Over four years after the school closed, on Saturday afternoon, October 7, the Overton Elementary building temporarily reopened to the public for Opening Closings: Reactivating Closed Chicago Public Schools.
Chicago is trying, make no mistake. Consider the Army of Moms based in Englewood, the Violence Interrupters of Cure Violence, the anti-gang violence work of community members Benny and Jorge in Little Village, or Father Pfleger’s parish in Auburn Gresham; examples are everywhere. From the high-profile work by artists like Chance the Rapper and athletes like Joakim Noah, to the anonymous daily struggles of overworked, under-appreciated parents and guardians of our city’s children, Chicago is trying. And yet, in spite of the tireless efforts by our city’s bravest, brightest, and most passionate citizens, we are obligated to reckon with the sad, simple truth: many of Chicago’s young people are still killing each other. And so we keep trying.
One of my uncle’s friends who is my friend too asked us to give him a kiss to the cheek…When I tried to do it, he turned his head and I kissed him on the lips instead of the cheek. That’s when I learned not to trust everyone.” Cung Lieu wrote this reply to Krystal Nambo after she asked him to share about a crazy memory he had.
When Juan Salgado received a call in March telling him that Mayor Rahm Emanuel was going to appoint him to become the new chancellor of City Colleges of Chicago (CCC), he said his first instinct was to get to work immediately. After the tumultuous year where Salgado’s predecessor, Cheryl Hyman, stepped down, one can imagine Salgado had his work ready for him.
Recently, researchers at American University and Johns Hopkins found that having just one black teacher can reduce a black boy’s likelihood of dropping out by thirty-nine percent. This is great news for my impact as a Black teacher, but I fear that some will read this study and incorrectly conclude that we immediately need more teachers of color in the classroom. While more teachers of color are needed, simply having a more diverse teaching staff is not enough. School leaders must be equipped to develop and foster the competencies needed to make sure there is a culture of diversity and inclusion in schools.
Everything about the day was expertly choreographed. Dozens of large yellow school buses maneuvered their way through morning rush hour to the Private Bank Theater. Once there, Chicago Public School security staff clad in official blue jackets along with parents and teachers wearing identifiable orange vests assembled hundreds of high school students to their seats. Excitement buzzed in the air. The chatter and energy were palpable. Weeks of work and dedication culminated here at Chicago’s final Hamilton Education Program of the 2016–2017 school year.
The National Teachers Academy (NTA), a neighborhood school on the Near South Side, is “one of the premier facilities in the school system,” one University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) expert said. Its teachers have received city and state awards. It outperforms most schools in the country for reading and most Chicago public schools for attendance, and it’s improving at above-average speed.
In mid-April, the Weekly published a story on the closure of St. Columbanus School, a Catholic institution in Park Manor. The pastor of the St. Columbanus parish, Matt O’Donnell, wrote this response.
Chicago Public Schools’ perennial funding woes have occupied headlines since time immemorial, but recently, the bad news seems to be increasing in both quantity and severity. Recently, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Forrest Claypool, his CPS CEO, were forced to walk back statements that CPS schools would close weeks early if the state did not provide more money after a judge threw out their last-ditch lawsuit claiming the state’s public school formula is racially discriminatory. CPS was forced to take out a $389 million high-interest loan to keep schools open, which some aldermen compared to a “payday loan” and does not even entirely fill the budget gap. On top of that, the district is attempting to wring another $467 million it says the state owes it to make its pension payment next month, facing yet another bond rating downgrade if it does not make the payment.
Nestled in a quiet part of Roseland, at the corner of 99th Street and Indiana Avenue, sits what was once John G. Shedd Elementary School. Shedd Elementary served as a satellite school to nearby Bennett Elementary until 2013.