Pandemic Effects Chicago School Districts – Teachers Reaction

By Lyndal Johnson and Araceli Lagunas 

The effort to educate students has not ceased even as it continues within students’ own homes during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Administration and staff in Chicago Public School (CPS) and Noble Charter Schools are managing the seemingly impossible task of educating students from afar, yet the tireless effort is not without merit. 

As of 13 April, CPS has launched remote learning across the school network. Distributing more than 100,000 devices to students in communities around the city. As of 22 April, Noble purchased 5,000 Chromebooks for students to keep as they carry on with their educational career along with hotspots that will provide six months of free internet access. 

CPS and Noble current actions highlight a commitment to students’ education and well-being has not been lost in this dizzying time.

“The challenges we face ahead are unprecedented but not insurmountable,” says Janice K. Jackson, EdD, Chief Executive Officer Chicago Public Schools.

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Chicago Public Schools  

 Staff Pressing On

Teachers, so far, have begun to swap their lesson plans to an online format upon COVID-19 challenges. Their goal is ensuring every student is equipped with the proper utensils needed to still achieve their goals.

For Alex Holland, a teacher at Benito Juarez Community Academy, the unfolding events amidst the outbreak have not broken her spirits. Although she has taken the proper steps to ensure she’s alright, Holland’s concern during this period pertains to the wellbeing of her students.

“I was scared,” Holland said. “I’ve never done anything like this before.”

 Going Digital 

Holland, although technologically savvy, addresses the difficulty with moving her classes online. She highlights how she is conscious of the technological divide with students. 

As the district began ordering things to shift, her concern resided with how feasible it would be in getting her students into the habit of online learning.

“I was most worried about access,” Holland said. “So, I was personally scared because I know not a lot of students have laptops. And the students that do, the family shares that laptop.”

There is a clear disproportion in the allocation of resources throughout the City of Chicago. CPS has addressed how they will accommodate as many families as they can with the proper tools.

Timeline of Chicago Public Schools community updates on Coronavirus

“We recognize that a significant digital divide exists in our city and throughout the country, and schools will ensure that families who lack access to technology can utilize printed materials that will be created by the district,” Jackson said. “And while we are taking steps to help ensure instructional resources exist in a variety of formats, we are also taking seriously our responsibility to help narrow that digital divide.”

Benito Juarez began passing out Chromebooks to the students upon the first announcement of school closure for beginning March 17.

As students collected their Chromebooks or physical learning packets (for those without internet access), staff began preparing for the initial reactions to the online process.

With the established connection between her and her students, Holland realized the learning difficulties that’ll be faced from afar.  

“What’s horrible, we didn’t get our students in front of us to explain,” Holland said. “And it was hard because my students are very—they need it in front of them.”

Students now have been forced to recreate their households as a classroom. These students now have to adjust to houses full of family members who can disrupt their learning at any time of the day.

Holland mentions that she posts inspirational messages on the Remind app to encourage her students.

Holland, on top of being an English teacher, works as a post-secondary teacher. Amidst the losses for seniors, Holland to assist them in any way she can on their post-secondary goals.

Letters to students from colleges are still coming in, although staggered. Holland persists in motivating the students to press on as there are still things to look forward to in the future.

Engaging with the students 

While engaging with the students has been a concern for teachers, Kellye Galvan is constructing lessons as a fifth grade teacher. She has even begun including their families in lessons. 

In her class of fifth graders, Galvan works alongside the instructors of Dancing with Class. This is a ten week program that leads to a performance at the Chicago Cultural Center

Due to the school closures, the children were disappointed in hearing that they will no longer dance. The dance instructors and Galvan worked together in proceeding with the lessons online. They encourage the families to dance along which can be a mood lifting activity for everyone. 

“We are currently reading “The Watsons Go To Birmingham,” Galvan said. “We connected the dance styles for our next lessons to the novel. They will learn the Swing and the Twist.” 

Galvan shares that she holds office hours for the students and parents every day from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. She invites parents to express any concerns and provides extra guidance to the students concerning their homework.

The teachers at the West Town elementary school have been provided resources from the counselors that range from topics such as mental health, uplifting videos, community resources, etc. 

She is creating an interactive online classroom.

“We use Google Meet to meet with students three times a week as well as Google Classroom along with the other apps in Google Suites,” Galvan said.

The elementary school holds Professional Learning meetings once a week for all grade levels starting from K-3 and 4-8. The Instructional Leadership Team meets once a week to check in on the staff’s well being. The principal drops in on Google Classroom to check in on the students as well as holds office hours. 

The school community is progressively moving forward in ensuring they give their students the best. 

Noble Charter Schools

Teachers Take Charge 

As the shift from classroom interaction to online learning transpired, teachers were set out on trying to make this a smooth transition for students. 

A teacher at ITW Speer Academy, Lisette Garcia, addressed how the network was preparing the teachers for this new way of learning. 

 “We all sensed that there could possibly be a school closure,” Garcia said. 

Timeline of Noble Charter Schools community updates on Coronavirus

The Friday before the announcement was made, the Administration Team sent out homework packets for each class and paperwork to the students.

The Administration Team in all Noble campuses ensured to send out a survey to students to see who would need a laptop and internet access.

As a way to help all families in Chicago, they are distributing meals in the central zones in order to reach every community that surrounds a Noble campus. Thus far, they have distributed more than 50,000 meals. 

Since Noble’s Spring Break was the Week of April 6th, the teachers were already implementing the next 3 weeks of coursework online. Garcia shares that the online programs the students use are Google Suites, Zoom, and Screencast-O-Matic

Students were assigned 240 minutes of coursework. Her campus assigned two assignments and two extra credit assignments along with teaching new lessons. 

“I try to include wellness activities such as creating a 100 word story that allows students to express themselves and connect with Grammar based lessons,” Garcia said.

At moments like this, mental health is important. The students are contacted by their advisors every week. 

Teachers spoke to parents on the phone for report card pick up. Garcia shared the appreciation parents expressed in knowing that they are not alone and their children’s education is in good hands.

The communication around the campus has been “great and helpful.”

The Dean of Instruction checks in with teachers and reviews the lesson plans. Weekly emails are sent from the principal with updates and resources to improve the learning environment. 

As far as how the next school year is looking, teachers are worried about their students’ development.

“I assume that we will have to reteach past lessons the first two months of class before we start new lessons to ensure the kids are at a good place,” Garcia said. “There will be a lot of collaboration amongst teachers and unknownness going into the 2020-2021 school year.” 

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Do Campaign Financials Predict Endorsements

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As the Democratic Primary Elections are winding down, a look back at the financial support is taken to push a candidate is a fascinating exercise. With the Democratic Primary candidates now at two, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, a further inspection into the financial backing on either side can emphasize why one candidate would be leading in the polls. I decided to investigate if the campaign financials affect a candidate’s endorsement during the election process.

Exploring the data collected from the Federal Election Committee, concerning Bernie Sanders, one realizes that his total receipts are far above Joe Biden’s. Sanders’s total contributions were $120,960,727.29 while Biden’s were $69,831,973.15. It should be noted that Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden differ with the sources of their funding. Sanders’s fund is primarily “small individual contributions” while Biden’s is “large contributions. Small contributions are associated with everyday citizens who donate their personal money. However, for large contributions that are associated with larger companies or corporations that donate larger funds.

Surprisingly enough, I discovered more SuperPACs with Bernie Sanders than that for Joe Biden. Although both receive help from a SuperPAC, it was assumed that Biden would have more due to Bernie’s large contributions from the general public donations. That said, one should be aware of the variables for which Sanders and Biden have such different amounts such as other outside group donations, dark money, and time frame for the campaign. Sanders announced his run for president on February 19, 2019. Biden announced his run for president on April 25, 2019. Sanders had a lead on Biden’s campaign in racking up funds.

Overall, I found that although my data highlights Bernie’s success in campaign financials, it did not correlate to him getting the endorsements from fellow candidates formerly on the Democratic Primary ticket such as Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Michael Bloomberg, and Elizabeth Warren. This inaccuracy can be tied to the ideals that the candidate believes. Buttigieg, Klobuchar, and Bloomberg decided that Biden best fits the mold and rallied around him. With the primary election now approaching in Illinois, can Sanders win the state? How much can an endorsement change the momentum for a candidate?

A Summer Filled with Movies in Chicago Parks

Chicago Movies in the Park 2019

The map above highlights the Chicago “Movies in the Parks” for the summer of 2019. Each movie icon details each specified park which held a screening on a given date. The differing colors represent a particular movie rating: red is PG, green is PG-13, blue is NR (not rated), and yellow is G.

The Chicago Park District is a body consisting of over 600 parks that span an area of more than 8,800 acres of Chicagoland greenery. The park district offers an abundance of activities, cultural and environmental programs for all demographics young and old. Offering over 2,000 events to Chicago neighborhoods, as an extension of “Night Out in the Parks,” the Chicago Park District holds “Movies in the Parks.” This wonderful event brings the big-screen outside under the beautiful evening sky. Viewers of all ages can be entertained by films from the Hollywood classics, retro favorites, and recent releases.

According to this Google Map of “Movies in the Parks,” PG-rated movies are shown the most out of any rating. PG-13 rated films are shown to the second most shown rating. Most PG-rated films shown were Disney films such as “Moana” and “Incredibles 2.” The PG-13 films presented were mainly action films that incorporate excessive amounts of fighting such as “Avengers: Infinity War,” and “Creed II.” Most films listed are blockbuster films as they adhere to a larger audience that consists of many demographic backgrounds. Movies vary the most with an NR rating. Most NR rating films were an older film. These films were particularly classic foreign films such as “Breathless” and “400 blows.”

The Google Map highlights which films are shown based on where each particular community’s park in the Chicago Park District is located. Parks located on the northern side of Chicago have much more variety than that of parks located on the southern side of Chicago. Communities on the north side such as Roger’s Park, Edgewater, and West Ridge are shown more of the NR rated films. There is a disparity in the distribution of films shown around. A reason as to why the disparity is present could be due to Chicago’s densely populated areas with particular ethnicities occupying the space.

Google Trends: America’s Top Broadcasting Networks & America’s Top Late Night Talk Shows

News and Prime Time Television

Broadcast networks are a collection of radio and TV stations that air programs from the same unified source. Broadcast Networks such as ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox have defined the TV industry for decades. This graphic below highlights the trends in popularity regarding searches towards each network.

Graphic by Lyndal Johnson. Source: Google Trends

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Investigating the analysis contributed from the Google search data, over a recent span of seven days, one notices CBS ranking the highest in popularity. The trends for each broadcast network highlight key times and days for which popular programming is aired. Examining CBS’s peaks in its trend line, we see that these spikes in popularity are associated with times in which CBS news is airing. Similarly, the other broadcast networks have identical spikes when their networks’ news programming airs as well.

NBC and ABC vary in who is leading over the other. Depending on what content airs, either broadcast leads over the other. However, NBC appears to remain more popular than ABC. Fox remains not as popular as the rest in searches. The most significant part of this graphic is that on a Monday at 7 p.m., currently, the time for which American Idol airs, ABC reaches 100 percent in popularity.

Graphic by Lyndal Johnson. Source: Google Trends

The following graphic offers a breakdown for popularity based on the subregion. CBS appears to draw upon more popularity in searches than other broadcasting networks. However, for residents in Illinois and Texas, the ABC network is searched more than any other network.

Battle of the Jimmys No More: James Corden’s Likability and Content Draws an Audience

Our evenings are made amusing due to the likes of Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers, and James Corden. Each comedian has takes the stage each night for their audience and engage in news and entertainment. The graphic below highlights the trends in popularity in searches for each late night host over 24 hours.

Graphic by Lyndal Johnson. Source: Google Trends

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Examining the analysis from the Google search data, one notices that the popularity in searches logically spikes for each late night hosts’ show around the time in which the show airs. Former Saturday Night Live (SNL) cast member, Jimmy Fallon leads the way in popular searches. Jimmy Kimmel and James Corden are have the same average. Each appear to be go back and forth with who is leading the other. While Seth Meyers, another former SNL cast member, does not generate much excitement in searches as the other hosts with his show, Late Night with Seth Meyers.

The popularity in searches correlates with the content generated with the show. Jimmy Kimmel, the longest running host out of the set, has delivered humorous content that has garnered him a dedicated following over the years on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!“. Jimmy Fallon curates hilarious content and skits for any viewers to enjoy on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” Picking up his show from Jay Leno, Jimmy Fallon adopted his large following while also tailoring his content to a much younger appeal. Jimmy has drawn a young audience capable of searching his content.

For a while, the Jimmys were the powerhouses of late night. However, James Corden’s “The Late Late Show with James Corden” has become a much formidable contender for late night television. The English comedian has established himself a large following due to his fun content that has permeated through pop culture. His hit segment, Carpool Karaoke, has become a sensation that many people search and watch. The segment includes Corden driving around Los Angeles with celebrities, typically musicians, and singing their hits. Corden’s popularity has only risen he curates content, similar to Jimmy Fallon, towards a younger audience. Corden’s affinity for bringing on up-and-coming artists and international artist, such as BTS, highlights his willingness to branch out more than the other late night hosts.

From Bulls to Pistons, Derrick Rose’s Total Points Per Season

This graphic above shows the totals of point guard, Derrick Rose. The totals cover the span of each season in his career. The bolded years mark significant events for which points vary.

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American Professional Basketball Player, Derrick Rose, is a point guard for the National Basketball Association (NBA). Rose was drafted as the first-overall during the 2008 NBA draft by the home-town team, Chicago Bulls. Upon his first season, Derrick Rose made quite a name for himself; he scored a season total of 1,361 points. After showing excellent skill in his rookie season, Rose was given NBA Rookie of the Year. This recognition highlighted Derrick Rose as a player to look out for in the industry.

Following his rookie season, Derrick Rose progressed even further for the next two seasons. Rose’s 2010-2011 season marks his best season to date with a season total of 2,026 points. Once again, Derrick Rose had earned acclaim with the NBA Most Valuable Player Award in 2011. At the age of 22 years old, Derrick Rose became the youngest NBA player to date to earn such recognition. This moment marks a peak for which was hard for Rose to achieve at such a level again.

In the wake of his 2011 MVP campaign, Derrick Rose, during the 2011-2012 season, played for most of his season until the fateful moment in the playoffs. In the round one 2012 playoff game between the Chicago Bulls and Philadelphia 76ers, Derrick Rose tore his ACL in his left knee. His injury needed surgery and as a consequence, Rose was sidelined for the 2012-2013 season. His end season score total was 852 points.

Back on the court for the 2013-2014 season, Rose’s time was short-lived due to an injury with his right meniscus. Rose was out for the remainder of the season. His scoring total was 159 points. Pushing through such a difficult time, Rose healed and came back for his 2014-2015 season. This season proved to be successful, account for his injuries. Although there were surgeries that need to be done on Rose’s knee, taking him out of a few games, Rose returned for the playoffs and finished it. His scoring total was 904 points.

Derrick Rose’s final season with the Chicago Bulls ended after his 2015-2016 season. Scoring an end total of 1,080 points, Rose finished strong after a seven-season period with his home-town team. Much focus was given to Derrick Rose’s career with the Chicago Bulls because it was his long period with a specific team. Furthermore, Rose’s period with the Bulls accounts for the period in which he was not riddled with injuries.

Overall, Derrick Rose is a great basketball player. His career did not end once leaving the Chicago Bulls. Afterward, Rose played for the New York Knicks. All eyes on him after his trade, Rose scored an end season total of 1,154 points. He bested his last two seasons with the Chicago Bulls. Rose continued to struggle with injuries. During his period with the Cleveland Cavaliers, he even considered if he wanted to continue playing the sport or not. Luckily, he decided against it. After being traded two more times, previously with the Minnesota Timberwolves and currently with the Detroit Pistons, Rose continues to play the sport he loves. With continuous practice and dedication, Rose achieves superb end season totals that can only get better as he improves.

Chicago Pride Parade Attendance

This graphic above shows the increase of attendees at the Chicago Pride Parade from 1985-2014. The bolded years mark significant events for which attendance spiked with a lasting impact.

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Since its beginning, June 28th, 1970, the Chicago Pride Parade is celebrated annually in the Windy City; promoting acceptance in support for the LGBTQ+ community. Elevating from a simple march from Washington Square Park to the Water Tower, the parade has expanded and grown to amass a large crowd of Chicagoans gathering for a weekend filled with love and positivity. The first Chicago Pride Parade had an approximate attendance of 200 citizens. However, upon increased support, within 15 years, the crowd would grow to an attendance of 35,000.

Despite attendance having a steady increase for many years, the Chicago Pride Parade experienced a five year period where attendance appeared stagnant. An outpouring of Chicagoans at the 2011 parade showed a hefty increase in attendance even after an unfortunate hate crime was committed towards the event. It was revealed that 51 parade floats were vandalized before the event, intending to prevent the parade from continuing. That said, on account of two floats that were not able to be repaired, floats were fixed and the parade continued as intended.

Furthermore, the Chicago Pride Parade experience at the time a record-breaking attendance with 750,000 attendees. Love overcame the hate the was intended to break an unbreakable community. Not to mention, the following 2012 parade included an expanded route due to overcrowding at the 2011 parade.

The 2013 44th Chicago Pride Parade impressively accounts for a million Chicagoans in attendance at the celebration. That year saw the Chicago LGBTQ+ community advocating for the legalization of same-sex marriage. With the approaching Supreme Court decision to followthrough with eliminating a section of the Defense of Marriage Act, the parade held its largest crowd to date in advocating for same-sex love. By the following year, at the 45th Chicago Pride Parade, the same-sex marriage legislation was in full effect June 1, 2014. The crowd once again surged in the millions.

Continuous activism, donations, and political participation amongst the LGBTQ+ community are paving a way for the Chicago Pride Parade to grow and continue to be a beacon for inclusion and outreach in the Chicagoland area.

Quinn: Pensions Threatening MAP Grant Program

Gov. Pat Quinn talks about MAP grants at DePaul University. (Photo/Bob Smith)

Editor’s note: This story was originally posted on Dec. 12, 2012 and is housed at

By Bob Smith

Gov. Pat Quinn visited DePaul University’s Loop campus on Wednesday to discuss how pension reform is harming the Monetary Award Program (MAP) college scholarships and access to higher education in Illinois.

“This is so important to our state, not only in the past, but certainly now and in the future,” Quinn said. “We want everyone to have the opportunity to go to college that has the ability to go to college.”

MAP grants are need-based college scholarships that allow merit students who are in need across the state and do not need to be repaid by the student. Quinn said that due to cutbacks and having to pay more money in the pension amount, almost 18,000 students lost their MAP grant scholarships this year.

“We do not want anyone denied that opportunity because of finances,” Quinn said. “We can’t afford to lose all the talent that exists, all the ability that exists for higher education to help our economy and to help all of us, because there are financial challenges that deny someone the opportunity to go to community college or a four-year university — public and private — in our state.”

Quinn was joined by several Illinois college students, including DePaul Student Government Association Vice President Casey Clemmons.

“Every year over 5,000 DePaul students receive MAP grants, and just like the students who have already spoken here today, all of these DePaul students rely on this funding in order to continue their college careers,” Clemmons said.

“Because the number of Illinois students eligible to receive MAP is currently increasing, existing funding does not allow the state to assist all the eligible students. As a result, without action by the Illinois state leadership, more DePaul students than ever will see their MAP funding disappear this year and more

DePaul students than ever will be forced to give up their education due to finances.”More than 150,000 students nationally receive MAP grants each year.

Clemmons told the audience that on Tuesday, DePaul’s SGA unanimously passed a resolution calling on the Illinois general assembly and the governor to ensure the longevity of the MAP program.  He read the resolution aloud and presented a copy to Quinn. 

Ken Thomas, a University of Illinois Board of Trustees student member, MAP recipient and University of Illinois Chicago student, told how he wouldn’t be where he is today if it wasn’t for the MAP grant.

“My mom, when I was in high school, had to work two jobs just to keep food on the table,” Thomas said, “and if we didn’t have [the] MAP program like we do today, I know that I wouldn’t be where I am today; graduating with a degree, hoping to be a productive member of society.” 

Having a productive and functioning society and economy is what Quinn says it’s all about.

“Jobs follow brainpower,” he said. “We want to make sure we have smart people in Illinois. Well skilled, well-educated students coming out of college with graduate degrees and diplomas so they can create jobs, create new businesses,” he said. “Our goal in Illinois is to have at least 60 percent of the adults in our state with a college degree or college associate degree or career certificate by the year 2025.

In order to achieve we have to make sure we have a good scholarship program.”Clemmons said that in order for that to happen, state legislatures need to reflect upon the question, “What must be done?” and do what’s required.