The Chicago Public School system, the third largest district in the nation, is the bond connecting our respective neighborhoods together; cultural differences, poverty levels, population size, and various other factors separate one geographical boundary from its neighboring area. We were pleased to find that the CPS website (cps.edu) was easy to navigate and to understand. The tabs separating the School information from the News information (so on, so forth) proved to be helpful when we went to research specific schools in our respective neighborhoods. With an area holding 675 schools that represent over 400,000 students, disorganization seems inevitable. The CPS manages to reject the last statement by separating vital information into sections for parents, for students, for teachers, for the community, for…. (You get the picture.) Using the previously mentioned website and numerous other sources, we have decided to break our findings down into partitioned areas.
Gage Park is made up of around 50,000 residents; eighty percent of these residents are Hispanic and the average household income ranges from $38,000 to $54,000. The neighborhood consists of five elementary schools (Pre-K/kindergarten-8th grade), and one high school (9th-12th grades). Every school is public and the students who attend are based on an “attendance area” (whichever school the student lives closer to is the school they will attend). The elementary schools offer a wide variety of extra curricular activities for students from academic clubs to music and dance groups to sports activities. The high school also offers organizations to include: AVID, National Honor Society, JROTC, college career center and a vast amount of sports from swimming to bowling, and football to volleyball. Spanish courses are offered at each school because around ninety percent of students at each school are Hispanic. Each school has a large amount of parent involvement with a PTA and LSC (Local School Council) group where parents and community members can come together with teachers and administrators to discuss and resolve problems of the school. Parents are also offered access to the parent portal where they can monitor their child’s grades and attendance.
The schools in Gage Park have not received the best reviews from school critics or parents. However, Florence Nightingale Elementary School (one of the five elementary schools in Gage Park), has a strict dress code in which students are only allowed to wear a white collared shirt tucked into blue shorts or pants, they can only wear a navy blue sweater when it is cold, and blue shorts are only to be worn when the temperature outside is at or above 85 degrees. These are just some of the measures Gage Park schools have taken to create more equality amongst students, and end gang involvement. Although, Gage Park does not have the best or safest school environment, students are presented with numerous activities to try to keep them in school and encourage them to dream big and achieve greater.
Growing up in Pilsen I know the difficulties the children there go through. The poor economic status, the constant gang violence and the underprivileged schools in the area make Pilsen one of the worst communities in Chicago. But even with this said, it is not impossible for a child to overcome such odds and not become a product of their environment. E.g. Kevin Garnett, grew up in Pilsen and now makes millions of dollars playing for the Boston Celtics.
Little Italy seems to be the wealthiest of the communities that our group is studying. My professor was telling me today that it has grown over the years to be a well-known area in the city, a place that people residing in other neighborhoods of Chicago aspire to move into eventually. The research I have done supports her statement in full; in fact, the median house price in Little Italy is $599,000! Because a median is what falls in the middle of a set, there must be houses that fall under the half-a-million mark, but this also means that there are the same number of houses that exceed this six-figure number! I will testify that after looking on real estate home search websites, I did not fall short on finding a good number houses that exceed the one-million dollar and up category. That number is mind-blowing!
Little Italy is sandwiched between the University of Illinois at Chicago’s campus and the Illinois Medical district; this location may be the cause of the more up-to-date schools and funding received to better their education centers. In fact, 56% of residents ages 25 and up in Little Italy have a college degree, a degree that shows they were able to complete high school and college. Because we have been studying gang violence in class, I am thinking that Little Italy does not have as prominent of a gang problem as other areas in the city. Before you tell me how irrelevant my thoughts are, I will share with you some of my findings. The parent satisfaction rate at Galileo Scholastic Academy—a school near the neighborhood—is 89%. I feel as though this number would significantly drop if the children of these supporters were in danger of gangs on their way to school or near the influence of violent groups while learning. In addition, there are plenty of magnet schools—schools that you must test in and apply too—in the area, yet another factor showing the success of Little Italy in today’s society. The difference a few blocks can make in the wealth and success of an individual school is quite confusing and will be discussed more in future blogs!
Schools have received between 1 and 7 ratings on GreatSchools, with elementary schools generally receiving higher ratings. The nearby public school ratings are significantly lower than those of more distant schools, though. For example, Lindblom Math & Science Academy received a rating of 10 out of 10. However, as this academy is located in West Englewood, a 20 minute or more blue-line El ride would be a necessity each morning. Additionally, enrollment in a school such as this one is only possible if a student displays exceptional aptitude in a math and/or science; regardless of how good these schools are, students who do not display abilities in either field cannot access this exceptional schooling. Thus, the presence of these nearly inaccessible schools does nothing to help those students who are not already excelling.
In this area theres it consists of 99.6% hispanic, 0.2% white and 0.2% is other. There is an a elementry school Little Village Academy that concentrates on community-based programs. They have highly qualified teachers and extra-curricular activities and sports the students can be invovled in. Majority of students exceed states standards. there is also a high school called Little Village Lawndale High School which is a multicultural high school with sports and extra-curricular activities as well. Since a majority of these student come from families who immigrated to Chicago these schools attempt to give what they have to their students to better the children and work according to their needs.