In the 1970s, white flight and disinvestment took a toll on Austin. Yet, today, the area is a beehive of activism focused on affordable housing, job opportunity and helping those released from prison reconnect with the community. One in three children in Austin live in poverty; 84 percent attend public schools.
Through a two-year-old program in Austin, children in home-based day-care now have the chance to get a preschool education they would not otherwise receive. Illinois Action for Children, a non-profit advocacy group that launched the program as a special initiative, is expanding it this year into Humboldt Park and Logan Square.
Ninth-grade biology teacher Brent Hanchey loves the challenge of working at Jefferson Alternative High inside Cook County’s Juvenile Detention Center. Hanchey, who wrote his doctoral dissertation on the academic and social needs of incarcerated youth, recently won the U.S. Dept. of Education’s American Star of Teaching Award for using innovative instruction to raise student achievement. He talked with writer Tiffany Forte about the needs of incarcerated students and how schools can meet those needs.