Budget & Finance Photos

A Photographer’s View of Chicago Schools’ Fiscal Crisis

By Education Week Photo Staff — May 17, 2016 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print
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.

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 earlier this month. The landmark building, which was built in 1917, is located in Englewood, a on Chicago’s South Side.

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 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.

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.

Lindblom Math & Science Academy freshman Kemba Rasul, center, sings during a choir class.

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

Jasmine Curtis, a sophomore at Lindblom, listens during a geometry lesson.

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.

A Chicago Transit Authority train passes through the North Lawndale neighborhood on the city’s West Side.

Related Tags:

Education Week Staff contributed to this article.
A version of this article first appeared in the Full Frame blog.

Events

Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Achievement Webinar
Mission Possible: Saving Time While Improving Student Outcomes
Learn how district leaders are maximizing instructional time and finding the best resources for student success through their MTSS framework.
Content provided by Panorama Education
Reading & Literacy K-12 Essentials Forum Writing and the Science of Reading
Join us for this free event as we highlight and discuss the intersection of reading and writing with Education Week reporters and expert guests.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Budget & Finance More Districts Are Paying Big to Resolve Sexual Misconduct Claims
A new report says schools and colleges had to pay out 69 damage awards and settlements of $1 million or more last year.
5 min read
Photo illustration of gavel falling in front of a cascade of money.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week + Getty Images
Budget & Finance Q&A Letting Students Decide Where Money Should Go: How One District Did It
Cyndi Tercero-Sandoval leads an effort to let Phoenix Union High students decide how significant chunks of money are spent.
4 min read
Cyndi Tercero-Sandoval, the family and community engagement manager at the Phoenix Union High School District, in Phoenix, Ariz., meets with community liaisons at Carl Hayden High School.
Cyndi Tercero-Sandoval, the family and community engagement manager at the Phoenix Union High School District, in Phoenix, Ariz., meets with community liaisons at Carl Hayden High School.
Ash Ponders for Education Week
Budget & Finance Leader To Learn From Giving Students a Say in School Spending? A District Leader's Bold Idea Pays Off
Cyndi Tercero-Sandoval's initiative empowers students by allowing them to vote on how portions of their school's budgets will be spent.
9 min read
Cyndi Tercero, family and community engagement manager for the Phoenix Union High School Districts, pictured at a distribution event for students and families in need at Carl Hayden High School in west Phoenix, Ariz., on Jan. 13, 2023.
Cyndi Tercero-Sandoval, the family and community engagement manager for the Phoenix Union High School District, helps out at a food distribution event for students and families in need at Carl Hayden High School in west Phoenix, Ariz.
Ash Ponders for Education Week
Budget & Finance Schools Are Heading Into a Perfect Financial Storm
School districts will lose the lifeline of COVID relief funds as they struggle with inflated costs and rising economic uncertainty.
7 min read
Conceptual image of money with Benjamin Franklin's face peeking through cloudy blue sky.
iStock/Getty