Chicago Public schools lag far behind suburbs

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Chicago Public schools lag far behind suburbs
By Ray Hanania — Probably the one real advantage of living in the suburbs of Chicago is that the schools there have been so much better.

And although the Chicago Tribune wants everyone to think that students in Chicago schools spend almost as much time in classrooms as suburban school kids, that’s just not true and typical of the problem we have with the local news media. They just don’t get their facts right, ever.

The suburban schools in Orland Park keep kids in school more than 6 hours. In Chicago it’s five. Now, the Tribune looked hard to find someone close and they picked Glen Ellyn where students remain in class about 15 minutes more. Well, shame on Glen Ellyn. Why use it as a poster child to defend the pathetic Chicago schools?

I attended the Chicago public schools and graduated from Warren Elementary school and spent two years at Bowen high school — our 40th reunion is this weekend where I will emcee and do some standup comedy commentary.

And we didn’t learn much there at all. I entered the U.S. Air Force in 1973 and that’s where my real education started. The Chicago Public schools were pathetic then and then are pathetic now. (In fact, when a girl in my class once turned around in the 1960s to tell me my socks were “pathetic,” I didn’t even know what the word meant!)

Chicago’s schools operated on a system that did not care for minority students when I attended. The darker you were the less attention you got. They didn’t teach us about respect. The Chicago school system in the 1960s taught us that the more privileged you are the more education you deserved, which is why the best from education followed the White families that fled to the suburbs to avoid sending their children to class with Blacks.

I wrote a book about it. You can read it online at It’s called “Midnight Flight” and it detailed the transition in only a few months of the Southeast side in 1968. Neighbors moved in the middle of the night, really out of acknowledged shame.

The truth is Mayor Rahm Emanuel is right. Chicago school kids should be spending more time in classes. At least another hour. But the teachers don’t want to do that unless they are paid to stay.

Well, the other “education” we’ve received is how generously the teachers are paid. Some of them make a fortune and have golden pensions waiting for them when they “retire.”

Sounds like the dedication is more about the money than the students. No wonder they want to run from the schools too.

If we invest more in our young students today, when they get older, maybe they might be able to help get us out of the mess that we are in today. Maybe they would learn to respect institutions like schools and maybe the teachers would also learn that there job is about public service, different from many others, a choice they made.

The Chicago Teacher’s Union is no different than anyone else in today’s ugly George W. Bush economy that we’re all struggling to get survive. We all have to make sacrifices and we all have to work more to earn a buck.

And all the promises that were made were written by the politicians in smoke, politicians we put in office and still do.

So instead of blaming everyone else, take the blame and work harder. The Chicago public schools are a mess, a racist caldron where street gangs rule and education is a disguise.

(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist and media commentator. He can be reached at

This post has already been read 66 times!

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and Columnist who began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He covered Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992 (Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley) and has expanded to writing for newspapers around the world focussed on Middle East and American politics.

Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.

Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites and (Illinois News Network at

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post,, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.

Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.

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