CHICAGO — El lunes el programa Padres Mentores celebró 20 años de vida. Sin embargo, la celebración se tornó en un llamado a la legislatura estatal para que lo salve, ya que el presupuesto estatal propuesto por el gobernador Bruce Rauner para 2016 tiene previsto eliminarlo. VIDEO
Leticia Barrera empezó su historia como organizadora comunitaria en 1997, cuando se convirtió en una madre mentora del programa. Ahora es organizadora de Logan Square Neighborhood Association (LSNA) y pide al gobernador Bruce Rauner que no lo elimine.
“Hacemos un llamado al gobernador para que no recorte estos fondos que son esenciales para las escuelas, los estudiantes y los padres”, comentó Barrera, quien en una asamblea ante 600 padres mentores y legisladores dio su testimonio de lo urgente e importante que es restaurarlos.
El programa de Padres Mentores “es increíble, te cambia la vida de una manera única, invita a los padres a conocer mejor el sistema educativo, eso es muy importante sobre todo para las familias inmigrantes que venimos sin conocer el sistema”, explicó Barrera.
No eliminar ‘Padres Mentores’ en 70 escuelas piden en Chicago. ROGER MORALES/HOY
Actualmente 16 organizaciones comunitarias trabajan con el programa en 70 escuelas. Unos 600 padres ayudan en el salón de clase por dos horas diarias a 600 maestros, y beneficia a aproximadamente 15,000 estudiantes, explicó Barrera, quien dijo que el programa opera con $1.5 millones.
“Sin embargo, en el presupuesto del gobernador Rauner para 2016 tenemos $0 dólares”, añadió Barrera.
Gerardo Arriaga, director de la primaria Enrico Tonti, considera que el impacto del programa es enorme, “tanto en los padres como en las escuelas y en los estudiantes, los niños se sienten muy orgullosos de ver a sus padres participar en su formación educativa”.
Arriaga pidió a los legisladores que apoyen el programa, “las comunidades lo necesitan para ayudar a los niños que no se involucren en cosas que no son buenas para ellos, como las pandillas. Padres Mentores contribuye al futuro brillante de los estudiantes”, indicó Arriaga.
La senadora estatal Iris Martínez estuvo presente e indicó que está comprometida para que se restauren los fondos y dijo que hablará con el gobernador porque cree que la participación de los padres impacta favorablemente a que más estudiantes se gradúen de la secundaria.
Los padres tienen planeado cabildear en Springfield e iniciarán una campaña de peticiones.
“Enviaremos cartas al gobernador para decirle que deje en paz este programa, porque Padres Mentores vale la pena”, indicó Barrera.
Respecto a la propuesta de presupuesto de Rauner, Catherine Kelly, portavoz del gobernador, indicó al diario Hoy recientemente que los legisladores de la mayoría demócrata votaron por un presupuesto que ha dejado al estado con un déficit fiscal del $1,600 millones.
Kelly aseguró que Rauner no creó la crisis, y dijo que él está comprometido a balancearlo sin aumentar los impuestos a las familias trabajadoras y sin pedir préstamos irresponsablemente.
Twenty years ago, a mother of 5-year-old twins moved to Logan Square and sent her kids to Funston Elementary School. But she was too timid to volunteer there.
That was until she fell in with a new group of mostly Spanish-speaking women who called themselves Parent Mentors.
“My name is Tami Love, and I am a Parent Mentor,” she told a crowded Northeastern Illinois University gym of moms mostly wearing identical teal T-shirts heralding the 20th anniversary of the program that places parents in dozens of Chicago Public Schools and more schools around the state and in several other cities nationwide.
The teal T-shirts jumped up to clap for her. Love cried.
Then she recalled the early years of helping at Funston that bolstered the school and her own life skills.
“Because of our work in the classrooms, partnering with teachers, principals and other parents, we learned that we all have something to share. We all can help our children grow. We all can help our communities strive. We are working for same goals along with the teachers, which is to get the best education in the best environment that we can give — and we did that,” she said.
“The Parent Mentor program gave me the confidence and the self-esteem that I needed. I never thought I could be standing in front of you today. I was very shy.”
The program trains mostly moms but the occasional dad, too, to become volunteers in classrooms in their own children’s public schools. The schools get extra bodies to help small groups of kids with reading and math skills and to help with recess and lunch, too. The mentors have weekly workshops and other kinds of training and encouragement. After logging 100 volunteer hours, the mentors become eligible for a stipend for their work.
And nearly 50 of them have become classroom teachers through an initiative at Northeastern Illinois University called Grow Your Own.
“The benefits in this program are not just in the individual classroom where you work,” said Rep. Will Guzzardi, whose Chicago district includes Logan Square. “The benefits extend into your homes. This is a program that builds neighborhoods and builds communities.
“We are not going to let this program lose one dime of funding in Springfield.”
Fiske Elementary School Principal Cecilia Miller said she invited the Parent Mentor program to her school in the wake of the historic 2013 school closings that merged families from Sexton Elementary in with Fiske and moved Fiske’s building to the one formerly occupied by Sexton at 6020 S. Langley Ave.
Though the school had volunteers during her 14-year tenure, the formal program helped blend the two cultures into one — very successfully, she added.
“We thought that was the best way to build community by integrating both cultures,” Miller said. “We’ve seen a difference in the overall culture and climate of the school community. We’ve seen a difference with the extra support we’ve been able to give our students.”
“It feels very collaborative, it feels collective . . .” she said. “Our teachers are extremely happy and they appreciate the support.”
Renee Sanders, a former banker and auditor, started volunteering this year when her son Ryan began kindergarten. “Once he started school, I wanted to be really involved in his school. And I was welcomed with open arms.”
Sanders helps the children who are below grade level catch up with the others.
“Their self-esteem is so high,” she said. “I’m so proud of my students.”
If the program had more funding, Fiske could recruit more parents, she said, adding, “It’s needed especially in the African-American community. We really don’t have a lot of funding in our schools in the inner city.”
Consuelo Martinez, whose two children go to Seward Elementary School in the Back of the Yards community, helps out there, she said through a Spanish interpreter. Before moving to Chicago 28 years ago, she took teaching classes in Mexico and called it her “passion and what I like to do,” but her immigration status made it difficult to become an American teacher.
She joined the program three years ago after the factory where she and a few other mentors used to work closed. So they turned up at the school eager for something to do.
“It was a total change for us,” she said. Martinez and the others have since been to Springfield and Washington “and now we’re not stopping.”
Ricardo Barrera’s mother also was a parent mentor at Monroe Elementary School in Logan Square. Now the young man is becoming a teacher, majoring in bilingual and bicultural education through the Grow Your Own program.
“To me, my Parent Mentor was far more than just another adult in the classroom, they played an important role in my education,” Barrera said. “I wanted to take this opportunity to say ‘Thank you.’”
A voice hollered right back at him: “You’re welcome.”
It's Money Smart Saturday!
Attend our “FREE” Money Smart Saturday Financial Capability Workshop on
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Teamwork Englewood in collaboration with Get In Chicago Presents: Englewood Youth/Police Baseball League starting May 3rd - August 15th 2015.
Ages 9-12 years old girls and boys. No Sign-up Fees. Registration/Signup is taking place at the addresses listed below.
Hamilton Park 513 W. 72nd Street (312)747-6174
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East Village marked 417 violent crimes and 1,186 property crimes in the less than two years since 2013, according to an EVA analysis of Chicago Police statistics. Half took place on a sidewalk, street or alley; fewer than a quarter in an apartment or residence.
Two out of five violent crimes were reported on the four main streets: 18% on Ashland Avenue, 12% each on Milwaukee and Chicago avenues, and 10% on Division Street. Violent crimes include homicide, criminal sexual assault, robbery and aggravated assault or battery.
Property crimes (burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft and arson) hit closer to home. Among 1,186 property crimes, 39% were in a home or apartment building, garage or yard. Streets and sidewalk accounted for 38%; 11% were on CTA trains, buses, platforms or bus stops.
Through Nov. 17, fewer crimes have been reported this year than at this time last year. Violent crime's down 11% in this tally; property crimes are 10% and lower lifestyle crimes (including criminal damage to property, narcotics and prostitution) were cut 3%.
Zoom in on the map to see crime near you, and click for case details. If you cannot see the map, click here. Maps use Chicago Police location markers; actual addresses aren't disclosed, and the markers are meant to be approximate.
For an animation showing East Village crime patterns over time, click here. At year-end we'll take a longer look. This count may not be complete.
The map's based on cases the city assigns to current CAPS beats 1212 and 1213, downloaded from the city data portal. We've added our own filter by East Village street boundaries, Division to Chicago and Damen to Milwaukee.
Chicago Police give these holiday safety tips:
- Walk confidently, with your head up, and stay in well-lighted and well-traveled areas. Pay attention to people walking in front of and behind you. Be alert in crowded areas for thieves and pickpockets.
- Park your car in a well-lighted area as close to your destination as possible. Store packages in the trunk.
- When you're away, leave some lights on at home. Before longer trips, alert a neighbor to watch your house and check for package deliveries.
For a current look of West Town crime using the city's map, click here.
For a bigger version of the animation, click here.
Close to a hundred parents convened inside the student union at Northeastern Illinois University on Tuesday afternoon in preparation for the upcoming 20th anniversary of the Parent Mentor Program that was created through the Logan Square Neighborhood Association (LSNA) and the Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP). On Monday, March 16th, over 600 Parent Mentors from across Illinois communities will help kick-off the celebration at Northeastern Illinois University with the help of Illinois legislators State Representative Lisa Hernandez, Representative Dan Burke, Senator William Delgado, Representative Jaime Andrade, Representative Will Guzzardi, and Representative Luis Arroyo.
Since 1995, the Parent Mentor Program has transformed the lives of hundreds families, now collaborating with 70 schools with 16 community-based organizations across the state. Working daily with over 600 teachers, fellow parents, and over 14,000 students being a parent mentor is one that takes dedication and long hours, however many parents believe it is a program that literally is responsible for changing lives and keeping their kids safe in schools. Unfortunately, programs like Parent Mentors, an award-winning program, is one of the many that faces severe funding cuts under Governor Rauner’s FY16 budget cuts.
The Parent Mentor Program is one that completely changed my life,” said Monica Espinosa. “I had attachment issues with my son, so I faced depression when he went off to school. I remember a lady who approached me several times at my son’s school about the program and asked if I wanted to join. After giving the program some I thought I decided to join and it changed my life.” Six years into the program, Logan Square resident Espinosa, with no educational background, became a mentor coordinator who now works closely with teachers across Chicago and has garnered profound knowledge into the Chicago Public School system. “This is a program that gives parents the tools to learn more about their child’s education, to ask questions, to be their child’s ambassador, to know where to look for more resources. The Parent Mentor Program is a program that needs to be around and needs more funding,” said Espinosa.
For Englewood resident Ebony Henderson, the Parent Mentor Program helped change the life of her son who was diagnosed with ADHD. “For a long time, I didn’t know how to help my son in school. No one could help him,” said Henderson. “I remember one day, my son, my young son came to me and said, ‘mommy, I really want you to be a part of this program.’ I knew nothing about Parent Mentors, but I did it for my son. Now, with the help of the program I was able to receive my GED and my son is able to gain a better education in school.” For Espinosa and Henderson, the cuts to funding is a grave one as many parents across the state rely on the success of the Parent Mentors Program and the network of support they receive from it. Next Monday, legislators will call upon the Governor to reconsider the budget cuts and will soon plan a trip to Springfield.