Reviving the troubled neighborhoods of Chicago

Katie Zlajic, Staff Reporter

During the 1890s Chicago was noted as a world class city. The World’s Columbian Exposition was held in 1893 celebrating the 400th anniversary of Columbus arriving to the new world. This was a major opportunity for Chicago to make a name for itself. The city built new and vibrant buildings and became one of the most impressive cities in the world. Since then, Chicago has more negative impacts than positive. Besides poverty, foreclosed homes, homicide rates at an all time high and high school dropout rates rising; gun violence is a major issue in the city. Although Chicago has one of the highest gun control policies in the country, it seems as though we read about a gun involved crime in the newspaper every day. The question is, what can the city do to truly control this gun violence and the affects it has on our neighborhoods? And is gun control the only solution?

There is a simple answer to the question of how to revive the troubled neighborhoods of Chicago, and viewing the tightening of gun control isn’t the only answer. The city focuses all of its attention on gun control and having strict policies to assure the sale of weapons is legitimate. What people often fail to realize is having strict control of weapons is not going to prevent people from purchasing weapons illegally. Statistics have shown that last year the police seized 1,800 people who had possession of a gun illegally. Do you really think that only 1,800 people had an illegal weapon? Or perhaps more individuals have a weapon illegally but have yet to be caught. This is the central problematic force with gun control. You can put police forces at every corner and it isn’t going to guarantee someone is completely gun free, or at least if they have a weapon it is licensed. What Chicago needs to do is change the mind of the gun holder, as well as be more on top of the examination process with who is receiving these weapons.

A solution to the gun problem in the city could be lack of education. Chicago’s school system is underperforming and more than 50 public schools have been left abandoned. We need to change the way Chicago’s school system and students view education. Education is one of the most important things a student can have, and lack of education throughout the city is not helping the rising number of violence. Much of this violence is occurring in the cities streets with youth. These are kids who may come from broken families and now lack a proper high school education. We need to make it known how important a high school diploma is and we need to set goals for these students who spend their everyday lives on the streets of Chicago getting in trouble. If we can potentially change the way students view “school” maybe we can help them set goals that will allow them to succeed other than fail. In doing so we need to raise the standards the Chicago public schools have for themselves and we need to be on top of the teaching staff to assure students are setting goals for themselves and that those goals are being met.

In order to keep these students in school teachers need to be focused on the students. Curriculum should be centered around what is beneficial to the students learning. Teachers need to get the students involved and make them want to learn what is being taught. A lot of the kids may come from struggling neighborhoods so perhaps teachers could incorporate books that share a similar theme to a child with a troubled life. These stories can engage the mind of the reader, and if it’s something relatable to the individuals life they are more interested to learn. After-school programs(other than sports) could be offered to students. These programs would keep students busy so they don’t end up on the streets getting in trouble. Something as simple as encouraging a student to come in the library to study may keep them off the streets.

If these students are spending their time improving their grades other than on the streets then the neighborhoods of Chicago may see a dramatic difference. High school dropout rates have potential to be lower if teachers become more engaged in the students, and if students realize the excellent after-school opportunities that are available to them. What needs to happen is the youth need to have something to look forward to, goals. They need to be excited to learn at school and better themselves academically. The school system needs to do everything in their power to provide these students with proper resources, whether it’s after school programs or teachers who are more involved. If all of this happens, students may look forward to being the first student to attend college out of their family instead adding to the statistics of dropouts. Keeping these young minds engaged in learning prevents them from getting into trouble on the streets.