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    A Photographer’s View of Chicago Schools’ Fiscal Crisis

    by Charles Borst posted May 17, 2016
    Assistant Principal Alexandra Escobar hugs second grader Analise Rivera, 8, during recess at R. H. Lee Elementary School in Chicago on Friday, May 6, 2016. The school, which is located in a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood, is losing Escobar who took a job in another school district. Photo by Alyssa Schukar

    Assistant Principal Alexandra Escobar hugs 2nd grader Analise Rivera, during recess at R. H. Lee Elementary School in Chicago. Escobar is leaving the school, located in a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood on the city’s West Side, for a job in a suburban district. –Alyssa Schukar for Education Week

    Photographer Alyssa Schukar shares her favorite images and her experiences working on a recent story about the Chicago schools’ funding crisis for Education Week.

    Working as a photojournalist in Chicago, I’m often sent into the city’s public schools schools to visually document life in the embattled district. The last year has been particularly tumultuous for the schools, especially with the Illinois budget crisis, and a corruption scandal that lead to the ousting of former Chicago schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. Just last month, the teacher’s union held a one-day strike, demanding Illinois lawmakers fund public education. Currently, officials are considering the biggest budget cuts in district history.

    Students enter Lindblom Math & Science Academy at the start of the day on Friday, May 6, 2016. The Chicago Landmark building, which was built in 1917, is located in Englewood, a predominantly black neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. Lindblom Math & Science Academy is one of ten selective enrollment high school in Chicago. Its students were so moved by the budget crisis that they created a song about the situation, which they performed at the school board meeting. Photo by Alyssa Schukar

    Students enter Lindblom Math & Science Academy at the start of the day earlier this month. The landmark building, which was built in 1917, is located in Englewood, a on Chicago’s South Side. –Alyssa Schukar for Education Week

    All of this bad news can make for depressing pictures, but when I visit Chicago schools, I see hope rather than despair.  I don’t see downtrodden students, teachers, and administrators. I see Chicagoans who care deeply and are eager to create change from the inside.

    Lindblom Math & Science Academy senior Ebere Forbes-Wilson, 18, in grey, goofs around with classmates all of whom helped write a song in response to the Chicago Public School's budget crises before the start of school on Friday, May 6, 2016. Pictured at back is choir teacher Stuart Fuess. Lindblom Math & Science Academy, which is located in the predominantly black South Side neighborhood of Englewood, is one of ten selective enrollment high school in Chicago. Its students were so moved by the budget crisis that they created a song about the situation, which they performed at the school board meeting. Photo by Alyssa Schukar

    Lindblom Math & Science Academy senior Ebere Forbes-Wilson, 18, in gray, jokes with classmates on the Chicago school campus. The students recently wrote a song in response to the district’s budget crisis and performed it at a school board meeting. Choir teacher Casey Fuess is in back. —Alyssa Schukar for Education Week

    I loved sitting in on a girls’ choir class taught by Casey Fuess, the choir teacher at the Lindblom Math & Science Academy, a selective-enrollment high school on the South Side. Some of his students — including those pictured above — created a song titled “When We Gonna Change?” about the budget crises, which you can view here.

    Lindblom Math & Science Academy freshman Kemba Rasul, 14, sings during a girls choir class on Friday, May 6, 2016. Lindblom Math & Science Academy, which is located in the predominantly black South Side neighborhood of Englewood, is one of ten selective enrollment high school in Chicago. Its students were so moved by the budget crisis that they created a song about the situation, which they performed at the school board meeting. Photo by Alyssa Schukar

    Lindblom Math & Science Academy freshman Kemba Rasul, center, sings during a choir class. –Alyssa Schukar for Education Week

    The students are fired up. They recognize how important education is to their futures and the future of Chicago.

    Lindblom Math & Science Academy sophomore Jasmine Curtis, 16, listens to a geometry lesson on Friday, May 6, 2016. Lindblom Math & Science Academy, which is located in the predominantly black South Side neighborhood of Englewood, is one of ten selective enrollment high school in Chicago. Its students were so moved by the budget crisis that they created a song about the situation, which they performed at the school board meeting. Photo by Alyssa Schukar

    Jasmine Curtis, a sophomore at Lindblom, listens during a geometry lesson. –Alyssa Schukar for Education Week

    In a city that is on pace for one of its most violent years in decades, I believe we need these inspired and engaged youth to help us become better.

    The Chicago Transit Authority's Pink Line train passes over North Lawndale on the west side of Chicago. --Alyssa Schukar for Education Week

    A Chicago Transit Authority train passes through the North Lawndale neighborhood on the city’s West Side. –Alyssa Schukar for Education Week

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