Chicago: Help the 'most likely to be shot'

In response to 37 student shootings in the past school year, Chicago Public Schools have identified 1,200 high school students most likely to get shot and set up a $30 million program to keep them out of trouble, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.  In the last five years, high school shooting victims have tended to be “black males, homeless, special education students and students at alternative schools,” says Ron Huberman, the district CEO.

Such kids also tended to be at least two credits behind in high school, to have been absent for more than 40 percent of the school year and to have committed nearly one serious school violation per school year.

Potential shooting victims will be matched with “advocates” and social workers “who will work with the students, their families, their schools and their communities in pinpointing and addressing their problems,” Huberman said. All will be offered paid jobs to keep them busy.

These are kids with serious behavioral and academic problems. They cut school more than 40 percent of the time!  It seems odd to frame the problem in terms of violence. A few will be shooters and a few will be shot, but all of these kids — and their friends who cut “only” 20 percent of the time — are doomed to failure. If they can be helped by social workers and counselors, they need that help to start in kindergarten and first grade.

I also have problems with giving paid jobs to chronic truants.  What does that say to the kids who show up every day? No bribes for you unless you commit “one serious school violation” per year.

Via Flypaper.

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  1. I believe that 37 is the number of CPS students killed in a shooting last school year. The number of CPS students shot is around 300 if I recall correctly.

    $25K being spent per student identified. That’s around twice the amount spent each year to teach an average CPS student.

    In the three years I taught at CPS I had around 75 students in my homeroom, one got shot. He was a black male, but was not homeless, a special ed student, or at an alternative school.

  2. I’ve had students who were shot. In general, they were not just “accidentally” in the wrong place at the wrong time, but actively sought out dangerous situations, even created them. They were in gangs (a high-risk activity), selling drugs (they made that decision), and carrying guns.

    I fear for those employers that provide those jobs – do they really want employees like that?

  3. Richard Aubrey says:

    Linda F. These kids being in a special program may have special categories attached. Such as you can’t refuse to hire them.

  4. Richard Aubrey says:

    What’s up with this site?
    To continue:
    It would make more sense to work with (whatever that looks like) the kids most likely to shoot. They’ll shoot–claims the program–those kids most likely to be shot. They’ll also shoot others.
    More economical to shut down the shooters somehow.

  5. I agree–“most likely to get shot,” is pretty weird sort of category. However, considering the numbers that Carl provides (BTW–does anyone think that 75 kids in a homeroom defeats the whole purpose of providing at least one adult who knows each kid?), there is a pretty serious problem as regards this outcome. But–make no mistake, this is in fact an outcome associated with the various indicators cited. And regardless of the puritanical leaning that says that if they are cutting school (or failing classes) they are not putting in enough effort to deserve help, it’s far easier to intervene with a kid when they start to fall off the track than to revive them after they have been shot, or hope that a GED while incarcerated will adequately prepare them for life.

    Among the kids I have known, and there have been a few, who met violent deaths, yes there were elements of choice. The first (so long ago it was “old school,” he was knifed to death) told the abusive boy friend of a neighborhood girl not to berate her in front of the kids gathered at his sisters apartment for Thanksgiving dinner. The abuser left and jumped him on his way home. Another was stepping in when a neighbor with a gun was “pistol whipping” a kid who had done something to his car. Another one might not count–he was grown, married and studying for the ministry when he got caught in crossfire picking up a kid to take him to church. He didn’t fit the pattern, although the others did. But they are all just as dead.

    Yes–the kids who end up hanging out on the street, selling or buying drugs, “carrying,” joining gangs, etc. in most cases carry a long string of failures and screw-ups before they get there. But in most cases, if we follow them back to the earliest days of their schooling, there has always been someone around declaring that they don’t “deserve” something, or that their family, or their community has already failed them, stamped them with severely limited expectations.

    If someone is willing to put some dollars behind working with those kids (and their families and communities) at an earlier point, then I say it’s time that we let them.

  6. 75 students in my homeroom over three years, around 25 per year. I’d get a new batch of freshman each year.

  7. If they can be helped by social workers and counselors,

    Are they supposed to help?


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