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Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
Thu May 16, 2013

Protesters Say Woodlawn School Actions Endanger Students, Hold "Die In" To Show Area Violence

In the Woodlawn neighborhood on Chicago's South Side, Cottage Grove Ave. serves as the dividing line between two violent gang territories, according to area residents.

And concerned community members say a Chicago Public Schools’ proposal to close John Fiske Elementary and send its students to Austin Sexton Elementary means students will be forced to to travel across the invisible barrier.

Cottage Grove, according to the proposal’s opponents, is a boundary not to be taken lightly.

“That’s a line you just don’t cross,” said Randy Pouncy, 22, a Sexton Elementary alumnus who said he’s been shot at too many times to count. “It’s so dangerous.”

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
Thu May 16, 2013

Brighton Park Students Gather To Discuss Gang Violence, Ways To Unite The Community (VIDEO)

In the interest of fostering a broad educational community in one of Chicago’s most gang-ridden Southwest Side neighborhoods, the Brighton Park Neighborhood Council (BPNC) hosted its annual Youth Summit at Loyola University Wednesday afternoon.

“I’m so proud of myself,” said Danny Zamudio, 14, an 8th grade student at Nathan Davis Elementary School. “I’ve evolved because of this, I think I have a stronger character and I’ve become a better speaker.”

Zamudio was one of 23 youth leaders to help plan and lead a day of workshops for 325 seventh and eighth grade students from six Brighton Park schools. Called “Teen Life 101”, the fourth annual five-hour summit focused on social issues that, according to organizers, are not taught enough in the classroom.

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
Wed May 15, 2013

Federal Lawsuits Filed Against CPS Closings As Chicago Clergy Holds 'Pray-In' For Public Schools (VIDEO)

Two class action lawsuits looking to put a stop to the Chicago Public Schools' plan to shutter 53 elementary schools at the end of the academic year were filed in federal court today. 

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Tue May 14, 2013

Restoration Of Early Childhood Education Funding Is A Must, Say Community Groups & Parents (VIDEO)

Chicago-based community groups, parents and advocates for the state's most vulnerable children called on Illinois lawmakers to restore $25 million in funding for early childhood education at a gathering in Pilsen Tuesday morning.

About 100 parents and members of eight local community organizations, such as the Latino Policy Forum, Gads Hill Center and El Hogar del Niño, among others, plan to travel to Springfield Wednesday for a subject matter hearing on education funding cuts.

Gov. Pat Quinn's budget for fiscal year 2013 slashed $25 million from the Preschool for All program, which provides assistance for Illinois' most at-risk children.

“We believe that the state is going through a tough time financially, but the balance in the budget cannot be done on the back[s] of poor children," said Maricela Garcia, CEO of the Gads Hill Center. "The message tomorrow is going to be that we need to see the restoration of $25 million that [was] cut [from] the Early Childhood Education Block Grant last year." 

Quick Hit
by Steven Ross Johnson
Tue May 14, 2013

Chicago Teachers Union To Ramp Up Protests Against Proposed School Closings (VIDEO)

Vowing to keep up the fight to stop a Chicago Public Schools’ proposal to close more than 50 schools, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis unveiled plans Monday for protests that will include three days of marches beginning this weekend.

Lewis, who was joined by parents as well as neighborhood and labor activists, held a press conference in front of William & Charles H. Mayo Elementary School on the city’s South Side.  Mayo is one of 54 schools slated for closure by CPS, but was one of 13 plans rejected last week by an independent panel of hearing officers.  

A final vote by the Chicago Board of Education is still needed for CPS to move forward with its plan, which if approved would be the country's largest number of closings by a single school district at one time. The Board of Education will vote on the proposal May 22.

Lewis, who has called for a moratorium on all school closings, said it is not too late for the Illinois General Assembly to intervene, adding that the CPS proposal would be detrimental to the education of many of the students the district claiims to be helping.

“They’re bad public policy,” Lewis said. “We have been looking at school closings for over 10 years, they have not improved education, will not improve education, and even though they say it over and over and over again, there is no proof.”

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Tue May 14, 2013

Illinois Senate May Vote On Comprehensive Sex Ed Bill This Week

A state measure that looks to revamp sex education in Illinois’ public schools was approved in the House last month and could possibly go up for a full Senate vote this week.

The bill, HB 2675, would require schools with sex education classes for grades 6 through 12 to stress abstinence, but also incorporate contraception into the discussion. Schools would also be required to provide students with information on how to avoid contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). 

Under the measure, schools currently teaching sex education would also have to adopt medically-accurate and evidence-based information into lesson plans.

As it stands now, those components are not part of the Illinois School Code related to sexual health education, said Joy Messinger, deputy director of the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health.

“That piece is extremely important,” Messinger said. “We believe, and we know based on lots and lots of research, that abstinence-only until marriage education is ineffective, and it often presents an inaccurate view of sexual health.”