:
‘They took away all of the joy, and left us with nothing but homework’

Karen Ann Cullotta and John Keilman, Chicago Tribune, February 16

Decatur students ask school board for help with mental health
Valerie Wells, Decatur Herald and Review, February 16

In today’s Leading News, the CDC released updated school reopening guidance on Friday. Illinois school buildings that might have been open Tuesday are closed due to weather conditions, with emergency remote learning days in place for some districts. Also in the news, read some of the talk in advance of Governor JB Pritzker’s budget address.

CDC Offers Clearest Guidance Yet For Reopening Schools
Cory Turner, Anya Kamanetz, and Tamara Keith, National Public Radio, February 12

CDC: In-person schooling can be done safely
Associated Press, Chicago Sun-Times, February 12

Winter storm's grip won't ease up until weekend
Madhu Krishnamurthy, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, February 15

Springfield area hunkers down:  What to know about road conditions, upcoming weather
Steven Spearie, State Journal-Register, Springfield, February 16

Illinois Republicans call for balanced budget ahead of governor’s address
Peter Hancock, CNI/Southern Illinoisan, Carbondale, February 16

In today’s Leading News, with CPS schools re-opening after this week’s agreement, the Tribune says the “hard part” is still to come. Talks continue with mediation in Bourbonnais SD 53. Brown County schools use the latest in tech. Educators and vaccines: it depends. Also in the news, Roger Eddy, previously executive director of IASB, has been named to the Illinois State Board of Education.

Chicago Public Schools is reopening after a bitter union fight. Now the hard part begins
Hannah Leone and Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas, Chicago Tribune, February 11

Ehrman: Teachers' strike would result in school closures, summer days
Stephanie Markham, Kankakee Daily Journal, February 9

Area teachers using modern techniques in the classroom
Deborah Gertz Husar, Herald-Whig, Quincy, February 10

Teachers are being vaccinated in southwest Illinois, but at vastly different rates
Megan Valley, Belleville News-Democrat, February 10

Former Rep. Eddy Named to State Board of Education
Greg Sapp, WXEF, Effingham, February 9

In today’s Leading News, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker offers a budget for the coming year. School districts continue to make and update plans for return to classrooms. Also in the news, the IRS says teachers can deduct unreimbursed PPE expenses.

Pritzker proposing no spending hikes, no tax increases to deal with COVID-19-related woes
Dean Olsen, State Journal-Register, Springfield, February 9

No state income tax hike in Pritzker’s budget, but ‘painful’ cuts remain to cover $3 billion deficit
Mitchell Armentrout, Chicago Sun-Times, February 9

East St. Louis schools aim for in-person learning next month
AP/Alton Telegraph, February 9

River Forest District 90 expands COVID-19 antigen testing to households of its students, staff
Steve Schering, Pioneer Press/Forest Leaves, February 9

IRS allows teachers to deduct unreimbursed PPE expenses
Brian Hill, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, February 5
In today’s Leading news, CTU members voted early Wednesday to accept the CPS offer of a plan to return. School districts work on re-opening plans and seek more students attending in-person learning. Also in the news, Catholic schools report declining enrollments nationwide.

CTU members approve CPS reopening deal, sending tens of thousands of students and teachers back to schools
Nader Issa, Chicago Sun-Times, February 10

Chicago Teachers Union approves school reopening plan, CPS in-person classes resume Thursday: ‘We got what we were able to take’
Hannah Leone, Chicago Tribune, February 10

District 118 Working to Open Up In-Person Learning
Ross Brown, Vermilion County First, February 3

Lake Zurich SD95 looking to expand number of students attending classes in person
Graydon Megan, Post-Tribune, Lake Zurich, February 3

Catholic schools in US see largest single-year enrollment decline in 5 decades
David Crary, AP/ Chicago Tribune, February 8

In today’s Leading News, the numbers of students in the classroom is increasing, but districts are seeking more. Also in the news, it might be awhile.
Wanted: More students in classrooms at Barrington High
Bob Oswald, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, February 5
Fewer than 25% of high school students in northwest suburban District 214 attending classes in person
Graydon Megan, Pioneer Press/Arlington Heights Post, February 8
Despite a deal on the table for Chicago Public Schools to reopen, roughly half of all Illinois students are still in remote-only classes
Karen Ann Cullotta, Chicago Tribune, February 8
CPS families and organizers draft demands to improve remote learning
Mari Devereaux, Chicago Sun-Times, February 5
Schools plan for potential of remote learning into the fall
Carolyn Thompson Associated Press /Belleville News Democrat, February 8

In today’s Leading News, talks continue with CPS and CTU with progress on an offer. Bourbonnais SD 53 teachers plan a second picket. Also In the news, proposed and pending Illinois school curriculum changes bring opinions.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot: Chicago Public Schools and the teachers union reach a tentative reopening deal ‘at long last’ 
Hannah Leone, Gregory Pratt, and Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas, Chicago Tribune, February 7 | 

CTU reviewing potential agreement with CPS that could avert lockouts, strike
Tom Schuba and Nader Issa, Chicago Sun-Times, February 7

BEA plans 2nd picket as negotiations continue
Stephanie Markham, Kankakee Daily Journal, February 1

What Children Should Be Learning About Black History
Erica Gunderson, WTTW, Chicago, February 7

Opinion: The worst-governed state now turns to indoctrination
George F. Will, Columnist, Washington Post, February 5
Feb. 5, 2021 at 7:00 a.m. CST

McLean County educators react to bill that could expand curriculum, focus on inclusivity
Kelsey Watznauer, Lenore Sobota, Bloomington Pantagraph, January 30

Sex education isn't required in Illinois public schools. This bill would change that
Natalie Pierre, State Journal-Register/Rockford Register-Star, February 5

In Friday morning’s Leading News, CTU and CPS exchange offers seeking resolution to the district’s return to classrooms. In other news, a school board vacancy in Naperville CUSD 203 attracts 32 applicants. Galena USD 120 examines goals and principles. The Illinois Times looks at efforts towards inclusive curriculum. Also in the news, shaking it up and dreaming a different dream in Maroa-Forsyth CUSD 2.

CTU sends counteroffer after mayor pushes for deal ‘today,’ but no resolution announced
Stefano Esposito and Nader Issa, Chicago Sun-Times, February 4

32 candidates apply for Naperville District 203 board vacancy
Lauren Rohr, Daily Herald, Chicago suburbs, February 2

Putting the groundwork in place: Galena School District’s core planning group talks mission statement, guiding principles
Hillary Dickerson, Galena Gazette, February 1

Teaching Black history better: Legislation promises inclusive curriculum
Rachel Otwell, Illinois Times, Springfield, February 3

Maroa-Forsyth student actors find a way to put on a show in spite of COVID-19
Valerie Wells, Decatur Herald and Review, February 3
In today’s Leading News, read more about how school districts are re-opening safely, or hoping to, in Illinois.

Chicago private school, suburban districts move to vaccinate teachers
Nader Issa, Chicago Sun-Times, January 26

Morton High School District teachers file unfair labor practice charge over return to in-person teaching
Charles J. Johnson, Chicago Tribune, February 2

Emails show Decatur school administrators repeatedly warned of possible bus driver shortage
Valerie Wells, Decatur Herald and Review, February 3

Another round of COVID-19 funding could help QPS reimburse costs
Deborah Gertz Husar, Herald-Whig, Quincy, January 27

‘If not now, when?’ CPS leader says data show Chicago schools can reopen safely. Can they?
Hannah Leone and Karen Ann Cullotta, Chicago Tribune, January 30
In today’s Leading News, coronavirus response continues throughout out the state, as school districts assess procedures  for safe return to classrooms. Also in the news, while you were out: Schools distribute millions of meals.

Homewood schools target March 1 for hybrid reopening
Marilyn Thomas, Homewood Flossmoor Chronicle, February 2

COVID cases bring pause for Alton 7th grade
Ron DeBrock, Alton Telegraph, January 28

School districts take part in Phase 1B vaccination
Rochelle News-Leader, January 27

Unit 5 elementary students to head back to 5 days in-person
Kelsey Watznauer, Bloomington Pantagraph, January 25

Illinois Schools Served More Than 113 Million Meals During Pandemic
WSIU, Carbondale, February 2

In today’s Leading News, CPS students react to the ongoing uncertainties, while remote learning is back in session. Quincy SD 172 seeks funds home health workers. Mattoon CUSD 2 contemplates rapid COVID testing for students and staff. Also in the news, read about pushback to the Culturally Responsive Teaching and Leading Standards.

Drained students say CPS should do more to help teens’ mental health, improve remote learning
Nader Issa, Chicago Sun-Times, January 29

CPS calls for 2 days of ‘cooling off’ as it reports progress in averting a CTU strike; remote learning continues Tuesday and Wednesday
Hannah Leone, Gregory Pratt, Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas, and Leslie Bonilla, Chicago Tribune, February 1

Donation supports the QPS Community Health Workers Assistance Program
Deborah Gertz Husar, Herald-Whig, Quincy, January 28

Mattoon school district to offer optional COVID-19 rapid testing for students, staff
Rob Stroud, Journal Gazette and Times Courier, Charleston/Mattoon, February 1

GOP members hope to block new teacher standards
Peter Hancock, CNI/Effingham Daily News, February 1
In today’s Leading News, CPS remains closed Monday, with both lockouts and vaccines pending. Also in the news, read education stories from across state lines.

School district and union talks fall apart as Lightfoot pushes reopening to Tuesday
Hannah Leone, Gregory Pratt, Jessica Villagomez, and Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas, Chicago Tribune, January 31

CTU on verge of strike as CPS calls off in-person classes Monday
Nader Issa and Tom Schuba, Chicago Sun-Times, February 1

Chicago health commissioner urges patience with teacher vaccines as some CPS principals push to get staffers shots ahead of full district rollout
Alice Yin, Chicago Tribune, January 28

Iowa public schools must offer in-person option
Jim Meenan, Quad Cities Dispatch-Argus, January 31         

Audit claims Indiana school district intentionally enrolled students from Illinois
Dan Carden, The Times, Munster, Indiana, January 29

Leading News

IASB's News Clip Service

The links to articles posted here are selected daily from news sources across Illinois, and sometimes beyond, provided as a service to our membership. These links go directly to the original source (print, broadcast, or online media) of the article. The purpose of sharing these links is to give readers of this site a wider perspective on state and local issues impacting public education. IASB neither endorses nor verifies the content.