FEBRUARY 20, 2013
Here is an interesting allocation from the U.S. Department of Education, Jimmy Carter’s brilliant creation to meddle in public schooling, an area that’s the responsibility of individual states; the agency just gave Chicago public schools $50,000 to “recover from multiple shootings.”
The feds stepped in because the nation’s third largest public school district “has been impacted by the city’s violence this past year,” according to a DOE announcement. “Numerous students have been shot on their way to and from their schools, and reactions and responses to the violence have resulted in high rates of disciplinary infractions, gang incidents, and fights and arrests.”
The statement goes on to say that there has also has been an increase in the amount of instructional time lost due to an increased number of suspensions and high absenteeism rates. Evidently, the Obama DOE is clumping both of these issues together even though the latter has been an ongoing problem for years. In fact, Chicago has long had one of the worst performing public school districts in the nation despite two decades of reform efforts and programs targeting low-income families.
Violence has also been a major factor for some time and officials saw a substantial increase in the action in the past year. Two dozen students were fatally shot during the last school year, according to area’s largest newspaper, and the district reported a total of 319 shootings. The figure marked the highest in four years and an astounding 22% spike from the previous academic year. This goes hand in hand with the city’s alarming homicide rate increase, which jumped 38% in 2012 compared to 2011.
With that said, there is no doubt that violence is a huge issue in the entire city, not to mention its long struggling public schools. The question is should the federal education agency—whose very existence is dubious—be the one doling out money for this cause? “These grants provide support to students, educators and communities impacted by these senseless shootings,” says U.S. Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, who knows the beast all too well because he served as chief executive of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) before Obama named him to the federal post.
Duncan goes on: “Tragic events damage students and entire communities, and disrupt teaching and learning. These funds will support Chicago schools as they continue to recover from these acts of violence and work to make the community safer so all children can live free of fear.”
The money will go to programs designed to “restore the learning environment and immediately respond to any acts of violence that would affect teaching and learning.” Chicago school officials propose to expand an existing behavioral intervention project that integrates the principals of psychological first aid, conflict resolution and trauma-informed practice. Under the plan, coping and healing will be promoted and teaching and learning will be facilitated.
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