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New & Noteworthy

News and Stories from Stone, its Grantees, and the Issues it invests in.

Peoria community leaders advocate for more support of early childhood education

February 28, 2024
A new report from the nonprofit Council for a Strong America has community leaders advocating for the importance of early childhood education in Peoria. The report, titled “Social Emotional Skills: An Early Childhood Fundamental,” makes the case that strong social-emotional development early in children’s lives lowers the chances of negative short- and long-term outcomes like mental health challenges. It also argues a positive impact on the state’s economy, safety and long-term national security.
A student arrives for school at the Stephen F. Gale School Annex

How Illinois school districts can train more bilingual educators

April 2, 2024
For years, enrollment in Illinois’ public schools has been on the decline, but the number of English learners is on the rise. English learners are students in pre-K to 12th grade who require additional programming to develop academic English so they can fully participate in school. From 2010-2011 to the 2020-2021 school year, the English learner population in Illinois grew from 156,888 to 245,592 students. The number rose to more than 271,000 for the 2023-2024 school year. A recent increase includes the growing number of new migrant students in Chicago and surrounding suburbs. These students require qualified bilingual educators to succeed. Without such teachers, vital lessons in math, science and reading fall by the wayside.

Summer Internship Available

March 13, 2024
The Foundation has recently developed an exciting internship opportunity in philanthropy. Working in partnership with other Chicago-based funders, the Foundation developed its internship to provide a unique experience for an undergraduate student interested in pursuing work in the nonprofit space after college.
Pictured, a bus parked outside the front entrance to Lindblom Math and Science Academy on Wed., Feb. 14, 2024 in Chicago, Illinois.

Who’s the boss? Chicago principals report to many different people.

February 27, 2024
During Femi Skanes’ 10 years as a Chicago principal, her boss was primarily a district official known as a network chief, she said. Alan Mather, who was also a principal for a decade, says he answered to then-Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan. Many principals in Chicago also feel their Local School Council, or LSC, is a boss, while others view the council as more of a partner. Principals are the leaders of their schools and staff. But in Chicago, multiple entities have power over principals. Later this year, Chicagoans will begin electing school board members, marking another shift in control over the city’s school system, which has been run by the mayor and a hand-picked CEO since 1995 and by a decentralized system of elected LSCs since 1988.

In California, Parents and Child Care Providers Work Together to Make Meaningful Change

February 13, 2024
Things are looking up for young children, parents, and child care providers in California thanks to transformational legislative wins over the summer of 2023. These policy achievements did not happen by chance, but were the result of a coordinated effort that was fueled by the grassroots organizing of parents, providers, and thousands of organizations speaking with one voice. The resulting policy wins consist of many different parts, but revolve around two key issues ripe for reform: 1) family fees, meaning the dollar amount paid by families to access subsidized child care, and, 2) the rates paid by the state to providers of subsidized child care.
Gov. Josh Shapiro signs the Pennsylvania state budget into law in August 2023. In his new budget proposal, Shapiro is seeking $1.1 billion in additional basic education funding. (Courtesy of Gov. Josh Shapiro’s office)

Record-setting increase in public school funding proposed by Pennsylvania governor

February 6, 2024
Gov. Josh Shapiro proposed a 2024-25 budget Tuesday that increases basic education funding by $1.1 billion, which would be the largest single-year increase ever. Most of that money, $900 million, would be funneled through a so-called adequacy formula that calculates what every district actually requires to educate all their children to high standards, based on students’ needs.
Adam Hopfner of the Yale School of Architecture tours a two-family home on Howard Street in New Haven. The home will house teachers at the Friends Center for Children and their families.

New Haven teachers cash in on rent-free housing

August 14, 2023
A New Haven early childcare center is expanding a program providing free homes for teachers and their families. Friends Center for Children began the Teacher Housing Initiative in 2021. With the planned completion of a newly constructed home set for the fall, the center will provide housing for six of its teachers. The program is specifically designed to ease the financial burden some educators face, Friends Center Executive Director Allyx Schiavone said. Ninety-seven percent of educators teaching children under the age of five are women and mostly people of color.
Male teacher supporting two students.

How do we address the educator shortage in Illinois? We have the powerful tools to do so.

January 12, 2024
When discussing the educator workforce shortages in Illinois, it is evident that the challenges our education system faces are complex. Reporter Shanzeh Ahmad’s recent article in the Tribune highlights the persistent, critical shortage of educators in special education and bilingual classes and sheds light on the disparate impact these shortages have on particular student populations. We must address this issue with urgency.