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 my first few years of teaching, I loved my students so much that it seemed almost impossible for any other educator to care about their kids more than I did. But after having children of my own, I realized that while I still love my students, I’ll always love my own children more. Although I’ll always go way above and beyond for my students, there is nothing that I wouldn’t do for my own children.
I don’t say these things lightly. I’ve made a conscious effort to work for my students and the community. I’ve constantly worked to create a curriculum that teaches my students to question power structures and to work to create change when inequalities exist. I’ve written countless articles about my students and ways to improve our schools. I’ve been arrested for fighting to keep Chicago Public Schools (CPS) from closing fifty schools in 2013. At times, this commitment to my students has put me at odds with my administration, incited fear of write-ups, and produced threats from strangers. These risks sometimes make me question my desire to defend my students.
But like any parent, I would do anything for my own children, risk more, and ignore idle threats. My drive to protect my children and their well-being, education, and opportunities is stronger than anything I’ve ever experienced. It’s like that moment when you have children of your own and finally realize how much your parents actually love you. It is a window into the emotions of a decade’s worth of my former students’ parents. I now know more completely what those parents wanted for their kids, and wonder if I had fought hard enough. Did I fight as hard as I would have for my own kids?
By now, many of us are aware of the increasing conversation around “food deserts” in Chicago and across the country. Food deserts are typically defined as low-income areas in which a significant portion of residents live a mile or more from grocery stores and supermarkets. In Chicago, the majority of food deserts are in predominantly African-American neighborhoods lacking accessibility to fresh food options, with much easier access to fast food, liquor, and convenience stores. While a great deal of the momentum that has emerged around the issue has focused on increasing food accessibility, many of these proposed solutions—including the proposal to increase grocery stores in the city—actually operate within the status quo and fail to make structural change.
During my first year of teaching in Chicago Public Schools, at Corliss High School in Pullman, a colleague and I started a boys’ volleyball team. We had only three volleyballs for practice, but the biggest problem I had was an essential one—I had a net that could not be raised.
As a high school English teacher, I know that one of the biggest challenges for my students at the beginning of the school year is being sure about an answer to a question. Sometimes students meander and then finally get to an answer; at other times, they only answer one part of the question. Lately, in reviewing my district’s answers to clear-cut questions about how our schools function, I realize that my students are not alone in struggling to come up with good answers.
If you lived in Pilsen in 2005 and wanted to get to the Loop, you might have walked to the 18th Street station and waited. And waited. And waited.
Last month in Crain’s Chicago Business there was an article about how home sales in Beverly are on the rise and some of the reasons why. Before saying more about that article, a couple of declarations are in order here.
Most of us know Ben Carson as the wealthy, successful neurosurgeon. Many children and adults look up to him. Well, they should—Ben Carson has one of the greatest rags to riches stories in recent U.S. history.
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.
Metra’s plan to enhance Electric District service to Hyde Park has provoked chatter on the South Side and beyond since its announcement in May. Is the return of frequent, quality service on the Electric close at hand? Unfortunately, it seems that the current plan misses many opportunities and takes as many steps backward as it does forward.