Posts Tagged ‘youth violence’

Never let a tragedy go to waste

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013
Hadiya Pendleton's mother, Cleopatra, and brother, Nathaniel, Jr.

Hadiya Pendleton’s mother, Cleopatra, and brother, Nathaniel, Jr.

Murdered CPS student Hadiya Pendleton’s family is moving forward with plans for an anti-violence foundation in her honor. Bless their efforts – we hope this project gives them some measure of comfort.

According to the Tribune, othersĀ  are looking to see how they can get involved, too, though motivation in some of these cases may be more complicated:

Along with Emanuel and the Obamas, other high-profile people have reached out, including the Rev. Al Sharpton, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Shayne Evans, director of the University of Chicago Charter Schools.

Fifth-grader Nathaniel Pendleton, Jr., currently attends CPS’s Donoghue Elementary School.

As Rahm likes to say, never let a crisis go to waste.

Violence and charter schools: an update

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

Last July I wrote a long post drawing a connection between the rising youth violence in Chicago and charter schools.

President Obama speaks with students at Hyde Park Career Academy

President Obama speaks with students at Hyde Park Career Academy

Things have gotten a lot worse since then — so much so that President Obama finally had to come back home to address it.

I tried to be clear then that there are many causes of violence, but I was responding specifically to an editorial by New Schools for Chicago’s Phyllis Lockett, who suggested that charter schools were actually an answer to violence.

CPS sees the charter school-violence connection, too

An internal CPS document reported by the Chicago Tribune in December 2012 acknowledges the connection between violence, schools closings, and charter school expansion. According to the Tribune,

The document lists “transition costs” for closing schools that would include severance pay for displaced teachers, added transportation to get students to new schools and extra security to help control potential gang violence that may arise. (emphasis added)….

The document outlines strategy on the thorny issue of adding up to 20 charter schools a year at the same time it is closing neighborhood schools.While the report says charters are “a core prong of CPS’s academic improvement strategy,” it also acknowledges the district will face criticism if it adds charter schools in the first year while also eliminating district-run schools. To avoid that “perceived inconsistency,” the report states that the district cannot add so many charters when it is selling school closings as a way to address CPS’ fiscal crisis.

What kinds of communities are we building?

That’s one of the issues that President Obama raised when he was here in Hyde Park last week. I think it’s a great question.

What kinds of communities are we building when we close neighborhood school after neighborhood school and replace them with charter schools that parents have to apply to get into, that may or may not accept your children, that are more likely to find a way to push your chlid out if your child doesn’t reflect the image they are trying to project or help raise their test scores.

How are children getting to school? How many gang lines do they have to cross? Do they even show up at the schools where they are re-assigned after their school is closed?

An 80-year-old member of my church said to me this last Sunday, “They’re going to close my school! I thought it would be there forever.”

The Consortium on Chicago School Research says in Student and Teacher Safety in Chicago Public Schools: “ (I)t is the quality of relationships between staff and students and between staff and parents that most strongly defines safe schools.”

What kind of communities are the President’s policies and the Mayor’s policies building?

Safe communities need stable schools. It’s as simple as that.

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About the PURE Thoughts blogger
Julie Woestehoff is PURE's executive director. Julie's work has earned her a Ford Foundation award and recognition as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.