Inequalities in Chicago Public Schools remain evident on first day of school

On the first day of school for Chicago Public Schools, the inequalities remain apparent in buildings that are not full of affluent students.  CEO Forrest Claypool will visit a state-of-the-art high school in Gage Park today that's six years old and blocks away from a run down high-school building with more promise.

At Hancock College Prep--the city's newest and only Selective Enrollment high school on the Southwest side--the architecture continues to crumble, and drip, and swell.

  • What looks like mold forms on a window sill
  • Leaks with unidentifiable sources cause paint to flake
  • Chunks of ceiling fall because of condensation
  • Buckets catch dripping water
  • Some toilets remain out of order due to plumbing issues
  • Floor tiles swell because of trapped humidity--even after they've been replaced
  • The heating and cooling system requires constant maintenance and remains undependable or inadequate
  • For the second year, the giant stage remains dangerous and off limits while a screen hangs over it, limiting music and arts education and, believe it or not, our P.E. classes (the gym is too small so they meet in the auditorium)

Still, thousands of students applied for a couple hundred seats this fall.  And almost 1,000 students will show up regularly, work hard, and achieve.  Hancock is a good place for adolescents to be.

The Hancock administration and engineering staff does everything it can to address the countless problems in our building.

The custodians are some of the kindest, hardest working people you'll ever meet.

But it's unreasonable to expect them to fix problems in a building  that cannot be fixed.

If we were a school with a multitude of affluent, mostly white students, we wouldn't have these problems.

The city had money for Jones, and Northside, and Payton--all Selective Enrollment high schools just like Hancock.  Those school buildings rose in communities with economic and political power.

It's clear the city has money for what it wants.

And it's clear that Hancock College Prep needs and deserves a new building.  CEO Forrest Claypool should stop by today.

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