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Quick Hit
by Brandon Campbell
Tue Apr 16, 2013

$100,000 Plus In College Debt, ‘No Jobs in Sight’: Chicago Students Push For Loan Reforms (VIDEO)

With total college loan debts pushing nearly a trillion dollars in the U.S., a group of Chicago students are pushing for student loan reforms.

Students told stories of promising futures soon replaced by a grim employment outlook through their prepared speeches at the Chicago Temple United Methodist Church Saturday afternoon.

Amanda Weaver, a Loyola University master’s student, told the crowd of about 200 parents, students and concerned community members that her student loans added up to a combined total pf $134,000.

“My parents, teachers, guidance counselors all told me ‘Go to school, take the loans, invest in my future,’” Weaver said speaking from the church pulpit. “I was told I would get nowhere in the job market without this expensive degree. Well, the truth is, after I graduated there were no jobs in sight.”

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Mon Apr 15, 2013

SEIU School Workers Stand With Students, Community Members Against School Closings

Members of SEIU* Local 1 stood in solidarity with students and parents Saturday at the second and final community meeting regarding the phase out of Crispus Attucks Elementary School on the South Side and urged that their jobs be preserved.  

“If you close these schools down, you’re going to force us to go into another environment we’re not used to being in,” said Chris Scales, a custodian at the DuSable High School campus, who spoke on behalf of SEIU Local 1 workers in the Chicago Public Schools system. “We’re used to speaking to our students on a daily basis.”

Another SEIU Local 1 member Michele Clark, who works at Henry Clay Elementary, said schools are safe havens for children, and they shouldn’t close.

“I feel that the city is not doing what they need to do for these kids,” she said at the microphone with fellow union members by her side. “They are saying that they’re for the schools ... but I see none of that.”

PI Original
by Ashlee Rezin
Mon Apr 15, 2013

Chicago Teachers Union Plans To Intensify Political Activity, Push For New Voters (VIDEO)

The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) is preparing to intensify political activity and push for new voters with a citywide campaign against Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the mayoral-appointed Chicago Board of Education. According to CTU President Karen Lewis, the union could begin canvasing for new mayoral candidates, and selecting nominees for Illinois’ political offices, as early as next week.

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
Mon Apr 15, 2013

Community Expresses Concern For Special Education Students At Mahalia Jackson Elementary School (VIDEO)

Menjiwei Latham said it’s been “horrible” looking for the right school for her special education student in the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) system. Her 11 year-old son, Paki, who has been diagnosed with Fragile X Syndrome (FXS), was placed in two special education programs before he found his place at Mahalia Jackson Elementary School.

Latham said few people understand the unique characteristics of her son’s genetic condition that causes intellectual disability and behavioral and learning challenges. But his teacher at Mahalia Jackson was able to boost Paki’s functioning abilities from a kindergarten level to a 2nd grade level in just two years, growth he didn’t experience at any other school.

“He’s seen wonderful progress here (at Mahalia Jackson),” Latham said. “He’s reading sentences, he’s completing worksheets, he never did any of that before and it’s really exciting.”

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Mon Apr 15, 2013

South Siders Blame Emanuel For School Closings At Canter Middle School Public Meeting

Parents and South Side residents called the Chicago Public Schools’ plan to shut down 54 schools at the end of the year a violent and disrespectful act during the second and final community meeting regarding the closure of Miriam G. Canter Middle School, located in the city's Kenwood community.

CPS officials at Friday night's meeting dodged most of the frustrated community members’ questions, saying they were there to listen and that all public comment would be provided to CPS Chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett.

“The fact that you cannot speak back to us when we’re coming to you on our hands and knees to beg for our damn school, it’s outrageous,” said Hyde Park resident Jill Petty.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Fri Apr 12, 2013

Community Groups Picket Chicago Urban League, Demand Meeting With Andrea Zopp On School Closings (VIDEO)

Members of Action Now and the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO) protested outside of the Chicago Urban League Thursday, demanding its leader and Chicago Board of Education member Andrea Zopp sit down with them and examine the civil rights impact of school closings.

They also called on Zopp to support a one-year moratorium on the Chicago Public Schools’ recent round of proposed school actions and work with them on a sustainable education transformation plan.

“Civil rights organizations are supposed to work with the community organizations and the people on the ground to get clarity on what is happening in our neighborhoods so that their advocacy is in touch with our daily lives,” said protestor Cathy Dale, a Local School Council member at Mollison Elementary and King College Prep.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Thu Apr 11, 2013

Teachers, Alderman Speak Out Against Closure Of Delano Elementary At CPS Hearing

For the past 100 years, Delano Elementary has been a staple in the West Garfield Park neighborhood, but its teachers may be fired at the end of the year and the school turned into Melody Elementary as part of the Chicago Public Schools recent round of actions to address school utilization.

Under CPS’ plan, once Melody students and staff relocate to Delano’s building, the new school would offer air conditioning in every classroom, a library, an upgraded computer lab and iPads for students in 3rd through 8th grades, among other facility and capital improvements.

But West Side Ald. Jason Ervin (28th) said CPS officials didn’t have the “decency or courtesy” to offer any additional academic enhancements at the new school, such as a STEM or fine arts program. The only academic enhancement, he said, is an iPad.

“An iPad is a dime a dozen,” Ervin said at the first of three public meetings last night on the proposed school action. “More kids got iPads than adults have iPads.”

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Thu Apr 11, 2013

New Report Explores The Political Impact Of Immigration Reform In Key States

As Congress works toward the final stages of an immigration reform plan, a new issue brief from the Center for American Progress explores how immigration and the growing Latino population could impact the future political landscape in key states.

Immigration issues among Latino voters were crucial in swinging the 2012 presidential election.

And the rapid growth and voting power of the Latino population also ensured key swing states such as Florida, Colorado and Nevada voted for the current Democratic president, according to the brief.

Key states such as Arizona and North Carolina are also reaching demographic tipping points that could shift the states reliably blue, said Philip Wolgin, senior policy analyst for immigration at the Center for American Progress.

“These are states that are becoming swing states in a way that I think nobody really envisioned would have happened in the past,” he said.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Wed Apr 10, 2013

Unions Unite, Issue Joint Report Against School Closings

Members and leaders of three unions representing workers in the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) system criticized the city’s recent round of school actions in a joint report issued Tuesday, saying school closings hurt children, struggling neighborhoods, and working families.

They’ve called on the Chicago Board of Education, CPS and Mayor Rahm Emanuel not to close any schools.

“Strong schools are supposed to create strong neighborhoods,” said SEIU* Local 1 spokeswoman Izabela Miltko. “We all believe that Chicago needs to protect and invest in its children and not tear apart communities, tear apart schools.”