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Chicago Sun-Times Opinion This Week
Good morning,
Not long after the Fourth of July weekend of heartbreaking gun violence, Evan F. Moore — culture and entertainment reporter for the Sun-Times — drove by a shuttered CPS school building being demolished.
After what Chicagoans witnessed over the Fourth of July weekend, Moore writes that if public officials — or you — think closed schools have no connection to violence, well, they and you are not paying attention.
Staying on the education beat, we have an editorial about the importance of getting every eligible Chicago Public Schools student vaccinated against COVID-19 this summer. After seeing almost 32,000 Chicago children contract the disease, the need is clear, the Editorial Board writes. Two months until the next school year is plenty of time to get every student 12 and older protected from COVID-19.
Last week, the nation applauded 14-year-old Zaila Avant-garde as the first Black American winner of the National Spelling Bee. In Letters to the Editor, Ted Z. Manuel of Hyde Park tells us about pure phonics — sounding out words, which was the universal standard of teaching spelling until the mid-’50’s. The sooner all schools return to a phonics-only teaching system, the sooner our population regains its ability to master spelling, Manuel writes.
— Ismael Pérez, editorial board member

The former building of Crispus Attucks Elementary School — in the midst of demolition — was one of the 49 schools shut down in 2013 by the Chicago Board of Education in the largest school closing in American history. Evan F. Moore/Sun-Times
The former building of Crispus Attucks Elementary School — in the midst of demolition — was one of the 49 schools shut down in 2013 by the Chicago Board of Education in the largest school closing in American history. Evan F. Moore/Sun-Times
Recently, while I was on my way to meet a friend for coffee, I drove by one of the shuttered CPS school buildings being demolished.
It was not long after the Fourth of July weekend of heartbreaking gun violence, and I couldn’t help but make connections as I watched the Bronzeville school named after Crispus Attucks — a Black man whom historians believe was the first person shot and killed in the Boston Massacre — get torn down.
Think about it: An epidemic of shootings and the closure of a school that, along with dozens of other schools shut down in 2013, could have played a role in educating children and preventing all that violence.
Those connections are clear, pointed out by community activists, as well as by research on the impact of school closings on a community.
Yet the public institutions tasked with curbing violence just keep pointing the finger at one another, in a blame game that does nothing to solve the most pressing problem facing our city.
While I was watching the demolition of Attucks Elementary, I thought of the old South Shore High School. It was repurposed as a police facility. Instead, it should have been converted into a community center that could give young people a safe space for recreation, after-school activities and just hanging out.
When teens from marginalized communities have no place to go because the safe spaces that existed for years are gone, where do we think they’re going to end up? On the street, where they run a high risk of becoming another number in that week’s tally of gun violence victims.
Why not turn those shuttered schools, such as Attucks, into places where teens and young adults can learn financial literacy, conflict resolution, photography, how to tie a tie, the nuances of consent or a trade?
The Chicago Sun-Times Editorial Board is the opinion voice of the hardest-working newspaper in America. It is headed by editorial page editor Tom McNamee and includes Thomas FrisbieLorraine ForteLee BeyIsmael Pérez and Mary Mitchell as members.
Our lead editorial
The Editorial Board on vaccinating eligible CPS students:
CPS will not get back to normal — a better normal, we hope — unless vaccination is a top priority. So far, 78% of teachers have been vaccinated. The goal should be nothing less for eligible students.
More editorials we published this week
As the city’s inspector general Joe Ferguson announces departure, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot must name a skilled replacement
Alzheimer’s patients deserve the full truth about Aduhelm, a $56,000 drug that probably doesn’t work
In your words
Three generations of citizens have graduated from our high schools with substandard spelling ability and weaknesses in writing ability. By now, most teachers grounded in phonics have all retired.”
Ted Z. Manuel, Hyde Park
Every day we publish submissions from Chicago Sun-Times readers weighing in on issues facing the city and its residents. Send letters to letters@suntimes.com or reply to this email to share your perspective.
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Chicago Sun-Times Opinion This Week

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