Monday, September 21, 2009

Sept. 9 shooting - "kid you would wish for"

Page 13 of today's Chicago SunTimes includes a photo of Corey McClaurin, a Simeon High School student, who was shot last Saturday as he sat in his car. He was described as a "diligent, well-liked student."

This map shows where this shooting took place. It also shows that there are a large number of poorly performing elementary schools in the area, and no non-school tutor/mentor programs serving junior high or high school students operating near Simeon High School or anywhere in this part of Chicago.

We created this map using the Chicago Tutor/Mentor Program Locator. You can use that site to create your own map, showing poverty and poorly performing schools in this neighborhood, or any other neighborhood of Chicago.

On page 14 of today's SunTimes is another story, this time about how students from Elmhurst College, in Elmhurst, Il., " took to the streets" in the Austin neighborhood to pass out flyers for an "anti violence" ralley hosted By the Rev. Michael Pfleger and the Bethel Green Family Worship Center. This event was "organized as a way to foster a sense of personal responsibility toward the issue of neighborhood violence," said The Rev. Ronald Beauchamp, pastor of Bethel Green and director of Elmhurst College's Nieburhr Center.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote an article and posted some maps showing the Austin neighborhood. I wonder if the group at Elmhurst or the faith leaders in Austin have seen these.

We've written articles on our blogs about engaging universities. You can read some here, here, and

If you read other articles on this blog, you'll see that we view poverty as the root cause of poorly performing schools and disaffected youth who are willing to take lives without any form of regret. We agree with the student from Elmhurst College who was quoted as saying "Am I my brother's keeper. Yes."

However, until people who don't live in poverty are engaging in an on-going way with information that helps them understand where and why kids in poor neighborhoods need more help, and teaches them that solving social problems requires a lifetime of involvement, not just a weekend visit or a semester of study.

Furthermore, until people who don't live in poverty look in the mirror at the beginning of each day and ask "where can I give some of my time, talent and dollars" to help someone working in a poverty neighborhood help a youth connect with an expanded support system, in the school, and in the non-school hours, we will never have the consistent flow of resources in Austin, or the Simeon High School neighborhood, or any other high poverty neighborhood, to build and sustain programs that change the future for the kids living in these areas.

What a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program offers is a place to connect, and stay connected for many years, with the kids who live in poverty, and the knowledge that they need to understand in order to have a greater personal impact, and a greater impact on others who need to be involved.

Elmhurst is one of the Associated Colleges of Illinois, where there is a strong liberal arts curriculum. Many of the schools, were started by faith based organizations, such as Illinois Wesleyan, North Park, and Wheaton College, and continued various forms of faith based learning. Some strong. Others less so.

Our "scripture" and "learning curriculum" is the information we host in web libraries and discuss in blogs like this.

We need people to be reading and reflecting on this every day, just as much as leaders of faith communities, and universities, want people to read and reflect on their material. We need people to be using maps, diagrams, and other visual tools to create understanding, and to distribute attention and resources to all of the poverty neighborhoods, not just one or two.

I know I am a voice in the wilderness on this. However, every time a youth is shot and the media print a picture and tell how this was a "kid you would wish for" we are reminded that we need to do more than wish to solve this problem.


tnachtrab said...

In the interest of accuracy, let us note that Elmhurst College in Elmhurst, Illinois, not in Wheaton.

Also, regarding the statement "Elmhurst is a Christian school and students learn to study scripture, reflect on it, and put it to work in their lives."
It is true that Elmhurst College does have an affiliation with the United Church of Christ, but the tone of the above statement suggests that the T/MC blogger may have confused Elmhurst College with the much more evangelically Christian Wheaton College, in Wheaton.

Tutor Mentor Connections said...

Thanks for correcting me. I edited the blog to reflect your comments. I graduated from IWU and was recognized with an ACI award in 2004. I'd like to be working with teams of students and alumni from each school, to help them connect with the information, and take on leader roles that draw more consistent resources to tutor/mentor programs so those programs are better able to help kids go through school, college and into careers.

Please pass the message on.