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Taking back the streets - and schools

By now you may have heard about the Chicago high school honor student who was beaten to death as he was walking home from school. He was on his way home when he happened upon two groups of men fighting. Some said he saw someone he knew and went to help him, only to have both groups jump on him and beat him with boards. A passerby, walking his sister home, caught the action with his cell phone and turned over the tape to a local news station, which then turned it over to Chicago police. Using the film, police have caught four men and charged them with murder. Three others were still being sought.

In Chicago, this is no new thing. Last year over thirty Chicago Public School students - all on the South Side - have lost their lives to violence. Each time a shooting, stabbing, beating or whatever happens, parents and community leaders will howl before the cameras, police will mop up the mess and try to find the person(s) responsible and once the heat is off, life will return to normal.

What's striking is that the violence doesn't happen in the schools, or the so-called "School Safety Zones" around the school, but usually a few blocks away. This incident happened outside a community center a few blocks away from the high school. Tensions will cook inside the school for hours or days. Then word gets around the grapevine that something will happen after school, and next thing you know we'll be watching the news about a kid getting shot as he's walking home, or to the bus stop.

All the victims were male, and black. Still, it scares kids of all ages, sexes and color in high schools around Chicago.

when I was a kid going to the CPS, I was bullied regularly. Kids would threaten to kick my ass after school. It won't happen in school, where there are authority figures and later, police and security guarding the hallways. It's always outside. I'd have to run home or walk with people I knew and trusted. Sometimes they would follow me and wait until I was alone. Once I was even kidnapped and walked several blocks away, being beaten, crying and screaming until an adult intervened and my attackers ran off. I walked home slowly, crying hysterically. The teachers wouldn't intervene, saying it wasn't in their job description. Today they would be fired if they said that and someone was killed.

It's not that different today, just more violent. If it happened on the North Side and in an affluent neighborhood to a white kid, the outcry would be huge. Police presence would triple. In fact, at Lake View High School near where I live, there is always a squad car parked outside during school hours. There would be a national outcry. Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck would accuse president Obama of doing nothing when it was happening in his home town. But it's happening on the South Side, where it's routinely ignored by Mayor Daley and the police. After a kid gets shot, there would be attention until the heat is off and it's back to business as usual.

Parents and community leaders have to get involved. I was reading a biography on Michelle Obama and when she was growing up on the South Side, trailer classrooms were used in schools to ease overcrowding. There was no heat and students would have to wear their coats. Complaints went nowhere until a massive boycott of the schools forced the system to do something. And this is what parents could do to make the schools safer so that their kids wouldn't be afraid to go there and come home.

Boycotts work - just ask Jesse Jackson. He staged them to gain benefits for hos followers, as well as his sons.

It worked for a state senator last year. He bused several schoolkids to an affluent North Shore suburb so that they could register for school. They filled out the forms, but were rejected because they lived outside the district. The boycotts were organized to call attention to inequities in school funding, and the senator was thinking of challenging rod Blagojevich for the Democratic nomination. It worked - for a short time. Blagojevich talked the senator into calling off the boycott and he would take care of the funding issue. But either he forgot or it got tossed onto the back burner, and after Blagojevich's arrest, the state senator got his revenge - by voting him out.

It could work on the South Side, if parents and community leaders would do the job. And there's no better time than now. Boycott the public schools. Take your kids out and find a better school, or homeschool the kids. It would take time and money, but ask yourself this - would you rather pay attention to teh kids' needs, or would you rather pick out their coffin? Because that's what will happen if they let this latest violent deed go by the wayside.

It works because the schools lose money whenever there are no kids there. Daley would have to take notice and eventually arrange for more police presence in and around the schools and the neighborhoods. So what will it be - boycott now or a future without your kid?


( 5 thoughts shared — Speak your mind )
Sep. 29th, 2009 09:24 pm (UTC)
Yep, you wore your coat in class in the winter, and because of the yearly teachers' strikes, you were stuck in class until after the summer solstice with no a/c. That was ALL Chicago public schools in the 80s, not just the south side.

When people in the neighborhood ask why I homeschool Ryan, all I have to say is Clemente is the local high school he'd be attending. That's the school where the principal quit via email and a cop was shot on campus. With that as common knowledge, I don't get any follow-up questions.
Sep. 30th, 2009 07:13 pm (UTC)
I went to Clemente briefly in the summer of 1981 for summer school in order to graduate. The school was filthy - I didn't dare use the bathrooms and there were roaches in the cafeteria. They didn't offer the class I had failed and so I had to take an art class. It was too easy. The teacher wasn't even qualified - he was a gym teacher - and he spent the time reading the paper and talking smack about Jane Byrne. It was only for three weeks and a couple of hours a day, but I couldn't wait to finish the class soon enough. They had offered a graduation ceremony, and I qualified, but it was in August and I didn't want it. And the school was already gang-infested, so I know full well what you're talking about.

High school is less than two years away for Madeleine, and if she doesn't get into Lane (she's pretty bright already) or the other prep schools (already hard enough), I'll either homeschool her or move back to Madison. The other alternative is Lake View, and though it looks all right on the outside, I'm leery of it.

Sep. 30th, 2009 07:38 pm (UTC)
Ryan has taken to homeschooling very well, and with Illinois being such an easy state to do that, you should have no trouble. But, if you're really hoping for a good high school though and are considering HSing as a backup plan, then there are a couple options if you don't nail a magnet/prep.

I'm not sure if they're going by the same rules, but my brother got into Mather because of his address at the time. I know that's a pretty nice school parents fight to get into, so it may be worth looking into finding an apartment around there. Ask first though!

Another school like that is Taft out by Superdawg. I know it's mostly houses out there, but there are quite a few really nice garden apartments to be found as well, thanks to all the bungalows.

Just a thought...
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Apr. 15th, 2011 11:42 pm (UTC)
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( 5 thoughts shared — Speak your mind )

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