Imprisoned father a shadow on teen’s life

Derek is being raised by a 59-year-old great aunt on his father’s side who has cared for him since he was 9. While it’s unclear exactly why the boys’ mother wasn’t able to care for them, it is obvious why Derek’s dad wasn’t available. He has served five stints in prison on drug-related charges since 1990, according to the Illinois Department of Corrections, and he is now under court supervision since his release a year ago after serving close to 12 months for narcotics possession.

Austin: Parent’s imprisonment tough on kids


An estimated 1 in 10 children nationwide has a parent behind bars, on probation or on parole. In Chicago, schools have no way to identify such children—and few resources to support them. Austin is a community where a significant chunk of people who are released from prison go to get back on their feet.

Austin: A place of extremes

It’s a place where small corner grocers serve families trying to make it on a tight income. It’s also where the city’s first Wal-Mart opened recently, triggering a national debate about the need for a living wage. It’s a place where patches of dirt lay before run-down apartment buildings. It’s also a place where one can find block after block of neatly trimmed lawns. It’s a place where street corners give way to a bustling drug trade. It’s also where the most active block clubs and community groups are found. This is Austin, Chicago’s largest community area and a microcosm for the challenges and promises of urban cities.

New beginning for Austin High

Austin Business and Entrepreneurship High School is one of the district’s new schools opened under Renaissance 2010, an aggressive plan to close failing schools and replace them with a mix of smaller schools. Eventually, two more small high schools will share space in the same facility and, after a three-year phase out that ends next June with the last class of graduating seniors, the old Austin Community Academy High School will cease to exist.

Uptown: Immigrants find educational oasis

Since it opened in 2001, Passages has become an educational haven for immigrants and refugees from four continents. It also attracted non-immigrants who liked the school for its small class sizes and diversity. Asian Human Services, a multi-service social service agency, got the idea to open the school after years of watching immigrant Asian students and their parents struggle through their transition to new communities and new schools.