Laura Varlas

Six Chicago Schools Develop "Culture of Calm" Plans

Yesterday NPR featured a story on turnaround efforts at Chicago's Fenger Academy, where last fall a student was beaten to death in a brawl off school grounds. Last year, 49 Chicago students were homicide victims; this year, 27 students in the city have been murdered.

Fenger has new staff, including a new principal, and holds school-community events around messages of peace and self-actualization. Community members are optimistic that the school culture is becoming less violent and that changes will ripple out into the surrounding neighborhood.

In the same school system, six high schools are enacting "culture of calm" antiviolence plans as part of an initiative developed by Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Ron Huberman. The initiative identifies vulnerable students based on their similarities to prior CPS shooting victims, establishes nonnegotiable behavior expectations, and brings all suspensions in-house. Huberman notes that preliminary results have been positive at the six "culture of calm" high schools.

"Culture of calm" will eventually roll out to 38 CPS high schools and establish safe passage routes to 12 high schools in high-crime areas. Fenger Academy is on the list of schools set to participate in this $60 million effort.

Comments (1)


June 4, 2010

I loved the quote from the artist/parent:

“A fish doesn’t realize it’s swimming in water. It just swims.”

Is “just swimming” a metaphor for hope, no matter how hopeless the situation?

All children long for a better life. Those among us who can help ensure children realize those dreams need to step up to the plate.

Thanks for sharing, Laura.

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