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.
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.
Given Illinois’s current economic crisis, the upcoming 2018 governor’s election is more important than ever. For the third straight fiscal year in a row, Illinois will not have a state budget—it’s been more than 700 days since it last had one. Gun violence has spiked in recent years, the Chicago Public School system is strapped for cash, and the state’s backlog of unpaid bills has risen to more than $14.5 billion. What hope do we have for this election? How long can we keep setting ourselves up for politicians that take our votes and then fail to deliver on their campaign promises?