Hi kids! How was school? Hope you had a good first day. Hope the rain didn’t mess things up too much.
Kidding. I know students don’t read the newspaper. Not when they can endlessly flip through Instagram posts on their smartphones and check out what their friends are doing.
So OK, none of the some 360,000 students enrolled this year in Chicago’s 642 public schools are reading this. A shame. Because if I remember correctly, students can feel cut off. I wish they knew they are actually a major force in the city, by numbers alone: 13 percent of Chicago residents are enrolled in the Chicago Public Schools. If CPS were itself a city, it would be almost as populous as Cleveland which, with 385,000 residents, just nudges past. Fold in Catholic schools, and the “City of Chicago Students” becomes the 47th largest city in the country, surpassing Oakland or Minneapolis.
See what you miss, not reading the paper? OK, you don’t see. A survey last year found only 2 percent of American teens read the newspaper.
Who are these people? As with any large city, CPS is too vast to generalize, ranging from 3-year-olds in pre-kindergarten programs excited to learn about the color blue to 18-year-olds learning to fertilize with fish poop (not a made-up example: the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences in Mount Greenwood had four large tanks, raising tilapia, when I visited. The wastewater was being used to nourish the school’s crops).
From elite high schools like Northside College Prep, where it is not unknown for suburban families to lie about their addresses, trying to sneak in students, to Consuella B. York Alternative High School, which families work equally hard to keep their kids out of: it’s the high school inside Cook County Jail.
Whatever grade or school, just paying attention in class can seem a lot to ask. To also follow the news is a bridge too far. I get that. The news is so chaotic and ... granular. It unfolds so slowly. Nothing like a video game, where you hurtle through a colorful tube of geometric shapes flying at you and then on to the next, even harder level. That’s accomplishing something!
To continue reading, click here.