Parents, teachers call CPS special education budget an ‘atrocity’

By Meredith Francis and Emily Olsen After several public hearings, two budget drafts and a threatened teachers strike, some parents and teachers say the Chicago Public Schools budget still fails to protect the safety and well-being of special education students. “Students who need one-on-one assistance for feeding and changing, and extreme behavior problems have no […]

Long-awaited elected school board bill down — but not out

Photo at top: Chicagoans, including Aiyanna Allen (far right), wait outside a packed committee room to decide the fate of the elected school board bill. (Emily Olsen / MEDILL)

By Meredith Francis and Emily Olsen Lawmakers are no strangers to the waiting game, but the public is getting antsy. In a packed education committee room in the Springfield state house, parents, students and Chicago community organizers mobilized Nov. 16 to make a fundamental change to the way the nation’s third-largest school district is led — […]

Election got you stressed? Get a laugh from these Tweets

By Meredith Francis If laughter is the best medicine, then we could all use a heavy dose on this  Election Day. If the election is stressing you out, you’re not alone. Social media platforms have been as much as a battleground in the 2016 election as the debate stages. Candidates, other politicians and pundits have […]

As Illinois students drown in debt, will elected officials come to the rescue?

Photo at top: Students and professors listen to Rep. Tammy Duckworth discuss the burden of student debt at a campaign event. (Emily Olsen/MEDILL)

By Emily Olsen and Meredith Francis When Kyle Walsh was 16, his dad sat him down and explained Kyle would be responsible for paying off his college loans, not him. Walsh, 20, is now student body president at Illinois State University, a second stop on his road to a degree. He first attended community college […]

Grad students negotiate right to unionize for more rights, work benefits

Photo at top: University of Chicago graduate students are making moves to unionize, despite resistance from the administration. (Phil Roeder/ Flickr)

By Meredith Francis In a dimly lit, Gothic-style church on the University of Chicago’s Hyde Park campus, several dozen graduate students are taking small steps to make big changes by going old school: forming a legally recognized union. “The work we do isn’t recognized as a very important part of keeping the university going,” said […]

Hand-picked CPS board no longer works for parents who want their own vote

If local parents and community groups have their say, the Chicago Board of Education would be an elected body. (Meredith Francis/MEDILL)

By Meredith Francis and Emily Olsen While many are already casting their ballots for the presidential election, some Chicago parent and community groups are demanding the opportunity to cast a vote for their local school board. “Parents, people across the city have had enough. We want an elected school board and we want it now,” […]

Chicago charter school teachers could make history with first-ever strike

Photo at top: United Educators at Uno, picketing outside the charter management offices in the Loop, say they may walk out of the classroom as early as Wednesday. (Meredith Francis/MEDILL)

By Meredith Francis For the first time in U.S. history, charter school teachers could strike. Though the Chicago Teachers Union narrowly avoided a strike last week, over 500 teachers from the Uno Charter School Network still threaten to walk out of the classroom as early as Wednesday if a contract deal is not reached by […]

For Adult Literacy Programs, Stop-Gap Budget Is Not an Open Book

By Meredith Francis Before a crowd outside the Thompson Center, Deyro Banguero speaks English fluently through a megaphone, advocating for more state funding for adult education. He’s been in the United States for five years after moving here from Colombia. In his citizenship classes at Erie House, he’s learning United States history, civics and reading […]

Down to the wire: Chicago teachers strike narrowly avoided with tentative agreement

By Emily Olsen and Meredith Francis Minutes before the midnight deadline, the Chicago Teachers Union and school board reached a tentative agreement to avoid a strike that would have sent some 20,000 teachers to picket lines. “It wasn’t easy,” CTU President Karen Lewis told reporters at 11:55 p.m. Monday. “Clearly, there are some issues, and […]

With threat of teacher strike looming, CPS problems pile up at board meeting

By Emily Olsen and Meredith Francis [Update: The Chicago Teachers Union announced Wednesday evening that the teachers will strike starting Oct. 11 if it does not reach a contract deal with the school district.] As dozens of teachers and parents crowded into a packed room at the Chicago Board of Education’s Wednesday meeting to voice […]