What do I see? So far, I see…
…a high school administration trying to keep
students safe, particularly when kids report they’re afraid to leave school
...that this is about helping individuals feel safe while arriving, on, or leaving school grounds.
…residents who worry they won’t be able to step off their front porches without someone urging them to “move along”.
…very few people talking about what implementation might mean for everyone involved.
…a comment like this from Patch reader Jim reacting to this column about Dr. Witherspoon defending the proposal: “The real concern from a community and social point of view is why we need a safe zone around any school. It speaks to community decline and an acceptance of our children being in danger from criminal elements. Not good.”
…a red ribbon wrapped around a tree marking the spot where Dajae Coleman was murdered and I wonder how a “safe school zone” could have helped him that night on September 22nd, 2012.
…residents of the 5th ward feeling “disrespected” and “disregarded” by the proposal.
…Superintendent Dr. Eric Witherspoon walking into Dajae’s funeral almost one year ago. How did he feel when such a promising freshman was shot and killed blocks from the school, outside the proposed “safe school zone”?
…the City of Chicago implementing safe school zones. How effective have they been?
…aldermen upholding their constituents’ concerns about encroachment on their civil liberties.
…Americans’ civil liberties challenged every day in an effort to make our lives safer, like seatbelt requirements and no cell phone use while driving, anti-smoking laws, airport security restrictions, and surveillance cameras in metropolitan areas. Do these procedures work 100% of the time? No. Do they annoy us to no end? Yes. Do they (arguably) save lives? Yes.
...neighbors worried their property values will decrease with a "safe school zone".
...other community members wondering why we haven't embraced a "safe school zone" sooner.
… problems at any school happening outside a safety zone’s boundaries. Draw the lines, and the “bad people” will simply wait on the other side…just a little farther from the school. It’s a slippery slope: how far-reaching must a zone extend to keep a school populace safe, and at what cost to the surrounding residents and their liberties?
…the need for the City of Evanston and ETHS administration to outline the plan to the community, particularly neighbors, in full scope.
Most of all, I see the ETHS students. I’ve heard mention of a small number of them who’ve reached out to ETHS staff and administration, reporting that they were scared to death to leave school grounds. Whether these are students involved in potential gang fights or just anxious about the potential for problems – the fact is, these are students who are scared. And, if five have spoken up, you know there are more who want to…
Personally, I'd like to see the program's goals outlined. How will a "safe school zone" improve students' well-being and how will it impact neighbors' lives? How long will the program be in place? How have similar programs reduced violence and impacted neighbors?
During an Aug. 8 Human Services Committee meeting to forward a “safe schools” agreement to city council for consideration on Monday, Aug. 12, 9th Ward Alderman Coleen Burrus said, “I do support this. But I disagree that it’s the school’s complete responsibility or the police to keep us safe. I don’t know that we’re heard the word parent or guardian tonight.” She urged the community to hold students’ families responsible, as well.
Whether you’re a parent or community member, please add your thoughts in the comments section below. Additionally, please consider attending the upcoming meeting of ETHS Community Conversations.