Enlarge our 'family' to include the West Side

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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This is an important forum for all to attend: Take Back Chicago, on Tuesday, Oct. 15 from 6 to 7:30 p.m., at UIC Forum, 725 W. Roosevelt Road. Visit www.CTUNET.org for all of the details.

Why should you care? The escalating violence in the city due to school closings, blighted neighborhoods, drugs and gang shootings does affect you too. Oak Parkers know they can hear the gunshots coming from Austin. Victims get dropped off at West Suburban Hospital — sometimes just pushed out of a car as the car keeps going. I teach in North Lawndale for Chicago Public Schools. I've also taught in Austin and worked in various West Side communities.
You complain about our high school problems? Well, a lot of OPRF students come here from Chicago Public Schools to get a better education. Are they as well prepared as our Oak Park kids? No! Why? Well, try 47 kids in a kindergarten class, no music, no art, no resources. Special education has 500 vacant positions. Caseworkers are overloaded. Just try and find enough people to do a staffing on a child.

Chicago doesn't have the luxury of an elected school board. In the suburbs, we get input into our schools; we can make changes to improve them. Chicago parents can't do this. Go to a Chicago Board of Education meeting and watch the fiasco sometime. Or go to the www.sustancenews.net to find out what really happens at the board meetings.

The political climate needs to change or we are all going downhill. The attacks on public education, standardized testing, Common Core Standards affect our kids too. In Chicago Public Schools, we are required to give two standardized tests to preschoolers. Pension problems affect all of us, regardless of where we live. Chicago politicians have the biggest voice because they have the largest population. Read the front page of the Sunday, Sept. 29 Tribune article, "City Gives Felon Six-Figure Grant to Open Liquor Store" to see what's been happening in Austin.
There are a lot of good families and people in the blighted West Side. They are our neighbors. In this political climate, we need to enlarge our family to encompass our Chicago neighbors.

Kati Gilson
Oak Park

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