Friday, May 9, 2014

CPS and Our Youth

Yesterday on my commute back from work I came across an article on the Reader, (my new favorite free weekly newspaper!) titled "The Trials of a Neighborhood High School" This article lifted my spirits in so many ways. First I truly appreciated how this article gave voice to one of its students as she was able to express how her high school and her mentors have motivated her supported her and have become family to her. She explains her challenge with anger and all the factors that have played a role to her anger. Intersections of race, class, gender, socioeconomic status and gentrification all impact our youth and our communities. Issues of gentrification have become a predominant problem for Chicago public schools as they struggle for funding and competing charter schools. Reading this article made me reflect on my young clients who have limited access to the education they deserve to obtain and as well to the education they are unable to obtain. Education is a reproductive justice issue, if our youth are not able to obtain a strong education and build meaningful relationships within their schools how will this affect them long term? How will they have the knowledge or the tools to exercise their choices, to speak their truths, to voice their rights and concerns if our education system failed to give it to our youth. This article did a great job on stressing the importance of building strong relationships with youth. It also did a great job on focusing on how positive mentorship makes an impact in our youth. Not sure if anyone is familiar with the unfortunate incident that occurred in the back of the yards between two girls who became involved in an altercation which led to one of them being shot and killed. I believe if we had more mentorships, access and opportunities within our public schools, situations like these would not happen, or at least would diminish. For instance the Principal Raichoudhuri points out "Out of school suspension should be a last resort, when students are in the streets they may get harmed, or harm somebody" I agree with this statement, I think we too often criminalize our youth and if as workers and activists took the time to access, learn, identify strengths and connect them to resources we could truly make a change within our communities. This article reminded me of a conversation with one of my youth who shared with me the lack of support his family gave him but he also shared with me how he considered his neighbors as his family. This young person shares similarities with youth written about in this article.I truly believe sometimes we have to detach ourselves from our birth family and adopt our chosen family. On the other hand, with the right attitude and state of mind schools can be the support system of youth, such as Wells High school. A high school that although is struggling to stay afloat and challenging stereotypes it is still able to maintain its resiliency and be there for their students. 

For anyone who would like to read the article please find it in this url link: