Saturday, September 11, 2010

Failing Schools in Chicago - Map a Response

The front page of Friday's Chicago Tribune featured a story on failing Chicago Public Schools. When I went to look for the story today, I had to do a search to find it.

That's the one of the problems facing us as we try to mobilize more people to work together to help inner city kids have the wide-range of adult supports needed to move through school and into jobs. We can't keep people focused on this problem from day-to-day. We don't have the advertising/PR dollars to do this, and the media keep moving to different stories. You really need to know what you are looking for to use the media web sites to search for information on a particular problem.

However, you can always come to the Tutor/Mentor Connection for The Rest of The Story, about poverty, poorly performing schools, and the role of volunteers in non-school tutor/mentor programs.

We have been using a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology to create maps that show where the poorly performing schools are, with overlays that show where poverty is most concentrated. These maps are part of a library of information people can use to build their own understanding of the problems of poverty and poorly performing schools, and the role of volunteers and non-school tutor/mentor programs.

The media occasionally use maps. We'd like to see them always use maps when talking about poorly performing, or well performing, public schools. We'd also like to see them link to our web sites, so readers can go beyond the bad news, to find places where they can become volunteers, donors, students, in existing tutor/mentor programs.

In many cases there are no tutor/mentor programs. That means the first role of some people looking at these maps, is to mobilize others who would work together to create new programs. At the same time, the role for most people is to find ways to help existing programs get the on-going, flexible funding and volunteer resources needed to constantly improve what they do.

You can always read about this on the Tutor/Mentor Connection blogs and web sites, even if the newspapers don't use maps, or point to us in their own stories.

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