Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Chicago Tribune Education Article

As the new school year begins, the Chicago Tribune has published a three-part series of articles profiling the state of affairs in the inner-city Chicago public schools. Specifically, it details the hardships of one public school teacher in trying to guide and motivate a class of 8th graders at Sherman School of Excellence on Chicago's Southside. It's a fantastic series of articles - following a superior teacher through an academic year. It shows the tolls the stresses of the job puts on her, how far she takes her class in improving over the year, and the successes and failures at the end of the year. However, like many articles profiling education in our media, it doesn't ask certain important questions.

The main question it doesn't ask is what role would tutoring and mentoring programs have played in making this teacher's job easier. In the articles the teacher describes how she has to be a mother, a motivator, a teacher, a guidance counselor - everything for her 34 students. However, if there was a solid tutoring/mentoring program in the neighborhood, a huge burden would have been lifted from this dynamic teacher's shoulders. Sherman School of Excellence is in the Back of the Yards neighborhood of Chicago, which is in the 60609 zipcode. If you go to our program locator on the Tutor/Mentor Connection website, you would see that there are 10 programs in that zipcode, but none specifically near Sherman Park. With gangs and other pressures in the area, venturing even out of their small area to go to a tutor/mentor program would be an issue for a lot of these kids. In the end, after reading this article, we need to ask our own questions. Hopefully, someone reading this article may be inspired to start a tutor/mentor program near Sherman School of Excellence, not only to help these children, but also to take the burden off of our outstanding teachers who get ground down by their difficult jobs.

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