Friday, February 28, 2014

It's that time of year...getting into a high school

Wow! The drive to get into a high school is still strong or at least not find themselves in a neighborhood school that doesn't often promise to deliver academically. Years ago in the 8th grade I failed to get into a decent high school because my parents strongly believed it was better for me safety wise to attend a neighborhood school.

Although the difference between then and now is that well the high school I attended all four years - GO FALCONS - is doing much better now than it had been when I attended. That's not to say there still aren't issues but from what I can tell current leadership there is doing some good there.

Of course in the 21st century I've learned competition is strong to get into CPS' selective enrollment schools such as Walter Payton, Jones, and North Side College Preps. Those schools are listed in this DNA Info article as the most difficult to get into.

All the same what's written in that article is a portrait of what it takes to get into the city's top performing high schools. In addition we see what's offered at many high schools throughout CPS. Programs have been expanded even at those "dreaded" neighborhood high schools.

You know this is truly an expanded universe as the top school back when I was in the 8th grade was Whitney Young Magnet. That school was intimidating because it was for the smart kids and it wasn't for me. I only wish I had been willing to compete back then! Well that was then.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Tribune: End of winter? We have records to break, more snow to shovel

Here's some info posted last month on resources during this latest cold snap! It seems this winter weather isn't going away anytime soon although thankfully the worst was over last month. This winter seemed to have broken some records. From the Tribune:
The worst of winter should be over by the end of February. That would be Friday, when it will still be miserably cold. Then we'll get more snow, maybe a lot of it.

Temperatures are expected to drop below zero overnight Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday night as we again get hit with cold air "in abundance," in the words of WGN-TV meteorologist Tom Skilling.

That's in keeping with a winter that has already delivered 22 days of lows below zero, Skilling noted. The 129-year-old record is 25 days below zero, a record that's clearly in danger.

Skilling says temperatures will average about 22 degrees below normal for the next five days, 20 degrees below normal for the five days after that, and 13 degrees below normal for the five days after that – which gets us into the middle of March.

This has been the third coldest winter in 143 years of recorded Chicago weather history, Skilling said, with about 7 days in 10 since November producing below-normal temperatures. Meteorological winter ends with February, marking the close of what is usually the coldest three months.
AND....we can expect more snow to come this way by the weekend. Although hopefully not the amount of snow we had through the month of January and February.

ALSO, for a brief time I took the weather widget down and now it's back up top in the sidebar. When I checked before writing this post it registered at only 8 degrees that's at about 12 PM on Wednesday.

Friday, February 21, 2014

EVENT: SMG Chatham 14 to host an Oscar viewing party

Photo of Chatham 14 by Wendell Hutson
 Of course this event coming soon to the Chatham 14 will benefit a charity via DNA Info:

A charity serving children with disabilities will benefit this year from an Oscar-viewing party being held for the first time at the Chatham 14 Theaters.

The party will raise money for the nonprofit Variety the Children’s Charity of Illinois. The private organization partnered this year with Studio Movie Grill, which owns the Chatham 14 Theaters, for the event.

The viewing party starts at 6 p.m. March 2 at the South Side theater, 210 W. 87th St. Tickets are $40 per person or $70 for couples.

The 86th annual Academy Awards will be shown on one movie screen and 150 seats are available, said Venisha White-Johnson, director of operations and community relations for the theater.

"You will feel like you are at the Oscars with the red carpet treatment you will get. And who knows, there may be a few celebrities on hand, too," Johnson-White said.

Tickets must be bought online by Feb. 25.

Friday, February 14, 2014

AP: Multiple groups vie for Obama's Presidential Library

President Barack Obama
The AP has a story about the many groups here in Chicago who are vying for their particular insitutions or neighborhoods to become home of the President's future library. Those sites include Bronzeville, Chicago State University, University of Chicago, Pullman, and even that former US Steel site on the southeast lakefront. In the case of Chicago State and Pullman:
There are also two potential bids on the Far South Side, one led by Chicago State University and the other by a group promoting the historic Pullman neighborhood. It was in those areas that Obama established his earliest roots in the city as a community organizer in the mid-1980s, setting up job training programs and defending the rights of public housing tenants.
...
The Far South Side is a longshot given its distance from downtown, lack of transportation options and the gang violence that persists there.

And presidential libraries aren't guaranteed to lift the local economy.
So far the main competitors are:
The main point of tension is between the University of Chicago, where Obama spent 12 years as a constitutional law professor until his 2004 election to the U.S. Senate, and a group advocating for Bronzeville, the city's historic center of black culture, business and politics.

"They think that they can get whatever they want," Bronzeville organizer Harold Lucas said of the university. "If you compare the cranes in the sky and that opulent growth of this university to the surrounding, predominantly African-American community, it's a travesty. It's a clear tale of two cities."

Lucas and other critics of the university's bid say the school has been secretly working its White House connections at the expense of a plan that would benefit more of the city and honor the black community's role in electing the nation's first black president.

For its part, the university says it wants to work with neighbors on a plan to build the library off-campus in a part of the South Side where it can spur development. A university spokesman declined to comment beyond the school's previous statements. 
We already know that Mayor Emanuel wants to submit only a unified bid for Obama's Presidential Library so the various groups need to come up with a good bid. And bear in mind one point of this article, "presidential libraries aren't guaranteed to life the local economy". That being said the library could easily either go to Hawaii where Presient Obama was born or to New York so time will only tell if Chicago will eventually succeed in its bid.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

WBEZ: Committee releases CPS school repurposing plan

What to do when schools are closed and they just sit vacant? It appears now is the time to figure that out:
The public bidding process for closed Chicago Public Schools buildings will start this spring.

 A committee appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel has released a report advising the district on what to do with its dozens of shuttered buildings. There are 43 empty school buildings because of last year’s sweeping round of closures. The report didn’t come up with a plan for each school. Instead it set parameters for the district to repurpose the buildings.

The committee says possible building uses include churches, urban farms, housing and community centers.

“One of the key pieces here is community involvement in an active role. Many proposals will be encouraged to really get the community behind their proposal before actually making the proposal,” said committee chair Wilbur Milhouse, who owns an engineering and construction company.

Many of the buildings are in troubled neighborhoods that have high foreclosure rates and vacant land. Milhouse said some schools will be easier to sell than others but all the sales will go into one fund. The money would help facilitate finding purchasers for those properties.
A south side neighborhood - Englewood - is certainly interested in this topic. An neighborhood organization - R.A.G.E. - has even written a "white-paper" on the subject. If you have a vacant school building in your neighborhood, what would you re-purpose that building for?