Skip to comments.Number of homeless students surges, putting strain on schools (Chicago)
Posted on 01/07/2012 3:41:19 PM PST by Graybeard58
At 15, Jarvis Nelson should be in high school and even thinking about college.
Yet Jarvis is in seventh grade, and doesnt know where hell go to high school or even where he will be living when he graduates from junior high, hopefully next year.
Thats because Jarvis has attended three different schools in the past four months. Hes lived in three different places on the North and South Sides of the city including his most recent home, a temporary shelter in Lake View.
Jarvis, like thousands of other students in Chicago Public Schools, is homeless.
He is just one of more than 10,660 students who were homeless at the beginning of the school year. Thats 1,466 more than at the same point in the previous school year, according to a CPS tally.
And since the last school year ended with a record 15,580 students with nowhere to call home, the current surge means this school year is on pace to be another record breaker.
While some of the increase is due to better identification of which students are homeless, experts said the problem has gotten worse as the economy tanked and foreclosures skyrocketed.
And even though most economists say that the recession is basically over there are large swatches of the city that are still feeling the effects of it, said Nicole Amling, director of public policy for the Chicago Alliance to End Homelessness.
There are families becoming homeless for the first time because they lost their housing, she said. There are people who have been just getting by for a long time on some part-time job and then that part-time job went away, and so theyre now falling into the shelter system, or theyre staying with grandma or an aunt. I think it really signifies that we are in dire economic times.
Part of a national problem
Experts said the problem is similar across the state and nation.
More than 57,000 Illinois children were homeless in 2010, up from 30,636 in 2006, according to a December report from The National Center on Family Homelessness.
Nationally, 1.6 million U.S. children lived in homeless shelters, motels, with relatives or other families or living on the street in 2010 a 38 percent increase since 2007, according to the center.
The large number of homeless students presents a particular challenge to school districts.
In addition to emotional and health problems, homeless students are more likely to go hungry and are four times more likely to show delayed development, the center says. They have twice the rate of learning disabilities as non-homeless children and the vast majority of them lack proficiency in math and reading. At CPS, 98 percent of homeless students are members of minority groups.
The problem is so bad that CPS has special staff who work in the CPS Students in Temporary Living Situations Office.
Students in the program can choose whether to stay in their original school when they lose their housing or enroll in the school closest to their shelter or new housing. They can get transportation assistance, tutoring and free meals, uniforms and school supplies. And the students have advocates who help them navigate the system, officials said.
I want to stay at this school ... and make friends
Since November, Jarvis has been living at a Catholic Charities interim family shelter in Lake View along with his 18-month-old sister Janiyah and their mother, Regenia.
Regenia Nelson was a home healthcare nurse with her own apartment before she got into a fight and spent a year in jail on felony aggravated battery charges in 2005. Shes been in and out of low-wage jobs but had difficulty getting steady work because of her record.
Its hard for me to get a job because of my past, said Nelson, who holds a GED from City Colleges of Chicago and grew up in Stateway Gardens, a since-demolished public housing development in Bronzeville on the South Side.
Unable to afford rent, the family has spent most of the past seven years living with Nelsons mother in a one-bedroom apartment on the South Side. But in September her mother asked them to leave. After that, they spent a month with Nelsons sister, husband and five children but the South Side home proved to be too crowded.
Jarvis academic problems began while his mom was locked up and he lived with his grandmother. He has repeated both the third and sixth grades because of low reading scores.
But his recent homelessness has only made things worse. So far this school year, Jarvis has been at three different schools, including Songhai Learning Institute, Claremont Academy and most recently, Blaine Elementary School. Its tiring. I want to stay at this school [Blaine] and finish and make friends, he said.
Better to be in here than on the streets
He said it was tough to leave his friends at Songhai Learning Institute and walk away from an afterschool program that taught him to play the trumpet.
At Claremont, which he attended for only a few weeks in October while living at an aunts house, the work was much harder than he was used to.
It felt like they were teaching something else, he said.
At Blaine, he is learning to play violin, but he said the curriculum still confuses him.
At the same time, he said he also finds it hard to re-learn some of the concepts he already learned at Songhai.
Making friends is also hard for the soft-spoken, shy teen, and he keeps the fact that he is homeless private. Hes only told one student while the two discussed having a sleepover. However, Jarvis cant do one, because shelter rules prohibit a friend from staying over and prohibit him from sleeping somewhere else. Jarvis is also upset that he cant stay up past 9 p.m., even on weekends, because of shelter rules.
He constantly worries about his family abruptly losing the small room they share at the shelter if he were to break the rules, Jarvis said.
Better to be in here than on the streets, he said, where theres no place to go.
College? Or a Streets & San job?
Nelson said her son has had problems skipping school and doesnt want to go many mornings, which has contributed to his academic problems.
You got to get up and get going so you can do better for yourself, she tells him.
While Jarvis is on track to graduate junior high next year and enroll in high school, he hasnt given much thought to what school he will attend.
Its hard, he said. What if we move and then I have to rethink?
His mother, who is starting a job-training program for ex-offenders Tuesday, says she has stressed the importance of getting a college education so he doesnt end up like her homeless and unable to support a family.
But college is a distant concept for Jarvis, even though he does want to go someday.
For now, he said he hopes to be a bus driver or Streets and Sanitation worker, and thats about it.
Hot Damn! Let's reelect Ozero then!
Hope for Spare Change
Too bad they never bothered to teach him to read and write while they were at it.
and when these poor under-educated kids try to get a job, they are forced to compete with illegals who work twice as hard for 1/2 the money.
Should have been taught to do drywall, paint, electric, plumbing, roofing, HVAC. Trumpet???? WTF?
And then he can work his arse off for the rest of the day. All while getting lessons 'It is always time for school for midshipmen'.
He'd eat well, go to bed and sleep like a baby, and get up in time to sip coffee, watch the sun rise, and say his morning prayers.
Of course, I'd probably be jailed in a few days for violating his civil rights.
But he'd come out of it a decent man.
Well then we need to start spending more money on this situation.
For now, he said he hopes to be a bus driver or Streets and Sanitation worker, and thats about it.
And more money on that 3 letter word jobs...jobs...jobs...
How embarrassing to stoop to such a level as to take a job as a relocation officer or garbologist.
He can do both. It won't kill him. Besides, you need arm strength build by hard work to do a good job a playing music, which teaches fine control. Which makes you better at detail work out in the field.
I don’t believe these numbers.
And when the homeless, poor, jobless, uneducated, and hopeless line up next November at the polls, they will again vote for those Democrats who destroy their lives.
Two of the best paying (union) jobs in the city. You have to have connections to get those jobs.
The Chicago Mafia's social tweeting network has begun informing students that when The Obammunist is reelected he will begin forgiving their loans, calling it taxs reductions. The students are then requested to begin contributing to al-Kenyata in small increments by credit card monthly.
I don't see anything embarassing about those jobs. Your life and mine depends on sanitation workers.
Any honest work for decent pay is a 'good job'. Sneering at those that do the difficult and nasty jobs that keep us alive is contraindicated.
There was a discussion on Catholic Radio about the problem of what children do worst/best in life.
NOT surprising, children with intact families do better than single mothers, that is, fatherless children.
I've always believed that children 1-12 need mommy more than daddy but when children hit the teenage years...they need the HAMMER, the old man, dad, pop, papa, daddy, father--the man of the house.
My, isn't that old fashioned?
It may be high, but not by an order of magnitude.
Of course, take everything I claim with a grain a salt. I AM just a cook.
“Nationally, 1.6 million U.S. children lived in homeless shelters, motels, with relatives or other families or living on the street”
Living with relatives or other families isn’t “homeless”. What are the real figures?
Yep. I would change your age range from 0-7 for mainly momma, but daddies are needed in that age, too. But we're at least in the same book, if not on the same page.
Children need someone to watch in amazement as papa does something, and then a papa that asks: "Do you know how and why I did that?" Starting off a lesson...
Mother taught me to read at a newspaper level by the time I was 4. Daddy taught me E=I*R at age 7. They didn't let an opportunity to teach go by.
I appreciate them for what they did.
Uh, it seems obvious to me that Jarvis is not, repeat not, college material.
Probably correct, unless he can overcome the crappy basic education he didn't really get.
But he can be a good, productive man.
'You don't have to be smart to be good' quote from preacher grandpa Red.
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