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

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning political and humor columnist who analyzes American and Middle East politics, and life in general. He is an author of several books.

"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."

Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).

Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at, and at, and at He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper,, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

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, Hanania 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. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.

The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.

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Visit this link to read Ray's column archive at the ArabNews,com
Ray Hanania