WBEZ | Dear Chicago http://www.wbez.org/sections/dear-chicago Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Fight over charter school signals philosophical differences in how schools are viewed http://www.wbez.org/news/fight-over-charter-school-signals-philosophical-differences-how-schools-are-viewed-113541 <p><div><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/NOBLE.JPG" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="Noble supporters gathered for a small rally this week at the site where they hope the charter network’s 17th campus will be built. The school board votes on whether to approve the charter school today. (WBEZ/Linda Lutton)" /></div></div><div>The architectural renderings feature a gleaming, state-of-the-art school. The $25 million construction tab will be completely paid for by a private donor.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The school operator&mdash;the Noble Network of Charter Schools&mdash;is one of the city&rsquo;s most successful charters, with its mostly Latino and black students posting high ACT scores and its graduates in colleges across the country.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The proposed site, at 47th and California, is a vacant industrial lot, begging for re-development. The surrounding community, largely Mexican, has flocked to Noble&rsquo;s existing schools, drawn to the focus on discipline, character and college.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Most other schools on the Southwest Side are at capacity&mdash;by some measures even overcrowded.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>And despite all that, the proposal to open a 17th Noble campus has stirred up months of intense controversy that has peaked this week, as Chicago&rsquo;s board of education is slated to vote on the new Noble campus today.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;We are seeing charter schools coming in and obliterating every other school in its area,&rdquo; said Marcos Ceniceros at one of many hearings that have drawn hundreds of people over the past months, in favor and opposed.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Opponents like Ceniceros, an organizer with the Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, have compared Chicago&rsquo;s high school landscape to the Hunger Games, with schools <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMVivG-CELA" target="_blank">pitted against each other</a> for students and resources&mdash;and death being the near-certain outcome for schools that don&rsquo;t attract enough students.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Ceniceros is certain a new Noble school will siphon students, teachers, and programming from Kelly High School, five blocks away. &nbsp;Kelly has already lost a third of its students and $4 million in recent years as five new high schools have opened nearby.</div><div><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/IMG_35961.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="(WBEZ/Becky Vevea)" /></div></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A protest Monday with students and the Chicago Teachers Union used a &ldquo;Day of the Dead&rdquo; theme to dramatize the impact a new school would have on the community; protesters built coffins with schools&rsquo; names on them, and an altar to programs lost to budget cuts&mdash;including AP classes, athletics, and &ldquo;teachers&rdquo;&mdash;presumably for the union teachers who will lose their jobs as students shift to charter schools.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/IMG_35981_0.jpg" style="height: 400px; width: 300px; float: right; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="In a protest with a Day of the Dead theme, students and Chicago Teachers Union members carry coffins with the names of existing schools and money lost in recent budget cuts. The protesters say expanding charter schools will siphon money away from existing schools. (WBEZ/Becky Vevea)" /></p><div>Not everyone sees shifts in the school landscape as a negative.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Parents are actively choosing schools when they&rsquo;re opting into a high-performing school, so this is actually a positive thing,&rdquo; says Robin Lake, director of the Center for Reinventing Public Education (CRPE), which came up with the <a href="http://www.crpe.org/research/portfolio-strategy" target="_blank">&ldquo;portfolio&rdquo; model of school reform</a> Chicago is following.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Folks are being given more opportunities and options, and they&rsquo;re making positive choices for their families.&rdquo; Lake says that at CRPE, &ldquo;we tend to focus more on the families than the institutions&mdash;what do they need and what options are they being given?&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>That focus on individual students and families as opposed to the health of particular schools represents a deep philosophical departure from the way groups like Brighton Park Neighborhood Council see things. Executive director Patrick Brosnan says BPNC asks one question about any proposal before deciding to support or oppose: &ldquo;Are (these plans) going to make our schools better and stronger? And this Noble proposal is clear, it would not make any of the schools that exist right now&mdash;it&rsquo;s not going to make any of them any better.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>For a decade, Chicago has followed the school reform strategy it laid out in its Renaissance 2010 program: improve the entire system by adding new &ldquo;high quality&rdquo; schools. That program launched the expansion of Noble-- from a single charter high school to 16 campuses today, with<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/noble-maps-out-massive-charter-school-expansion-feds-support-it-113392" target="_blank"> plans and federal funds</a> to add eight more campuses in the next five years. &nbsp;Those plans are aimed at Noble grabbing 15 percent of the high school &ldquo;market share.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But the city&rsquo;s school reform strategy, and Noble&rsquo;s expansion plans, have clashed this year with dire fiscal, political, and educational realities to a degree unseen before.</div><div>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;</div><div>The district&rsquo;s finances are so dismal it&rsquo;s warning that thousands of teachers may be laid off mid-year. Eighty-four percent of aldermen signed a moratorium on charters (Ald. Ed Burke did not sign: his ward includes the proposed Noble site the school board votes on today). And the city is facing a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-has-high-school-13-freshmen-113524" target="_blank">severe under-enrollment crisis</a> at high schools&mdash;even high schools not yet shrinking out of existence have seen <a href="http://chicago.suntimes.com/news-chicago/7/71/1014017/roosevelt-high-school-students-walk-out-protest-cuts" target="_blank">deep budget cuts.</a></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The reality heightens the drama behind every additional high school opening.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>And Noble&rsquo;s success further complicates the situation. Neighborhood by neighborhood, Noble schools tend to attract<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/big-sort-110502" target="_blank"> a disproportionate share of higher performers</a>, leaving other nearby schools with lower performers and needier students.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Never a reason to say &ldquo;no&rdquo; to a high-performing school</strong></div><div>Debates over Noble charter network&rsquo;s expansion have featured hours of testimony at public hearings from Noble parents and students who praise the school.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Noble has had a big impact on his life since he&rsquo;s been at Gary Comer,&rdquo; parent Gregory Harris said of his son&rsquo;s success at one of Noble&rsquo;s South Side campuses. &ldquo;The teachers are great&hellip;. They helped him so much&hellip;he scored a 30 on his ACT.&rdquo; The crowd snapped and clapped in approval.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t know anything about taking money away from anybody, any community,&rdquo; Harris said. &ldquo;I know what Noble has done, and I&rsquo;ve seen what it has done in a community that needed a school like Noble.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Noble schools are so successful on the ACT exam, they are nipping at the heels and even surpassing the city&rsquo;s selective-enrollment schools, which admit students based on grades and test scores. (Noble schools require an application for admission but no minimum grades or test scores.) Of the district&rsquo;s 25 highest performing high schools (as measured by composite 2014 ACT scores, the most recent data available), eight are Noble schools.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Is there ever a circumstance in which a district should turn down a high-performing charter school that wants to expand?</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>For Robin Lake at the Center on Reinventing Public Education, that answer is essentially no.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;I have yet to come across a situation where a neighborhood has too many high-performing schools,&rdquo; says Lake. &ldquo;This is not our problem right now. Our big cities are in desperate need of new, high-performing schools and pathways for kids to escape poverty and crime and to get into college and productive careers.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Lake says half-empty school buildings are a costly challenge for school districts&mdash;and she admits that closing high schools, which alums and neighborhoods feel deep ties to, has been particularly challenging. (In Chicago, protests have forced the school district to commit to re-opening at least two neighborhood high schools it had closed, <a href="http://catalyst-chicago.org/2012/02/last-ditch-efforts-aim-stop-school-closings-turnarounds/" target="_blank">Crane </a>and <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/dyett-high-school-hunger-strike-ends-after-34-days-113000" target="_blank">Dyett</a>).&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Lake says other cities have tried to locate new charters or district-run schools in under-utilized buildings to revitalize them.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>District must take overall impact on the broader system into account</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Three miles from the new proposed Noble site, along the same major east-west street, Tilden Career Academy High School has just 311 students this year&mdash;in a school built for 2,000.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>There, principal Maurice Swinney is concerned about his students&mdash;and how adding more schools to the system affects them.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;I do not want another charter school in the area,&rdquo; says Swinney, who says the district needs to &ldquo;cease and desist on charter schools for a moment&rdquo; so remaining schools can &ldquo;stabilize.&rdquo; Swinney has been credited by many as leading a turnaround at Tilden&mdash;it&rsquo;s now a demonstration school for the University of Chicago&rsquo;s Network for College Success&mdash;but that has not reversed a downward enrollment spiral.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;By constantly allowing other schools to be built, we&rsquo;re taking away other kids&rsquo; experiences,&rdquo; says Swinney.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>He says his students&mdash;an astounding 39.5 percent of whom are special education students&mdash;include many who came from charters but couldn&rsquo;t hack the rules or were kicked out. Other principals at neighborhood high schools have noted the same pattern.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;If we create selective enrollments and charters schools and other places that I feel like don&rsquo;t accept the most vulnerable children, I think the moral responsibility for any city is to support those that do--in a way that helps those schools flourish in terms of their academic, social, and behavioral outcomes,&rdquo; says Swinney. &ldquo;There has to be a larger city re-investment around the most vulnerable children.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Montclair State University professor Katrina Bulkley has researched the portfolio model of school reform, which makes the school district responsible for managing a set of diverse, autonomous schools. Think of a stock portfolio manager: &nbsp;the idea here is for the district to open high-performing schools and close low-performing schools.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Bulkley says Chicago must carefully monitor what is happening to all students in the system.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;The portfolio idea is kind of a &lsquo;rising tide lifts all boats.&rsquo; So that by opening new schools and potentially closing schools you&rsquo;re overall offering a better educational experience for all the students in the system. And one of the questions in a case like this is&mdash;what is happening to the students who are not in these high-performing schools?&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Bulkley says the city must think very carefully about opening any new school &ldquo;because of the kind of tipping point that Chicago has reached, at the high school level, where the opening of any individual new school may result in the unsustainability of one or more existing schools.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Maureen Kelleher, a Back of the Yards resident and charter school parent who sat on a neighborhood advisory committee charged with evaluating Noble&rsquo;s Southwest Side campus proposal, said committee members who raised questions about the impact of a new school on existing schools were told those were &ldquo;parking lot&rdquo; issues--to be set aside and dealt with at a later date.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><strong>Politicization of the process&nbsp;</strong></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In many ways, both sides are right.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Noble has helped thousands of students advance; their schools are safe and high performing. They are orderly and focused. The network has helped many low-income and immigrant students make it to college. &nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>And Brighton Park neighbors opposing the expansion are also right&mdash;opening a new Noble high school will almost certainly sap nearby existing schools of students and resources, and result in painful budget cuts.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Noble&rsquo;s most recent school to open, ITW David Speer, drew 262 students from the Steinmetz High attendance boundary, and 162 from Foreman&rsquo;s attendance boundary. Both schools were among the city&rsquo;s top losers for enrollment and budgets this year.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Noble says 2,400 students currently travel from the Southwest Side, where the 17th campus would be located, to other Noble campuses. &ldquo;We see a ton of support and demand on the Southwest Side,&rdquo; says Matthew McCabe, the network&rsquo;s director of government affairs.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>McCabe says Noble Street does not have to be a zero-sum game in Chicago.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;This is anecdotal, but we see more families that would otherwise go to the suburbs or would otherwise go to Catholic school or private school come into the system and stay with Noble,&rdquo; says McCabe.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Overall, however, the total number of high school students in the district has remained essentially flat over the last decade (grades 9-12, not counting alternative students).</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;I think the focus should be on quality options around the city,&rdquo; says Andrew Broy, executive director of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools. &ldquo;I think the best evidence of whether a community wants a school is whether the community sends their children to that school. &nbsp;And on that question there&rsquo;s no dispute,&rdquo; says Broy. &ldquo;There are literally thousands (of Southwest Side) &nbsp;families that have already chosen Noble.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Broy says despite Noble&rsquo;s success, including being named the best charter school network in the nation, &ldquo;this has been the most challenging expansion environment for Noble. But it&#39;s been the most politicized charter environment we&#39;ve ever had in Chicago.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Broy laments that &ldquo;we can&rsquo;t have any sort of hearing on a charter that winds up being a rational discussion of the merits of an application&rdquo; and says more and more he sees elected officials being asked to choose sides.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Charter schools are becoming a litmus test for politicians,&rdquo; he says.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The Chicago Teachers Union has said school closings will be a &ldquo;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/noble-maps-out-massive-charter-school-expansion-feds-support-it-113392" target="_blank">natural consequence&rdquo;</a> of opening more charters. &nbsp;Expanding charters will almost certainly weaken the teachers union--one of &nbsp;Emanuel&rsquo;s most persistent foes.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Becky Vevea contributed to this report.&nbsp;</em><em>Linda Lutton is a WBEZ education reporter. Follow her and Becky Vevea at <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZeducation" target="_blank">@WBEZeducation</a>.&nbsp;</em></div></p> Wed, 28 Oct 2015 13:08:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/fight-over-charter-school-signals-philosophical-differences-how-schools-are-viewed-113541 Morning Shift: Drawing a line on where guns can be drawn http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-09-10/morning-shift-drawing-line-where-guns-can-be-drawn <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Gun - Flickr - phoosh.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Today we take on the the gun debate and how a line may be drawn at certain locations. Where do you think guns should not be banned? Then, Chris Jones and Chris Vire give us a preview on plays and musicals Chicago theaters are planning to let grace their stages.&nbsp;</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-61/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-61.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-61" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Drawing a line on where guns can be drawn" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Tue, 10 Sep 2013 08:29:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-09-10/morning-shift-drawing-line-where-guns-can-be-drawn Bulls' coach Tom Thibodeau has the toughest job in Chicago sports http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-04/bulls-coach-tom-thibodeau-has-toughest-job-chicago-sports-106577 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rsz_thibodeau_rich_pedroncelli.jpg" style="float: right; height: 393px; width: 300px;" title="Life has not been easy for Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau. (AP/File)" />Right now, the toughest job in Chicago sports belongs to Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau. Last night the Bulls lost another close one: 101-98 to Toronto at the United Center. Thibodeau admitted after the game that they are struggling.</p><p>You may argue that Cubs manager Dale Sveum has a more difficult gig. But he knew what the circumstances were from the moment he took the job.</p><p>Thibodeau knew a season without Derrick Rose would not be easy, yet he never made excuses. A season with several other starters on the bench may have been insurmountable for other head coaches.</p><p>The first two years at the helm of the Bulls, Thibodeau guided his team to the best record in the NBA. In 2011, the club had an exciting playoff run, including the Eastern Conference Finals. Last year the Bulls looked poised for a long run, but the horrible ACL tear to Rose&rsquo;s knee and Joakim Noah&rsquo;s badly sprained ankle ended all hopes. Most NBA predictors ahead of this regular season figured the Bulls would be lucky to be a .500 team or even make the playoffs. They will participate in the post-season, but are undermanned.</p><p>Imagine a coach looking at the bench and seeing starters Rose, Noah, Luol&nbsp;Deng and Richard Hamilton and top sixth man Taj Gibson wearing street clothes instead of Bulls jerseys.</p><p>Yesterday Hamilton made his first appearance since late February. Marco Belinelli is slowly making his way on the court. Noah has had a set back with his foot injury since playing Sunday in Detroit. There is no known return date for the Bulls All-Star center.</p><p>This depleted M*A*S*H unit have beaten some good teams and won games no one figured they could at this point. But they have suffered some dreadful losses, including the last two games.</p><p>The only constant this season had been the Bulls head coach. People not familiar with the day-to-day routine have criticized Thibodeau. These critics think he is too tough on the team. But he has been careful about scheduling practices, especially after a road game. Thibodeau has given his players the day completely off several times, or scheduled film sessions with light work-outs. It has to be a difficult decision considering this coach loves to teach and practices are where that work is done.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Another thankless aspect of Thibodeau&rsquo;s job has been answering every question concerning Rose&#39;s return. He is asked after every practice, before and after games. With only five games left, the odds of the former MVP coming back are slim. At this point is makes little sense.</p><p>The team&rsquo;s front office made several impactful choices this season due to Rose&rsquo;s status, particularly with the bench. How nice it would have been to have Omer Asik, Ronnie Brewer, C.J. Watson or Kyle Korver to be part of this team. Several players on this year&rsquo;s roster, like Jimmy Butler and Nate Robinson, have been helpful putting the Bulls in the position they are right now. However, this team seems to be running out of steam.</p><p><em>Follow Cheryl on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/Crayestout" target="_blank">@CRayeStout</a>&nbsp;and Facebook <a href="http://www.facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame" target="_blank">Cheryl Raye Stout #AtTheGame</a>&nbsp;</em></p></p> Wed, 10 Apr 2013 06:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-04/bulls-coach-tom-thibodeau-has-toughest-job-chicago-sports-106577 Dear Chicago: Green the fleet http://www.wbez.org/content/dear-chicago-green-fleet <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-March/2011-03-25/IMG_1653.JPG" alt="" /><p><br/><div id="PictoBrowser120123122034">&nbsp;</div><script type="text/javascript" src="http://www.db798.com/pictobrowser/swfobject.js"></script><script type="text/javascript"> var so = new SWFObject("http://www.db798.com/pictobrowser.swf", "PictoBrowser", "500", "520", "8", "#EEEEEE"); so.addVariable("source", "sets"); so.addVariable("names", "Dear Chicago: Green the Fleet"); so.addVariable("userName", "chicagopublicmedia"); so.addVariable("userId", "33876038@N00"); so.addVariable("ids", "72157628998934719"); so.addVariable("titles", "off"); so.addVariable("displayNotes", "always"); so.addVariable("thumbAutoHide", "off"); so.addVariable("imageSize", "medium"); so.addVariable("vAlign", "top"); so.addVariable("vertOffset", "0"); so.addVariable("colorHexVar", "EEEEEE"); so.addVariable("initialScale", "off"); so.addVariable("bgAlpha", "90"); so.write("PictoBrowser120123122034"); </script><p>Between sanitation trucks, fire engines, and police SUVs, the City of Chicago owns its fair share of motor vehicles - nearly 13,000 in all, according to the Department of Fleet Management. And fueling them up is not cheap: in 2010 the city spent more than $24 million on gasoline and diesel fuel. &nbsp;</p><p>Compare that with only $164,000 spent on alternative fuels and you might have a hard time squaring reality with outgoing Mayor Richard M. Daley’s stated desire to improve the city’s environmental record.</p><div>In a 2006 <a href="http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1193833,00.html#ixzz1Gn06K8Ni">Time Magazine article</a> Mayor Daley said the city was “aggressive in terms of the environment,” and his claim bears out in some cases. Daley founded the Department of the Environment in 1992 and is credited with planting thousands of trees and remediating thousands of acres of brownfield sites in the city. He even had a rooftop garden installed on City Hall.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In addition, the city launched its Climate Action Plan in 2008, with a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. The plan includes improvements to the fleet, but a publicly available progress report suggests most improvements come from changes to the Chicago Transit Authority's bus fleet, not improvements to vehicles under the city's direct control.&nbsp;&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>This has not been enough to satisfy some, such as scientist Forrest Jehlik, who want the city to address its fleet’s impact on global warming faster and more aggressively. Jehlik, 38, is an environmentalist, but he’s not wed to weepy, low-performance vehicles; in fact, he loves muscle cars and stock car racing, and hopes to buy a classic British chopper motorcycle this summer. But as a research engineer at Argonne National Laboratory he is also pioneering technological advancements that could make all automobiles greener and more fuel efficient. &nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Here, Jehlik explains why he wants this city to put its money where its mouth is and green its fleet.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Dear Chicago</em> is a project of WBEZ’s <a href="http://chicagopublicmedia.org/partnerships/our-partners">Partnerships Program</a>. Forrest Jehlik was nominated for the series by <a href="http://www.anl.gov/">Argonne National Laboratory</a>.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Dear Chicago, </em></div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>For a long time now you’ve portrayed yourself as a green city. Let’s make sure those words aren’t just a dream.&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>I love cars. I really, really do. I went to a horror movie when I was 10 or 11 years old and in the movie there was this car, a 1970 Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda, and I thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. It’s a classic Chrysler car, and from that day on I was sold. I went out and read and learned about cars and knew that was my dream car. To me, cars done right aren’t just a utility; they’re pieces of art.</em></div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>I’m also passionate about trying to reduce our reliance on foreign petroleum, and looking for solutions that are domestically generated, helping support industry in the United States.</em></div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>I was at General Motors for 5 years. My job was in research and development working on diesel engine systems for the North American marketplace. Our fuel economy targets were really aggressive at that time, and diesel engines are inherently anywhere from 25 to 40 percent more efficient per gallon than a gasoline engine. </em></div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>Now I work at Argonne National Laboratory on two different projects. The first thing I’m working on is the effect of temperature on fuel consumption in advanced vehicles like hybrids. </em></div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>Let’s say you have a Toyota Prius or some advanced vehicle that you were driving around the city. If you were to drive the same route every day, driving at the same speed, and for the sake of argument you didn’t turn on the air conditioner or the heater, you would notice a tremendous increase and decrease in your fuel consumption depending on the temperatures outside. I’ve been working on techniques to characterize what the fuel consumption is relative to those ambient conditions and what engineering solutions could be applied to that loss, which could really benefit the consumer with increased fuel economy. </em></div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>Then, I got involved a little over a year ago with a green racing program. Racing has an enormous volume of fans in this country, whether it’s motorcycle racing, stock car racing, indie racing, or American Le Mans series racing. It’s second only to the NFL [National Football League]. It’s the perfect platform to say, hey, this race car has this whiz-bang gadget or this new advanced technology and your production cars could have this too.</em></div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>The results have been amazing. Last year we were able to record a 40 percent reduction in petroleum use over a whole American Le Mans race series as well as a 40 percent reduction in well-to-wheels greenhouse gas emissions. It was pretty staggering. </em></div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>There are a lot of technologies on the horizon that Chicago could look at to diversify their fleet and become much more sustainable environmentally. </em></div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>The first step is we really need to find out what their driving habits are. Engineers tend to be a lot more rational than we are political. I think the key is doing the research and seeing what makes the most sense for the driving route, driving conditions, seasonal driving distance, loading conditions and so forth. Certain technologies lend themselves better to certain things. It could be anything from electric power vehicles to compressed natural gas for busses. There’s not one silver bullet. There are more like a lot of silver shotgun pellets, and you need to find the right shotgun pellet to address the issue. </em></div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>The image a city portrays is a global thing, and it can really make the difference between people wanting to invest and become a part of the city or looking elsewhere. So the City of Chicago has touted itself for a long time now as a green city, but what does green mean? Well, in my opinion green means sustainable. The city definitely has the potential to be a world leader in this movement. We can really start down that path where we’re not reliant on just petroleum-based products that will ultimately become too expensive for the world to use.</em></div><div><em>&nbsp;</em></div><div><em>What I’d like to see the city do, if it really wants to make good on its green image, is take a look at the entire transportation sector to see what the free market could do to reduce their petroleum use and greenhouse gas emissions, and truly reflect the image of Chicago as a leader of clean transportation.</em></div></p> Mon, 28 Mar 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/content/dear-chicago-green-fleet Dear Chicago: Make biking, walking safer http://www.wbez.org/content/dear-chicago-make-biking-walking-safer <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-March/2011-03-25/LV 1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><iframe width="599" height="449" frameborder="0" src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/21502983?title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0&amp;color=b30000"></iframe></p><p>If you&rsquo;ve ever ventured out into one of Chicago&rsquo;s famous six-corner intersections, you know the streets don&rsquo;t always feel safe. The facts bear this out. In 2009 there were over 4,500 crashes between Chicago drivers and pedestrians or cyclists, 35 of which were fatal. This is according to the Illinois Department of Transportation, which tracks traffic statistics. (However, as the <em>Chicago Tribune</em>&nbsp;<a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-03-20/classified/ct-met-getting-around-0221-20110320_1_dooring-clinton-miceli-bicyclists">reported recently</a>, these numbers do not include <em>dooring</em>, a common type of bicycle crash that has been excluded from state record-keeping.) &nbsp;</p><p>Adolfo Hernandez, 28, wants to see these numbers change. &ldquo;I think it would be great if the city said one fatality on our roads is one fatality too many,&rdquo; he explains. &ldquo;We shouldn&rsquo;t have pedestrian deaths or people on bicycles killed by automobiles.&rdquo;<br /><br />Hernandez is in a rare position to bend city government&rsquo;s ear on this topic. In addition to serving as director of advocacy and outreach for the Active Transportation Alliance, a local advocacy group dedicated to making cycling, walking and public transit &ldquo;safe, convenient and fun,&rdquo; Hernandez was recently named to Mayor Elect Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s transition team. Last week he traveled to Seville, Spain. He and officials from U.S. cities toured cycling infrastructure that Seville has installed. According to Hernandez, changes to Seville&rsquo;s streets have resulted in an additional 60,000 daily bike rides above the 6,000 the city saw just three years ago. Hernandez calls that &ldquo;a dramatic shift.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>Many factors can contribute to making streets safer. One of them is infrastructure&mdash;the way city streets are planned and built. Here, Hernandez explains why he wants Chicago to build infrastructure designed to protect vulnerable users in every neighborhood. <br /><br /><em>Dear Chicago</em> is a project of WBEZ&rsquo;s <a href="http://chicagopublicmedia.org/partnerships/our-partners">Partnerships Program</a>. Adolfo Hernandez was nominated for the series by the <a href="http://chicagourbanartsociety.tumblr.com/">Chicago Urban Art Society</a>.</p><p><br /><em>Editor&rsquo;s note: The producer was a victim of a hit-and-run dooring accident in 2008.</em></p></p> Mon, 28 Mar 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/content/dear-chicago-make-biking-walking-safer Dear Chicago: Fight the AIDS epidemic http://www.wbez.org/content/dear-chicago-fight-aids-epidemic <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-March/2011-03-16/McCoy_1374.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="PictoBrowser120123122957">&nbsp;</div><script type="text/javascript" src="http://www.db798.com/pictobrowser/swfobject.js"></script><script type="text/javascript"> var so = new SWFObject("http://www.db798.com/pictobrowser.swf", "PictoBrowser", "500", "560", "8", "#EEEEEE"); so.addVariable("source", "sets"); so.addVariable("names", "Dear Chicago: Fight the AIDS epidemic"); so.addVariable("userName", "chicagopublicmedia"); so.addVariable("userId", "33876038@N00"); so.addVariable("ids", "72157628998972619"); so.addVariable("titles", "off"); so.addVariable("displayNotes", "always"); so.addVariable("thumbAutoHide", "off"); so.addVariable("imageSize", "medium"); so.addVariable("vAlign", "mid"); so.addVariable("vertOffset", "0"); so.addVariable("colorHexVar", "EEEEEE"); so.addVariable("initialScale", "off"); so.addVariable("bgAlpha", "90"); so.write("PictoBrowser120123122957"); </script><div>The struggle against AIDS may be global, but the City of Chicago plays its part in the fight. Over 20,000 Chicagoans suffer from the disease, according to statistics released by the Department of Public Health in November of 2010. City government may not dedicate dollars toward the kind of medical research that could someday lead to a vaccine or cure, but it does funnel money to local groups that provide testing, prevention, education, and treatment. The city set aside nearly $4.78 million in last year&rsquo;s budget to combat HIV and AIDS.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A statement on the city&rsquo;s website says that HIV/AIDS funding is designed to &ldquo;serve communities in greatest need.&rdquo; But that doesn&rsquo;t square with everyone&rsquo;s perception of how resources are allocated.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Keith McCoy, 41, for example, says he is frustrated by how much city money goes to groups on the North Side &ndash; groups he calls &ldquo;politically connected.&rdquo; McCoy is the treasurer of Windy City LGBT Black Pride, an advocacy group that works primarily with African-American gays and lesbians who live on the South Side. He estimates that his group receives between $6,000 and $10,000 annually in city funding, the bulk of which is spent on a yearly event in Sherman Park where they provide HIV testing to surrounding South Side neighborhoods.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Here, McCoy explains why he wants the new mayor and city council to ensure that the bulk of city money goes to support communities hardest hit by HIV and AIDS.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>As of publication, the Chicago Department of Public Health did not return WBEZ&rsquo;s calls for comment.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Dear Chicago</em> is a project of WBEZ&rsquo;s <a href="http://chicagopublicmedia.org/partnerships/our-partners">Partnerships Program</a>. Keith McCoy was nominated for the series by <a href="http://affinity95.org/acscontent/">Affinity Community Services</a>, a social justice organization that serves the African-American LGBTQ community in Chicago.</div></p> Mon, 21 Mar 2011 10:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/content/dear-chicago-fight-aids-epidemic Dear Chicago: Keep the grip on gun laws http://www.wbez.org/content/dear-chicago-keep-grip-gun-laws <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-March/2011-03-14/Bishop_2790.jpg" alt="" /><p> <br/> <div id="PictoBrowser120123151320"></div><script type="text/javascript" src="http://www.db798.com/pictobrowser/swfobject.js"></script><script type="text/javascript"> var so = new SWFObject("http://www.db798.com/pictobrowser.swf", "PictoBrowser", "500", "512", "8", "#EEEEEE"); so.addVariable("source", "sets"); so.addVariable("names", "Dear Chicago: Keep the grip on gun laws"); so.addVariable("userName", "chicagopublicmedia"); so.addVariable("userId", "33876038@N00"); so.addVariable("ids", "72157629002472775"); so.addVariable("titles", "off"); so.addVariable("displayNotes", "always"); so.addVariable("thumbAutoHide", "off"); so.addVariable("imageSize", "medium"); so.addVariable("vAlign", "top"); so.addVariable("vertOffset", "0"); so.addVariable("colorHexVar", "EEEEEE"); so.addVariable("initialScale", "off"); so.addVariable("bgAlpha", "90"); so.write("PictoBrowser120123151320"); </script> <p>In April 1990 Jeanne Bishop had an experience with gun violence that changed her forever. &nbsp;She lost two family members and endured months of investigation before authorities finally identified the murderer. The case had several consequences. For one, Bishop changed careers and became a public defender; she works today in a Cook County felony courtroom located in Skokie. More often than not, she represents defendants in cases where a firearm was involved.</p><p>But her experience also pushed her to use personal time to advocate for stringent gun control laws. She cites statistics that suggest firearms are used in suicides and homicides more often than they’re used for personal protection. Preliminary data from the Chicago Police Department suggest that firearms were involved in 354 murders in the city last year.<br> <br> Bishop’s work to strengthen gun control laws in Chicago has become more challenging; in 2010 the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Chicago’s ban on most handgun ownership in the city, despite Mayor Richard M. Daley’s efforts to keep the ban in place. Bishop hopes the city’s new mayor and city council will devise ways to work around this development.</p><p><em>Dear Chicago</em> is a project of WBEZ's <a href="http://chicagopublicmedia.org/partnerships/our-partners">Parterships Program</a>. Jeanne Bishop was nominated for the series by <a href="http://www.fourthchurch.org/index.html">Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago</a>.</p><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Dear Chicago,<br> <br> It was April 7th, 1990, and Nancy Bishop Langert, my younger sister, was 3 months pregnant and married to Richard Langert. We had all gone out to dinner to celebrate my father’s birthday at a restaurant in Chicago. When the dinner was over I went home to my apartment in Chicago, my parents went to their home, and Richard and Nancy went to their town home in Winnetka.<br> <br> When they walked through their front door they saw that this killer was waiting for them. He had a .357 Magnum handgun loaded with bullets and forced them to the floor. He handcuffed my brother-in-law, and Nancy started begging for their lives. He took them i­­­­nto the basement and executed them there. He shot my brother-in-law once, execution-style in the back of the head, in front of my sister. He turned the gun on her, so she put her arms around her head and he fired into her pregnant abdomen twice. He left her there to bleed to death.<br> <br> At some point Nancy must have realized she was dying so she dragged herself over to Richard’s body and wrote in her own blood next to him the shape of a heart and the letter U. She died there next to him.<br> <br> The killer’s name is David Biro. He killed them in April, then bragged to a friend about it in June. In October the killer was going to commit another murder. When the friend realized Biro was going to kill again, he went to the Winnetka police station and said, “I know who did this.” The police went to this young man’s home and found the gun, the handcuffs, the glass cutter, burglary tools, and this trophy notebook compiled with poems about the killings and press clippings. We even learned that he had gone to Richard and Nancy’s funeral.<br> <br> They arrested Mr. Biro, he was put on trial, and the jury found him guilty. He received the mandatory sentence for a double homicide committed by a juvenile and that was life without parole, meaning you die in prison.<br> <br> I didn’t know that much about guns or gun legislation then. The first question I had when I found out my sister had been shot to death by a 16-year-old was: How did he get a gun? The more I learned about what could have saved her life, the angrier I got.<br> <br> The person who killed my sister was chronically in trouble. His parents had to hire a lawyer to get him out of trouble, whether it was running a bicycle chop-shop, shooting people with BB guns out of his window, or trying to poison his own family with rat poison in their milk.<br> <br> Mr. Biro decided he wanted to have a gun, so he used an adult’s personal information to get a firearm identification card, or FOID card. One was actually mailed to his house. His mother came home and saw this thing and realized her son had committed a serious felony. She immediately called the lawyer and gave this card to him. When David Biro found out, he called the lawyer and said he was going to break in and take it.<br> <br> Mr. Biro went to the office, took the hinges off the door, entered the law office and looked for his FOID card. He goes to the lawyer’s unlocked desk drawer, pulls it open and finds a .357 Magnum handgun, speed loader and bullets. Two days later my family members were dead.<br> <br> That made me angry. I didn’t understand why a trigger lock that would have cost the manufacturer $1.50 wasn’t required. I didn’t understand why the law didn’t require the lawyer to at least lock the drawer where the gun was being stored.<br> <br> It’s unusual and rare, but Chicago was able to have a handgun ban. And the town that I live in, Winnetka, was able to have a handgun ban. But there was a challenge to the federal ban on handguns in the city of Washington, D.C., and that was the Heller decision. The U.S. held that Washington D.C. could not prevent homeowners from having a handgun in their home. So the NRA’s next step after Heller was to sue Chicago, Winnetka, Wilmette, Evanston, and every other town in Illinois that had a handgun ban, seeking the same ruling. Smaller towns like my town of Winnetka were so outmatched financially by the NRA that rather than risk going forward in lawsuits they simply abandoned their handgun bans, which broke my heart.<br> <br> Mayor Daley did decide to fight and fought it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in the McDonald decision. I was so proud of him and so grateful. After the McDonald decision Chicago immediately passed this very comprehensive gun control package that has a lot of good stuff in it: training, storage, and registration with the police. These are reasonable things. These are measures that are meant to promote public safety. I hope the next mayor will be someone who brings equal courage and passion to the fight to defend the laws that we have now in place.</em></div></p> Tue, 15 Mar 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/content/dear-chicago-keep-grip-gun-laws Dear Chicago: Rebuild our historic commercial streets http://www.wbez.org/story/andersonville/dear-chicago-rebuild-our-historic-commercial-streets <p><p><iframe height="338" frameborder="0" width="601" src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/20530142?title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0&amp;color=b30000"></iframe></p><p>If the Loop is Chicago&rsquo;s economic engine, architect David Walker wants to make sure there&rsquo;s a miniature version of the bustling commercial and retail hub in every city neighborhood. Walker works on planning projects that are rooted in community development and thinks deeply about the best ways to sustain Chicago&rsquo;s neighborhoods. He&rsquo;s especially concerned with the well-being of Woodlawn, the South Side neighborhood where he lives and owns a home.</p><p>Some city neighborhoods have economic engines roaring full speed ahead. Lincoln Park has Armitage Avenue and Halsted Street; Pilsen has 18th St. and Little Village has 26th St. On these stretches shoppers find the kinds of stores, services and restaurants that sustain a neighborhood and make it possible to shop without leaving the community. But in Woodlawn, as in many parts of the city&rsquo;s South and West Sides, historic commercial corridors have fallen into disrepair or they are shadows of their former selves.</p><p>Here, Walker explains why he wants Chicago&rsquo;s new mayor and city council to make rebuilding the city&rsquo;s historic commercial streets a priority.</p> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div><em>Dear Chicago</em> is a project of WBEZ&rsquo;s <a href="http://chicagopublicmedia.org/partnerships/our-partners">Partnerships Program</a>. David Walker was nominated for the series by the <a href="http://caf.architecture.org/">Chicago Architecture Foundation</a>.</div></p> Tue, 15 Mar 2011 09:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/andersonville/dear-chicago-rebuild-our-historic-commercial-streets Dear Chicago: Rebuild our historic commercial streets http://www.wbez.org/story/andersonville/dear-chicago-rebuild-our-historic-commercial-streets-0 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//David Walker screen shot 1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>If the Loop is Chicago&rsquo;s economic engine, architect David Walker wants to make sure there&rsquo;s a miniature version of the bustling commercial and retail hub in every city neighborhood. Walker works on planning projects that are rooted in community development and thinks deeply about the best ways to sustain Chicago&rsquo;s neighborhoods. He&rsquo;s especially concerned with the well-being of Woodlawn, the South Side neighborhood where he lives and owns a home.</p></p> Tue, 15 Mar 2011 09:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/andersonville/dear-chicago-rebuild-our-historic-commercial-streets-0 Dear Chicago: Help us go to college http://www.wbez.org/story/education/dear-chicago-help-us-go-college <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//Jesus_8805.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Jesus Palafox, 21, came to the U.S. illegally when he was 11. He was the last member of his immediate family to make it across the border, posing as a son of a relative who was an American citizen.</p><p>Palafox knew he wanted to attend college, but as he grew older, he realized he&rsquo;d face a monumental challenge: in Illinois undocumented students can pay in-state tuition at public universities, but they&rsquo;re ineligible for most student loans. Meanwhile, the number of affordable alternatives is dwindling. One option, Chicago&rsquo;s City Colleges, may soon be out of reach if the city ends open admission, <a href="../../../../../../story/news/education/cutting-open-admission-city-colleges-draws-fire">as was proposed last summer</a>.</p></p> Mon, 07 Mar 2011 11:08:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/education/dear-chicago-help-us-go-college