Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Neighborhoods, Social Capital and Schools Part II

Today's Chicago Schools Policy Luncheon featured students from Orr High School talking about the effects of last year's decision to "turnaround" Orr by putting all the adults' jobs up for grabs. Last year was the fourth time in a decade Orr has faced wholesale restructuring. So far, none of these efforts have showed lasting academic improvement for students.

Here's the quote of the day, from senior Antwan Ward, which sparked spontaneous applause:

"I think that the reason why the school has been turned around so many times is because of the community. There’s nothing being done in the community to help that community grow. If you don’t put anything positive in a community then the negative things in the community is going to seep into the school around it. And if you don’t put anything positive in the neighborhood, it doesn’t matter how many times you turn the school over; you’re going to get the same results each and every time."

Five Chicago neighborhoods and schools are now working together to put more positive resources in both places through Elev8. Thanks to Elev8, students at all five schools are getting better nutrition, free shots and physicals and new after-school programming. Reavis Elementary in North Kenwood had standing-room-only parent presence at a showcase of summer program activities last August. Marquette Elementary in Chicago Lawn has teachers making home visits to schools. Perspectives Calumet Middle School is working to promote student safety and reduce gang participation, and Ames Middle School is pioneering age-appropriate sex education for early teens.

For more on Elev8, check out this Catalyst Chicago story from September.

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