WBEZ | poverty http://www.wbez.org/tags/poverty Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Chicago's 1995 heat wave took the lives of the city's most vulnerable http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-07-16/chicagos-1995-heat-wave-took-lives-citys-most-vulnerable-112402 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/heat wave luis hernandez.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/215005305&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;">The Chicago heat wave of 1995 wasn&#39;t indiscriminate. It took the lives of the city&#39;s most vulnerable: the elderly, the infirm, the forgotten shut-ins...the people who had fallen through the cracks. It wasn&#39;t just the heat that killed. It was the heat, magnified by social circumstance, physical geography and institutional response. All this week, we&#39;ve been revisiting those scorching days, and dissecting the city&#39;s response. Today, we talk about caring for those who were closest to the danger. For many, looking after the elderly falls on family members and neighbors. But what if you can&#39;t count on that? We speak with Joyce Gallagher, executive director of the Area Agency on Aging, part of the Department of Family and Support Services.</span></p></p> Thu, 16 Jul 2015 12:40:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-07-16/chicagos-1995-heat-wave-took-lives-citys-most-vulnerable-112402 Poverty's enduring hold on school success http://www.wbez.org/news/povertys-enduring-hold-school-success-112201 <p><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/1005312528-TefftSuccess_4.jpg" style="height: 402px; width: 620px;" title="Quiet time to study before lunch at Tefft Middle School in Streamwood. The percentage of low-income students at Tefft nearly doubled over the last decade and is now at 75 percent. The school is “beating the odds” on the WBEZ/Daily Herald Poverty-Achievement Index, scoring higher than might be expected given the percent of low-income students in the school. (The Daily Herald/Bob Chwedyk)" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">In the rhetoric of the American Dream, an individual&rsquo;s success is earned through hard work and determination. In the rhetoric of recent school reforms, a school&rsquo;s success depends on quality teaching and high standards. Poverty shouldn&rsquo;t matter when it comes to either.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The reality of Illinois&rsquo; education system tells a different story.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">A new analysis of a decade of state test score data by WBEZ and the <em>Daily Herald</em> underlines the immense role poverty plays in how well a school performs.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Our analysis shows a vast expansion of poverty&mdash;2,244 schools have seen their proportion of low-income students increase by at least 10 percentage points over the last decade.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">And the number of schools struggling with concentrated poverty&mdash;where nearly every child in the school is low-income&mdash; has ballooned.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">But perhaps most troubling, WBEZ and the <em>Daily Herald</em> find that poverty remains a frustratingly accurate predictor of how well schools will perform. Schools full of middle-class kids rarely perform below average on state tests; schools made up of low-income kids rarely score above.</div></div><p>In fact, test score data in Illinois indicate that the degree to which poverty is tied to school performance is slightly stronger than it was a decade ago&mdash;despite reforms that have included school re-staffings, closures, consolidations, new state standards and more stringent guidelines for evaluating teachers.&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/elemreg.jpg" style="height: 284px; width: 620px;" title="(Tim Broderick/Daily Herald)" /></div><p><em>The graphs show that the greater the percentage of low-income students in a school, the lower the school&#39;s test scores tend to be. <a href="http://reportcards.dailyherald.com/lowincome/elem2014index.html" target="_blank">Click here</a>&nbsp;to view an interactive version of the 2014 elementary scartterplot and&nbsp;<a href="http://reportcards.dailyherald.com/lowincome/elem2004index.html" target="_blank">here</a> for the 2004 version.&nbsp;The diagonal black line is a trend line. R2 is the strength of the relationship between poverty and test scores. The graph also shows a dramatic increase in the percentage of low-income students in the state, and more schools where nearly all kids are poor. Each dot represents one school. All Illinois elementary schools with test scores are plotted.</em></p><p>The effect of poverty on school performance is well known.</p><p>But a graph of 10 years of state test score data paints a picture of near-perfect stratification. Schools with the fewest poor students score the highest on average.</p><p>Schools&rsquo; scores go consistently down from there as the proportion of low-income students in a school goes up. The pattern holds for every income level over every year for the past decade &mdash; for both elementary and high schools.</p><div style="display:block;overflow:hidden;width:620px;height:420px;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="520" scrolling="no" src="http://reportcards.dailyherald.com/lowincome/hscht.html" style="margin-top:-100px" width="620"></iframe></div><p><em>The line chart shows the percent of students meeting or exceeding standards on Illinois&rsquo; high school exam in 2014, for various income ranges. The blue line at the top of the graph represents the average performance of more affluent schools &mdash; where low-income students make up between 0 and 12.4 of enrollment. The green line at the bottom of the graph represents the average performance of the poorest schools &mdash; where between 87.5 and 100 percent of students are low-income.</em></p><p>For many, including state officials, the pattern is disturbing, even un-American.</p><p>&ldquo;As Americans, we love to think of ourselves as living in the land of opportunity &mdash; a country where anyone who works hard can make it,&rdquo; says Natasha Ushomirsky, a data and policy analyst at the Education Trust, a national education nonprofit. Ushomirsky says the educational&nbsp; opportunities for rich and poor kids are &ldquo;anything but equal&rdquo; and &ldquo;the resulting relationship between schools&rsquo; poverty rates and achievement (flies) in the face of our national values.&rdquo;</p><p>How poverty impacts schools &mdash; and how well schools educate low-income children &mdash; are vital questions for the state. For the first time, in 2014, more than half of Illinois public school kids &mdash; 51.5 percent &mdash; were considered low-income, up from 39 percent a decade ago.</p><p>And across the country, the gap between how well poor and wealthy students perform on standardized tests has grown wider in the past 50 years.</p><p>&ldquo;The impact of poverty has to be included in our conversation,&rdquo; says new state schools superintendent Tony Smith in response to the WBEZ/<em>Daily Herald</em> analysis. Smith was appointed by Gov. Bruce Rauner in April. &ldquo;[Poverty] is a big deal, it needs to be paid attention to,&rdquo; says Smith, who also says government policies helped create and structure poverty over the past century, and that government policies are needed to ensure equal educational opportunity.</p><p>&ldquo;You can&rsquo;t tell me that only kids in high-wealth, white neighborhoods have the &lsquo;college DNA&rsquo; &mdash; that&rsquo;s ridiculous,&rdquo; Smith says. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s something about how we&rsquo;re structured that is sorting opportunity. We&rsquo;re wasting massive, massive human potential by not figuring out a way to increase access and support for all of our kids.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">More than a million low-income students</span></p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/SunnyHillSuccess_2.jpg" style="height: 412px; width: 620px;" title="Sunny Hill Elementary teacher Nancy Kontney works with students in the Carpentersville school. Sunny Hill is one of 649 schools in Illinois where more than 90 percent of students are low income. The number of Illinois schools dealing with concentrated poverty has swelled in the last decade. (The Daily Herald/Brian Hill)" /></div></div></div><p>Illinois now has more than a million low-income students. (&ldquo;Low-income&rdquo; status is determined by eligibility for free or reduced-price lunch at school. That figure was $43,568 for a family of four in 2013-14.)</p><p>In contrast to what many might think, all the growth in low-income students in the last decade has come outside the city of Chicago &mdash; which actually saw its population of poor students decrease by 29,000 over the last decade.&nbsp;</p><p>In 2004, more than 45 percent of the state&rsquo;s low-income public school students attended Chicago public schools. Today, that figure is 32 percent&mdash; and falling.</p><p>Meanwhile, on average, Illinois school districts have seen a 15 percentage point increase in the proportion of their student body that&rsquo;s considered low-income.</p><p>In Elgin Area Unit District U-46, the sheer number of low-income students in the district has nearly doubled over the last 10 years. The district now enrolls 24,003 low-income students, more than any district outside of Chicago.</p><p>Plainfield SD 202, the state&rsquo;s fourth largest school district, educates 10 times more low-income students than it did a decade ago. It ranks 16th in the state in terms of the number of poor students it enrolls; a decade ago, the district did not even rank within the top 100.&nbsp;</p><p>Indian Prairie CUSD 204 &mdash; with schools in Naperville, Aurora and Bolingbrook, including vaunted high schools like Neuqua Valley &mdash; has followed a similar trajectory. That district in 2004 enrolled just 780 low-income kids out of 26,147 students total. Low-income students accounted for just 3 percent of its student body. Today District 204 enrolls 5,088 low-income kids, 18 percent of all students. The district ranks 20th in the state for the number of low-income students it serves.</p><p>Jason Klein, chief information officer at Wheeling District 21, says when he started as a teacher at London Middle School in 1998 the low-income rate was below 15 percent, but the school considered that high poverty.</p><p>&ldquo;That&#39;s nothing compared to what we see today,&rdquo; he says; the school is now 53 percent low-income. &ldquo;I think there has been a significant shift, we see it with low-income numbers, with homelessness numbers and with the challenges our students bring to school.&rdquo;</p><p>The shifting demographics have been a struggle for suburban districts that historically were not used to dealing with large populations of low-income students. Klein says it can take some time for school districts to catch up with the changes. &ldquo;There&#39;s often a lag between when a school or district&#39;s demographics change and when the staff and community realizes that it&#39;s changed,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>A growing number of Illinois schools are also dealing with concentrated poverty &mdash; where nearly every student is considered low-income. The number of schools where more than 90 percent of children are low-income has swelled, from 421 schools in 2004 to 649 in 2014.</p><p>Today, 17 percent of all public school students in Illinois attend schools where 90-100 percent of students are low-income.</p><p>American society is more residentially segregated by income than it was in the past, says Greg Duncan, professor of economics and education at University of California-Irvine, and that is contributing to growing achievement gaps between rich and poor students.</p><p>Compared to a generation ago, &ldquo;low-income kids are more likely to have low-income neighbors, high-income kids high-income neighbors,&rdquo; says Duncan. What that means for schools is &ldquo;quite troubling,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>&ldquo;Having a mixture of income brings a lot of benefits for low-income kids. Because the [higher income] parents are bringing higher levels of education, they may be more demanding about the teaching and other kinds of standards in the schools.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">What money can buy</span>&mdash;<span style="font-size:22px;">an enhanced education</span></p><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/1005312528-TefftSuccess_15.jpg" style="height: 398px; width: 620px;" title="Asst. Principal David Harshbarger with 7th grader Jose Huerta during a required after school homework session at Tefft Middle School in Streamwood. Experts say that affluent parents now spend 0,000 per child per year on enrichment for their children—everything from music lessons to summer camps to private tutoring. That’s increased the burden on schools to keep low-income kids learning at the same pace. (The Daily Herald/Bob Chwedyk)" /></div></div><p>Researchers and advocates for poor students say there are lots of reasons why poverty impacts achievement in school.</p><p>&ldquo;One has to do with the things that money can buy,&rdquo; says Larry Joseph, director of research at Voices for Illinois Children. &ldquo;More affluent families can invest more resources in their children&#39;s development. Those investments include health care, adequate nutrition, early learning opportunities, home computers, dance lessons... summer camp, and safe and supportive neighborhoods. And also access to higher quality schools.&rdquo;</p><p>Joseph says poverty also takes an emotional toll that impacts academics. Unstable employment and financial insecurity increase family stress. That can adversely affect the quality of parenting and family relationships, and put stress on children who would otherwise be focusing their energy on learning, Joseph says.</p><p>Schools don&rsquo;t cause achievement gaps, researchers say. Gaps between poor and non-poor students are present even before kids get to school.</p><p>&ldquo;They are coming into kindergarten already behind,&rdquo; says Robin Steans, executive director at Advance Illinois, a group that has fought to reform school funding in the state to drive more dollars to low-income students. &ldquo;They haven&#39;t had exposure to letters, numbers or how to navigate a classroom, how to sit still, how to work cooperatively with others. All of which makes it harder for them to catch up.&rdquo;</p><p>Even getting to school can be a challenge for low-income kids, from difficulty affording transportation to not having a safe passage to walk to school, says Elaine Allensworth, director of the Consortium on Chicago School Research at the Urban Education Institute at the University of Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;In the poorest areas of the city you also have students more likely to be exposed to traumatic events, to violence, to having issues with housing instability,&rdquo; Allensworth says. &ldquo;These are really, really stressful events for kids.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">What can be done?</span></p><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/1005312528-TefftSuccess_16.jpg" style="height: 432px; width: 620px;" title="Language arts instructor Jamie Reyes leads her group to a required after school homework session at Tefft Middle School in Streamwood. Some people, including Illinois’ new superintendent of education, say the state must improve schools but must also attack childhood poverty more directly to see better school performance. (The Daily Herald/Bob Chwedyk)" /></div></div><p>Many see school funding in Illinois as a glaring issue exacerbating poverty&rsquo;s impact on learning and schools.</p><p>&ldquo;Achievement gaps are a direct result of gaps in opportunity to learn,&rdquo; said Natasha Ushomirsky of the Education Trust, whose mission is to eliminate gaps for poor and minority students.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;The highest poverty districts in Illinois get nearly 20 percent less in state and local funding per child than the lowest poverty districts,&rdquo; says Ushomirsky, citing a recent Education Trust study she authored that analyzed education funding across the country.</p><p>That study, released this year, found Illinois has the widest funding gaps in the nation between low- and high-income schools.</p><p>Ushomirsky says inequities in funding &ldquo;underlie all sorts of other inequities in our school system.&rdquo; Districts that spend more per pupil can offer more competitive teacher salaries, they can buy extra enrichment and support&mdash;&ldquo;which are things that are important to all students. But they&rsquo;re especially important for those children who may not get access to these opportunities outside of school.&rdquo;</p><p>Ushomirsky&rsquo;s group also advocates for school policies that don&rsquo;t necessarily cost more &mdash; they support new Common Core standards, they want states to be more selective in determining who can become a teacher. They want schools to assign the best teachers to the neediest kids, and ensure that teachers truly believe all kids can learn.</p><p>Michael Petrilli, of the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute, says money isn&rsquo;t the fundamental problem. And he says taking a school&rsquo;s poverty rate into account is important, but more important is the growth students make in a school.</p><p>&ldquo;If you&#39;re a school that has low test scores and is not helping kids make progress&hellip;those schools need to face significant reforms or they need to close.&rdquo; Petrilli calls it the &ldquo;tough love&rdquo; approach to education reform. &ldquo;If the school is too dysfunctional, at some point you have to give up on that school, shut it down and open up new schools to replace it with a vision and strategy to get the job done.&rdquo; He laments that more Chicago charter schools haven&rsquo;t opened in the suburbs, where poverty is spreading.</p><p>But Larry Joseph of Voices for Illinois Children insists that the stranglehold poverty has on school achievement cannot be solved by schools alone. He says long-term economic restructuring over the past decades has exacerbated income inequality in the country. &ldquo;And schools themselves can&rsquo;t do anything about that.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Schools don&rsquo;t operate in a vacuum,&rdquo; says Joseph. &ldquo;There are other strategies that can alleviate child poverty in the short term and reduce it in the long term that also need to be pursued.&rdquo;</p><p>Joseph points to expanded preschool programs, federal tax credits for working poor families, and food stamps as strategies that most help kids. He says daycare assistance programs&mdash;recently targeted for cuts by Gov. Bruce Rauner&rsquo;s administration&mdash;are also vital in reducing poverty.</p><p>Duncan, the UC-Irvine professor, says that with affluent parents now spending $10,000 per child per year on enrichment for their children&mdash;everything from music lessons to summer camps to private tutoring&mdash;the burden on schools to keep low-income kids learning at the same pace as upper-income kids &ldquo;has increased very substantially.&rdquo; He stresses that test scores have improved for all children since the 1970s &mdash; including poor children. But upper-income children&rsquo;s scores have improved more, widening the gap.</p><p>Still, Duncan says, schools have to be part of a solution. &ldquo;You can&rsquo;t just say, It&rsquo;s too complicated&mdash;let&rsquo;s redistribute income, so family incomes are more equal. You just can&rsquo;t give up on K-12 schooling.&rdquo;</p><p>Duncan, who has written a book highlighting a handful of successful high-poverty schools and school systems, says it&rsquo;s important to identify and learn from such schools, &ldquo;and try to expand those lessons and scale them up on a much wider basis.&rdquo;</p><p><em>The Daily Herald <a href="http://reportcards.dailyherald.com/lowincome/" target="_blank">continues this series on poverty and school achievement this week</a>. WBEZ will be following the series on the </em>Morning Shift<em>.</em></p><p><em>Linda Lutton is an education reporter at WBEZ.<br />Melissa Silverberg is an education reporter at the Daily Herald.<br />Tim Broderick is news presentation editor at the Daily Herald.</em></p></p> Mon, 22 Jun 2015 05:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/povertys-enduring-hold-school-success-112201 Morning Shift: Grading Rahm on transparency http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-01-29/morning-shift-grading-rahm-transparency-111472 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/danxoneil0.jpg" style="height: 420px; width: 630px;" title="(Flickr/danxoneil0)" /></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/188491316&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 24px; line-height: 22px;">College of DuPage President approves President&#39;s severance package</span></p><p>The drama continued at College of the DuPage in Glen Ellyn Wednesday night. That&rsquo;s the state&rsquo;s largest community college. Chicago Tribune reported that about 60 speakers turned out to protest the severance package of outgoing College President Robert Breuder. But while the public had the opportunity to air their grievances the Board ofTrustees had the final word. The Board of Trustee&rsquo;s approved the package 6 -1. Chicago Tribune&rsquo;s Stacy St. Clair and Jodi Cohen have been covering this story and St. Clair has the latest.</p><p><strong>Guest:</strong> <em><a href="http://twitter.com/StacyStClair">Stacy St. Clair </a>is a Chicago Tribune reporter.</em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/188491322&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 24px; line-height: 22px;">Report examines how Illinois stacks up on poverty</span></p><p>Illinois is widely considered to be a leader in culture, industry and education. But when it comes to the welfare of its people, a report released Thursday by the Heartland Alliance program, IMPACT, suggests it&#39;s ranking far behind where it should. IMPACT&rsquo;s Senior Research Associate Jennifer Clary sheds light on the subject of poverty and hardship in Illinois and how the state falls short compared to others. With a shift in state leadership, we discuss what it&#39;ll take to better the lives of the people that live here.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Guest: </strong><em><a href="http://www.heartlandalliance.org/research/about-us/staff.html">Jennifer Clary</a> is the Senior Research Associate for Economic Security Projects for Heartland Alliance&#39;s IMPACT.</em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/188491317&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 24px; line-height: 22px;">Exhibit takes on environmental role of death</span></p><p>A new exhibition at the DePaul Art Museum <a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-01-29/depaul-museum-show-rooted-soil-looks-role-earth-plays-life-death" target="_blank">takes a unique look</a> at something we take for granted. It&rsquo;s called Rooted in Soil, and it opens Thursday. The art exhibit touches on environmental issues like erosion and deforestation. It also examines the role soil plays in human life and death. The mother-daughter team who curated Rooted in Soil, Laura Fatemi and her daughter Farrah, join us. Laura is the museum&rsquo;s interim executive director and Farrah is an environmental scientist and assistant professor at St. Michaels College in Vermont.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Guests: </strong><em><a href="http://museums.depaul.edu/about/">Laura Fatemi</a> is the DePaul Art Museum&#39;s interim executive director. Her daughter Farrah Fetemi is an environmental scientist and assistant professor at St. Michael&#39;s College in Vermont.&nbsp;</em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/188491321&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 24px; line-height: 22px;">Grading Rahm: How open and transparent is this administration?</span></p><p>All this week, we&rsquo;ve been talking about goals Mayor Rahm Emanuel set for himself in his first term. Our panels of experts issued the Mayor a letter grade on how he&rsquo;s handled jobs and the economy, education and public safety. On Thursday, we talk about the Mayor&rsquo;s promises of a more open and transparent government. Are you getting all the information you need to know how the city runs?</p><p><strong>Guests:</strong></p><ul><li><em><a href="http://www.bettergov.org/about_us/bga_staff.aspx">Alden Loury</a> is a Senior Policy Analyst for the Better Government Association.</em></li><li><em><a href="http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/ArticleArchives?author=868703">Mick Dumke</a> is a Senior Writer with the&nbsp;</em>Chicago Reader.</li><li><em><a href="http://www.citizenadvocacycenter.org/maryam-judar.html" target="_blank">Maryam Judar</a> is the Executive Director of the Citizen Advocacy Center.</em></li></ul><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/188508640&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 24px; line-height: 22px;">Grading Rahm: What can mayoral candidates do to improve grades in the upcoming election?</span></p><p>Our week of the series <em><a href="http://wbez.org/gradingrahm">Grading Rahm</a></em> continues with a focus on the Mayor&#39;s political transparency. Emanuel promised voters an open administration. We examine his delivery and ask our panelists how these grades could be improved upon in the upcoming election.</p></p> Thu, 29 Jan 2015 07:36:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-01-29/morning-shift-grading-rahm-transparency-111472 Global Activism: Poverty alleviation group, “Basic Transfer” adjusts mission and name to "Shift" http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-poverty-alleviation-group-%E2%80%9Cbasic-transfer%E2%80%9D-adjusts-mission <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/GA-Shift.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-0238e7b9-77a9-c2e6-8ea5-4160ed3f114a">Global Activist and policy graduate, &nbsp;Tricia Martinez, founded &ldquo;Basic Transfer&rdquo; because she believes that &ldquo;policy solutions are not driven by potential impact for the individual or the ability to influence large-scale change, rather they are driven by political agendas.&rdquo; Her vision is to utilize technology for basic cash transfers, lifting women and their children out of extreme poverty. Martinez is back from a recent trip to Uganda. She says it was &ldquo;the most amazing experience of my life.&rdquo; She&rsquo;ll share with us how the trip changed her mission and goals, even down to her group&rsquo;s new name, &ldquo;<a href="http://www.shiftwomen.com">Shift</a>&rdquo;.</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/182156569&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe><em>Tricia updates us on what&rsquo;s she been up to since she was last on Worldview:</em></p><p style="margin-left:1.0in;">We went to Uganda to test a pilot program with 100 women where we sent transfers and collected data pre and post payments.</p><p style="margin-left:1.0in;">We pivoted from an individual cash transfer model to a group savings cash transfer model. During our pilot program we observed that there are still so many gender and cultural issues where giving money directly to a woman can be difficult i.e. husbands might take ownership or think women are acting unfaithful.</p><p style="margin-left:1.0in;">The new model utilizes the savings group model already in existence in these communities. Women not only receive direct payments, but they get access to a new savings account, technology, and financial education.</p></p> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 08:59:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-poverty-alleviation-group-%E2%80%9Cbasic-transfer%E2%80%9D-adjusts-mission Half of all public school students in Illinois now considered low-income http://www.wbez.org/news/half-all-public-school-students-illinois-now-considered-low-income-111044 <p><p>Illinois has hit a milestone it was not trying for.</p><p>Numbers <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/state-releases-school-test-scores-other-new-data-111029">released</a> by the Illinois State Board of Education in its <a href="http://illinoisreportcard.com/">annual school report card</a> show that&mdash;for the first time ever&mdash;low-income children now outnumber middle-class students in the state&rsquo;s public schools. It&rsquo;s a trend that could affect everything from the state&rsquo;s economic competitiveness to college-going rates to concerns over upward economic mobility in a time of increasing income inequality.</p><p>Around 1.05 million kids qualified for free or reduced-price lunch during the 2013-14 school year.</p><p>&ldquo;Does that create challenges? Absolutely,&rdquo; says Illinois state school superintendent Christopher Koch. &ldquo;Students are coming with more needs to schools and this is at a time when of course we&rsquo;ve been having all the financial stresses in funding education&hellip;. There&rsquo;s a lot of lines in our budget that serve needy students that have taken significant reductions and we have not been able to get those back to 2009 levels.&rdquo;</p><p>The percentage of Illinois students who qualify for a free or reduced-price lunch&mdash;long used by schools as a rough proxy for family income&mdash;has <a href="http://iirc.niu.edu/Classic/State.aspx?source=About_Students&amp;source2=Educational_Environment">climbed steadily since 2000</a>. In that year, 36.7 percent of Illinois public school students were considered low-income. Today, 51.5 percent are.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://iirc.niu.edu/Classic/State.aspx?source=About_Students&amp;source2=Educational_Environment"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/POVERTY-2-percentage-of-low-income-students-in-Illinois-public-schools-over-time.png" title="" /></a></div><p><em>In the 1999-2000 school year, 36.7 percent of Illinois public schoolchildren qualified for free or reduced-price lunch. Today, 51.5 percent qualify. All the increase has occurred in suburban and downstate school districts. &nbsp;</em></p><p>According to <a href="http://www.isbe.net/nutrition/htmls/data.htm">federal guidelines</a>, which are adjusted for cost-of-living increases each year, a family of four earning less than about $31,000 annually would qualify for a free lunch at school; kids whose parents earn less than $44,000 would get a reduced-price lunch. &nbsp;</p><p>Illinois joins at least <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/10/study-almost-half-of-public-school-students-are-now-low-income/280664/">17 other states</a> in the dubious distinction of having a majority of its public school students considered low-income. Both Texas and California have topped 50 percent in recent years, and a majority of public school students are low-income across the entire South and West. Nationwide, the figure is 48 percent.</p><p>&ldquo;This has tremendous implications,&rdquo; said Michael Rebell, the executive director of the Campaign for Educational Equity at Columbia University and the attorney who successfully sued the state of New York for more school funding for city kids. &ldquo;We don&rsquo;t have an education crisis in the United States, we have a poverty crisis.&rdquo;</p><p>Rebell says poor students need services&mdash;from before- and after-school opportunities to summer programs to health care and preschool&mdash;and all of it costs more. He says &ldquo;irrational funding systems&rdquo; for education in the U.S. mean affluent kids attend schools that spend more per pupil than schools serving poor kids.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Growth in poverty hits suburbs, downstate districts hardest</span></p><p>In Illinois, nearly all the increase in low-income students since 2000 has taken place outside Chicago. The percentage of students in Chicago Public Schools who are considered low-income has remained relatively stable since 2000, at about 86 percent. Two-thirds of the state&rsquo;s low-income kids now live outside the city.</p><p>In Community Consolidated School District 62 in Des Plaines, 57 percent of children in that 11-school district are now low-income&mdash; a 250 percent increase since 2000.</p><p>&ldquo;Every year we have been adding Title I schools. Even our schools that have typically been the more affluent schools in our neighborhoods are now also seeing that they qualify for Title I (federal poverty) funding,&rdquo; says District 62 superintendent Jane Westerhold.</p><p>Des Plaines schools have also become more Latino, another statewide trend. For the first time this year, white students dipped under 50 percent of the public school population as a whole.</p><p>Westerhold says she believes that much more than students&rsquo; racial or ethnic backgrounds, it is poverty that is challenging schools.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s not about our subgroups of students that are Hispanic students or Asian students or black students. It&rsquo;s really not about that. It&rsquo;s about poverty--that is where the achievement gap is.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/about/naeptools.aspx"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/POVERTY-3-achievement-gaps.png" title="" /></a></div><p>Advocates for low-income students believe states like Illinois must examine how well schools are doing with low-income kids. Daria Hall, the K-12 policy director at The Education Trust in Washington, D.C., says Illinois is behind the national average both in terms of how low-income students perform, and the rate at which they are improving.</p><p>&ldquo;Illinois is going to have to take a very serious look at what kind of supports and opportunities it&rsquo;s giving to low-income students. These students are no longer the minority. They are our public school population,&rdquo; says Hall. And she takes issue with another gap as well: &ldquo;When you look at the dollars that are spent per pupil in high-poverty versus low-poverty districts within Illinois, the gap is glaring. If Illinois is in fact committed to providing low-income kids with an equitable educational opportunity, they need to address that gap.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Challenging the numbers, looking beyond schools</span></p><p>Michael Petrilli, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative education policy think tank, says it&rsquo;s possible that free and reduced-price lunch counts may be inflated (<a href="http://educationnext.org/fraud-in-the-lunchroom/">http://educationnext.org/fraud-in-the-lunchroom/</a>). The lunch counts have risen faster than child poverty rates, and Petrilli notes they include both students living in poverty and children just above it.</p><p>&ldquo;Some of (this) almost certainly reflects what&rsquo;s been happening under the recession. It also reflects that a growing number of our students are coming from immigrant families that tend to be much poorer than the families that were going to the public schools 10 or 20 or 30 years ago,&rdquo; says Petrilli.</p><p>He says the country needs a better strategy for getting kids into the middle class. &ldquo;Right now I worry that too many of our reform efforts and our policies are focused on college as the only pathway to the middle class. We&rsquo;re not having much success getting low-income kids all the way through college.&rdquo;</p><p><a href="http://www.russellsage.org/blog/growing-college-graduation-income-gap">Studies </a>have shown that half of all higher income Americans have a college degree by age 25, while just 10 percent of low-income individuals do.</p><p>&ldquo;We have got to make sure that we have strategies for all the other kids as well,&rdquo; says Petrilli. He says that includes vocational programs that put high school graduates in the workforce right away and allow them to &ldquo;climb the ladder that way. That absolutely is still a good way to the middle class,&rdquo; says Petrilli.</p><p>Richard Rothstein, a research associate at the Economic Policy Institute and author of the book <em>Class and Schools: Using Social, Economic, and Educational Reform to Close the Black&ndash;White Achievement Gap</em>, says poverty wreaks its damage long before students ever show up at school. &ldquo;The best way to raise achievement with Illinois children would be to ensure that their parents had more secure employment, the unemployment rate was lower, they had a higher minimum wage, they &nbsp;could afford to live in stable housing--where children can flourish (and) where they had access to good health care. Those are the policy responses that are called for by these kinds of data. There is very little schools can do once children come to school unprepared to take advantage of what schools can offer.&rdquo;</p><p>Last year, Steve Suitts, the vice president of the Southern Education Foundation, authored a report showing<a href="http://www.southerneducation.org/getattachment/0bc70ce1-d375-4ff6-8340-f9b3452ee088/A-New-Majority-Low-Income-Students-in-the-South-an.aspx"> the majority of all students in the South and West of the United States are now considered low-income</a>. He says growing inequality in the nation isn&rsquo;t produced in the short-term by schools, &ldquo;but if our education systems don&rsquo;t perform better in educating low-income students, it will in fact sustain, perpetuate, and grow the inequality.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>Suitts says he worries about a society of the haves and the have-nots.</p><p>&ldquo;I&#39;m not sure that we can ask educators to tackle the problems of poverty in America on their own. There&#39;s got to be a broader community of people focused on this central question. If we continue to grow low-income students and we don&#39;t grow their achievement, then that is simply going to affect everybody&#39;s well-being in the future.&rdquo;</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/llutton-0"><em>Linda Lutton</em></a><em> is a WBEZ education reporter. Follow her </em><a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZeducation"><em>@WBEZeducation</em></a><em>.</em></p></p> Mon, 03 Nov 2014 08:05:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/half-all-public-school-students-illinois-now-considered-low-income-111044 World Cup stirs mixed feelings for Chicago’s Brazilian community http://www.wbez.org/news/world-cup-stirs-mixed-feelings-chicago%E2%80%99s-brazilian-community-110305 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/BRAZILIANS_140609.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago, a small crowd gathers under a white street festival tent to watch Chicago Samba. The eight piece group features musicians and two women dancing in large fruit covered Carmen Miranda inspired headdresses.</p><p>Mo Marchini is the group&rsquo;s founder. He says he&rsquo;d love to be in his hometown of Sao Paulo to watch the World Cup. But says he&rsquo;ll settle playing Brazilian music in Chicago. Marchini started the samba group 20 years ago because he wanted to showcase Brazilian culture.</p><p>&ldquo;We came from 30 years of a military (dictatorship) over there. We had a coup d&#39;etat in 1964 and it devastated the country culturally,&rdquo; says Marchini.</p><p>&ldquo;We were prohibited to think, pretty much. To vote. To do anything. We started voting 20 years ago. The country&rsquo;s really back. It has to catch up with the whole world.&rdquo;</p><p>That&rsquo;s why Marchini thinks Brazil hosting the month-long soccer tournament is going to be an amazing thing for his country. He says it&rsquo;ll show to the rest of the world that they&rsquo;ve arrived. &nbsp;</p><p>Sergio Barreto agrees. He &nbsp;runs Chicagoano, a bilingual blog and website for Chicago&rsquo;s Brazilian community. He started the website because he wanted to get past the stereotypical images people may have.</p><p>&ldquo;Every Brazilian event that you go, even if it&rsquo;s a professional event, will end the mulatas dancing,&rdquo; says Barreto. &ldquo;They&rsquo;re scantily clad and it perpetuates this image that we&rsquo;re shallow people.&rdquo;</p><p>Barreto thinks the mixed race women who dance the samba can&rsquo;t be the only image people have of Brazilians. Like Mo, he says there&rsquo;s been unrest accompanying the progress Brazilians have enjoyed.</p><p>Over the last year, police departments, teachers, homeless workers and indigenous tribes, among others, have rallied against the government for spending billions on the games. Barreto is upset the daily protests may skew opinion on his country.</p><p>&ldquo;If the whole world is watching and you&rsquo;re going to basically tell the world &lsquo;you don&rsquo;t want to come here. You don&rsquo;t want to invest here. This place is a mess. Take it from us, we live here.&rsquo; I mean how is that going to benefit the country in the long run?&rdquo;</p><p>This is the first time Brazil has hosted the World Cup since 1950. With five championships, Brazil has the most World Cup wins in the history of the games. As a country that&rsquo;s favored to win the tournament, Barreto&rsquo;s eyes well up as he explains what soccer means to him.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s an emotional topic for all of us. Not to sound like a cliche but soccer is in the blood,&rdquo; says Barreto. &ldquo;Every four years when the World Cup arrives and you&rsquo;re watching the games, it stirs you up inside.&rdquo;</p><p>College student Carolina Mendes says despite some mixed feelings, she&rsquo;ll watch the games. She&rsquo;s eating at the Brazilian Bowl restaurant in Lakeview. There, you&rsquo;ll find traditional items like feijoada, coxinha and maracuja juice. Brazilian groceries are on shelves stacked floor to ceiling. The game&rsquo;s armadillo mascot, a little Fuleco doll, sits on a cash register. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;The World Cup is for all the world. Not for Brazilian people,&rdquo; says Mendes. &ldquo;They cannot afford these tickets. People think it&rsquo;s a good thing for Brazil. It&rsquo;s not. We need to spend money on other things.&rdquo;</p><p>How Brazil will do in the World Cup is a huge test for the country as it prepares to host another international event: the Olympic games in 2016.</p><p><em>Follow WBEZ Host/Producer Yolanda Perdomo on Twitter </em><em><a href="https://twitter.com/yolandanews">@yolandanews</a><u>&nbsp;</u></em><em>&amp; <a href="https://plus.google.com/u/0/106564114685277342468/posts/p/pub">Google+</a></em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 09 Jun 2014 10:07:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/world-cup-stirs-mixed-feelings-chicago%E2%80%99s-brazilian-community-110305 Counting Chicago's homeless population http://www.wbez.org/news/counting-chicagos-homeless-population-109565 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Homeless Count.JPG" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-5f6d8a96-c168-7a2a-13eb-449f7ac171c3">On one of the coldest nights of the year, the City of Chicago set out to count its homeless population.</p><p>It took hundreds of people to carry out <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/fss/provdrs/emerg/alerts/2013/dec/chicago-s-2014-point-in-time-homeless-count.html">Wednesday&rsquo;s survey.</a> Shelters did their own headcount, police covered abandoned buildings, the Chicago Housing Authority checked its closed properties and volunteers fanned out across the city, riding public transportation, and checking the streets.</p><p>The volunteers get a list of survey questions. If people don&#39;t want to talk, the volunteers are instructed to guess their approximate age and race, and mark them on a tally sheet.</p><p>The group I am with went to Lower Wacker Drive. They found a couple huddled together, underneath blankets at least a foot deep. The woman in the couple turned her back and burrowed deeper into her blankets while the man sat up.</p><p>A volunteer introduced herself and started the survey.</p><p>&ldquo;Is this your first time being homeless?&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;In and out,&rdquo; he said, &ldquo;Working, and so forth. And then back homeless again.&rdquo;</p><p>The questions are mostly yes or no. But some people told us extra details, like what sort of jobs they pick up during the day and what religious beliefs they hold.</p><p>&ldquo;Any kids?&rdquo; the volunteer asked.</p><p>One man said his kids are in college. &ldquo;They are out of town,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;But they love me, you know.&rdquo;</p><p>The volunteer asked the couple if they wanted to go to a shelter.</p><p>&ldquo;This is my lady right here,&rdquo; the man said, &ldquo;we&rsquo;ve been together 12 years. And we do it together.&rdquo; He said he worries they would be separated by gender in a shelter.</p><p>We left Lower Wacker and drove slowly along the streets, still looking. We found a shack constructed next to the highway, and inside we heard people fighting. The volunteers called out the questions, but the people inside screamed at us to go away.</p><p>The count is not perfect, as people can be missed. But coordinators say it is a useful tool. Last year,<a href="http://www.thechicagoalliance.org/documents/Plan%202.0%20Progress%20Report%208-13.pdf"> this count found 6,276 people who were homeless</a>. That is down from the previous survey in 2011. The city said because of economic conditions the expect an <a href="http://www.usmayors.org/pressreleases/uploads/2013/1210-report-HH.pdf">overall rise in people without stable housing</a>. But chronic homelessness-- people who stay out in the streets, sometimes for years-- those numbers are down.</p><p>Coordinators said the cold can be good for the survey, because people are more likely to go to a shelter, where they are easier to count. The temperature hovered around zero and earlier in the night, there was a report of a man found frozen to death in Logan Square. Back in the car, some volunteers wondered why people aren&rsquo;t going to shelters.</p><p>&ldquo;I know that there is Catholic Charities, there&rsquo;s other relief services, there&rsquo;s Heartland - there are other people,&rdquo; one volunteer said. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s why it&rsquo;s hard for me to understand why they&rsquo;re doing what they&rsquo;re doing.&rdquo;</p><p>An advocate explained that people consider their space on the street a home. One volunteer mentioned a couple she met earlier: &ldquo;She had a dustpan and a broom. And she was sweeping the debris to keep the rats away, keep the area clean. And I remember him saying, &lsquo;yeah, she does this because this one of the few places that we&rsquo;re able to stay. And we don&rsquo;t want to create a situation where they would make us leave.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Around 2 am we headed back. The job was done. But after hours of scanning the streets, it is hard to stop. Our eyes became use to staring down the alley, looking beneath underpasses-- trying to make sure we see who is there.</p><p>Taking a moment to notice, to take count.</p><p><em>Shannon Heffernan is a WBEZ web producer. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/shannon_h">@shannon_h</a></em></p></p> Thu, 23 Jan 2014 17:20:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/counting-chicagos-homeless-population-109565 Illinois residents lose 220 million dollars in SNAP benefits http://www.wbez.org/news/economy/illinois-residents-lose-220-million-dollars-snap-benefits-109035 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Food Stamps.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-2f427842-09fa-adb3-60c4-5211dc0f5c8d">In Illinois, about 16 percent of the population uses food stamps, officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Starting this Friday, all <a href="http://www.cbpp.org/cms/?fa=view&amp;id=3899">2,031,000 of them</a> will have less money to spend on groceries. A family of three, for example, will lose $29 a month in benefits. Many social service providers expect more families will rely on already strained food banks.</p><p dir="ltr">The change could also have a broader economic impact on the state, $220 million fewer dollars will flow into Illinois through the program.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;There is a real risk that we may lose food retailers, particularly in areas of the state where there is a high usage of SNAP. So we are talking about making the food desert problem worse,&rdquo; said <a href="http://povertylaw.org/about/staffbios/dan-lesser">Dan Lesser, Director of Economic Justice in the Chicago offices of the Shriver National Center on Poverty Law</a>.</p><p>SNAP benefits were temporarily increased in 2009 as part of the <a href="http://www.fns.usda.gov/arra">Recovery Act.</a> Because the money is immediately spent on food, some experts believe increasing SNAP is quick way to stimulate the economy. But the boost expires November 1st.</p><p>Those cuts may not be the last. Some conservative lawmakers say too many people are in the program and it&rsquo;s too expensive. The U.S. House has proposed cutting SNAP by about $4 billion a year for 10 years, for a total of $40 billion dollars. The cuts come by drastically restricting eligibility for the program. A Senate bill proposes much more modest cuts. Negotiations begin this week.</p></p> Wed, 30 Oct 2013 10:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/economy/illinois-residents-lose-220-million-dollars-snap-benefits-109035 Home care union celebrates anniversary http://www.wbez.org/news/home-care-union-celebrates-anniversary-108625 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Home care Union.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Thirty years ago this month, a small group of Chicago workers formed a union that helped ignite a labor movement across the country. The workers were largely African-American women who provided care for seniors and people with disabilities.</p><p>Because home care workers were exempt from some federal labor laws, their wages were as low as a dollar an hour. In 1983, they decided to unionize.&nbsp; It was one of the first unions of it&rsquo;s kind in the nation.<br />&nbsp;<br />Keith Kelleher is President of SEIU Healthcare Illinois and Indiana. He remembers marching at the capital and hearing testimonies.</p><p>&ldquo;Our president at the time said, &lsquo;We are being paid a dollar an hour. We are grown women who have been working all of our lives.&rsquo; Later in that session they outlawed it and increased everyone from a dollar an hour to [the minimum wage] of $3.35,&rdquo; Kelleher said.<br /><br />The methods used in Chicago spread across the nation, according to Kelleher, but he says there is still a long way to go. In many states home care workers are still not included in the minimum wage. And in Illinois, some employers hire home care workers as private contractors to get around the minimum wage and overtime standards.</p><p>Saturday, September 6th, union leaders and home care workers will convene in Chicago to mark the union&rsquo;s anniversary.</p><p><em>Shannon Heffernan is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/shannon_h" target="_blank">@shannon_h</a></em></p></p> Fri, 06 Sep 2013 10:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/home-care-union-celebrates-anniversary-108625 Low-wage workers walk out across Chicago http://www.wbez.org/news/low-wage-workers-walk-out-across-chicago-108255 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Screen Shot 2013-08-01 at 9.16.14 AM.png" alt="" /><p><p>Workers at dozens of national chains went on strike in Chicago&rsquo;s Loop today. It&rsquo;s the second day of demonstrations.</p><p>At 7 a.m. Thursday, two Subway employees walked out of their jobs to join cheering demonstrators. Additional staff say they won&rsquo;t show up for their shifts.</p><p>Amani Johnson says he&rsquo;s worked at Subway for six years and only makes $8.25.</p><p>&ldquo;There are things in life I want to do, like go back to school, which I can&rsquo;t afford at this time. I have two kids I have to feed and clothe. To stay at that same [wage], I deserve more,&rdquo; said Johnson.</p><p>Demonstrators will continue protesting at stores across Chicago&rsquo;s Loop, including Wendy&rsquo;s, Sally&rsquo;s Beauty Supply, McDonald&#39;s, Macy&rsquo;s, Nike, Victoria&rsquo;s Secret and more.</p><p>Striking workers say they want their wages raised to $15 an hour. In an emailed statement, the National Restaurant Association said a significant increase in the minimum wage would hurt the private sector&rsquo;s ability to create jobs. <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/02/14/why-economists-are-so-puzzled-by-the-minimum-wage/">Economist are divided</a> over the issue of whether increased wages would actually impact employment, while strikers say it&rsquo;s a matter of a company&#39;s priorities.</p><p>Pay was not the only concern. Workers at the Halsted Whole Foods said they earned more than many fellow strikers, but called for an end to a policy they say punishes them for missing a day of work even if they are sick or attending a family funeral. They say the policy gives workers points for every absence, with six points resulting in dismissal. Management at the Whole Foods store declined to comment.</p><p>&ldquo;The reality is coming out of [college] right at the beginning of the economic crisis, I couldn&rsquo;t find a better job. A lot of us are stuck in this position,&rdquo; said Matthew Camp, 32, a member of the Workers Organizing Committee. &ldquo;The service industry is the fastest growing industry in the country right now.&rdquo;</p><p>The numbers support Camp&rsquo;s assessment, <a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nelp.org%2Findex.php%2Fcontent%2Fcontent_about_us%2Ftracking_the_recovery_after_the_great_recession&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNEUhRN5Lbcscg1kPBvX6YUcwM0ClQ">more than half of the jobs created during the economic recovery are low-wage</a>.</p><p>Some strikers said conditions have improved since the<a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wbez.org%2Fnews%2Fdowntown-walkout-higher-minimum-wage-shakes-chicago-businesses-106827&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNHza_gl8klb8xdh_vihUlzKNqNX0Q"> first low-wage walkout earlier this year</a>. Many workers said the biggest benefit of the demonstrations has been that they now view their fellow workers as family.</p><p>Organisers say the demonstrations will culminate at 5pm at a McDonalds on Navy Pier.</p><p><br />Shannon Heffernan is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her at <a href="https://twitter.com/shannon_h">shannon_h</a></p></p> Thu, 01 Aug 2013 08:53:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/low-wage-workers-walk-out-across-chicago-108255