Hooray for neighborhood schools — now let’s support them throughout Chicago

Stacy Davis Gates is absolutely right that good neighborhood schools serve as anchors in neighborhoods, an Edgebrook resident writes.

SHARE Hooray for neighborhood schools — now let’s support them throughout Chicago
Parents and students arrive at Willa Cather Elementary School, 2908 W. Washington Blvd. in East Garfield Park, for the first day of school for Chicago Public Schools, Monday morning, Aug. 22, 2022.

Students arrive at Willa Cather Elementary School on Monday for the first day of school for Chicago Public Schools.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

I was so thrilled to see Stacy Davis Gates’ letter championing neighborhood public schools. Over the last 20 to 30 years, the Chicago Public Schools has tried numerous alternatives to good neighborhood schools, including selective enrollment schools and privately-run charter schools.

While these initiatives were well-intentioned, we now know that any gains made were at the expense of the local neighborhood schools, as they lost students and the financial resources that are ascribed to them. The public school system in Chicago is a mish-mosh of underfunded, under-enrolled and under-performing neighborhood schools and selective enrollment and charter schools.

The educational landscape is a nightmare for parents and students to navigate. Many neighborhood schools, often in communities of color, operate at a fraction of their enrollment capacity. With student-based budgeting, these schools are starved for resources and operate in a downward spiral.

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Davis Gates is absolutely right that good neighborhood schools serve as anchors in neighborhoods, providing an opportunity for parents to interact with the youth and their peers to help build a strong sense of community.

Chicago is at a crossroads, facing many serious challenges. It is going to take the collaboration of all of us, and agencies like the CPS, Chicago Police Department and the Chicago Park District to nurture and develop the sense of community in all of our backyards to make the city a place we all want it to be.

Gary Kuzmanic, Edgebrook

Humboldt Park boathouse is a mess

Why did the city bother to landmark the Humboldt Park boathouse if the Chicago Park District was going to turn into a slumlord?

The foundation is showing signs of stress, and rusting rebar shows through a damaged step. Four globes are missing in the Prairie light fixtures, exposing the fixtures to weather damage. The restaurant concession on the west end has been closed for over a year, with no sign of a replacement. The sole purpose of the restrooms on the east end appears to be something to keep locked. Before too long, the boathouse will go the way of another discarded park district treasure: the century-old concession stand in Jackson Park, fenced off and on the verge of collapse.

Why is Humboldt Park on the National Register of Historic Places, if the park district can’t be bothered to address the tens if not hundreds of thousands of weeds, to say nothing of fallen branches and dead trees?

I was just wondering.

Douglas Bukowski, Berwyn

Raise the bar at Waukegan High School

I’m a student from Waukegan High School and the high school credits to graduate are below average compared to the other schools in Lake County.

This is concerning because this high school isn’t getting their students to do anything more than just to graduate from here, but there are other students who want to go to college and want to do big things.

The other schools in the area, including the high school in Zion, need 24 credits to graduate compared to our 17 credit requirements. The students at our Brookside campus don’t need to retake PE/Health courses if they fail, but in Zion, students have to take the class and pass the class or else they have to retake it.

A passing grade is important — not just participation — because this would help students to work hard and achieve their goals. We are not being prepared properly for college or for the workforce by lowering the requirements for graduation.

Alexander Munoz, Waukegan High School student

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