Chicago adapts to new elementary school ratings, teachers contract negotiations continue

Starting in September, Chicago elementary schools will be graded under new rules, ones that measure whether elementary students are primed for high school success. The “3-8 On-Track” metric was approved last month by the new school board along with other revisions to how the district rates its schools, despite concerns about the speed of the shift and questions about its logic. 

Chalkbeat took a closer look at the new metric.

The Week in Review

Strike deadline: Chicago’s teachers union is upping the pressure on Mayor Lori Lightfoot, issuing a new deal-making deadline and a minute-long video of several educators explaining why they’re pushing so hard on contract negotiations. The union warned of a strike when school begins this fall if the city does not meet its demands or reach an agreement with it within a month. Chalkbeat has more.

CTU contract sticking points: Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s team came out with its first public teachers contract proposals last week. The Chicago Teachers Union immediately responded that the proposed wage hikes were not enough to cover the escalating cost of living in Chicago. But the city and union disagree about much more than just salary. Chalkbeat reported on some of the other areas of contention.

What do teachers want: Several educators interviewed by Chalkbeat said they support the most well-publicized demands of the Chicago Teachers Union. But they also want changes that would help them feel less overworked: better mental health supports for educators themselves, additional prep time, and less paperwork bureaucracy, Chalkbeat reports.

School police training Q&A: Chalkbeat interviewed the man overseeing training of police assigned at Chicago schools to ask about the work he’s doing. Read the Q&A here.

Preparing English learners for kindergarten: Data shows particularly low rates of kindergarten readiness among Illinois’ English language learners. Some advocates say that too many schools lack the linguistic capacity to measure their incoming students and thus may miss signs of children’s capabilities. Chalkbeat explores the problem and solutions.

Board meeting pains: In this first-person piece by Aiko Kojima Hibino, the National Teachers Academy parent and Raise Your Hand board member explores the challenges people face speaking at Chicago school board meetings, which she argues “discourages disadvantaged people from being heard.” Read about it at Chalkbeat.

Urban Growers: A nonprofit group that manages eight gardens in the city is running a summer camp program that teaches students about everything from gardening and compost to food justice and the agriculture industry — all in the center of downtown Chicago. Chalkbeat recently visited the program.

Free summer programs for students: Chicago’s new “Safe Haven” program is offering children across the city with free summer programming at dozens of locations. The school district is partnering with neighborhood organizations for the initiative, which runs through Aug. 16. The Associated Press has more information.

Looking Ahead

Communities Planning for Their Schools: Parent group Raise Your Hand and community group Blocks Together is hosting an event on Friday and Saturday at Beidler Elementary School to give parents background on facility and school action laws so they can advocate for their school facility needs. Details and registration can be found here.

Principal leadership summit: The school district is hosting a summer leadership institute on July 15 and 16 at McCormick Place. The two-day conference includes a plethora of workshops focused on helping school leaders at the district. Details here.

School police meetings: The school district and police have scheduled three public meetings on school policing: 

July 17, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Eckhart Park in Noble Square 

July 20, 10 a.m. to noon at Hamilton Park in Greater Grand Crossing 

July 22, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Piotrowski Park in Little Village


Congrats to the young Chicago athletes who made it to the championship game in the Geico Baseball City Series, a national prep baseball tournament featuring all-star high school teams from Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami and New York. The championship game aired on national television via ESPNU. While the Chicago team lost to Los Angeles, the youngsters from Chicago had a great run toward their second-place finish.