Stories by Matt Masterson

Barbara Byrd-Bennett Attorneys Ask for 3.5-Year Sentence in Fraud Case

Attorneys for former Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett have asked a federal judge to sentence their client up to no more than 3.5 years in prison. (Chicago Tonight)

In a sentencing memo filed Friday, Barbara Byrd-Bennett’s attorneys admit she “harbored a very real and greedy sense of entitlement” that she was earning something she deserved by steering millions of dollars in CPS contracts to her former employer.

Noble Charter Teachers File Charges Against Network Administration

Educators say management interfering in unionization process

(Chicago Tonight)

Noble teachers announced Friday they have filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board, citing administration's “use of surveillance” to interfere with their rights granted by the National Labor Relations Act.

CTU Drops Strike Vote, Encourages Other Action on May 1

The Chicago Teachers Union will not hold a May Day strike, but group leadership is planning a “proportional” response to whatever cuts are made to the end of this school year by Chicago Public Schools.

Chicago Charter Advocates Protest Bill Limiting School Growth

(Courtesy of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools)

Dozens of charter school advocates and parents gathered outside Will Guzzardi’s Logan Square office Wednesday to protest a bill from the state representative that would limit charter growth in financially struggling Illinois school districts.

New Illinois Education Model Sent Off for Federal Review

(Chicago Tonight)

After dozens of listening sessions and meetings, the Illinois State Board of Education announced it has submitted its plan to replace the No Child Left Behind Act to the federal government for review.

CPS, ISBE Partnering on New Competency-Based Learning Pilot

(Chicago Tonight)

Six Chicago Public Schools will take part in a new pilot program that lets students move at their own pace as they focus on mastering educational skills rather than spending set amounts of time in the classroom.

West Englewood Students Call For an End to Gun Violence

(Matt Masterson / Chicago Tonight)

Students, teachers and community activists gathered Friday at Henderson Elementary for their second annual peace rally, marching only feet from where a 12-year-old girl was shot earlier this year.

Chance the Rapper, Chicago Bulls Announce More Funds for CPS

The “New Chance: Arts and Literature” fund will provide Chicago students with new supplies beginning next school year, having already raised $1.2 million through philanthropic donations in just the last month.

Chicago Teachers Weighing Options Before Vote on 1-Day Walkout

As the Chicago Teachers Union continues debate over a possible one-day strike in response to furloughs and cuts from Chicago Public Schools, some members have come out in favor of other options that wouldn't cost teachers another day of lost pay.

Cook County to Sell Off Tax Delinquent Properties to Highest Bidders

The owners of tens of thousands of homes and properties in Cook County who’ve fallen behind on their taxes have only a couple more days to settle their debts – or they could wind up paying a lot more.

New Bill Bars CPS, Cash-Strapped Districts From Opening New Charters

(Matt Masterson / Chicago Tonight)

“If your district is broke, take care of the schools that you have before you open new schools. We think it’s a pretty straightforward idea,” said state Rep. Will Guzzardi, who introduced the legislation.

Rauner Pushing New Pension Alternative to Restore CPS Funding

(Chicago Tonight)

Facing an ongoing lawsuit brought by Chicago Public Schools and increasing calls to restore vetoed funding to the cash-strapped school district, Gov. Bruce Rauner is urging “swift action” to enact statewide pension reform in a new Republican-led bill.

Gary Solomon, Former SUPES CEO, Sentenced to 7 Years in Prison

Courtroom sketch from October 2015 depicts Gary Solomon, right, and Thomas Vranas, left, in federal court. (Thomas Gianni)

The former SUPES Academy chief charged in connection with the Barbara Byrd-Bennett fraud scandal was sentenced Friday to seven years in prison after pleading guilty last year.

LSC Members Call on Rauner to Restore CPS Pension Funding

(Chicago Tonight)

Local School Council members from across Chicago hand-delivered a letter to Gov. Bruce Rauner this week, urging “immediate action” from the state.

Chicago Teachers Having ‘Hard Discussion’ Before Upcoming Strike Vote

Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Jesse Sharkey (Chicago Tonight)

Chicago Teachers Union delegates are taking this month to discuss the possible May 1 strike with the union’s rank-and-file members before a vote on the action, scheduled for April 5.

Coonley 2nd-Graders Reimagine Great Chicago Fire on Social Media

View from the south west corner of Dearborn and Monroe, 1871. (Jex Bardwell / Chicago History Museum)

Nearly 150 years after a small barn fire ballooned into a two-day blaze that engulfed the city, the story of the Great Chicago Fire is being retold. On social media.

CPS Files Order to Halt Proposed 1-Day Teacher Strike

(Chicago Tonight)

Chicago Public Schools is seeking to prevent a proposed teacher strike later this spring, claiming the move would be illegal under state law.

Chicago Teachers Calling on CPS to Save its Clerks

As Chicago Public Schools continues seeking cost-cutting measures to balance its annual budget, local teachers are rallying around school staff they believe could be next on the chopping block.

Illinois Education Board Approves State ESSA Plan

(Chicago Tonight)

The latest draft of what will become Illinois' new public education policy plan cleared its first major hurdle Wednesday, earning unanimous support from state education leaders.

CPS Student Files Civil Suit Claiming School Building Violates ADA

(Don Harder / Flickr)

CPS CEO Forrest Claypool and the Board of Education are both named in a civil suit filed Friday by Access Living, a disability advocacy nonprofit, on behalf of the wheelchair-bound student at Drummond Montessori Magnet School in Bucktown.

ASPIRA Teachers Reach Tentative Deal, Averting First-of-its-Kind Strike

(A Council of Educators / Twitter)

Had ASPIRA teachers gone through with their threat to go on strike March 17, it would have been the first labor stoppage for charter teachers in U.S. history.

Chance the Rapper Announces 10 CPS Schools Receiving $10K Donations

(Chicago Tonight)

Days after giving $1 million to Chicago Public Schools to support arts and enrichment programming, the Chicago-born rapper named 10 individual schools that would each receive a separate gift from his nonprofit organization, SocialWorks.

CTU Delegates to Consider 1-day Walkout

(Chicago Tonight)

A union spokesman confirmed the union’s 800-member House of Delegates will begin discussions Wednesday over a “possible May 1 action.” No strike vote has yet been scheduled.

ASPIRA Charter Teachers Set March Strike Date

(Christine Geovanis / Flickr)

If progress isn't made over the next 10 days in ongoing labor negotiations, educators in a small Chicago charter school network say they will walk off the job in what would be the nation’s first charter teachers strike.

Noble Teachers Earn Legislator Support in Unionization Efforts

(Matt Masterson / Chicago Tonight)

Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, state Sen. Daniel Biss and Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa were among those who pledged their support for Noble charter teachers who are working to create what would be the nation’s largest charter teachers union.