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Heights Residents Point to Education as Source of City's Woes

When we asked how you would improve Chicago Heights in 2013, a few readers said education was the root cause to many of the city's other struggles.

It's no secret that poverty and crime are two of the most prominent issues in the city of Chicago Heights, and a question posed to Patch readers two days ago allowed residents to voice their opinions on how to solve those problems.

We asked readers to tell us how they would like to see the city improved in 2013. Many of the responses involved removing Section 8 and bringing in major retailers, but one of the larger issues talked about was education.

One reader, Edward Husker, said some of the city's other problems could perhaps be traced back to a flawed public school system.

"How about the city trying to help the local public schools?" Husker asked. "If the problems can be fixed there, maybe other criminal problems could disappear from the city."

Other commenters echoed Husker, but said improving education can only be done by improving the staffs within the school districts.

Another reader, Mark, was frank in his response, telling Chicago Heights to look forward instead of backward:

I think the good citizens of Chicago Heights should resolve to stop living in the past and move on. For example, admit that you lost the race for big box stores to Homewood and Matteson and try to figure out what you are going to do without them now that the big-box boom days are over. Stop longing for a return to the '50s and before and try to figure out how to make this town work in the 21st century. Stop blaming your problems on "tenants" or even "section 8" and recognize that without an educated population quality of life cannot be improved. Begin to improve both our personal quality of life and that of the community by opening our mind and filling it with new skills.

Once again, it seems the issues are traced back to education. So, maybe the real question is: How do we improve that? Do you think the public schools in Chicago Heights are failing, or is the responsibility of the parents being ignored?

Let us know in the comments below.

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michael king January 02, 2013 at 06:43 PM
Everyone puts everything on education and its bigger then that education it puts you at the starting line but in the end your back to that stage where a person has to believe in you but how could this happen with no jobs in the area that a person could utilize the skills they learned I went to school for welding and i finished couldnt find a welding job to save my life so the kids out there that get the skills where do they go?????? In order for me to get a decent job i had to leave and i see a big difference in community they help each other it dont take education to make a strong community its a mix of both strong community and education
mick January 02, 2013 at 07:04 PM
I feel the public schools are failing children and are complacent with the fact that parents are not getting involved. I feel the best way to make parents responsible is for the schools and teachers to force the parents to be involved and to know what their child is doing each and every day in school. I feel bad for the teachers because many parents dont care at all, causing the children not to care as well. There needs to be expectations set and followed through by both the parents and the teachers for any change to take place.
Lester Scanland January 02, 2013 at 09:29 PM
I agree Mick. Its a very cyclical relationship. The Parents dont care, so the kids dont. The kids dont care so the teachers stop or leave for better districts. The better teachers leave and the kids dont get an A+ education. The kids dont get an A+ education so they resort to a lower standard of living. Those same kids become parents that dont care. Its a vicious cycle that needs to be broken somewhere, somehow.
Steve Nash January 03, 2013 at 12:27 AM
As a veteran educational professional development provider located in the Southland, I must disagree with both Mick and Lester. One very common misconception about parents from low-performing, low-income public school systems is that they don't care about their children's education. All the research points to the contrary (if you don't believe me, look up the work of Scott Farkas). EVERY PARENT WANTS TO SEE THEIR CHILDREN DO WELL. The problem is that there is often a very serious disconnect between parents, their needs, their understanding of the educational system's framework, their understanding of the parameters of their involvement in the educational process and school disricts' resources, willingness, and capability to engage parents in a meaningful, productive way. Part of the solution is for school districts to be more willing to accept the fact that increasing parent involvement is a specialized challenge and that third party specialists or other outside resources should be strongly considered to help tackle the issue (versus continuing to deal with this very large problem strictly with internal resources. I can certainly think of a few non-profit agencies in the Southland (including mine, The Network Room Professional Development Cooperative, in South Holland) that have outstanding programs that can adequately address the issue of enhancing parent involvement - which I believe is one of the most cost-effective ways to positively impact student achievement.
NotBuyingIt January 03, 2013 at 01:11 AM
mick, you wrote, "I feel the best way to make parents responsible is for the schools and teachers to force the parents to be involved and to know what their child is doing each and every day in school." mick, you can't FORCE someone to care about their children... They either do, or they don't...
NotBuyingIt January 03, 2013 at 01:17 AM
Steve Nash, it costs NOTHING for a parent to tell their children to do their homework or they don't get to leave the house. It costs NOTHING for a parent to get an email or a text when their child is failing behind in class. What those parents chose to do about it is another matter. You write, "The problem is that there is often a very serious disconnect between parents, their needs, their understanding of the educational system's framework, their understanding of the parameters of their involvement in the educational process and school disricts' resources, willingness, and capability to engage parents in a meaningful, productive way." REALLY??? Parents don't understand how school works??? Go to school everyday, do the homework that you have been assigned, do all the reading that is required of you and you will be amazed that you don't have to spend another penny to make school work!!!
T. Overturf January 03, 2013 at 04:40 AM
I use to live in Steger, and the high schools are terrible, even today. Between the teachers, and administration, they need a complete overhaul. I have grandchildren in Bloom right now, and I could tell you some horror stories we have run into with the system. We finally had to get an attorney to explain to us how the "due process" worked. Which we were told, most parents DO NOT know how it works when you want to fight the school system. My daughter is VERY involved with her children's education. The school's charge an enormous fee to register the kids, and also charge other fees for certain classes, and what kind of education do the kids get? Not a good one...I have seen many young adults 13-17 that can barely read, why is that? My daughter had to send one of her children to Sylvan's, which he excelled at with the extra basic tutoring. If someone were to do a story on Bloom Trail, I sure could give them some eye opening information. The schools need to be investigated.
teacherfirst January 03, 2013 at 04:51 AM
Steve Nash is right on the money! I teach in the district we are speaking of. Parents do what they know. It is important to develop relationships with the parents of the students to assist in the success of their children. I can also tell you good teachers do NOT leave the district. There are GREAT teachers in Chicago Heights who are devoted, loyal, and hard working educators. We love what we do and would not go anywhere else. Yes, some move on, but that is at all jobs. The district provides Professional Development to keep teachers up with the trends and encourages continued education to help our students become successful. There is so much more to this conversation then space on this blog.
athena January 05, 2013 at 01:52 AM
As an educator and a parent of children in the public school system, I will tell you that there are changes that need to be made. But that is in general. When Mr. Husker refers to re-evaluating staff in the school system, I will say this. I was a teacher at SD170. I am from a family of educators and am also a product of the public school system. School District 170 goes above and beyond to emphasize relationships between home and school. I was one of those teachers, and I can tell you that most of the teachers in my school made phone calls home to parents weekly (sometimes more) just to keep them aware of what was going on in the classroom. I will tell you this. It is very important to nurture a relationship between home and school. It makes a world of difference. However, you can not always blame educators for students who fail. This continues to be an unfair judgement on what we do. Until you are a teacher or an educator, you really do not have any idea what we do on a daily basis. I encourage you to disregard what you see on television and take time to get involved in the schools. For three years running I have attended a fundraiser that the foundation puts on that gives directly back to the students. @Steve Nash, I agree with you. Without the connection between home and school, you will have a very difficult time getting through to kids. But, there are problems in wealthy communities in this department as well and in private schools.

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