Monday, August 29, 2011

Luring Chicago dropouts back to school, one doorstep at a time

Check out this WBEZ story featuring the Principal of Englewood's Harper High School located at 6520 South Wood Street. Do you think CPS should chase after the high school dropouts and re-enroll them into school?
Leonetta Sanders is not actually looking for dropouts. The district doesn’t do that yet. But it could learn a lot from the way the Harper High School principal goes after her truant students.

“Where are you supposed to be at right now? (At school). Why aren’t you in school? (I don’t know.),” Sanders said.

Sanders works off a list of names and addresses—today it’s freshmen. But out on the streets, she’ll go after anybody—forget the list.

When she sees one of her students pushing a lawn mower down Damen Avenue at 11 a.m., she’s on it.

Sanders: What you pushing this lawn mower for? (‘Cause I’m finna go home and cut my grass.) OK, and then what you gonna do tomorrow at 7:45? (Be at school.) You gonna be at school, Baber? (Yes.) Are you sure you’re gonna be at school? (Positive.) You gonna have on your uniform? (Yes). You ready to learn? OK. Now don’t lie to me, if you say you're gonna be there I expect you to be there, OK? (OK) All right. (OK).

Sanders crosses the street at a furious pace. She heads straight for the gas station where Baber had been hanging out—and ducks inside.

“I understand some of my kids are hanging out here during the day—they’re supposed to be in school. And I just caught one of them leaving here. So I need you to let them know, that they need to be in school, starting tomorrow—full uniform.”

From behind thick, bulletproof glass, the gas station attendant promises not to sell anything to kids during school hours.

And that’s how the morning goes. Sanders knocks on doors, talks on porches. “A lot of people are like, ‘You the principal? Coming out to the house?’ Yeah!”


  1. This principal has to do this to keep a job. Harper has been an under-performing school for over 30 years and has gone through every kind of restructuring available. If she doesn't change this school it will be a charter school soon.

    I salute her efforts because she is facing an uphill battle where 20-25% of your incoming freshmen are parents and the majority are not at grade level.

    This is all the result of the 1978 CPS failed integration plan that failed miserably that left Englewood and Greater Grand Crossing with under-performing high schools.

  2. It can be assumed that she's making a furious effort to keep her job or maybe she really cares. Regardless, we need more all over Chicago to do the exact same, regardless of the reason. Its funny how some are so quick to reach negative assumptions, and point out the negative attributes in articles. We have a situation that we need to deal with regardless of why.

  3. I pointed out facts that have existed for years and we have to face up to them. City, State and Federal money has been dumped into thi school and nothing has changed. Two of the city top high schools reside in Englewood, Lindblom and Urban Prep.

    The truancy didn't just start in high school this is something that has been going on for quite sometime with these students and NO I do not believe a High School principal should be out there begging kids to come to school. West 63rd street is lined with social service agencies that are 'suppose' to provide support to families. They should be working with the families of these truant students.

    Frankly, this is a bigger problem that needs to be addressed and instead od so call leader in Englewood berating Alderman over having an office in their community they should be working on more serious problems.


PLEASE READ FIRST!!!! Comment Moderating and Anonymous Comment Policy

While anonymous comments are not prohibited we do encourage you to help readers identify you so that other commenters may respond to you. Either read the moderating policy for how or leave an identifier (which could be a nickname for example) at the end of the comment.

Also note that this blog is NOT associated with any public or political officials including Alderman Roderick T. Sawyer!