Budget & Finance Photos

A Photographer’s View of Chicago Schools’ Fiscal Crisis

By Education Week Photo Staff — May 17, 2016 1 min read
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

School & District Management Webinar Examining the Evidence: Catching Kids Up at a Distance
As districts, schools, and families navigate a new normal following the abrupt end of in-person schooling this spring, students’ learning opportunities vary enormously across the nation. Access to devices and broadband internet and a secure
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
School & District Management Webinar
Branding Matters. Learn From the Pros Why and How
Branding your district matters. This webinar will provide you with practical tips and strategies to elevate your brand from three veteran professionals, each of whom has been directly responsible for building their own district’s brand.
Content provided by EdWeek Top School Jobs
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
School & District Management Webinar
How to Make Learning More Interactive From Anywhere
Nearly two-thirds of U.S. school districts are using hybrid learning right now with varying degrees of success. Students and teachers are getting restless and frustrated with online learning, making curriculum engagement difficult and disjointed. While
Content provided by Samsung

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Elementary Teacher
Madison, Wisconsin
One City Schools
Elementary Teacher - Scholars Academy
Madison, Wisconsin
One City Schools
Special Education Teacher
Chicago, Illinois
JCFS Chicago
Clinical Director
Garden Prairie, IL, US
Camelot Education

Read Next

Budget & Finance Tax Higher Incomes to Fund Schools? National Debate Gets Traction at the State Level
Arguments over an Arizona ballot measure mirror calls at the national level to raise taxes for "the 1 percent" to increase education funding.
3 min read
Budget & Finance Lawmakers Push Plan to Protect School Jobs From Pandemic Cuts
The new proposal resembles an education jobs program signed by President Barack Obama in 2010, but it would be much bigger.
4 min read
Budget & Finance Judge Orders Census Bureau to Keep Counting. Here's Why That Matters for Schools
Accurate census data is tied to billions of dollars of federal education aid. A federal judge told officials this week that they can't shorten the timeline for the count.
2 min read
Budget & Finance DeVos: Give Religious Groups Equal Consideration for Education Grants
The new U.S. Department of Education guidance creates a federal process for individuals and organizations to file complaints under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
2 min read