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PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
8:56am
Wed Apr 9, 2014

Education Activists Take Fight Against Turnarounds To Home Of Board Of Ed President

About 60 education activists and members of Action Now demonstrated outside of Chicago Board of Education President David Vitale's home Tuesday evening in protest of plans to shake up the staff at three elementary schools next year. Progress Illinois was there for the protest.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
3:26pm
Fri Apr 4, 2014

Report: Credit Score Disparities Contribute To Racial Wealth Gap In Illinois

Residents in predominantly minority communities in Illinois have lower credit scores on average than those in mostly white neighborhoods — and that is a significant contributor to the racial wealth gap, according to a recent report from the Illinois Asset Building Group and the Social IMPACT Research Center at the Heartland Alliance, a Midwest anti-poverty organization.

The credit score gap between white and minority communities fuels racial inequality in the state, the "Trapped by Credit" report concludes.

In general, the report found that communities of color in Illinois are less likely than mostly white neighborhoods to have well-being indicators associated with stronger credit scores, such as higher levels of educational attainment and greater rates of homeownership and employment.

Similarly, communities of color have on average lower levels of "good debt" from student or home loans and higher levels of "bad debt" from sources like credit cards.

Since good credit scores help people gain access to better jobs, homeownership and higher education, "a cycle emerges where low credit scores feed decreased financial and social opportunity, which in turn feeds low credit scores," the report reads.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
3:04pm
Wed Mar 26, 2014

Report: Youth Unemployment High In Illinois, Chicago & Black Teens Hit The Hardest

Illinois teens are having a hard time attaining work, with the Prairie State being among the top ten states in the nation with the highest teen jobless rates. In 2012, the youth employment rate in Illinois was only 27 percent, a decrease of 10 percentage points from 2006, according to a recent report by the Chicago-based Alternative Schools Network.

The teen employment rate at the national level was also 27 percent in 2012. That figure is also down from 36 percent in 2006 and reflects the lowest employment rate in the nation's post-World War II history, according to the report, which is part of an ongoing series focused on local and national teen employment trends.

As previously noted, Illinois was one of10 states with the highest teen unemployment rate in 2012. And out of all Illinois teens, those in Chicago fared the worst with an employment rate of just 19 percent.

Across all geographic areas, black teens had the lowest employment rates compared to all other racial and ethnic groups, the report showed. In Illinois, only 16 out 100 black teens were employed in 2012, while just 11 out of 100 black teens in Chicago had jobs during that year.

“Every year, thousands of youth apply for jobs and every year there simply are not enough," Alternative Schools Network Executive Director Jack Wuest said in a statement. "The exclusion of teens from the job market is likely to continue and brings with it bleak economic prospects, limited earnings potential and significant taxpayer burden for the magnitude of jobless youth. Job creation for teens and young adults for 2014 has to be an immediate priority.”

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
5:37pm
Thu Mar 20, 2014

Chicago's Food Deserts Are A 'Civil Rights Issue', Experts Say

While the population of food deserts may have arguably decreased over recent years in Chicago, a number of obstacles still remain when it comes to expanding access to healthy foods in the city, according to panelists who discussed the topic Thursday afternoon.

The Illinois Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights hosted the talk in Chicago to hear from public, private and non-profit leaders who work on food access issues. Back in 2011, the committee issued its own report about Chicago food deserts, a problem it says must be addressed as a civil rights issue.

Food deserts are communities that lack healthy, fresh food options. In Chicago, African-American and Latino communities tend to face the greatest food access challenges. The Emanuel administration has worked to expand food access by bringing in new grocery stores, additional farmers markets and more produce carts, among other efforts.

But panelists at the discussion, held at Kennedy-King College on Chicago's South Side, noted that poverty and high prices for healthy foods are big barriers standing in the way of eliminating food deserts. 

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
3:17pm
Wed Feb 12, 2014

Ralph Martire: Illinois School Funding Reform Must Include Changes To Tax Policy

Reforming Illinois' public education funding system has to include fixes to the state’s tax policy, argued Ralph Martire, executive director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, at a DePaul University education forum Tuesday evening.

“For decades, Illinois has denied an adequate education to the vast majority of its school children, and it’s set up a structurally-racist system of education finance that specifically singles out African Americans and Latinos for very poorly funded education,” Martire said at the discussion about equity in education. “To fix that, we need to raise taxes the right way.”

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