WBEZ | Special Series http://www.wbez.org/sections/special-series Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Special Series: Global Activism - 'Worldview' Visits India http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2015-05-09/special-series-global-activism-worldview-visits-india-111888 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/India-series%20620%20good.JPG" title="From bottom l to r - Sonal Chaturvedi, co-director of Pravah, Nila Vora of India Development Service, Steve Bynum and Jerome McDonnell of WBEZ with the NGO Community Youth Collective in Delhi on Feb., 1, 2015 (Photo by Nilesh Kothari)" /><em>Worldview</em> took <em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/sections/water/special-series-global-activism-worldview-visits-india-111888">Global Activism</a></em> to India! And we take you along for the ride. For years, India Development Service <a href="http://idsusa.org/">(IDS)</a>, a Chicago-based investment NGO, has brought from India Global Activists to <em>Worldview&nbsp;</em>who work there to make life better. So IDS brought us to India to talk with people doing service and development projects on-the-ground. IDS guided us through big cities like, Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad, as well as to remote villages and towns. We met people working to overcome challenges like illiteracy, abuse of women and children, class issues and water security.</p></p> Thu, 16 Apr 2015 09:32:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/worldview/2015-05-09/special-series-global-activism-worldview-visits-india-111888 StoryCorps Chicago: High school friends help navigate family relationships http://www.wbez.org/sections/special-series/storycorps-chicago-high-school-friends-help-navigate-family-relationships <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/StoryCorps 150320 Brittany Imani bh.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Imani and Brittany are seniors at the same suburban Chicago high school. The two girls shared a class together freshman year, but didn&#39;t become close until earlier this school year.</p><p>They&rsquo;re on track to graduate soon: Brittany plans to go into the military, while Imani plans to study nursing. In this week&#39;s StoryCorps, they trade stories about their rocky relationships with their parents and how their friendship has helped them navigate life thus far.</p><p>&ldquo;When my mom had me, she didn&rsquo;t know she was pregnant with me,&rdquo; Brittany said, &ldquo;She was in jail because she got busted with a lot of drugs and they took us away from her.&rdquo;</p><p>Brittany doesn&rsquo;t remember her dad, even though she has photographs with him. When asked by Imani how she feels about that, Brittany responds by saying it would be nice to find out more about him. &ldquo;But then I kind of really don&rsquo;t care,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Imani grew up with her mom but her dad wasn&rsquo;t always present. When she was four or five years old, her dad said he would take her to a movie. She sat on the porch and waited, but he never came. Eventually Imani&rsquo;s mom brought her inside, kicking and screaming. She cried herself to sleep that night, and she says it was the first time her dad ever let her down.</p><p>The two girls have learned to protect themselves from the emotional pain caused by others. They show signs of emotional maturity far beyond their years. And they look to each other for comfort: &ldquo;It&rsquo;s just nice to know that somebody has your back,&rdquo; Imani says. Brittany agrees, saying, &ldquo;It feels good to hear the truth from somebody.&rdquo;</p></p> Tue, 14 Apr 2015 09:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/special-series/storycorps-chicago-high-school-friends-help-navigate-family-relationships Meet the companies that profit when CPS students drop out http://www.wbez.org/sections/special-series/meet-companies-profit-when-cps-students-drop-out-111665 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/IMG_1128_0.JPG" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">One year ago, a small contingent of some of Chicago&rsquo;s most powerful education officials flew to Arizona for a conference of education investors, hosted by Chicago Board of Education member Deborah Quazzo&#39;s investment firm Global Silicon Valley Advisors.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">The keynote speaker: Earvin &lsquo;Magic&rsquo; Johnson.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Fellow board member Mahalia Hines introduced the NBA-star-turned-businessman whose name is now branded across five of Chicago&rsquo;s newest for-profit alternative schools, called the Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academies. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">&ldquo;One thing I was really great at was math, so I know my money,&rdquo; Johnson told the crowd. &ldquo;I know a great deal, a good deal and a bad deal.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Johnson&rsquo;s entire speech focused on making money in urban areas, returning bigger profits than expected in each case. He didn&rsquo;t mention the schools for dropouts in Chicago Public Schools until asked a question by someone in the audience.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">One month after Quazzo, Hines, another CPS board member Andrea Zopp, CPS chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett and Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s then-education deputy Beth Swanson attended the conference, the Chicago Board of Education </span><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/new-alternative-schools-some-run-profit-companies-come-hefty-price-tag-110239">approved another $6 million in startup money</a> for for-profit alternative schools. It was the second round of a multi-year expansion. (Quazzo has also&nbsp;<a href="http://chicago.suntimes.com/news-chicago/7/71/223620/cps-profitable-investment-board-ed-member">come under fire in recent months after a Chicago Sun-Times investigation</a> found that companies she invests in have tripled the amount of money made through contracts held with CPS schools.)</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">A WBEZ and&nbsp;</span><a href="http://catalyst-chicago.org/2015/03/mixing-profits-and-performance-at-alternative-schools/">Catalyst Chicago</a> investigation found most of the new for-profit alternative schools are running half-day programs where students earn credits in a matter of weeks, through mostly online coursework. Yet, students are getting </span><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/same-diploma-different-school-111581">regular high school diplomas</a>, with the name of the school they left. Many students <a href="http://www.wbez.org/sections/special-series/safety-net-dropouts-catches-others-111598">never officially dropped out</a> and some are not at all off-track.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">WBEZ and&nbsp;</span>Catalyst Chicago also found that many of the for-profit companies running alternative schools stand to make millions off the deals. Other findings:&nbsp;</p><ul><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">On average, some of the companies spend more than half of their budget on consultants, advertising, technology and fees to affiliated companies.</span></p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Companies can maximize profit by running two or even three sessions a day, serving double the number of kids, yet only hiring the same or fewer staff as a normal school. (One of the for-profit companies, Camelot, is an exception. It operates an eight-hour school day with little online work.)</span></p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Since the companies are privately owned, the public has no way of knowing who is making money from investing in them or whether they have any connections to district or city officials.</span></p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">In at least one case, CPS contracted with a company that was, at the time, under investigation in California.</span></p></li></ul><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">John &lsquo;Jack&rsquo; Donahue, a leading expert on privatization in the public sector and faculty chair of the Masters in Public Policy Program at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, said he isn&rsquo;t against companies making a profit, but he cautions against outsourcing when it&rsquo;s not clear what outcome you want. He was also troubled by CPS giving students diplomas from the school they left, not the alternative school.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">&ldquo;The problem is, when you have people with the incentive and the ability to fool us about what&rsquo;s happening,&rdquo; Donahue said, noting that because Illinois does not have a high school exit exam, it&rsquo;s hard to measure if the diploma is meaningful. &ldquo;When you can&rsquo;t specify, in clear terms, what you want...because the undertaking is complex, as education is&hellip;then it won&rsquo;t work.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Because Chicago&rsquo;s graduation numbers are going up, there&rsquo;s no incentive for district officials to make clear that many more diplomas are coming from alternative schools. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">A money-making model</span></strong></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">When Emanuel promised to double the number of seats in alternative schools in 2011, there were 60,000 dropouts under 21 in the city. The people running a small army of alternative schools rejoiced. They thought this meant they would have room and resources to serve the thousands of kids on their waiting lists.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">No one guessed it meant the mayor would look past existing alternative schools to out-of-town, for-profit companies to help fix the dropout crisis.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Nationally, for-profit education companies see opportunity in alternative schools.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">There are four companies now operating in Chicago: Camelot Education, Pathways, EdisonLearning, and Ombudsman. These four companies alone run more than 100 schools in at least 30 states. When Camelot was acquired in 2011 by the private equity firm Riverside Company, managing partner Suzy Kriscunas noted in a press release: </span>&ldquo;Alternative and special education has significant growth.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">A WBEZ and </span>Catalyst Chicago investigation into Chicago&rsquo;s new for-profit alternative schools found that CPS has paid for-profit companies more than $70 million in just two years to start up new alternative schools. Most often, the companies are able to make money by cutting spending at the school level.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">CPS pays the new half-day alternative schools the same amount per child that it pays normal schools. The companies can save by hiring one teacher to teach two students each day. An analysis of budget documents shows many of the new schools spend less than half their budget on school staff. Usually, schools spend between 70 and 80 percent on staff salaries.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Budgets show the for-profit schools spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on consultants, technology, and fees to their parent companies for back-office costs. In some cases, they are purchasing materials from themselves or other parent companies, too.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Last school year, CPS paid Pathways in Illinois $5.1 million to operate two schools with about 500 students. The company then paid its affiliates $1.8 million for a variety of services and curriculum. The company is also run by the daughter of a couple who started a similar for-profit chain of alternative schools in California, called Options for Learning and Options for Youth. That company fell under an investigation by the State of California for improper spending. That same couple is on the board of directors for Pathways in Illinois, while their daughter is the executive director.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Magic Johnson Bridgescape, operated by </span>EdisonLearning in partnership with the former NBA-star, budgets $400,000 for each school to buy educational materials. Much of that is used to buy eCourses, an EdisonLearning product. Spokesman Mike Serpe said the company also buys other online programs, such as Think Through Math, which is part of Chicago Board of Education member Quazzo&rsquo;s investment portfolio.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">No one from </span>EdisonLearning or Magic Johnson Enterprises would agree to an interview.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">But at a press conference in Chicago in February, Johnson said he was approached by </span>EdisonLearning because the company wanted to draw inner-city students into its schools. &ldquo;What they needed was a guy like myself to come in to more or less brand it,&rdquo; he said. When asked how much he makes per school, he told WBEZ and Catalyst: &ldquo;That is all you need to know.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Budget documents obtained through multiple Freedom of Information Act requests indicate how much Johnson stands to make off the alternative schools. One proposal listed a half- million-dollar fee to &ldquo;Magic Johnson Enterprises,&rdquo; but the assumption was based on opening many more schools.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Jack Elsey, Chicago Public Schools&#39; chief of innovation and incubation, said there&rsquo;s no way CPS could have delivered on Emanuel&rsquo;s promise to double the number of dropouts being served without outside help.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">&ldquo;The point is not the bottom line,&rdquo; Elsey said. &ldquo;The point is having an impact on students. So the benefit of getting the student in and graduated within a month or two months, means that&rsquo;s one more student who&rsquo;s graduated who wouldn&rsquo;t have graduated before.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">&lsquo;Who cares if they make money?&rsquo;</span></strong></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Illinois does not allow for-profit companies to run schools. State law requires public charter schools to be non-profits incorporated in Illinois. However, districts like CPS and non-profits can contract with for-profit companies to provide services.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">It&rsquo;s why district officials are careful to call the new alternative schools &ldquo;programs&rdquo; instead of schools. The for-profit companies technically hold contracts to provide what&rsquo;s called an &ldquo;Alternative Learning Opportunities Program.&quot;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Bridgescape, Camelot and Ombudsman are run by for-profit, out-of-state companies. Pathways is a non-profit certified in Illinois, although its executives own for-profit companies that do business with the non-profit.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Todd Bock runs Camelot Education, one of the for-profit companies to open alternative schools in Chicago in the last few years.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">&ldquo;People hear the word &#39;for-profit&#39; and they think these companies are making hundreds of thousands of dollars on these schools and that&rsquo;s really, really not the case,&rdquo; he said.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">The schools Bock&rsquo;s company runs are an outlier. Students at Camelot&rsquo;s EXCEL Academies have to go to school for almost nine hours and there is little work done on computers.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">He says Chicago should hold companies like his accountable for quality.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">&ldquo;We have an obligation to the taxpayers to do it better and more efficiently than what&rsquo;s been done in the past and if we can&rsquo;t do that, then we don&rsquo;t deserve to be there,&rdquo; Bock said.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Gary Miron, professor of evaluation, measurement, and research at Western Michigan University,</span> studies for-profit and not-for-profit education companies. He said education companies see alternative schools as appealing because demand is so high and the companies have an excuse for poor performance, since dropouts are less likely to score well on standardized tests.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">CPS is funding the new schools as if they were charter schools, but then not having them grant their own diplomas. &nbsp;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">&ldquo;Some people say, &lsquo;Who cares if it&rsquo;s for-profit? If they can deliver a better product at a lower cost, who cares if they make a little money?&rsquo;&rdquo; Miron said. &ldquo;And then I&rsquo;d say, &lsquo;Yeah! Why not?&rsquo; But it&rsquo;s not happening. It&rsquo;s just not happening. When we look at the outcomes, they&rsquo;re not as good.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">CPS is trying to hold the new schools accountable for performance, though it isn&#39;t using the same measures it applies to the rest of the high schools in Chicago. Instead, it looks at improvement in reading and math, attendance and how many kids actually earn diplomas.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Early numbers show of the five performance levels CPS gives schools, not ONE of the new for-profit schools made it into the top two.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Not all of the new for-profit alternative schools have been open long enough to get a rating. But of those that have been, most landed at the bottom of the district&rsquo;s rankings. None earned a 1 or 1+ rating.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Miron said low-performing schools should spend more, not less, directly on students. Plus, with alternative schools, the students enrolling are some of the most at-risk and vulnerable in the city.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">&ldquo;</span>If these are such a good idea, why aren&rsquo;t we doing it with some suburban schools serving middle-class families?&rdquo; he asks. &ldquo;Yet we see this experimentation with private companies with pretty drastically new ideas that end up being more beneficial for profit margin than actual performance.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Harvard&rsquo;s Jack Donahue echoed Miron&rsquo;s concerns about quality.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">&ldquo;The real thing to worry about here is the weaknesses of the measures of value, rather than the fact that somebody might be making a buck,&rdquo; he said.</span></p><p><em><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">This story was co-reported with Sarah Karp of <a href="http://catalyst-chicago.org">Catalyst Chicago</a>. Becky Vevea is an education reporter for WBEZ. Follow her </span><a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZeducation">@WBEZeducation</a>.&nbsp;</em></p><p><em>A previous version of this article incorrectly identified the school at which John &#39;Jack&#39; Donahue works. It is Harvard University&#39;s John F. Kennedy School of Government.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Fri, 06 Mar 2015 08:50:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/sections/special-series/meet-companies-profit-when-cps-students-drop-out-111665 A safety net for dropouts catches others http://www.wbez.org/sections/special-series/safety-net-dropouts-catches-others-111598 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/IMG_0001_0.JPG" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-64cca275-a828-81a6-07cb-e3cee238a8a7">In 2012 Chicagoans got some harsh news: there were 56,000 high school dropouts under 21 &ndash; </span><a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/luring-chicago-dropouts-back-school-one-doorstep-time-91009">enough to fill Soldier Field</a>.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-64cca275-a828-81a6-07cb-e3cee238a8a7">&ldquo;At the time, we had 5,300 seats to serve them,&rdquo; said Jennifer Vidis, the head of alternative schools for Chicago Public Schools. &nbsp;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-64cca275-a828-81a6-07cb-e3cee238a8a7">Over the last two years, the district brought that number up to 12,000. It is the largest expansion</span> of alternative schools ever done here. Most of that expansion has been in schools run by for-profit companies, many that offer half-day programs, with mostly online instruction.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-64cca275-a828-81a6-07cb-e3cee238a8a7">There is a case to be made for letting older students who are running out of time earn their diplomas quickly. There are also a lot of young parents and teenagers working full-time jobs to support their families.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-64cca275-a828-81a6-07cb-e3cee238a8a7">&ldquo;We want to create opportunities for kids. Whenever they make that decision, &lsquo;I want to go back,&rsquo; we want to have a place for them to go,&rdquo; Vidis said.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-64cca275-a828-81a6-07cb-e3cee238a8a7">Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academy in Humboldt Park is one of the district&rsquo;s 20 new alternative schools opened in the last two years. It&rsquo;s a joint venture between the NBA-star-turned-businessman, Earvin &ldquo;Magic&rdquo; Johnson, and </span>EdisonLearning, a for-profit education company. Students come for half the day and do most of their work online. Many can finish a full credit in a matter of weeks.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-64cca275-a828-81a6-07cb-e3cee238a8a7">&ldquo;I have a good number of kids who are 19 and 20 and 21,&rdquo; said Ursula Ricketts, the school&rsquo;s program director. &ldquo;I mean, do you really want to be 21 and walking into a traditional high school? Not so much.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-64cca275-a828-81a6-07cb-e3cee238a8a7">Ricketts says not everything is done online. She has about a dozen teachers and counselors on staff to work with students. She also says a big part of her job is forging partnerships with local businesses to help students who don&#39;t have jobs, find work.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-64cca275-a828-81a6-07cb-e3cee238a8a7">It is not clear how many students enrolled in the new alternative schools are part of that target population of over-age, out-of-school youth. A CPS spokesperson sent WBEZ and Catalyst Chicago the highlights of an internal analysis from last school year. It says about half of the kids enrolled were aging out quickly and another 30 percent were labeled as &ldquo;out of reach.&rdquo; The rest appear to be on-track or </span>young enough to enroll in a traditional school or full-day program.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-64cca275-a828-81a6-07cb-e3cee238a8a7">Students like Linae Mitchell, who never officially dropped out of high school before enrolling at Magic Johnson Bridgescape with 16 credits.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-64cca275-a828-81a6-07cb-e3cee238a8a7">&ldquo;Actually, I was going to be still attending my regular school, Chicago Talent (Development High School), but they closed down. So I went to the Marine (Military Academy) school, but it wasn&rsquo;t for me, so I had to find another place to go, so my dad sent me here,&rdquo; Mitchell said.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-64cca275-a828-81a6-07cb-e3cee238a8a7">The former school she&#39;s talking about is Chicago Talent Development High School, a small charter school that operated inside of Crane High School, but was closed because of low enrollment last year. There are still students enrolled at Crane, but because CPS decided to phase out Crane, there is no junior class at the school this year for Mitchell to enroll in.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-64cca275-a828-81a6-07cb-e3cee238a8a7">On this day Mitchell was wearing a Crane Tech High School warm-up jacket.&nbsp;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-64cca275-a828-81a6-07cb-e3cee238a8a7">&ldquo;After I finish here, I&rsquo;m on the drilling team and I actually go there for my service learning hours also,&rdquo; Mitchell said. CPS allows students enrolled in what they call Alternative Learning Opportunity Programs, or ALOP schools, to participate at their home school, if they choose.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-64cca275-a828-81a6-07cb-e3cee238a8a7">Jack Elsey is CPS&rsquo;s chief of innovation and incubation. When asked if he&rsquo;s concerned about kids like Mitchell going to alternative schools when they&rsquo;re not off-track and haven&rsquo;t officially dropped out, Elsey responded in this way: &nbsp;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-64cca275-a828-81a6-07cb-e3cee238a8a7">&ldquo;It&rsquo;s certainly something to think about and something we&rsquo;ll take a look at,&rdquo; Elsey said. &ldquo;We are a district of choice and these are part of our choice portfolio and who are we to tell that 16-year-old the school you&rsquo;ve chosen, especially if she&rsquo;s doing well, is not the right school for you.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-64cca275-a828-81a6-07cb-e3cee238a8a7">Still, Mitchell&rsquo;s situation raises questions about how the choice system may be creating dropouts or &ldquo;push-outs,&rdquo; as a principal at one of these new schools called them. &nbsp;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-64cca275-a828-81a6-07cb-e3cee238a8a7">Conrad Timbers-Ausur is the principal of a school like Magic Johnson Bridgescape, called Ombudsdman. He said alternative schools&mdash;whether they&rsquo;re full-day or half-day&mdash;are catching kids who have been victims of the system.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-64cca275-a828-81a6-07cb-e3cee238a8a7">He told WBEZ and Catalyst about one student who enrolled that, when he looked at his transcript, seemed like a pretty bright kid. Timbers-Ausur said the student passed all of his courses freshman year, but got one F in one semester of one class. Then, the student had to repeat the entire freshman year, and taking the exact same classes, his grades dropped, his absences increased and ultimately, he got &ldquo;kicked out.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-64cca275-a828-81a6-07cb-e3cee238a8a7">&ldquo;It just infuriated me and disgusted me, because here it is in black and white,&rdquo; Timbers-Ausur said. &ldquo;How are you allowed to (do) that in the name of education and actually you&rsquo;re setting up more kids for failure?&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-64cca275-a828-81a6-07cb-e3cee238a8a7">Timbers-Ausur wouldn&rsquo;t say the name of the school&mdash;other than that it was a prominent charter school.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-64cca275-a828-81a6-07cb-e3cee238a8a7">CPS&rsquo;s Elsey said the district needs to do a better job of holding on to students as freshmen and sophomores and keeping them on track. The district&rsquo;s Jennifer Vidis said it&rsquo;s as much about prevention as it is about recovery.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-64cca275-a828-81a6-07cb-e3cee238a8a7">&ldquo;We want to fight the fire on both ends,&rdquo; Vidis said. &ldquo;We want to help kids graduate and if kids can move more quickly because they have the skills and ability to do that, great. But we need to make sure when they finish up with us that they&rsquo;re actually prepared.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-64cca275-a828-81a6-07cb-e3cee238a8a7">Vidis touches on a debate that&rsquo;s happening around the country right now. There&rsquo;s a whole camp of people who believe if students can prove they know the material, they should be able to do so and move on.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-64cca275-a828-81a6-07cb-e3cee238a8a7">Vijay Shah is in that camp. He is the assistant principal at another Ombudsman school on the West Side.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-64cca275-a828-81a6-07cb-e3cee238a8a7">&ldquo;This is a gifted school to me,&rdquo; Shah said. &ldquo;You get to come in here, independently work on your credits and we give you the autonomy, as long as you don&rsquo;t disrespect anybody. We&rsquo;re going to set you up and fight tooth and nail for you to graduate.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-64cca275-a828-81a6-07cb-e3cee238a8a7">But some warn that in the push to graduate more students, more quickly, Chicago may wind up unintentionally creating a lower-level of education for certain students.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-64cca275-a828-81a6-07cb-e3cee238a8a7">&ldquo;For students who really do need some way to recover credits or who have had some extreme life event where they just can&rsquo;t complete high school, you want to get them something,&rdquo; said Tim Kautz, a researcher at the University of Chicago&rsquo;s Center for the Economics of Human Development. &ldquo;But for students who might be able to complete high school, you don&rsquo;t want to sort of funnel them into a program that might not give them the same skills.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-64cca275-a828-81a6-07cb-e3cee238a8a7">Kautz did not know about the new alternative schools in CPS, but he has studied the GED - the General Educational Development test many people take if they&rsquo;ve dropped out of high school as an alternative to their high school diploma. Much of his research focuses on the difference between GED recipients and traditional high school graduates and he&rsquo;s found GED recipients have many more gaps in their non-cognitive skills.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-64cca275-a828-81a6-07cb-e3cee238a8a7">The new alternative schools in Chicago are not GED programs. Students </span><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/same-diploma-different-school-111581">get CPS diplomas</a>, with the name of their home school or the name of the last school they attended on them.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-64cca275-a828-81a6-07cb-e3cee238a8a7">Kautz said there may be benefits to running half-day programs that also include some kind of mentoring or workforce training.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-64cca275-a828-81a6-07cb-e3cee238a8a7">On a recent day at Magic Johnson Bridgescape, Ursula Ricketts gathered a small group of teenage girls in a classroom to do a research project about beauty, inside and out.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-64cca275-a828-81a6-07cb-e3cee238a8a7">&ldquo;I try to find anything that can help the kids, just improve who they are,&rdquo; she said.</span></p><div><em>This story was co-reported with Sarah Karp of Catalyst Chicago.</em></div></p> Fri, 20 Feb 2015 09:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/sections/special-series/safety-net-dropouts-catches-others-111598 A father decides to be a different kind of father than his was http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/father-decides-be-different-kind-father-his-was-107790 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/storycorps dave and tom.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>After losing his mother to cancer, David Wartowski is finding his relationship with his father, Tom, even more important.</p><p>Tom has had his own struggles with cancer and depression.</p><p>The pair visited the Chicago StoryCorps booth to remember David&rsquo;s mother, whom they affectionately called Musiu, and to talk about their own relationship.</p><p>Tom: &hellip; My father was very, very strict (crying). He would always criticize what I did, and he thought by calling me lazy and stupid that I would turn out to be industrious and hardworking and smart. But really, it had the counter effect. He pretty much convinced me that I wasn&rsquo;t bright and that I was lazy.</p><p>David: You know, it turned out your relationship with me, with your son, was very little, I think, like the relationship you had with your father.</p><p>Tom: Yeah, there were some things I said I wasn&rsquo;t going to do - corporal punishment my father used a lot. I wasn&rsquo;t going to use that.</p><p>Tom tells his son he struggled with depression, but that his wife, David&rsquo;s mother, changed his life.</p><p>David: You were diagnosed with cancer in..</p><p>Tom: 2001</p><p>David: Shortly after Musiu died of cancer &hellip; I was in my roughly mid-20s thinking I would lose both of my parents without any siblings.</p><p>Listen to the audio above to hear more of David and Tom&rsquo;s story.</p><p><em>Katie Mingle is a producer for WBEZ and the Third Coast Festival.&nbsp;</em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Fplaylists%2F6250422" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Fri, 21 Jun 2013 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/father-decides-be-different-kind-father-his-was-107790 Year 25: Chicago seniors reflect on an 'eventful' year http://www.wbez.org/series/year-25/year-25-chicago-seniors-reflect-eventful-year-106288 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F85190477" width="100%"></iframe></p><div class="image-insert-image "><br /><div class="image-insert-image ">As we&#39;ve learned thus far through the Year 25 series, a single year can really influence how the rest of your life shakes out. And that is really evident within the walls of a large room in the Chicago Cultural Center, where every week, a group of ladies gather for a senior citizens memoir writing class.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></div><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">Each week, they&#39;re given a new assignment by their editor and teacher Beth Finke, a local writer you may have heard on WBEZ before. She&#39;s been teaching the class for almost 10 years now, so she&#39;s always on the lookout for new assignment ideas. When she heard about our Year 25 series, she thought it might be fun to ask her students where they were at 25.</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">Well, of course, I had to be there.</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">The class of about dozen older ladies meets in a wing of the Cultural Center named, pretty aptly, I think, Renaissance Court. The writers are in their mid-60s to early 90s: You can imagine the stories they have to tell.</p><p>They all sit around a long table littered with lipstick-stained coffee cups, a few<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/wanda.JPG" style="width: 442px; height: 300px; float: right;" title="Wanda Bridgeforth, pictured at left, celebrates her birthday (Courtesy of Darlene Schweitzer) " />&nbsp;pairs of reading glasses and small stacks of paper.&nbsp;</p><p>Wanda Bridgeworth always sits in the same seat - at the head of the table, on the left side. You&#39;d think at 91 years old,&nbsp;it might be difficult to match memories with specific years of a long, full life. But as she begins to read her essay, it&#39;s clear that 25 really sticks out.</p><p>&quot;The VMAIL letter read VJ Day! Our unit alerted to head for home,&quot; she read. &quot;I could hardly contain myself. I hugged my daughter and shouted, &#39;Daddy is coming home.&#39;&quot;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">It was October 1946. Wanda&#39;s husband was coming home from war, just in time for her 25th birthday. She says she remembers a big party at the house, with family and friends, celebrating both his arrival and her birthday. This would also be the first time Wanda&#39;s husband would meet their daughter, who was born after he left.</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">All went well, Wanda writes, until bedtime.</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&quot;When he started to get into bed, she jumped over the side of her crib and grabbed his pajama shirt screaming, &#39;You get out of this bed! This is my mama&#39;s bed! And you don&#39;t belong here!&quot; Wanda read, while all her classmates burst out laughing.</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">Wanda writes how that year brought lots of changes: she was diagnosed with hearing loss, lost her new home to the railroad and on and on.</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">Another reminder of how unpredictable 25 can be, no matter what generation you&#39;re born into.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">For some of these writers, the adventures were of their own making. For Nancy Walker, all it took was one decision to kickstart a year of self-discovery. The year was 1963 -- she had been teaching in Mount Prospect for three years.&nbsp;</p><br /><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&quot;I loved teaching,&quot; Nancy read, &quot;But I wasn&#39;t meeting any new people in my 2nd grade classroom. So I decided to resign from my job and look for a glamorous job downtown.&quot;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/nancy.JPG" style="float: left; width: 257px; height: 300px;" title="Nancy Walker, one of the students in the class (Courtesy of Darlene Schweitzer) " /></p><p>So off she went, submitting applications for the few female-wanted ads in the newspaper. Turns out, her search ended up bringing her right back where she started -- she was hired later that year to teach at a school in Skokie. And she stayed there for the next 31 years.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&quot;The decision to resign from a good job when I was 25, could have been disastrous,&quot; she went on. &quot;But now, I view it as one of the best decisions of my life.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">And that&rsquo;s the thing about this class: 25 was so long ago, that the lens these ladies are looking through often lets them see quite clearly how that one year fits in the span of their whole lives. That&#39;s something I learned from Hanna Bratman, who was 25 almost seven decades ago. It was that year that she gained her U.S. citizenship.</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&quot;It meant that I now could say I&#39;m an American. I no longer had to identify myself as a German Jew,&quot; Hanna told me after class.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">Hanna says that new identity was very important to her. She calls herself a &quot;Holocaust person&quot; and told me some of the stories from her young life in Germany. She was thrown out of school when Hitler came to power, she recalls. And then there was the time she broke her leg and had to drive for hours in the middle of the night to find a doctor who would treat her.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/hanna.JPG" style="float: right; width: 350px; height: 300px;" title="Hanna Bratman, celebrating Wanda's birthday (Courtesy of Darlene Schweitzer) " /></p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&quot;I think you grow up pretty fast when you&#39;re really on your own,&quot; she says.</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">But yet, she says, she&#39;s always been a positive person. And today, at 93 years old, she&#39;s still keeping busy. She leads a support group for people with vision loss, she leads a midlife group, and as she puts it, &quot;I help all the way around.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">And she also shows up for this class, every week, to listen to her peers tell their own stories.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">But there&#39;s another story here that was not shared in the class. A 25th year that has rippled out from one person to all of these students. For Beth Finke, the woman who is teaching them, 25 started out with a lot of excitement. Her now-husband, Mike, proposed to her on her birthday.</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr" style="margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 0pt;">&quot;We looked forward to having all our friends come in town...we got married in my sister&rsquo;s back yard. [We] all went to a White Sox game the day after, just, fun, fun, fun,&quot; Beth recounted.</p><p dir="ltr">But things took a sudden turn on her honeymoon in Scotland. She recalls that she started seeing strange spots.</p><p dir="ltr">&quot;I took my contacts out and cleaned them and put them back in,&quot; Finke said. &quot;And I knew right away.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/BigCrop%20from%20scan.jpg" style="width: 441px; height: 300px; float: left;" title="25 year old Beth Finke at her wedding (Courtesy of Beth Finke)" />Beth had been diagnosed with diabetes when she was seven, so she knew issues with her eyes were a possibility, but she didn&rsquo;t think she&rsquo;d lose her sight altogether.</p><p dir="ltr">For the next few months, her 25th year would be spent going back and forth between downstate Champaign and Chicago for surgeries and doctors&rsquo; visits.</p><p dir="ltr">&quot;We tried really hard to save my eyesight,&quot; she said. &quot;But by July of my 26th year I was totally blind.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr">So the things Beth saw during her 25th year - her wedding, her family members&rsquo; faces, the White Sox stadium - those are the images she still has in her head today.</p><p dir="ltr">Of course, the following years were transitional ones; she had to learn how to read Braille, how to use a cane, but with all of these changes came a gift: writing. She says there was something therapeutic about putting all her feelings and life changes on paper.</p><p dir="ltr">It&rsquo;s a gift she&rsquo;s now able to pass on to her students.</p><p dir="ltr">&quot;I give them 500 words. That&rsquo;s all they have to write these essays, so if you only have 500 words to work with you have to use really strong words. You have to really think about what you&rsquo;re writing,&quot; Finke said.</p><p dir="ltr">And as many of her students near the end of their years, it&rsquo;s these strong words that give them a chance to honor the lives that they&rsquo;ve lived.</p><p dir="ltr">&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 26 Mar 2013 10:46:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/year-25/year-25-chicago-seniors-reflect-eventful-year-106288 Speaking with Read Between The Lynes' Owner Arlene Lynes: Woodstock's Hometown Bookstore http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-02/speaking-read-between-lynes-owner-arlene-lynes-woodstocks-hometown <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/487984_610652125627416_569959123_n.png" alt="" /><p><p><span id="internal-source-marker_0.4310620139191145">A few years ago when I was promoting my novel I was invited to the cleverly-named independent bookstore </span><a href="http://www.readbetweenthelynes.com/">Read Between the Lynes in Woodstock</a> to make an appearance. I was charmed by the lovely, warm store located in the town square, which feels like a shopping locale from another era (specifically, one that recurs again and again; Woodstock, as you may know, was where <em>Groundhog Day</em> was filmed.) As part of WBEZ&rsquo;s closer look at Woodstock, I sent some questions to Read Between the Lynes owner and operator Arlene Lynes.<br /><br /><strong>How and when did you come to Woodstock?</strong><br />I came to Woodstock in March of 1997. &nbsp;We relocated here from New Jersey for a new position for my husband.<br /><br /><strong>How has Woodstock changed since you first arrived?</strong><br />Woodstock has grown with lots of new housing/retail developments in the past 16 years. &nbsp;Not all bad, but the flavor of agriculture is not as prominent!<br /><br /><strong>What type of community is it to live and work in? Do you think it&#39;s friendlier to independent businesses than other cities?</strong><br />Woodstock is an incredible community to work and live in. &nbsp;While we definitely are a small town community, we have so very much to offer. &nbsp;Of course I am biased, but yes, I believe Woodstock to be friendlier and more supportive to Independent businesses. &nbsp;Due to the size of our town, we know one another and enjoy doing business with our friend and neighbors.<br /><br /><strong>Is there much of a tourist connection anymore to the movie Groundhog Day?</strong><br />There is a HUGE tourist connection to Groundhog Days, still. &nbsp;It keeps getting bigger, it seems. &nbsp;Many European travelers stop in over the course of the year due to our being the filming location.<br /><br /><strong>What are some of your favorite places/things to do in Woodstock?</strong><br />I absolutely adore the <a href="http://www.woodstockoperahouse.com/">Woodstock Opera House</a>. &nbsp;It holds so many diverse programs, from the daytime Creative Living Series hosted by the Woodstock Fine Arts Association (of which Rick Kogan was one of their speakers a few years back), to Tribute Rock concerts, Community Theatre performances and nationally known performers, as well as The Mozart Festival. <a href="http://www.woodstockoperahouse.com/files/StageLeft/StageLeftCafe.html">Stage Left Cafe&#39;</a> (adjacent to the Opera House) is run by the City of Woodstock as well and holds Open Mics, Jazz performances and Storytelling sessions with performers from around the world. &nbsp;I guess it&#39;s obvious I&#39;m a fan of the Arts, and I love the diversity we have here. &nbsp;In the summer we have City Band concerts every Wednesday night on the town Square. They will be celebrating their 129th consecutive season this summer. &nbsp;Also, a Music Fest and Folk Music festival run as well.<br /><br /><strong>What are some of your favorite other small businesses in town?</strong><br /><a href="http://www.expresslyleslie.com/">Expressly Leslie</a> is a vegetarian restaurant conveniently located across the street from us. <a href="http://www.etherealconfections.com/">Ethereal Confections</a> makes the best chocolate I may have ever had! <a href="http://www.yelp.com/biz/mixteca-mexican-grill-and-tequila-bar-woodstock">Mixteca</a> is an authentic Mexican restaurant that has amazing margaritas.<br /><br /><strong>What&#39;s one thing (or two) you think could improve or update the town square?</strong><br />I would love to see the Woodstock Square filled with a variety of independent up &amp; coming retail and eateries. &nbsp;As we emerge from this economic challenge of times, I hope to see us grow in these areas.<br /><br /><strong>What have been some of the most popular books that you sell?</strong><br />We sell a lot of children&#39;s picture books and general fiction. That being said, we love to sell Chicago authors, <a href="http://www.lauracaldwell.com/">Laura Caldwell</a> is from this area, so she is always a big seller.<br /><br /><strong>What have been some of the most memorable events you&#39;ve hosted?</strong><br />Hosting Orion Samuelson of WGN this past December was certainly memorable, as the line was down the sidewalk; also children&#39;s author/illustrator Tom Lichtenheld, he is an absolute genius and relates so well with children of all ages. &nbsp;But let us not forget Rick Kogan who has packed the house!<br /><br /><strong>What tips would you recommend for someone considering bringing a gigantic dog to work with them?</strong><br />This question made me laugh out loud. &nbsp;My recommendations for bringing a gigantic dog to work with them would be, make sure the dog is well trained and you have back-up to allow for walks and breaks. &nbsp;Also, don&#39;t be offended when most everyone comments, &quot;that&#39;s the biggest dog I think I&#39;ve ever seen!&quot;<br /><br /><u>Read Between the Lynes will be hosting a 2nd birthday party for Nika, its store mascot on Monday, March 18th at 1 pm. Birthday cake will be available for humans. Read Between the Lynes is located at &nbsp;129 Van Buren St. Woodstock, IL 60098, (815) 206-5967</u></p></p> Wed, 20 Feb 2013 09:12:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/claire-zulkey/2013-02/speaking-read-between-lynes-owner-arlene-lynes-woodstocks-hometown Journalist has front-row seat to Civil Rights Movement, 1968 convention http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/journalist-has-front-row-seat-civil-rights-movement-1968-convention-102281 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/2012-08-18 10.35.04.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Democratic and Republican conventions just wrapped up, pretty much without incident.</p><p>That wasn&rsquo;t the case during the infamous 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, and journalist Donald Johnson had a front-row seat. Johnson tells his daughter, Laurel, that he was working for Newsweek at the time. He was out in the streets covering the violence, and saw police hitting reporters and photographers.</p><p><strong>1:23 JOHNSON: </strong>I saw a police officer run up to a photographer for the <em>Sun-Times</em> and just smash a camera into his face.</p><p>Johnson said he called <em>Newsweek</em> and told them:</p><p><strong>1:37 JOHNSON: </strong>You better get down here and send somebody down here because when we write the story, we don&rsquo;t want you saying we&rsquo;re making stuff up, that it&rsquo;s not happening.</p><p>Johnson said he saw mini riots breaking out all over, and saw more colleagues getting injured by police,</p><p><strong>2:22 JOHNSON: </strong>It was not pretty, nor kind. It was really a bad thing.</p><p>Johnson was born in Honduras, and moved to the U.S.. He became a journalist in the &lsquo;60s, during the height of the Civil Rights Movement. But as he tells his daughter, Laurel, he wasn&rsquo;t an early convert.</p><p><strong>00:00 JOHNSON:</strong>&nbsp;When I first came, I used to think, hmm, I&rsquo;ve got nothing to do with this civil rights thing here. After all, I speak‚Äč Spanish. I&rsquo;m not from here.</p><p>Two things changed Johnson&rsquo;s mind. He said he came to the realization that although he wasn&rsquo;t from the U.S., in this country,&nbsp; he was considered black. And he saw dogs being let loose on African-American protestors, and people being hanged. He was outraged.</p><p>Johnson&#39;s daughter wondered if he felt like journalism was his way to contribute to the Civil Rights Movement.</p><p>Yes, he said, adding that Fred Hampton, the leader of the Black Panthers in Chicago who was later killed by police, kept asking him to be secretary of education.</p><p><strong>00:54 JOHNSON:</strong>&nbsp;I couldn&rsquo;t do that gun thing. I couldn&rsquo;t do it maybe because I could do it all too easily. Picking up a gun is a limited kind of a future for you.</p><p><em>Katie Klocksin helped produce this story.</em></p></p> Fri, 07 Sep 2012 17:27:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/journalist-has-front-row-seat-civil-rights-movement-1968-convention-102281 Race Out Loud: Cherokee values at Elmhurst College http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2012-08/race-out-loud-cherokee-values-elmhurst-college-102024 <p><div class="mediaelement-audio"><audio class="mediaelement-formatter-identified-1346262017-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/120830%20Alan%20Ray%20web.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></div><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/017%20Elmhurst%20College%20photo%20by%20Bill%20Healy-WBEZ.JPG" title="Elmhurst College President S. Alan Ray (WBEZ/Bill Healy)" /></div><p><a href="http://public.elmhurst.edu/about">Elmhurst College</a> is pretty much postcard perfect--just how you&rsquo;d imagine a liberal arts school would look. At the center of campus is a small mall, bordered by a trim row of student housing. On the late summer day I visited, everything was lush and green. And quiet - students were still on summer break.</p><p>From many points on campus you can see the spire of Hammerschmidt Chapel, a towering reminder of Elmhurst&rsquo;s religious roots. Inside the lobby of Lehmann Hall is a tile mosaic inscribed with the Elmhurst motto: &ldquo;An ever widening circle.&rdquo; It was adopted in the 1920s by an Elmhurst president. But the mosaic also reflects the man currently in charge, <a href="http://public.elmhurst.edu/president">S. Alan Ray.</a></p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" an="" bill="" class="image-original_image" ever="" mosaic="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1_6.jpg" style="float: right;" title="" wbez="" widening="" /></div><p>&quot;The Cherokee motifs are in the corners, the triangles you see in the corners,&quot; says Ray. &quot;This is typical Cherokee scroll work that you would see&hellip;oh, in any number of fabrics or bolo neck ties.&quot;</p><p>Ray became the 13th president of Elmhurst College in 2008. He&rsquo;s a native of Oklahoma and a product of some of the most prestigious institutions of learning in the United States, including Harvard Law School. But he was born to a young woman from a very different world.</p><p>&quot;Her family I&rsquo;ve since come to learn a bit about was a traditional Cherokee home, Cherokee was spoken. And I&rsquo;ve often thought how my life would be different if I had grown up in that circumstance rather than the one that I did.&quot;</p><p>Ray&rsquo;s birth mother, a member of the Cherokee Nation, gave him up for adoption when he was an infant. From what he&rsquo;s learned she was very young and unmarried. It was the mid-1950s and so, like many Indian children at the time, Ray was adopted by a white couple. Their&nbsp; names: Stephen and Dorothea Ray.</p><p>A visibly emotional Ray told me, &quot;My mother is one of my heroes in life.&quot; His&nbsp;father died when he was 5, and Dorothea Ray had to go back to school, find work. But Ray is most proud of the stand she took in their small town of Guthrie, Oklahoma.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/C_0.jpg" style="float: left;" title="(WBEZ/Bill Healy)" /></div><p>Ray says &quot;It was essentially segregated. The African Americans went to one school on one side of the town, where they lived. And white students went to another. My mother volunteered to teach the students in the African-American school. And she more importantly befriended her students and brought them to our house for a party, or several parties.Which was just unheard of and I think remarked upon in the neighborhood, that this was something crossing a color line. But that struck me, because she was a woman of great principle, and she interpreted her gestures not as some civil rights gesture, but as basic fairness and care and compassion for persons under her charge.&quot;</p><p>Dorothea Ray also transformed Ray&rsquo;s life. Early on she told him he was adopted and of Cherokee descent. And she managed to open his adoption records &ndash; no easy feat back then - so he could legally claim his heritage.&nbsp;What she couldn&rsquo;t do was prepare Ray for the way others would view him.</p><p>&quot;I remember in one case, I think I was in 7th grade, I was with some of my closest friends,&quot; says Ray. &quot;And I shared with them that I was adopted and I was Cherokee. And I had not done that previously and it was not a big deal to me, I just wanted to share this with them because I thought it was interesting. And I began to be called a redskin, you know I was an Indian. It was deeply pejorative and that surprised me.&quot;</p><p>Ray is light skinned and blue eyed.&nbsp;Many would not recognize him as Cherokee. He says, sometimes when people learned of his background their perception of him changed.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/E.jpg" style="float: right;" title="(WBEZ/Bill Healy)" /></p><p>&quot;These negative characteristics of idleness, alcoholism, dysfunction, dark skin, various physical features are negatively valued and once one identifies as Native American, those are ascribed to them as they were to me, even those it was physically impossible to recognize me as that, in all respects.&quot;</p><p>The prejudice didn&rsquo;t make Ray reject his identity. But he wasn&rsquo;t up for the role of model minority either. Instead, he says &quot;What I did think was that I&rsquo;m going to teach you what it is to be this Native American. And what it is to be this Native American, for me, is to be a Cherokee.&quot;</p><p>From the start, Ray made his Cherokee heritage a part of his role at Elmhurst. At his inauguration, there was Native American music, drumming, and smudging, a purification ritual. Ray invited other Indian leaders, including the Reverend Rosemary McCombs-Maxey &ndash; the first female Native American ordained by the United Church of Christ. McCombs is from the Creek Nation, historic rivals of the Cherokee. So some teasing was in order. In her remarks McCombs-Maxey quipped, &quot;I am showing you my credentials, hoping that my 11/16ths degree trumps your Cherokee blood quantum.&quot;</p><div class="image-insert-image ">Beyond ceremony, Ray is working to incorporate Native American studies across the Elmhurst curriculum, in subjects ranging from history to mathematics. He wants&nbsp;Elmhurst to be known as a place that values diversity, and he says there are signs that&rsquo;s happening, including an increase in minority enrollment.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">I spoke with Stanley Washington, who passed up going to a historically black college to come to Elmhurst.&nbsp; He says minority students are kind of in demand &ndash; he&rsquo;s had lots of leadership opportunities. But he also connects to the way Ray defies stereotypes. &quot;People make assumptions about me, I think,&quot; says Washington. &quot;You know they see me on the street they wouldn&rsquo;t assume that I&rsquo;m a student at Elmhurst College, that I&rsquo;m president of an organization. So I just think it makes people realize that there&rsquo;s no set look for success, there&rsquo;s no set look for doing well in life. He&rsquo;s a great example of that.&quot;</div><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Ashley%20Patsis.jpg" style="float: left;" title="Ashley Patsis" />Maybe any good liberal arts education creates an appreciation for diversity. But Ray&rsquo;s initiatives have also changed the way some Elmhurst students think. Nursing student Ashley Patsis says she&#39;s been &quot;very pleasantly surprised&quot; by her experiences.&nbsp;</p><p>Each spring break nursing students can volunteer for service in the Cherokee nation. Last March Patsis worked with members of the Snowbird community in Tennessee. It was Patsis&#39; first time around Cherokee. &quot;I come from a really small not diverse community I think we&rsquo;re ninety-eight percent Caucasian,&quot; says Patsis. &quot;So for me you get a little resistant when you get into new cultures and things when you come from something that&rsquo;s so closed. But it just taught me to be so much more open and much less nervous to work with different communities and different types of people.&quot;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/s.jpg" style="float: right;" title="Detail of a Ga-Du-Gi mural (WBEZ/Bill Healy)" />What Patsis learned on her trip has the spirit of a Cherokee concept Ray introduced to the college. It&rsquo;s called &ldquo;ga-du-gi,&rdquo; and it means &ldquo;all working together,&rdquo; but in a very specific way. Ray says &quot;All working together is not a kind of a civic volunteerism. It is rather a fundamental and even religious obligation at some level, to see that the community of Cherokees is sustained and nurtured through whatever particular talents we have.&quot;</div><p>Ray says ga-du-gi is becoming more familiar around campus. But it takes constant effort. &quot;It&rsquo;s something I have to reintroduce all the time because our students come and go,&quot; says Ray. &quot;And it&rsquo;s also important that it not be something that&rsquo;s just sort of &#39;oh that&rsquo;s Alan&rsquo;s thing.&#39; But to try and continually interpret that as another way of understanding what our mission here is.&quot;</p><p>In a way what Ray is doing at Elmhurst College is what he did with his Cherokee heritage: join the team - or tribe, or institution. Then slowly, over time, define the experience on your own terms. And then pass it on. &nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 30 Aug 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/alison-cuddy/2012-08/race-out-loud-cherokee-values-elmhurst-college-102024 Investigation timeline: What factors lead to bus routes being added or removed? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/investigation-timeline-what-factors-lead-bus-routes-being-added-or-removed <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/elston bus photo from davidwilson1949 flickr.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="750" src="http://embed.verite.co/timeline/?source=0An_OJm0YASWadHBUZzRFdXY4UG9xbllWX3dHOTl4QlE&amp;font=PTSerif-PTSans&amp;maptype=toner&amp;lang=en&amp;width=620&amp;height=750" width="620"></iframe></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/about-curious-city-98756">Curious City</a>&nbsp;is a news-gathering experiment designed to satisfy the public&#39;s curiosity.&nbsp;People&nbsp;<a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/#!/ask">submit questions</a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/#!/ask">vote&nbsp;</a>for their favorites, and WBEZ reports out the winning questions in real time, on&nbsp;<a href="http://www.facebook.com/curiouscityproject">Facebook</a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/#!/WBEZCuriousCity">Twitter&nbsp;</a>and the timeline above. &nbsp;</p><p>This round&#39;s winner is Corinne Creswell from Logan Square. Her question is: &quot;Chicago&#39;s Elston Avenue doesn&#39;t have a bus route. What factors lead to routes being added or removed?&quot; We&#39;re on it! Check back here for updates from freelance reporter Ken Davis as this story evolves.</p></p> Thu, 23 Aug 2012 09:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/investigation-timeline-what-factors-lead-bus-routes-being-added-or-removed