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Chicago Tribune Letter to the Editor: No child should be homeless

(Originally Published by the Chicago Tribune on October 16, 2019)

You know the drill: young family, just starting out in the city. The oldest child turns 5 and off they go to the suburbs. Why? The schools.

But not us. We are Chicago Public Schools parents. And let us tell you, it’s sometimes been a rough ride. Some years we didn’t know if schools would open on time due to budget shortfalls. Some years our kids were in classrooms with 35 to 40 students. But we have stuck with CPS through it all because of one thing: the teachers.

CPS teachers go above and beyond on a daily basis. They work long hours to provide after-school programming for kids. They reach into their own pockets for school supplies. They tune in to students and reach out to parents when something doesn’t seem right. Our teachers are hardworking, passionate and committed to students’ learning. They have been there for our kids all along, and now we will stand by them as they hammer out their contract and a strike looms.

We don’t want a strike. Nobody does. But we also want our schools to have social workers and librarians, our class sizes to be capped, and teachers and other school staff to be paid a fair wage. We don’t want our teachers to lose valuable prep time. The things teachers are fighting for will help our schools and help our students. Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Chicago Board of Education, do the right thing and agree to a fair contract that provides the resources necessary for great schools.

Julie Dworkin, parent, Goethe Elementary and Jones College Prep; Gin Kilgore, Franklin Fine Arts Center; Maggie Laslo, LaSalle Language Academy and Lane Tech College Prep; and Maritza Nieves, Goethe Elementary and Disney II

No child should be homeless

It may have shocked many Chicagoans to learn from the news recently that between 16,000 and 17,000 Chicago Public Schools students face homelessness, but it’s a number we at the Primo Center know all too well. Primo Center is the largest provider of services and shelter for homeless children and their families in Chicago, and we are leading the fight to bring the number of homeless children to zero in Chicago. It’s an ambitious goal.

In their classroom, your son or daughter may sit next to a homeless child and never know it. Homelessness is often invisible. Homeless families with children usually find a place to sleep — in a shelter, on a relative’s couch or in their car, because they have nowhere else to go.
Homelessness is a barrier to academic success. Children who experience housing instability are more likely to experience homelessness as adults, so breaking this cycle is critical. Primo Center is addressing this crisis with services and programs that address children’s health, education and housing needs. Stable housing reduces school absenteeism and increases positive educational outcomes. Only through community collaborations and support can we reduce the shocking number of homeless children in Chicago.

— Christine Achre, CEO, Primo Center

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