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Tenants Protest New CHA School Reporting Policy

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Resident leaders said they would fight a proposed CHA policy that would allow the agency to get reports from teachers and other school personnel on the conduct of school children whose parents are public housing tenants.

Francine Washington, Washington Park Scattered Site president, told Residents’ Journal she was upset after the CHA proposed the policy at a public hearing on March 29 at the CHA’s Charles A. Hayes Family Investment Center.

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Born Out of Struggle (Part 1)

by Carmen Alvarez and Kirby Stanton 

Editor’s Note: The following article was written by a youth reporter who is a graduate of the Urban Youth International Journalism Program.

The Little Village Lawndale High School was born out of a struggle, the 19-day hunger strike of mothers, grandmothers and students who knew the neighborhood needed a new high school and who were willing to fight for it. One of the schools within the school is Social Justice, where students learn about these kinds of struggles. As we all await the first graduation ceremony, here is what some Social Justice students have to say about their experiences and where they see their lives going.
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Is South Shore Clean?

by Cass Morgan 

Editor’s Note: The following article was written by a youth reporter who is a graduate of the Urban Youth International Journalism Program.

South Shore is not as clean as it could be. Why? Because the students are so careless. They throw garbage on the floors and they complain because it’s very nasty.

The bathrooms could be cleaned better but because everyone wants to be nasty, they stay dirty. If the students just put everything in the garbage cans instead of the floor, it wouldn’t be that way. Everywhere you go in the school, you see a garbage can. They are there to be used, so why don’t students use them?
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Play Now, Pay Later

by Nikka Alexander 

Editor’s Note: The following article was written by a youth reporter who is a graduate of the Urban Youth International Journalism Program.

It’s crazy how when you get to high school in your first year, you think that it’s good not going to class, walking the halls, just having fun, and not doing the school work.

You think you can make it up. It’s just the first year and at the end of the day, you don’t know that you will eventually have to go to night school for all the times you messed up and didn’t do right when you had the time to do it.
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Teacher of the Month

by Krystal Spencer 

Editor’s Note: The following article was written by a youth reporter who is a graduate of the Urban Youth International Journalism Program.

KS: Why did you come to this school?
Ms. G: A professor of mine worked with inner city youth and his stories inspired me.

KS: If you could, what would you change about your classes?
Ms. G: I would spend more time with my students so I could get through to them, especially the ones that need the most help
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Residents Blame CHA for School Closures

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Attendance is low in our community because redevelopment is slow,” declared William Fleming, a resident of the Cabrini-Green pubic housing complex, to members of the Chicago Board of Education on Feb. 25. Fleming’s daughter attends Schiller Elementary School, 640 W. Scott St. Next school year, Schiller will be consolidated because of low enrollment. It will cease to exist and students will be re-enrolled into Jenner Elementary, 1119 N. Cleveland Ave.

William Fleming, a resident fo the Cabrini-Green public housing complex, testifying at the Chicago Board of Education hearings on school closures in February 2009. Fleming expressed concerns about the possibility of overcrowding that could result from relocating Schiller Elementary School students into a nearby school.
Photo by Mary C. Johns

Fleming was among many voices addressing school officials over the changes to the school system. He and other public housing residents blamed the Chicago Housing Authority’s (CHA) Plan for Transformation for the closings, turnarounds, consolidations and phase outs of 16 public schools in predominantly African American and Latino low-income neighborhoods. “In Cabrini-Green, we have a right to return, a federal right to return,” Fleming said. “Over 600 [public housing] units will be built within the next 18 months with the minimal bedroom size being three for Chicago school children between K and eighth [grade],” he added.
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Under Fire, Board Closes Schools Anyway

by Mary C. Piemonte 

Under fire from parents, teachers, students and even some state legislators, the Chicago Board of Education voted to close, consolidate, phase out or turn-around 16 schools on Feb. 25. Four schools will close, four will be consolidated into other schools, four will be put into ‘turnaround’ initiatives, and four will be phased out. The difference between a closing and a consolidation is that all of the consolidated school’s students would move to the same receiving school. Staff members usually follow the students, except where there are overlaps, which would then be subject to union rules. The Board designates a school for ‘turnaround’ when it has consistently low academic performance. No students have to move in a turnaround. Instead, the staff have to reapply for their jobs and an outside organization works with the school to change the culture, according to Chicago Public Schools’ web site. “Schools are phased out for low enrollment, and all students currently enrolled in the schools would be allowed to graduate. However, the school would not be able to enroll any kindergarten, or in some cases pre-K, students as of the 2009-10 school year. “The following year, the school would not be able to enroll kindergarten or first-grade students, and each year would enroll one fewer grade.”
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Whose School Is It?

by Clemolyn Brinson 

The Little Village High School, 3120 S. Kostner Ave., opened in September 2005 after parents waited years for it to be built as promised by the Board of Education. But after just one semester, the school of four small schools located in the citys Latino community had already become the subject of debate.

Little Village High School, 3120 S. Kostner Ave., was a recent subject of debate between Little Village residents living outside the school’s boundaries and those living in the predominantly African American North Lawndale community, whose children also attend the school. The school is home to four charter schools. Photo by Clemolyn "Pennie" Brinson

According to Jaime De Leon, the new communities program director of the Little Village Community Development Corporation, a number of Latino parents solicited the help of state Sen. Martin Sandoval (D-12) to establish a referendum to re-draw the schools attendance boundaries. The boundaries are east of Pulaski, west of Kenneth near Cicero, north of 16th Street, and south of 33rd Street. The parents, who live in Little Village but outside the attendance boundaries, want their children to attend the beautiful new school, but say that African American students who live in the community of North Lawndale are taking up the space.
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Jones vs. Tatum

by Beauty Turner Assistant Editor

Running for State Representative for the 26th District is incumbent Lovanna Jones, in office since 1987, and Ranoule Tatum, a long time entrepreneur and community service worker.

Ranoule Tatum, top, is challenging State Rep. Lovanna Jones for her 26th District seat. Photos by Beauty Turner

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Rush vs. Jackson

by Beauty Turner Assistant Editor

On March 21, the voters of the First Congressional District in Illinois will have a choice between their longtime incumbent Congressman, Bobby Rush, and former Chicago Housing Authority CEO and director of the Black Star Project Phillip Jackson. RJ decided to interview the two candidates.

Former CHA CEO Phillip Jackson, top, is challenging U.S. Congressman Bobby Rush (D-1) for his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Photos by Beatuy Turner

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