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Pressure to Fail


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To the editors:

Thank you for making the plight of thousands of Chicago teachers known in the article ["Three Teachers Talking," January 22]. Few items in the media mention the strong community, peer, and parental pressure that exists to prevent Chicago Public School children from achieving success.

You might like to take a journalistic look at programs and schools that do try to promote scholarship; the International Baccalaureate Program at Lincoln Park High School is one. Lincoln Park is the area high school for the gang members from Cabrini-Green. The Board of Education changed the name of the school and added the "I.B." program to attract good scholars. The students in the "I.B." group are warned to maintain very low profiles because they are despised by the rest of the student body. They are not allowed to have fund-raisers for their activities as the other student groups do because they would be attacked. Each day, many of the students cross parts of Oz Park to get to transportation or their homes. Often they are followed and harassed by other students.

Black and white students who attend Whitney Young on the near west side are attacked and beaten on the "El" platform at the station near the school. Carloads of gangbangers from Kenwood Academy, their rival on the south side, arrive with bricks and bats several times a year.

Interview teachers at elementary schools who must deal with the problems caused by former students and their pals who return to encourage current students to ditch school. Administration and security can do their best to keep these influences out of the buildings but they wait at the edge of the playgrounds.

Chicago Public School teachers are constantly criticized because the students' scores are low. Many of them produce incredible results with minimal support. The media rarely reports success stories. Perhaps there would be more of them if young people could read and/or hear about them on a regular basis the way we hear and read about murder, child abuse, rape, and human failure.

Miriam Feldman


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