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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.


October 01, 2007

On numerous occasions last school year, Sonya Jacobs' daughter Ashley Charles called from Crane High to tell her mother she'd heard rumors of an impending fight and feared for her safety.

Jacobs, whose son was murdered four years ago, was not about to risk having her daughter caught in the middle of a brawl. So every time she got a call, Jacobs dropped everything to pick Ashley up, sign her out of class and hustle her back to the safety of their second-floor apartment.

October 01, 2007

Outside Mather High, a security guard reports that a student handed a knife to a friend during a gang disturbance. At Julian High, some teenagers who were furious at a school policy banning hooded sweatshirts get into an argument with security guards, leading to one student's arrest for assault. At Medill Elementary, a student pulls out a black gun and points it at a classmate. Officials later learn the weapon was a BB gun.

August 30, 2006

The district's new Student Code of Conduct (formerly called the Uniform Discipline Code) is a compromise between two positions: that of youth advocates who wanted more innovative methods of discipline, and principals and teachers who wanted more resources and training to use the innovative practices.

June 02, 2006

First-period class at Clemente Achievement Academy is barely underway on a recent Monday, and already 15-year-old Ramon Valentin is in trouble. After his social studies teacher assigns him a detention for disrupting the class, he curses at her and storms down the hallway.

Appearing suddenly at the doorway of student advocate Jose Diaz's office, Ramon proceeds to pour out his troubles. "She started yelling at me and said I've got detention!"

May 12, 2006

Problems with violence and discipline are nothing new at Kennedy High, says senior Dan Zaragoza, who participated in last month's student-led protest for better security at the Garfield Ridge school. This year's freshmen, including transfer students from the attendance areas of schools that closed, were especially disrespectful and unruly, he says. Zaragoza, vice-president of student government, talked with writer Cassie del Pilar.

There was a lot of press coverage of the protest. How was it organized?

April 18, 2006

The best way to deter violence in schools is to develop relationships with kids, says Tio Hardiman of the Chicago Project on Violence Prevention at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Hardiman, who spoke candidly of running away from home as a teenager and eventually moving to another side of town to avoid gangs, advocates using former gang members to work with kids. He talked with Senior Editor Elizabeth Duffrin.

How can schools prevent gang violence?

September 02, 2005
By: Ed Finkel

Skeptics wonder if the reauthorized federal law on special education will improve services in a district that faces a host of obstacles to educating children with learning disabilities.

Each year, hundreds of Chicago Public Schools students are placed in special education because of learning disabilities—often in 3rd grade and later, which experts say is too late to make a real improvement in their education.

August 17, 2005

Most learning-disabled students in Chicago Public Schools are diagnosed at a late age—typically, at 8 or 9, while in 3rd grade or later. Experts say children whose disabilities are diagnosed that late have very little chance of catching up to their classmates academically.

Through interviews and a review of school records, Catalyst tracked the stories of three learning-disabled 6th-graders at Casals Elementary in Humboldt Park, which has a higher-than-average special education referral rate and a higher-than-average percentage of learning-disabled students.

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