Sunday, April 21, 2024

Commitment Needed from top 100 CEOs - 1996 newsletter

In last Tuesday's post, I showed a President's Message from a 2004 Cabrini Connections-Tutor/Mentor Connection newsletter. Below is my President's Message from my winter 1996 newsletter, written eight years earlier.

On page 2 of the newsletter you can see three elements.  At the top right I show a design for an ideal, long-term, mentor-rich program that recruits volunteers from multiple backgrounds and keeps kids involved for many years.    I call this Total Quality Mentoring because it's a constantly improving process, based on what we learn from our own work, and what we learn from other people.

Below are three maps of Chicago, under the headline of "How many programs are needed in Chicago?". The map on the left shows locations of Chicago Public Schools. The map on the right shows the 109 schools on the State of Illinois School Probation list.  The map in the middle shows locations of volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs that we discovered through our surveys. The shaded areas are high-poverty areas of Chicago.  

The column on the left is the  President's Message.  You can open the PDF version of newsletter and read it there, but I'm posting the full text below.

------ begin 1996 President's Message -------

109 city schools put on probation
In each of those schools 85% or more of the students failed to score at national averages on reading tests!

Once again, the test scores are out and the schools are under siege! Hold them accountable!  Fire them if they don't perform! It's a "long-needed" call to action" reports the Chicago Sun-Times

If this is a wake-up call, I think it's a bomb aimed at the wrong target. Sure, the poor education Chicago kids receive borders on criminal, but the wake-up call should be to the civic, business, religious and political leaders of this city.

To those who read about the school probations and thought, "It's about time," I suggest reading a few books on this subject. One would be Reclaiming our Schools, by Maribeth Vander Weele.  Another would be Savage Inequalities, by Jonathon Kozal.  And another, American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass, by Nancy Denton and Douglas S. Massey.

These problems did not arrive overnight, and they will not end by putting schools on probation. This tragedy won't end until the best minds, the top leaders and a much broader group of citizens make a lifetime commitment.

Reports from Chapin Hall and the Carnegie Corporation tell how poor the after-school infrastructure is in most poverty stricken inner-city neighborhoods.  In their books, Vander Weele and Kozal tell how poor the infrastructure is in many schools, and how weak the will to rebuild those schools is.

Our "blueprint" for change involves a knowledge distribution system that suggests kids need adult role models from pre-school through work.  It also suggests they need to experience arts, sports and have access to computers, with people who can model their use --- just like the kids in the suburbs.

We have developed maps to illustrate how serious this is.  All 250-plus tutor/mentor programs combined don't come close to matching the density of public schools, and in some areas where they are needed, no programs exist at all.

When we print an overlay showing business presence in some of these neighborhoods, we find some very well known corporate names, some who take a great credit for community betterment programs they operate. The problem is, they don't do this with a vision that says a Total Quality Mentoring program should exist within one mile of every corporate site they operate in the city, or that their involvement should assure that these programs are well funded, have access to the latest technology, have volunteers from their company and business associates serving as mentors and leaders --- and that once a child joins the program, there is a full commitment that the program will do everything in their power to see that that child graduates from  high school 4-, 8- or 12-years later.

When we have that commitment, from the top 100 CEOs in Chicago, we will begin to have real school reform.

--------------- end 1996 President's Message --------

You can do a Google search and find the books I mentioned.  And you can look at articles I've posted on this blog since 2005 and find similar messages.

Unfortunately, very few people ever saw my newsletters.  In 1993 our mail list was 400 people. It grew every year and by 2000 we were sending the Newslink version of our newsletter to a list of about 8,000 supporters and the T/MC Report version, to a list of about 12,000 (with overlap between the two).

That's a really small number.  Imagine if we'd had email newsletters and social media in the 1990s.  More people would have seen my letters and maybe we would have made it through the turbulent financial struggles of the 2000s without splitting the Tutor/Mentor Connection from Cabrini Connections in 2011, or by creating two separate nonprofits in the early 2000s when we began to recognize the need.

However, since persistent poverty in highly segregated neighborhoods is still a problem in 2024, my newsletter archives offer a rich orchestra of ideas that anyone could draw from for a new advocacy that might accomplish more in the next 30 years than I have in the past 30.

But, a few people need to read them, then share what they are reading with others.  That's what the graphic below is telling you.

The big circle represents the resources on the library and the archives I point to in my blog articles.  The smaller circles represent groups of people reading and discussing the ideas, and ways they might implement them in Chicago or their own communities.

Below are two visualizations done in 2011 by an intern from South Korea, to interpret this graphic.


I shared these in this blog article.  They illustrate how someone else can look at my articles, newsletters and visualizations, then create and share their own interpretation.  This could be happening in thousands of places, with a shared goal of bringing more people together to help reduce poverty by helping kids born or living in these places move through school and into jobs that enable them to raise their own kids free of the negative impacts of poverty.

Over the coming year I'll post more of the newsletters from the 1990s and early 2000s, along with the President's Messages that I included in each of them. 

I'm on Twitter  (X), Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and other social media platforms. You can find the links on this page.  I hope you'll connect and help me find other people who share the same goals.

Thank you for reading this article.

If you value what I'm sharing, please visit this page and make a contribution to help me pay the bills. 

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