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The race for City Hall

Jobs and schools promise to be top issues in next year’s city elections. The mayor’s education agenda faces its toughest test in the African-American communities that gave him strong support in 2011.


June 25, 2009

Paul Bunch, a 6’11” junior at North Lawndale College Prep Charter School, blocks a lot of shots for the city’s top basketball team. The trouble is, he’s rarely on the court.

July 31, 2008

It’s about 11 a.m. on a cold, gray December day and Derrick Green’s* incessant talking has gotten him in trouble once more. He’s been suspended three times already this school year, and now risks being put out again.

But rather than go straight down to the disciplinarian’s office, as ordered, Derrick stops to slap hands with a group of boys who are hanging out in a corner. Suddenly, a young man comes barreling down the hall, signaling that a security guard is on the prowl. The boys, including Derrick, take off.

May 30, 2008

By the time they arrive at school in the morning, their insides are often in knots. Perhaps they had a difficult time with a strung-out mother, are frustrated by a father’s absence or just experienced a rowdy and threatening bus ride.

Until recently, students on the South Shore high school campus who faced such problems had someplace to turn. Teachers were in ongoing training to help them relate to students’ problems and students had access to community resources in their school designed to help them.

But this year, much of that support disappeared.

April 22, 2008

Patricia* leans against a wall and shrugs defiantly as her teacher and principal bustle around, getting ready for the kick-off of a new mentoring program.

Though she was persuaded to return after the school day to Herzl Elementary this Wednesday evening, the 13-year-old wasn’t about to show any enthusiasm.

Patricia flatly says she’s bad and likes to fight, and that nothing will change that. “I don’t care about no one because no one cares about me,” she says.

April 22, 2008

On a recent morning, the 2nd-grade students at Spry Elementary in Pilsen take off one shoe and place it in a pile in the middle of a circle, making a motley stack of white sneakers, browning laces and two identical black boots.

Each student takes a turn picking up a shoe, finding the classmate who is wearing its match and then greeting him or her.

“Buenos días, Jackie,” says a cherub-faced boy to a pony-tailed girl.

“Good morning, Eric,” she answers.

April 22, 2008

Teachers who are best at getting their students to perform better know there’s more to it than delivering content. Just ask Nikki Williams and Barry McRaith of North Lawndale College Prep Charter High School.

November 29, 2007

I applaud Catalyst Chicago's coverage of school violence in its October 2007 issue. Having spent many years in and around schools on the West Side, however, I think you failed to provide some critical context.

October 01, 2007

"Yeah, yeah, I am a Four, I'm a Mafia." When Edward Ferguson, an 8th-grader at Ella Flagg Young Elementary in Austin, hears talk like this, he knows what to expect next. Kids are "representing" their gangs as they pass in the hallways, and the back-and-forth is often the prelude to a fight, either in the hall or outside after school.

"It scares me," says Ferguson, who admits that he has felt pressured to join a gang. "People have gotten beat and seriously hurt."

October 01, 2007

Under the Illinois criteria for designating a school as dangerous under No Child Left Behind, not one CPS building has ever received the label, even though numerous campuses have problems with violence year after year.

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