WBEZ | Department of Education http://www.wbez.org/tags/department-education Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en School Board Approves Controversial Deal In Transgender Student Case http://www.wbez.org/news/school-board-approves-controversial-deal-transgender-student-case-114048 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/school-board-4edit_custom-a81fd7ded70732064f30e52c227d06795a9a9b34.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>After months of negotiations, the battle over locker room access for a transgender student in Illinois ended late last night when Township High School District 211 &mdash; about 30 miles northwest of Chicago &mdash;&nbsp;<a href="http://adc.d211.org/news/d211office-for-civil-rights-agreement/">approved a deal</a>&nbsp;with the Department of Education.</p><p>For nearly three hours, the board met in a closed session &mdash; ultimately voting yes on the agreement which allows the transgender student to use private areas within the locker room.</p><p>While the agreement ends the threat of the district losing millions of dollars in Title IX federal funds, some parents were disappointed.</p><p>About 400 people &mdash; mostly adults and a few students &mdash; filled row after row of folding chairs in a high school cafeteria turned into an auditorium for District 211&#39;s special school board meeting.</p><p>The U.S. Department of Education&#39;s Office of Civil Rights&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/11/02/us/document-letter-from-the-us-dept-of-education-to-daniel-cates.html">ruled last month</a>&nbsp;the school district had violated federal law by not allowing a student who was born a male and identifies as female full access to the girls&#39; locker room.</p><p>Jessica Miller, who has a 16-year-old daughter in the school district, was one of many parents urging the board to keep that policy in place.</p><p>&quot;I keep hearing the majority of the students are on board with this. Well, I spoke with my daughter and the majority of their friends, and believe me, that is not true. Our girls are feeling helpless, but they refuse to speak out because they fear retaliation from those that are very vocal,&quot; Miller says.</p><p>The&nbsp;<a href="http://www.aclu-il.org/district-announces-that-it-will-violate-federal-law/">ACLU helped the student</a>&nbsp;file a federal complaint against the district two years ago and the Office of Civil Rights told the district it had violated the Title IX law that banned sex discrimination &mdash; a charge Miller and others called an overreach by the government.</p><p>&quot;We are just parents with a mission to protect our children&#39;s rights and privacy and their well-being,&quot; Miller says.</p><p>But Hannah Garst, whose two children will attend the same high school as the transgender student, says it was the school district that was overreaching.</p><p>&quot;If privacy is the issue, then let&#39;s solve that issue by giving privacy to everyone and requiring everyone to use discretion when undressing or changing,&quot; Garst says.</p><p>Students in the district, like 17-year-old Jake Lytle, told the board members to think about what sort of history they wanted to make as they faced difficult questions &mdash; as other boards have in the past.</p><p>&quot;Should they integrate a school or continue with the forced separation of people by race? Should students who are openly gay and lesbian be welcomed and protected from discrimination and harassment?&quot; Lytle says.</p><p>Lytle says the board should be as bold and accept the settlement it negotiated with the Department of Education.</p><p>Those who stayed to wait for the decision said they felt betrayed.</p><p>District 211&#39;s Superintendent Daniel Cates says he understands the disappointment, but that the agreement is not a district-wide policy.</p><p>&quot;This agreement pertains to a single student. And in doing so, we believe that we have safeguarded not only our ability to move forward with other students, but also to safeguard other districts that would like to make their decisions locally,&quot; Cates says.</p><p>Cates says that in developing the policy, the community and the board struggled with an extremely sensitive situation. Federal officials have to sign off on the deal.</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/12/03/458276449/school-board-approves-controversial-deal-in-transgender-student-case?ft=nprml&amp;f=458276449" target="_blank"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Fri, 04 Dec 2015 11:51:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/school-board-approves-controversial-deal-transgender-student-case-114048 Chicago activists speak out against school-closings at D.C. hearing http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-activists-speak-out-against-school-closings-dc-hearing-105168 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/photo1.jpg" style="height: 258px; width: 620px;" title="(Becky Vevea/WBEZ)" /></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F76688512" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Chicago isn&rsquo;t the only city looking to close a large number of its public schools&mdash;and it&rsquo;s not the only place people are upset.</p><p>A group of activists from Chicago boarded a bus to Washington, D.C. Sunday. They gathered at the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, which helped organize the trip.</p><p>Aquila Griffin is a junior at Dunbar Career Vocational Academy. As a freshman, she went to Dyett High School, which district officials decided to phase out last year &ndash; a process in which a school stops admitting new students but remains open until there are none left.</p><p>&ldquo;Freshman year, I didn&rsquo;t know anything about this stuff,&rdquo; Griffin said as she helped round up the group going to D.C. on Sunday.</p><p>&ldquo;I was just going to school and I was wondering, like, why do they have this and we don&rsquo;t?&rdquo; she says in reference to inequities she&rsquo;s seen as a student in Chicago Public Schools.</p><p>People with the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization and other activists are meeting up with people from 18 different cities to speak out against school closings.</p><p>People from some of the cities, including Chicago, have filed civil rights complaints with the U.S. Department of Education, charging that closing schools disproportionately impacts minority students.</p><p>&ldquo;Everywhere, it&rsquo;s the same stories that can be told over and over again,&rdquo; Griffin said. &ldquo;So it&rsquo;s not just in Chicago. It&rsquo;s not just in Witchita. It&rsquo;s in New Orleans. It&rsquo;s in L.A. It&rsquo;s in New York. It&rsquo;s in Newark. It&rsquo;s everywhere.&rdquo;</p><p>The coalition will bring its complaints to a hearing with national education officials on Tuesday.</p></p> Mon, 28 Jan 2013 00:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-activists-speak-out-against-school-closings-dc-hearing-105168 Senior U.S. Department of Education advisor on education reform and union issues http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/senior-us-department-education-advisor-education-reform-and-union-issues <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2010-November/2010-11-08/teacher protest resize.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>President Obama has said he hopes the new Congress will find common ground when they meet in Washington next spring. But finding consensus on one divisive issue, education, is no small feat. Still, the stakes to do so couldn&rsquo;t be higher.</p><p>About half the kids who start high school in Chicago never finish. Lately one big focus across the country has been on improving teacher quality. But what exactly makes for a good teacher, and how do you encourage teacher development?</p><p>Someone who&rsquo;s helping to set the education agenda on the national front is the senior advisor to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Before taking his current post, <a target="_blank" href="http://www2.ed.gov/news/staff/bios/janderson.html">Jo Anderson</a> was the executive director of the <a target="_blank" href="http://www.ieanea.org/">Illinois Education Association</a> &ndash; the state&rsquo;s largest teacher union.</p><p>He says teacher evaluation definitely needs an overhaul.&nbsp; Eight Forty-Eight<em>&nbsp;</em>spoke to Anderson to discuss education reform and how federal initiatives are playing out around Chicago and the state.</p></p> Mon, 08 Nov 2010 15:26:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/senior-us-department-education-advisor-education-reform-and-union-issues