Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Chronic Truancy Jumps in area schools

Today's Chicago Tribune has a feature showing that truancy is rising in Chicago area schools, which contributes to poor performance, high drop out rates, and a high cost to society and to the young people involved.

One school shown with 56.9% of students chronically truant was Robeson High School, located at South Normal Boulevard on the South Side. I used the Program Locator's Interactive map to zoom into this neighborhood and created this map.

This map shows that there are three organizations trying to reverse this trend in the area around Robeson. One is the Yancy Boys & Girls Club which has developed a partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Chicago. A second is the By the Hand Club for Kids, who on their web site show some impressive statistics.

I did a second map showing the area of Belmont-Cragin Elementary School, located in the Central part of Chicago. This map required a little more effort to make because this school was not included on the 2007 or 2008 list of low performing public schools, thus it's not included in the map on the Program Locator. Since the Tutor/Mentor Connection has had no public or private funding to support this mapping project since a $50,000 gift from an anonymous donor in late 2007 we've not been able to keep updating the mapping and now we have no staff at all to support this resource.

Thus I placed an X on the map to show where Belmont-Cragin is located. You can see that while there is a medium rate of poverty in the area (based on 2000 census info) there are no tutor/mentor programs in the area around the school. If you use the Asset Map feature on the Program locator you could determine if any churches, hospitals, banks or colleges are in the area, who could be helping start such programs.

I have been collecting information about tutor/mentor programs and using maps to show where they are needed and where existing programs are operating since 1993. My goal is to help existing programs connect and learn from each other while creating public attention that would draw more donors and volunteers to support the existing programs or to help new ones form where they are needed.

I have hosted a Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference every year since 1994 to encourage programs to network and share ideas. Obviously the Boys & Girls Clubs, Big Brothers Big Sisters and By the Hand Club have some expertise they could share with others....if they were to make time to participate in the conferences.

There are many organizations in Chicago who have much to share, and much to learn. We all need more resources to support the work we do and constantly improve based on what we learn from our own efforts and the efforts of peers. Yet if we can't find time to connect and share ideas and work together to build the pool of resources available to do this work, it's unlikely that we'll ever have more than a few good tutor/mentor programs working to help more youth succeed in school and in life.

There's still time to register for Friday's conference. The web site is

No comments: