Fewer students enroll in neighborhood high schools

New data show that neighborhood high schools have reached a troubling milestone: Most now enroll only one-fourth of the students living in their attendance areas. District officials have begun to focus on the daunting task of coming up with a comprehensive plan to revitalize schools that have been losing students for many years.

School closings protest

Tough lessons for Rahm

Education promises to be a central issue in the 2015 mayoral election, especially in black communities that have borne the brunt of school closings, teacher layoffs and charter expansion.

CPS reverses decision to close Dyett High School

CPS officials made the surprise announcement Friday that they want proposals for a new, open enrollment neighborhood high school to be located at Dyett High, the Washington Park school that is in the last year of being phased out. Jitu Brown of the Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization, who has been leading community activists, parents and students in an intense fight to keep Dyett open, declared it a victory. But with many questions still outstanding about the school’s program–and in particular, whether a private operator will be chosen to run the school–Brown said it’s not a complete victory and emphasized that the win didn’t come easily. “None of this would have happened without the diligence of the community,” he says. “This is not an example of a responsive elected official or government.”
Over the past four years, numerous rallies and sit-ins were held and several people were arrested as they battled to keep Dyett a neighborhood school and to save it from the chopping block as dozens of other schools in black communities were closed.

Catching up

This article is the second installment in a four-part series focusing on school funding. “Chicago Matters” is an annual public information series initiated and funded by The Chicago Community Trust, with programming by WTTW, Channel 11, Chicago Public Radio, the Chicago Public Library and the Reporter. One Friday morning in early March, the auditorium at General George S. Patton Elementary School in south suburban Riverdale was abuzz with excitement. A pep rally in anticipation of the following week’s high-stakes standardized tests featured a pair of rapping young boys, a group of cheering girls with blue pompons and a tall teacher with dreadlocks reading a children’s book about the importance of such exams. “The test. The test.

Work Preparation Falters: Minorities Off Welfare Get Few Jobs

Under fluorescent lights in a sparsely decorated basement classroom on Chicago’s Southeast Side, three women begin their day with an affirmation: “I am better every day, in every way.” Their teacher, Juhnna Hardin, hopes the words will convince the women, who have been on state assistance for years, that they can leave the welfare rolls and make better lives for themselves. A prospective employee reads the help wanted ads at Employment & Employer Services Inc., 200 W. Adams St., where welfare recipients learn how to interview for jobs. (Photos by Richard Stromberg)]

The four-week job readiness class, held at the South Chicago Branch of the Chicago Public Library, 9055 S. Houston Ave., is run by the Chicago Commons Association, a nonprofit social service organization. Programs like Hardin’s teach self-esteem, show aid recipients how to interview for jobs, what to wear–”even how to fix their hair and apply their makeup.

In the Spotlight

“Who she want?” As soon as the woman saw the white Ford Taurus turn the corner at Marshfield Avenue and 61st Street, she stuck her head out of the second floor window and called down to her nephew Raphael. The woman didn’t know that Parole Officer Cynthia Robinson was behind the wheel, but she recognized the car. Raphael, a lanky teenager in a long white t-shirt who was already outside on this blustery January day, came to the steps as Robinson parked and approached the Englewood two-flat. “Does Andrew Atchison live here?”

Winning Asylum

He is a tall Pakistani man with dark brown skin and wavy black hair. When he speaks, it is in a shy, lilting English, his words ending before they are supposed to end. On a mid-February morning, he sat in the large, high-ceiling room on the top floor of the Dirksen courthouse downtown, where the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit convenes. He wore an olive suit and matching shoes and, as his attorney spoke, he leaned forward with his arms resting on his legs. In this courtroom, he would not have an opportunity to say a word.

Road to Sanctuary

To get asylum, immigrants must prove that they have been persecuted or fear future persecution on the basis of race, nationality, religion, political opinion or a membership in a particular social group, and that they can’t be protected in their country. Some asylum seekers fled countries known for corruption, brutality and the violation of human rights. This improves their chances of getting asylum, though it is not guaranteed. Of the 23 countries from which more than 500 people applied for asylum in 2003, those from Egypt , Ethiopia and China were the most successful, though only about 40 percent of them received asylum. However, the situations for many others are more ambiguous, such as for members of tiny religious sects in countries that are for the most part humane, or for those from far flung places whose current conditions are not well-known.

Flooding the Courts

An administrative reform made by former Attorney General John Ashcroft inadvertently set the stage for more asylum cases to be appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in Chicago . In 2002, Ashcroft was trying to clear up a logjam at the Virginia-based Board of Immigration Appeals, or BIA, where immigrants facing deportation first appeal their cases after losing at one of the 53 immigration courts across the nation. At that time, the BIA had 23 judges who met in three-judge panels to review decisions on petitions for asylum or similar matters made by immigration judges. But this process had created a backlog of more than 56,000 cases nationwide, with about 10,000 cases waiting for at least three years to be reviewed. “Such delays encouraged unscrupulous lawyers to file frivolous appeals,” Ashcroft said in a press release.