Education | Lit Issue 2018

More Than a School

An upcoming book tells the history and traumas of school closings on the South Side

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.

Education | History | Lit Issue 2018

Charting a Course

A new history examines the long-overlooked life and work of trailblazing academic Allison Davis

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.

Education | Interviews | La Vida de La Villita | Little Village

Fanny Diego-Alvarez

A community leader shares stories of neighborhood resilience and innovation

Natalie Gonzalez

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.

Education | Essays

The Staples Letters: Pushing Paper

A CPS teacher’s bureaucratic blues

Lizzie Smith

Inspired by C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, the Staples Letters are a series of essays in the Weekly written in the form of letters from a veteran teacher, Staples, giving advice to a young teacher, Ms. T. All events in the Staples Letters are drawn directly from real-life experiences in Chicago schools, and names and identifying details have been removed in the interest of privacy. Though fictional in form, the letters are used to address a variety of issues in education, from quotidian classroom considerations to national policy.

Bridgeport | Education | Visual Arts

Bridgeport Elementary Schoolers Map Their Neighborhood

Educators with the Hull-House Museum work with Armour students to consider their community

Jie Wang's map (Jason Schumer)

On Wednesday, June 13, the 8th grade class from Philip D. Armour Elementary gathered in the backroom of Bridgeport Coffee, five blocks north on Morgan Street from their school building, to celebrate the maps they had created of Bridgeport. For eight weeks, in collaboration with the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the students had perused archival collections of Bridgeport and other neighborhoods and learned about the ways in which maps represent communities. “Mapping the Neighborhood,” the name of their exhibition, featured maps of varying scale, focus, and artistic style in an attempt to answer a question: how is Bridgeport changing?

Education

Tax Credit Scholarships Don’t Add Up, Panelists Argue

Activists and scholars say new Illinois scholarship program will weaken public schools

Armani Howard

Last August, the Illinois General Assembly passed SB 1947, an education funding bill aimed to make funding more equitable, which also allotted $75 million towards a tax credit scholarship program for low-and middle-income students. Added as a compromise amendment to SB 1947 and called the Invest in Kids Act, the state’s first tax credit scholarship program is, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, one of the largest in the United States. With the new bill, low- and middle-income students can now pursue private educational opportunities—instead of being limited to attending an underperforming public school district in Illinois—through donations from families or corporations to one of Illinois’ nine Scholarship Granting Organizations (SGOs). SGOs then portion out their donated funds to cover all or most of the cost of tuition for low- and middle-income students who apply for these private school scholarships.

Education | Lit

‘Separate But Equal’

Researchers make the case against charter school expansion in Chicago and beyond

The charter school movement—which largely started in the 1990s with earnest mom-and-pop efforts to provide quality alternative education options—has resulted in a system of “educational sharecropping” for many of Chicago’s students of color, David Stovall argues in a new essay. A professor of educational policy and African-American studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Stovall traces in his essay efforts on the part of business interests, political opportunists, and outright criminals to decentralize the city’s public education system and spread the use of charters, largely on the South and West Sides.

Education | Features

Shimer College Leaves the South Side

An uncertain future for the small, strange Great Books school

Lizzie Smith

Three students—an apprentice violin-maker, a veteran, and an aspiring novelist—sit around a sparse but cozy room in a college residence hall in west suburban Naperville. The eclectic trio makes up about one-tenth of the student body of what is now called the Shimer Great Books School, a program of North Central College and the latest iteration of a storied 165-year-old Illinois institution. Just this past September, campus building Seybert Hall became Shimer’s central administrative locale after the school was acquired by North Central. Prior to that, it independently operated as its own accredited institution for about a decade while renting space on the Illinois Institute of Technology’s (IIT) Bronzeville campus.