Kindergarten readiness, high school admissions, positive discipline

Hello! We’re Cassie Walker Burke, Adeshina Emmanuel, and intern Elaine Chen, and we’re rounding up Chicago public education news for the week. Please send any tips, story ideas, or general shoutouts our way:

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The big story

How do the concepts of supply and demand play out in a high-poverty urban school district? New data from Chicago Public Schools’ new universal application system, GoCPS, paints a picture we’ve never had before of student choice. The data was analyzed in a report co-produced by the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research and the Federal Reserve of Chicago. Released this week, the report laid bare a problem with which the district must now wrestle: Demand that far exceeds capacity at some schools. Meanwhile, some 20,000 freshman seats are currently unfilled a few weeks before the start of school. Chalkbeat put the numbers in context.

A reminder that Chalkbeat Chicago is regularly live-tweeting events and meetings on Twitter. Follow us @ChalkbeatCHI, @cassiechicago, @public_ade, and @elaineywchen.

The week in review

The sixth stop on Chalkbeat Chicago’s summer Listening tour took place in the offices of OneGoal.

Bold ideas:Over breakfast this week, Chicago educators, Chalkbeat writers and editors, and staff from the college coaching program OneGoal came up with some bold ideas for sending more public school students to college. See what was proposed.

Data, data everywhere:Sobering data from the Illinois State Board of Education reveal that three out of four Illinois children show up for kindergarten unprepared. Advocates hope the data will be a wakeup call to communities and and help make the case for a more robust system of quality early childhood programs, starting with home visiting of newborns. See how well your community prepares children for kindergarten in Chalkbeat Chicago’s searchable database.

Helping black boys:Test scores were rising at Fuller Elementary School when principal Marilyn McCottrell took over in 2016. Yet troubling trends loomed behind the numbers. Chalkbeat Chicago visited the Bronzeville school to see how one principal leans on data to improve learning for black boys.

Transparency is a problem: WBEZ digs into the first year of a program that uses taxpayer money to send students to private schools. Turns out, Illinois’ program is way bigger than other states’, far fewer recipients than you think qualify as low-income, and Catholic schools win big. Here are more surprises.

Positive discipline:Like many states, Indiana has grappled with such disproportionately harsh discipline for black students. Now, the state is establishing new guidelines for educators. Chalkbeat Indiana takes a closer look.

Looking ahead

Chalkbeat is teaming up with City Bureau for one last event this summer, and you’re invited. We’ll be talking about education journalism and public schools on Thursday, Aug. 23, in the Loop offices of Mikva Challenge. Join us — but please RSVP. 

Chicago Public Schools is hosting four more back to school celebrations, complete with school supplies. Here’s the details.


Deondre McDuffie
Deondre McDuffie, 17.

This week’s high five goes out to Deondre McDuffie, a rising senior at Little Black Pearl Art & Design Academy, in Kenwood. The 17-year-old Humboldt Park resident was one of 35 young artists selected for the city’s 2018 Rising Star Honor Roll earlier this month. McDuffie was recognized for excellence in the literary arts, but his words don’t just live on a page.

“I’m an artist — I’m a rapper,” said McDuffie, who goes by Dre Izaya.

His love for hip-hop grew out of an affinity for poetry as a little kid, and blossomed when he was 14 and met Andre Daniels (Chicago rapper Add-2), the founder of a music mentorship program for teens

“It just motivated me to become a better artist, to express myself even more, because I realized not only am I doing this for myself, but my stories can relate to other people,” he said.

The honor from the city is just one more bit of motivation pushing the teen toward his dream of hip-hop fame. Among McDuffie’s musical inspirations are J. Cole and Grammy- and Pulitzer Prize-winning rapper Kendrick Lamar, artists he characterized as introspective and thoughtful with “a lot to say about the world.” McDuffie’s songs tackle everything from family issues to his views on society, how people treat themselves and others, and politics.

“Everything that comes with me being me, I just put that all in the music,” he said.

You can hear McDuffie’s music here at his Soundcloud page

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