Better Off Now?

Riffing on the various retrospectives surrounding the 25th anniversary of Harold Washington's death, the Reader's Mike Miner weighs in on the issue of whether Chicago is better off now than it was then and comes out thinking that is is (Is Chicago a better place to live and learn than it used to be? Yes.) Read below, then tell us what you think. Or just skip the reading part and head straight to comments.  Miner starts off with an interview Carol Marin did with Byrd-Bennett at the end of the summer in which Marin notes a lack of dramatic progress in CPS:

In the time I've been a reporter here I can name Paul Vallas, Arnie Duncan, Ron Huberman, Terry Mazany, J.C. Brizard, and now you as superintendent. Every one that I have named is a really smart person committed and hopeful about the transformation of the public schools systems. All the others have not succeeded though they've tried.

And yet Miner concludes that things are better off over all than they used to be (if not nearly as good as they need to be, or equally across all parts of the city):

Chicago's public schools are transformed. There is failure, which I suppose fairly describes CPS's current attempts to educate most of its students, and there is indifference—which I think fairly describes the massive CPS bureaucracy before Washington. Chicago now offers exceptional high schools such as Northside and Payton, a string of first-rate magnet schools, and even neighborhood schools turned around by the communities whose kids now go to them. It's no longer necessary, if you're a Chicago parent who wants to educate his children, to move to the suburbs to do it.

As a middle-class white father and home owner living on the north side, I understand that I'm not the sort of Chicagoan the above questioners had it mind. I'll have my say regardless. Don't underestimate the power of reform, as it trickles down—or doesn't—to the folks who may or may not ever benefit from it, to make life a lot better for others along the way.

What do you think about today vs. back then, for yourself or for the city? Please provide specifics.

Here's the Marin/BBB interview:



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