Getting the Kids There and Back. Alive.

There are a host of issues attendant to the planned closing of 53 Chicago public elementary schools.  But from the perspective of many parents, a key issue is the safety of children.   Given the very real gang boundaries that exist in Chicago, it’s no wonder parents are worried if their children will have to walk a different route to get to a new school.

CPS officials say they are working closely with police officials to design safe routes for kids headed to new schools.  It involves the expansion of the so-called “Safe Passage” program, already in place for thirty-five high schools and four elementary schools.

On tonight’s program, we will have not only representatives from the CPS and the police department, but also some critics skeptical of the system’s ability to keep these newly displaced students safe as they go back and forth to school.  Among the questions we will ask:

  • How good is the existing “Safe Passage” program working?
  • Will there be enough resources to expand it effectively?
  • Do downtown decision makers really have the experience or knowledge to how ever-shifting gang boundaries affect life for children?
  • “Community watchers” will be posted along the route–but what about the blocks in between watchers where kids are on their own?

These questions are not academic.  They deal with matters of life and death of children.  And absolutely nothing matters more than that.

I hope you tune in. Click here for a live stream, online chat, timeline and more.

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  • Jack ODonnell

    I’m interested in 2 issues that are part of the picture of “safe passage”

    First I’ve heard that gangs in Chicago have factionalized greatly. Its no longer just a safety issue of children walking from one neighborhood to the next. Factions of gangs now control a block(s) and crossing from block to block can be an issue. There now seems a greater perimeter of threat to kids traveling for any reason.

    Secondly I think the patrols for Safe Passage that i’ve observed for high school children will not necessarily directly work with grammar school children. Commonly high schools seem located near major streets and HS students often arrive to school from local CTA bus stops.
    Patrols for Safe Passage simply need to protect passage from buses to schools.

    K-8 schools commonly are within neighborhoods and K-8 children travel side streets to reach school. Its seems that patroling numerous routes over a distance of many blocks will be a greater challenge than presented by HS Safe Passage

    Thanks for doing this program.