The second floor of Betty Shabazz International Charter School felt immediately familiar. Teenagers bounced between white tiled walls, in and out of classrooms, freely running through the long halls while parents passed by cradling younger children. Chairs lined the hallway in two rows, neatly crowding and condensing audience members as they waited to be admitted into the classroom where the We Real Cool fashion show would take place. As chatter filled the remaining space in the aisle, I tried to figure out why it felt like I had been here before. Like a home that makes you feel instantly comfortable, visiting Shabazz felt like returning rather than visiting.
At Lindblom Math and Science Academy, a selective enrollment school in Englewood, a new cohort of urban planners is on the rise. For the past few months, students taking Honors Human Geography have been investigating the issues facing their neighborhoods and designing projects aimed at addressing them. Three Wednesdays ago, on February 13, seventy students presented their work—podcasts, diagrams, colorful cardboard cutouts—to each other, more students from the school, and architects and urban planners.
On February 12, students, teachers, and staff gathered in the auditorium of Kenwood Academy High School to listen to five mayoral candidates discuss their campaign platforms and answer students’ questions. The town hall was planned and organized by students in the school’s Global Issues class, and students were responsible for not only thoroughly researching each candidate’s platform and crafting detailed questions, but also reaching out to candidates and their campaign staff, moderating the forum, and staffing the event. While only five of the fourteen mayoral candidates—La Shawn Ford, Lori Lightfoot, John Kozlar, Neal Sáles-Griffin, and Willie Wilson (who arrived halfway through the event)—attended the town hall, the event drew a sizeable audience of engaged students.
Kahari here, to briefly introduce y’all to the big homey Desmond “Des Money” Owusu: a native Chicagoan and fellow South Sider whose passions as a designer and photographer have led him to blessing the world with a legacy of projects that are community driven and civically minded. To say the least, Des is a pillar in the Chicago creative community and steward for many others coming up with him. While simultaneously building upon his own streetwear label “We All We Got,” Des also co-owns and runs the Fat Tiger Workshop. A Black-owned clothing boutique alongside friends and colleagues Vic Lloyd, Rello Jones, and Joe Freshgoods.
Parents, teachers, administrators, and students at the National Teachers Academy (NTA) celebrated a court’s decision in December that halted a Chicago Public Schools proposal to convert the elementary school into a high school. After months of protest, community meetings, and court proceedings, there was an unmistakable air of rejoicing as the NTA community gathered in the school’s cafeteria to bask in their victory.
Last year, City Colleges of Chicago partnered with Apple to offer coding “bootcamps”—crash courses in computer programming designed to get students up to speed and connect them with jobs in the software industry. The pilot program, which was free and ran from April to September, was to test how a bootcamp-like course would work in a community college context and to set up course graduates with jobs and internships. Students who participated said they enjoyed and learned from the pilot, which has the potential to be a great resource. But as the second bootcamp begins this month, the program’s limited selection of applicants and poor job placement—one of the metrics of its success—raises questions about its future at City Colleges.
In my twelve years teaching social studies in CPS, I’ve taught at two different high schools. I have recently made the decision to go to my third.
In 2013, Eve L. Ewing, then a graduate student at Harvard University, read in the Sun-Times that Bronzeville’s Pershing West Middle School, where she once worked as a science teacher, was one of 129 public schools in Chicago that were slated to close (this was later narrowed to a shortlist of fifty-four). Ewing had to read the announcement again and again to try and understand, and her confusion only grew over the following weeks.
In The Lost Black Scholar, historian David A. Varel tells the story of Allison Davis, the first Black professor to become a full faculty member at a predominantly white American university—the University of Chicago—and a brilliant scholar who, despite making significant contributions to race-related issues in multiple fields, was underappreciated in his time and continues to be overlooked by scholars and historians today.
Fanny was born in the state of Guerrero in Mexico and moved with her family to Little Village when she was six years old. She comes from a long line of community organizers and is a familiar face at political rallies and neighborhood events. Between 2005 and 2017 she worked at Enlace, a capacity building organization in Little Village. She now works as the sustainable community schools project manager at Chicago Public Schools. This initiative, jointly created by the Chicago Teachers Union and Chicago Public Schools, aims to support neighborhood schools by investing in wraparound services, restorative justice practices, culturally relevant curricula, and family engagement.