About Natasha Smith

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So far Natasha Smith has created 37 blog entries.

Announcing Record-Breaking Test Scores

By | August 28th, 2016|

NWEA results are in, and the news is good. This past school year, CPS students achieved record attainment levels on math and reading, and exceeded national averages of student growth.  These results are all-time high scores for CPS, and prove that the hard work of our students, educators, and families is paying off. More than half of CPS students are meeting or exceeding national achievement averages on this test. This year’s scores represent a jump of 13.5 percentage points in [...]

Back-to-School Countdown Begins

By | August 19th, 2016|

With three weeks to go before the start of school, the CPS Back-to-School (B2S) campaign is in full swing. As it has for decades, the B2S season kicked off with the 87th-annual Bud Billiken Parade – a Chicago tradition and the largest Back-to-School parade in the U.S. A contingent of CPS staff and families handed out B2S t-shirts along the route, and more than half a dozen school bands entertained the excited south side crowd. CPS also participated in Presence [...]

Supporting CPS Dreamers

By | July 18th, 2016|

“If you want to attend college badly enough, you’ll move mountains, oceans, and skies to go.” -Hector Lopez, CPS Dream Fund Scholar For students like Hector, who were brought to the U.S. as children and remain undocumented, attending college can require this kind of effort. These students are not eligible for federal financial aid, or for the MAP grants provided by the State of Illinois. Most private scholarships are out of reach as well, so even with ability and good [...]

CPS School Budgets: Protecting the Classroom and Academic Gains

By | July 13th, 2016|

Each summer, CPS finalizes our district’s budget for the next fiscal year.  Creating a budget for the nation's third largest school district is a big undertaking, but always begins the same way: working with principals to build budgets for their schools. The budget season began in earnest today, as principals received their initial budget and funding allocations for the coming school year.  These budgets provide good news for our school communities, as they include no new cuts to per-student funding [...]

The Importance of Student Voice

By | July 7th, 2016|

Teachers, administrators, counselors, coaches…we all come to work each day with the same goal in mind. To do whatever we can to help the students we care about succeed. Every decision we make is with that objective in mind. Yet if it’s only the adults making those decisions, something important is missing. We need to hear from our students. How can we decide what’s best for them without knowing what they think? Without knowing what things are like in their [...]

A Win for Illinois Schools

By | July 1st, 2016|

There’s good news for the children of Illinois: After months of negotiation and advocacy, the General Assembly and Governor Rauner came together to support schools across the state.  Their compromise means many things for our district, and those across the state -- including that our doors will open as scheduled this fall. This is an exciting moment for our district -- and for all of our parents, students, educators, and community members who joined the fight for fair funding this [...]

Channeling President Lincoln

By | June 29th, 2016|

As legislators debated in Springfield, educators from around the state gathered at a historic Illinois landmark to demand that their leaders put children first. At the Old State Capitol in Vandalia, Illinois – a place where Abraham Lincoln once served as a state legislator – representatives from more than 30 Illinois districts united around the need for an equitable K-12 education budget. These were school superintendents, including CPS CEO Forrest Claypool, along with parents and education advocates from all over [...]

Standing Up for Teachers

By | June 22nd, 2016|

On June 22, CPS filed an Unfair Labor Practice Charge against the leadership of the Chicago Teachers’ Union, for their actions against teachers who chose to come to work on April 1 – the date of CTU’s illegal one-day walkout. Teachers who came to work on April 1 did so because they are committed to their students.  Their dedication should be respected, yet CTU leadership is punishing members who refused to participate in the one-day strike – expelling them from [...]

Something To Celebrate This Summer

By | June 14th, 2016|

“Despite our financial challenges, CPS students are doing better than ever before.” This statement has been at the center of our fight for fair funding, and it’s true. The latest proof is in our summer school numbers, which took an incredible turn in 2016. Thanks to the hard work of our students, and the dedication of our teachers and principals, 25 percent fewer children will need summer school compared to a year ago. This result means better test scores and [...]

Introducing CPS Peace Hour

By | June 9th, 2016|

For one hour today, CPS students took a break from academics to discuss the need for peace. Peace in their lives, peace in their communities, and peace during the summer months, which can be a tumultuous time in Chicago neighborhoods. This was Peace Hour – an opportunity for CPS students to express what peace means to them and brainstorm ways to stay safe and productive this summer. "What is peace to me?" 3rd graders write as part of their [...]