Youth should be able to enjoy summer break

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The last day of school for some public school students is Friday. Some at private and other schools are already out for the summer. And on the minds of some elected officials, community organizations, the police and others, is not simply what the students

The last day of school for some public school students is Friday. Some at private and other schools are already out for the summer. And on the minds of some elected officials, community organizations, the police and others, is not simply what the students will do over summer vacation. Instead, they are working, planning and coordinating to help ensure that they live through summer vacation.

Violence has already reached fever pitch in some of the city’s neighborhoods. Families have already funeralized dozens of youth since students’ Christmas break. And the warm weather has barely seemed like it would stay in the city before some 30 youth would be arrested for mob attacks on citizens.

Then there’s the crackle of gunfire.

Families are relieved that mis-aimed bullets did not prove fatal for their daughters during a recent shooting at a park where a Community Alternative Policing Strategies meeting was taking place inside the adjacent fieldhouse. But a family will soon have to bury its son who was gunned down Monday on his 15th birthday. Another family had their class of 2011 graduate felled by gunfire Tuesday. Another mother will soon be back in court to witness the last of her son’s convicted killers sentenced in the teens beating death – which captured national attention.

Incoming police Chief Garry McCarthy said officially that the abrupt Memorial Day weekend closure of a city beach was for the health well-being of the beach patrons. But like Rev. Jesse Jackson, we agree that there was a different reason for the closure – safety concerns.

Unfortunately, the good news of schools like TEAM Englewood sending 98 percent of its inaugural graduating class on to college is buried, if reported, behind news of teens – “good” boys and girls, their families say threw teary eyes and lumped throats – killed on their neighborhood blocks.

Few other, if any, media outlets reported that Fenger High School tried to accentuate the positive and motivate its sophomore class to continue to strive for graduation and Urban Prep Academy once again had a near-perfect graduating class.

Who would know that the Westside NAACP handed out several prizes to students who performed at honorable levels in various science, performing arts and other categories?

Those kinds of positive occurrences are overshadowed.

In a school district that is majority minority, graduates fewer than half of its students, is grappling with a $700-plus million deficit, is waiting to see what the new chief, school board and mayor will do, good news does exist in abundance. But the bad news, which also has to be reported, makes the front page and A-section headlines. Students, for the most part, have done what they needed to do. Many of them read countless books, put in hours studying and had their efforts rewarded.

Violence happens too often in some of our communities. We have said it before and it bears repeating: It has to stop. The children are getting out of school for the summer and we want each of them to have an opportunity to not only enjoy their break but live through it.

Copyright 2011 Chicago Defender

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