As the clock winds down on my birthday I reflect on what I may consider to be my own niche issue.
I have a friend who has in recent months found his own niche issue. It's in the form of illegal immigration and he's using the internet to encourage people to take this issue to their own US Congressmen and Senators. It's an important enough issue that he starting blogging about it and then became part of a website that promotes activism to fight illegal immigration.
Well I'm not particularly up on that issue. Not enough to want to be involved with the issue although I'm sure many who read this blog are concerned with illegal immigration. My niche issue is more close to home.
Starting in October I paid a visit to both Bennett School and Harlan High School Local School Councils (LSC). If you haven't visited your school's LSC I recommend it if only to hear about the issues your local public school is facing day to day. It doesn't matter whether or not you have a child attending that school. Such meetings are open to the public.
If you're not from Chicago, Local School Councils are charged with managing individual schools. They set the budget and an annual school improvement plan. They also evaluate and hire/fire principals.
These meetings discussed a variety of issues. At the last Bennett LSC meeting what struck me was the discussion of special education students. What to do when some of them don't belong in a school setting? Indeed when many of them don't function well enough to either hold a pencil or cause their own disruptions in school.
They also discuss the support these students get from their parents and how their parents respond to the efforts of the faculty on behalf of their students. At Harlan I hears about parents cursing out school staff because they dared to inquire about medical and lunch forms. Critical because without these the students could be excluded from school.
At Bennett they were concerned about those students who fell behind because there was no stability at home. These families had no problem with picking up and moving from place to place. Especially before the schools were ready to really work with a particular students as far as performance.
So far I have only attended three LSC meetings this year, two at Bennett and one at Harlan. The disappointing part is that so far, I'm the only member of the public who is actually attending these meetings. I hope that this isn't common.
We should care about what happens at our local schools. The primary reason being that the students who are at the schools are the ones who will prey on you in the future. They will be the ones doing the mugging, engaging in robbery, burglary or worse. They may well be attending neighborhood schools.
Whether we actually have children in these schools or not we ought to be concerned about what happens at our schools. This is why I choose to visit at the very least the schools I once attended. Hopefully one day, I can have a hand in keeping some of our students out of trouble and hopefully leading productive lives in the future!
While I have written a lot about the public schools at The Sixth Ward. I've set up a blog named for one of my former elementary schools (Shedd School) to talk about at the very least elementary education. I still need more material to find a point for that blog, however.