WBEZ | Special Series http://www.wbez.org/sections/special-series Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en 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​ 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 Africa-themed films like 'Hotel Rwanda' fail to give full historical context http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-07/africa-themed-films-hotel-rwanda-fail-give-full-historical-context-101097 <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/hotel%20rwanda%20AP.jpg" title="From right: Don Cheadle, Sophie Okonedo and Antonio David Lyons star as Paul, Tatiana, and Thomas in United Artists' drama ‘Hotel Rwanda.’ (PRNewsFoto/SHOWTIME,Bid Alsbirk)" /></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="http://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F53938961&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em>Many film scholars and critics observe that in the post-apartheid era, Hollywood&#39;s portrayal of Africa and Africans generally miss the mark, foregoing opportunities to teach us profound truths about the African continent and its people &mdash; all for the sake of popularity and profit.&nbsp;Here, one of those critics,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.joyceash.com/2008/09/dr-joyce-ashunt.html">Joyce Ashuntantang,&nbsp;</a>looks at one prime example: How the film&nbsp;</em>Hotel Rwanda<em>&nbsp;ignored complexity and context in dealing with the 1994 Rwandan Genocide:</em></p><div class="image-insert-image ">In recent years, Hollywood has produced films dubbed &ldquo;human rights&rdquo; films, like <em>Hotel Rwanda</em> (2004), <em>The Constant Gardener</em> (2005), <em>Blood Diamond</em> (2006), and <em>Catch a Fire</em> (2006). The appellation &ldquo;human rights film&rdquo; itself is debatable, since Hollywood movies must negotiate between presumed audience preferences and box office figures, Factors that in turn may trump the very rights the films are meant to uphold.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Despite <em>Hotel Rwanda&rsquo;s</em> success in sparking debate about the politics of international human rights and the contradictions of national governments that claim to value those rights, Terry George&rsquo;s representation of human rights in the film bears the marks of what is wrong not only with the human rights movement itself, but the way human rights are constructed and disseminated with reference to Africa. These include: the projection of the savage/victim/savior dialectic; the danger of assigning labels to victims and perpetrators; ignoring historical and cultural contexts of human rights abuses; and downplaying the severity of genocide in order to obtain maximum entertainment value for the film. &nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Sometimes in April.jpg" style="height: 200px; width: 300px; float: left; " title="Actor Idris Elba appears in a scene from the HBO film ‘Sometimes in April,’ which Ashuntantang considers a more robust and objective re-telling of the Rwandan Genocide. (AP/HBO)" />In <em>Hotel Rwanda</em>, the Tutsis are represented as victims and the Hutus as savages. Simplistically framing the conflict along the lines of &ldquo;good guys/bad guys&rdquo; does not help the cause of human rights, but refuels anger, reinforces polarizing dichotomies, and makes conflict-resolution difficult. In the midst of this victim/savage dichotomy is the metaphor of the savior compelled to come and rescue the victims. <em>Hotel Rwanda</em> castigates the non-arrival of the savior, but nonetheless the savior image is constructed through the western journalists and United Nations general, played by Nick Nolte.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Lack of complexity in certain aspects of the film grossly distorts the context &mdash; essential to understanding the genocide. Terry George provides short, vague snippets of the socio-politico context of the genocide between &ldquo;suspenseful&quot; scenes of Paul Rusesabagina&#39;s many attempts to stop the &ldquo;wild&rdquo; Hutu interahamwe from gaining access to the Hotel Des Mille Collines. George&rsquo;s choice of Rusesabagina as hero and the representation of one individual&rsquo;s story of perseverance, unintentionally undermine the struggle of an entire nation. Not centralizing the historical context of the genocide in the film does a disservice to the audience.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><em>Hotel Rwanda</em> manipulates the cinema medium, transforms the image of the genocide to a Hollywood product, and creates the illusion that this medium can successfully interpret the genocide to the world. Though fictionalized, <em>Hotel Rwanda</em> is based on a true and graphically disturbing story. As a Hollywood film, it reaches millions of people who will arguably view the film as their historical source of record on this genocide. One cannot deny that the question of accuracy will always plague any film that purports to be historical, but a film paraded as a human rights film must be sensitive to facts, for by not representing the facts objectively, the film perpetrates anger and resentment.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><strong>A good film alternative:</strong></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">A film that more objectively represents the Rwandan Genocide is Raoul Peck&rsquo;s <em>Sometimes in April. </em>Peck&rsquo;s film takes colonialism into account in his re-telling of the Genocide. He also refrains from demonizing any groups of people.</div><p><br /><em>Joyce Ashuntantang&nbsp;is a professional actress and assistant professor of English/Literature at Hillyer College-University of Hartford, and an associate to the UNESCO Chair and Institute for comparative Human Rights at the University of Connecticut. She&nbsp;contributed to the forthcoming&nbsp;MaryEllen Higgins-edited volume&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ohioswallow.com/book/Hollywood%E2%80%99s+Africa++after+1994">Hollywood&#39;s Africa After 1994</a>.&nbsp;</em></p><p><em>This story is part of Worldview&#39;s occasional series&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/images-movies-and-race">Images, Movies and Race</a>, produced in conjunction with WBEZ&rsquo;s&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/race-out-loud/">Race: Out Loud</a>&nbsp;series. Read more on film contributor Milos Stehlik&#39;s conversations with filmmaker <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-07/godmilow-western-films-about-africa-only-glorify-west-101129">Jill Godmilow</a>&nbsp;and&nbsp;</em><em>author/scholar&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-07/hollywoods-representation-post-apartheid-africa-101126">MaryEllen Higgins</a><strong>&nbsp;</strong></em><em>about how modern Hollywood films on Africa hide racist overtones within heroic, feel-good stories.</em><em>&nbsp;</em></p></p> Tue, 24 Jul 2012 09:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-07/africa-themed-films-hotel-rwanda-fail-give-full-historical-context-101097 In suburban Plainfield, preserving diverse schools http://www.wbez.org/sections/special-series/suburban-plainfield-preserving-diverse-schools-100476 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Plainfield East Yearbook.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Ask&nbsp; people&nbsp; in the city what they picture when they think of suburban schools, and you&rsquo;ll probably hear &ldquo;white&rdquo; among the adjectives they use.</p><p>Two decades ago, they would be right&mdash;half of all white suburban kids went to schools that were 90 percent or more white.&nbsp;</p><p>Today, the number of overwhelmingly white schools in suburban Chicago has dropped dramatically&mdash;from 562 to just 103.</p><p>At the same time, schools where no one race holds the majority have more than doubled.</p><p>The public schools in southwest suburban Plainfield used to be almost all white and today have almost even racial balance.</p><p>&ldquo;I have lots of different colored friends,&rdquo; said Hannah Protich, a sophomore at Plainfield East High School.</p><p>Her school has the kind of racial balance civil rights activists fought for years to achieve in the nation&rsquo;s public schools: 30 percent Hispanic, 40 percent white, 20 percent black and 10 percent Asian.</p><p>But in Plainfield, it didn&rsquo;t happen because students were bused in or attendance boundaries were gerrymandered, it was a result of suburban sprawl.</p><p>About a decade ago, all kinds of people from Chicago moved southwest to this small, primarily white, farming community where housing was affordable and readily available.</p><p>Carmen Ayala led Plainfield&rsquo;s curriculum department for seven years. In that time, the number of schools in the district went from five to 30. She describes the classrooms as a looking like &ldquo;a little United Nations.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;When I came in in 2005, we had 750 identified students who were English language learners. By two or three years, that number had more than doubled,&rdquo; Ayala said.</p><p>But the rapid racial changes in Plainfield didn&rsquo;t come without tension.</p><p>School officials said they heard a lot of statements about &ldquo;those&rdquo; kids.</p><p>Even as diversity increases across the area, most suburban schools are still 50 percent or more white.</p><p>Some researchers say there&rsquo;s a &ldquo;tipping point,&rdquo; when whites no longer hold the majority and a school or district becomes majority-minority.</p><p>That&rsquo;s when, they say, whites leave or stop moving in and schools become more segregated. WBEZ&rsquo;s analysis of school demographics shows that happening in some places, like west suburban Cicero.</p><p>In 1990, half of Cicero&rsquo;s public schools were predominately white. Today, all of them are more than 90 percent Hispanic.</p><p>&ldquo;People always talk about diversity and they always say to me, &lsquo;Well, you have a lot of diversity in Cicero,&rsquo; and I&rsquo;m like &lsquo;Actually, really, we don&rsquo;t have any diversity.&nbsp; We&rsquo;re all Hispanic,&rsquo;&rdquo; said Donna Adamic, superintendent of Cicero District 99.</p><p>But in Plainfield, district leaders don&rsquo;t want that to happen.</p><p>Four years ago, they decided to have what they call &ldquo;courageous conversations,&rdquo; to talk about ideas&nbsp; like &ldquo;white privilege.&rdquo;</p><p>They did a &ldquo;cultural audit.&rdquo; The biggest concern among white families was that &ldquo;the new students coming in are bringing scores down,&rdquo; Ayala said.</p><p>Columbia University researcher Amy Stuart Wells studies school segregation in the suburbs of New York City.&nbsp;</p><p>She said the perception that scores drop when minorities move in is perpetuated by federal education policy&mdash;which emphasizes academic achievement and competition. That creates a pattern where wealthier, white families move to the highest achieving, and often whitest, suburbs, Wells said.</p><p>&ldquo;People are re-sorting themselves into very segregated spaces,&rdquo; said Wells.</p><p>In Plainfield, Ayala retooled the curriculum to reflect the community&rsquo;s diversity. For example, when talking about a balanced meal, teachers give a variety of examples, instead of the standby &ldquo;steak and potatoes&rdquo;&nbsp; that many minority children won&rsquo;t connect to.</p><p>She dug into the data at the end of this school year and found that scores actually increased for everyone&mdash;blacks, whites, Hispanics, and Asians.</p><p>Parents in Plainfield seem to embrace the diversity of their schools.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s great,&rdquo; said Lori Harris, who&rsquo;s Polish and has two Hispanic children. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s a mixture of everybody, so they fit in very well.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;[My son&rsquo;s] friends are all shapes, sizes, colors, genders. I think everybody for the most part is accepting of everybody else,&rdquo; said Anthony Silva, whose son is a high school sophomore.</p><p>The environment is very different from where Silva lived as a kid on the South Side of Chicago, where, he said, &ldquo;You had Irish here, you had Polish here, you had Mexican here, you had black here.&rdquo;</p><p>But researcher Amy Stuart Wells says districts like Plainfield&rsquo;s are still rare, because most schools are just not embracing or even focusing on diversity.</p><p>&ldquo;There are these moments of opportunity that policy makers in the public school system are completely missing because they&rsquo;re not paying any attention to these issues whatsoever,&rdquo; Wells said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s not even on their radar screen. And my question is, why?&rdquo;</p><p>The federal Department of Education put out a document giving school districts guidance on what they called &ldquo;voluntary efforts to promote diversity.&rdquo;</p><p>It went public two weeks before Christmas and is now buried on the department&rsquo;s website.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 27 Jun 2012 13:53:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/special-series/suburban-plainfield-preserving-diverse-schools-100476 Asian American workers suffer effects of recession longest http://www.wbez.org/series/race-out-loud/asian-american-workers-suffer-effects-recession-longest-99444 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><span id="internal-source-marker_0.14301977131246812">There&rsquo;s been plenty of reporting on how the recession has been hard on employment for African Americans and Latinos. But new research shows that another group is actually doing worse - Asian Americans.</span></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/650Asian-American-unemployment.jpg" title="" /></div></div><p>Despite having higher levels of education, Asian American workers in the United States have a consistently higher share of long-term unemployment than their black, white or Hispanic counterparts. That&#39;s true even of highly educated Asian Americans, who fare worse than their white counterparts with similar education levels. That&rsquo;s according to a study of government employment data by the <a href="http://www.epi.org/">Economic Policy Institute</a>. The group today released a <a href="http://www.epi.org/publication/ib323s-asian-american-unemployment-update/">supplement</a> to a <a href="http://www.epi.org/publication/ib323-asian-american-unemployment/">longer study</a> that was published in April.<br /><br />Last year, according to <a href="http://www.epi.org/people/algernon-austin/">Algernon Austin</a>, was the &ldquo;second in a row&rdquo; that Asian Americans had the largest share of unemployed workers who were considered &ldquo;long term&rdquo; unemployed. That means workers who are out of work for more than six months. In 2010 and 2011 the Asian American long term unemployment rate was just slightly higher than that of African Americans.</p><p>Check out a conversation we had with Austin on Vocalo&#39;s The Morning AMp:</p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="mediaelement-audio"><audio class="mediaelement-formatter-identified-1337878932-0" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/AlgernonAustinAsianAmericanWorkers_1.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></div><br /><br /><p>The longer study concludes that part of the problem with attaining jobs seems to be that Asian Americans are more likely to be foreign-born and suffer from racial bias. Plus, it bears noting, as the authors did, that geography may also be a factor. About one-third of Asian American workers live in California, which has been one of the states worst hit during the recession. California&#39;s most recent unemployment rate is 10.9 percent (compare that to 8.7 percent for the same time period in Illinois).</p><p>The reports were based on 2011 data, the most recent available that includes demographic information.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 22 May 2012 16:06:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/race-out-loud/asian-american-workers-suffer-effects-recession-longest-99444