The Schools Chicago's Children Deserve

The following is a statement on the public education crisis in Chicago, developed by me for our local community group, Developing Communities Project:

Developing Communities Project, a Faith Based Community Organizing Effort on the Far South Side of Chicago,believes that all of the children of Chicago deserve a quality education and
that such education and its quality should not depend upon neighborhood, income or racial background.

Developing Communities Project, led in its infancy by our now President, Barack Obama and under the leadership of our current Executive Director, Mrs. Gwen Rice, fundamentally believes that schools will not succeed in Chicago without active engagement and involvement
of the community.

Developing Communities Project and its constituent Churches believes that shuffling children from one community to another serves to destabilize already tenuous communities and is not conducive
to producing healthy families, strong communities or a solid educational system.

Developing Communities Project believes that parents, educators, community residents and stakeholders must have “significant” input into the Board of Education’s school utilization/closing process. 

Developing Communities Project believes that it strains the limits of both credibility and logic to propose the closing of roughly 129 community schools, while simultaneously touting the creation of nearly 100 new charter schools in the Chicago Public School system.

Developing Communities Project believes that Chicago Public school students deserve appropriate support and “wrap-a-round” services to help ameliorate the effects of poverty on a quality education.

Developing Communities Project believes that Chicago Public Schools should review punitive policies that cause minorities to be suspended at substantially higher rates than whites, leading
to the criminalization of minority students and the feeding of the criminal industrial complex.

Developing Communities Project believes that children from every area of Chicago deserve a first class, high quality education with equitable resources and opportunities provided for the
success of all.

Developing Communities Project believes that when Family, Faith and Community are in partnership with schools, the learning, home and community environments are enhanced.

Developing Communities is committed to working with all community stakeholders to insure that every student of the Greater Roseland Community receives a fair and equitable education.



Winning the Future


In his State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama identified America’s most important contest as our ability to be competitive across the globe for the jobs and industries of our time. He stated that our challenge is about “winning the future.” The following is a brief synopsis of the President’s vision for winning the future.”

First, we can win the future through innovation. We can create the jobs and industries of the future by doing what America does best -- investing in the creativity and imagination of our people. This is our generation’s Sputnik moment, and the President is calling for the highest level of investment for research and development, as a share of GDP, since President Kennedy launched the space race. He’s also directing this investment toward one of the most promising job-creating, life-changing, world-saving technologies of our time: clean energy.

  • Clean Energy Standard: To unleash a clean energy market, the President set a new goal for America: by 2035, 80% of our electricity will come from clean energy sources. Not just wind and solar, but nuclear, clean coal, and natural gas.
  • Race to the Top” Innovation Challenge: The President is challenging America’s scientists and engineers to invent technologies that will do for clean energy what the Apollo project did for space exploration, including new measures to ensure that the U.S. is the 1st country to put 1 million advanced vehicles on the road by 2015, and make solar power as cheap as electricity by the end of the decade.
  • End Oil Subsidies: To pay for clean energy innovation, the President called on Congress to eliminate billions of dollars in subsidies to oil, gas and other fossil fuel companies – instead of funding yesterday’s energy, let’s invest in tomorrow’s.
  • Second, to win the future we must win the race to educate our kids. Over the next 5 years, nearly 90% of new jobs will require more than a high school degree, yet a quarter of our kids aren’t even finishing high school. The quality of our math and science education lags behind other countries, and America has fallen from 1st to 9th in college graduation. To compete in the 21st century, and to give our children the best possible chance to succeed, we must win the race to educate our kids.
  • Expand “Race to Top” to No Child Left Behind: Instead of pouring money into a system that’s not working, the President launched a Race to the Top competition -- if a state developed the most innovative plans to improve teacher quality and student achievement, they got our help. For less than 1% of what we spend on education every year, Race to the Top led nearly every state to raise standards for teaching and learning – the most meaningful reforms in public education ever taken. The President called for applying “Race to the Top” principles to No Child Left Behind – we know what’s possible for our children when reform isn’t just a mandate from Washington, but the work of teachers and principals; school boards and communities. 
  • 100,000 New Teachers: To get the best and brightest in our classrooms, prepare 100,000 new teachers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math – key skills for the best jobs of the future.
  • Upgrade and Revitalize America’s Community Colleges to allow all Americans the chance to further their education and prepare for the jobs of tomorrow.
  • Expand college affordability by making permanent the President’s American Opportunity Tax Credit, worth $10,000 for 4 years of college, to ensure the U.S. once again has the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.
  • Reform immigration laws so we stop expelling talented, responsible graduates.

Third, to win the future we must rebuild America. Attracting new businesses to our shores depends on whether we have the fastest, most reliable ways to move people, goods and information – from roads and airports to high-speed rail and high-speed Internet. We must build a 21st century infrastructure for America’s businesses to ship their goods, products and ideas anywhere in the world.

  • Over the next six years, put more Americans to work repairing crumbling roads, bridges, and transit – paid for not by the old, wasteful, pork-barrel way of funding, but by leveraging private resources.
  • Connect 80% of America to high-speed rail within 25 years.
  • Make it possible for business to deploy next generation of wireless coverage to 98% of all Americans and public safety to have secure, state-of-the-art, nationwide interoperable mobile communications.

Fourth, winning the future means REFORMING our government so that it’s leaner, smarter, more transparent, and ready for the 21st century.

  • To help create a more competitive America, merge, consolidate, and reorganize the federal government for the first time since President Truman.
  • Cutting government waste by liquidating excess Federal properties.
  • Reform our corporate tax code by getting rid of special interest loopholes and using the savings to lower the corporate tax rate without adding to the deficit.
  • Review every significant regulation on the books to remove barriers to growthwhile protecting health, safety and well-being of the American people.
  • Build on deficit reduction already passed through the Affordable Care Act by further reducing the cost of health care, including medical malpractice reforms.
  • Provide taxpayers with a website that shows them how their tax dollars are being spent.
  • Restore faith in government by calling on Congress to follow the White House by disclosing lobbyist meetings.
  • Veto special interest “earmarks” in all legislation.

Finally, winning the future means taking RESPONSIBILITY for our deficits. We have a shared responsibility to make the hard choices today to reduce our deficits so we can afford the investments we need to win the future.

  • Freezing domestic spending for the next five years to reduce deficit by over $400 billion over 10 years, bringing discretionary spending to the lowest share of the economy since President Eisenhower. 
  • Strengthen Social Security for future generations through bipartisan reform without putting at risk current retirees or people with disabilities, slashing benefits for future generations and without privatizing Social Security.

  • End permanent extension of tax cuts for wealthiest 2% of Americans so we can invest in education and innovation

Recognizing our common dreams and destiny as Americans, we have to overcome the politics that divide us, and work together to “win the future!”


Response to Violence in School

Response to the Needs of the Fenger High School Community

The continuing violence among our young people going to and from school, challenges the Church to respond in ways that will stem the tide of violence and bring hope to our community. The following are some immediate responses that we as a Church can make. Please feel free to post your comments and ideas..

1.       Adopt-a-Corner
 a.       113th & Union            
 b.          Need men who will volunteer to be on the corner     for ½ hour. Need to man each selected corner from 2:30 until 3:00pm every day. 5 men means that each only needs to volunteer ½ hour per week.

2.       Volunteer to Mentor

a.       Open up the female mentoring program to neighborhood residents.
b.      Provide male mentoring program.
c.       Work with school to provide and train mentors.


3.       Provide Life Skills Training

 a.       Work with DCP to expand the Life Skills Training program from   Elementary School to High School.                                                          
 i.      Self Respect
          ii.      Conflict Resolutinn. 
       iii.      Drug and Alcohol Prevention
iv.      Leadership Training


4.       Staff and operate an after school program @Fenger.

a.       Recreational Activities
b.      Tutoring

c.       College & Career Preparation

d.      Instilling Community Involvement

5.       Provide Parent Assistance Programs

         a.       Volunteer for Home Visit and well being checks.

b.      Train parents to tutor children

c.       Adult education

d.      Enhance parenting skills

6.       Host Block Club and Neighborhood meetings

a.       Make Church available for community meetings.

b.      Instill an “open door” policy with the community.

7.       Serve as community resource center

a.       Keep information on available resources for community residents

b.      Assist resident in getting need help.

c.       “Care & Share”

d.      Altgeld Garden Birthday Outings

e.      “Stork Nest Project”

f.        Front Door Project

g.       Legal Aid Ministry


8.       Re-establish Tradesman Club
a.                               Train young people who are at risk in trades so that they may be able to earn a legitimate living .

b.                              Find apprentice programs for those in training.



Healthcare Reform

  It is imperative that we support our President as he works with Congress, Insurance Companies, Physicians, and Corporations to make Health Insurance for all, an inalienable right. The President's Plan for Health Care Reform covers three important areas of concern:
Area 1: If you already have health insurance, the President's plan will -
  • Ends discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions.
  • Limits premium discrimination based on gender and age.
  • Prevents insurance companies from dropping coverage when people are sick and need it most.
  • Caps out-of-pocket expenses so people don't go broke when they get sick.
  • Eliminates extra charges for prevenative care like mammograms, flu shots, and diabetes tests to improve health and save money.
  • Protects medicare for seniors.
Area 2: If you do not have insurance, the President's plan will -
  • Create a new insurance marketplace - an insurance exchange - that allows people without insurance and small businesses to compare plans and buy insurance at competitive prices.
  • Provides new tax credits to help people buy insurance.
  • Provides small business tax credits and affordable options for covering employees.
  • Offers a public health insurance option to provide the uninsured and those who can not find affordable coverage with a real choice.
Area 3: For all Americans, the President's plan will -
  • Not add a dime to the nation's deficit and is paid for upfront.
  • Implements a number of delivery system reforms that will begin to reign in health care costs and align incentives for hospitals, physicians,and others to improve quality.
  • Creates an independent commission of doctors and medical experts to identify waste, fraud, and abuse in the health care system.
  • Orders immediate medical malpractice reform projects that could help doctors focus on putting their patients first, instead of practicing "legally-defensive" medicine.
  • Requires large employers to cover their employees and individuals who can afford it to buy insurance so everyone shares in the responsibility of reform.