Funding Disparities Between the South and North Side Continue for Chicago Public Schools

By: Alexia Herrera and Victoria Gonzalez

With many people comparing Trump Administration Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to Harry Potter’s villainous Professor Umbridge for her suggested cuts to the educational budget, Chicago finds itself as part of a  large-scale conversation regarding public education and funding in the United States.

Chicago Public Schools has a long history of disaffection when it comes to adhering to the needs and demands of teachers, students, and its general public, with big community names like Chance The Rapper (who recently donated $2 million to CPS) speaking up about issues he has with CPS and its budget cuts and closings.

In recent years, it was poor relations between CPS and the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), when in 2015 CPS announced it would not support a one-year extension to the deal they had settled on after the CTU’s seven-day strike back in 2012, which resulted in another possible strike looming, but never actualized that year once both parties came to an agreement.

Although the CTU and CPS are currently working with an agreed upon contract, teacher sentiments and concerns are still relevant and consistent.

“I currently have a 32 students to 1 teacher ratio in my classroom,” said Marta Ramirez, who teaches 7th grade english at Hamline Elementary school in the Back of the Yards neighborhood on the South Side. It’s one of the schools affected by the city’s public school budget crisis.

“Some of these students are not receiving the attention that they need and as hard as I try, I cannot give 32 students at a time the individual help that they need to succeed.”

Ramirez values her students’ time and education, but like many other teachers, she said she feels the district does not value herself or the students as much as they should. Budget cuts are affecting Ramirez and her classroom through limited access to resources — not having the right textbooks, large classroom sizes, or enough teachers to support the large student body in general.

The cutbacks are apparent (see infographic) in the annual budget. South Side school Pilsen Academy dropped from $4 million in 2017 to $3.4 million in 2018.

“It’s just not fair to the students, that their peers on the North Side are getting the education and resources they need but somehow my students are deemed undeserving,” said Ramirez, adding that she believes that equally sharing the CPS budget between the North Side and South Side could help provide under supported students with the materials and attention that they need.

Graph created by Victoria Gonzalez on Flourish

The stark differences in funding between the North and South side public schools is blatant, especially when you compare funding for the equipment expenses. As you can see in the infographic, the budget for equipment expenses at Northside College Prep is $109 thousand while Pilsen Community School receives only $50 thousand.  

There are also various nonprofits attempting to fight the systematic inequalities of CPS funding. Kenwood Oakland Community Organization [KOCO] is one of many nonprofits that fight for justice.

“An Englewood school was going to close until KOCO pushed and fought until the city budget found $34 million,” said Jawanza Malone, the executive director for KOCO.

Malone finds that students in South Side neighborhoods like Englewood and South Shore are not receiving the same funding that schools on the Northside are unless organizations like KOCO call them out and hold them accountable for their actions.

When asked about the effect of funding on students resources, Malone said,Students can’t take books home, how can they get educated if they can’t bring their education back home?”

KOCO is a testament to the fact that equal educational funding is not always a given on the south side. The sentiment is shared by Chance the Rapper in the same interview, where he believes that if the city wants to see real change, then neighborhoods need to unite, “It starts on my neighborhood, my ward, my block…It starts with block club presidents. It starts with starting a block club. But all those levels are accessible, you know?” It is clear to see by the google my maps graphic that these demands are necessary because the south side has plenty of Chicago Public Schools, that deserve better funding and an overall improved budget plan.

By analyzing CPS’s budget data, it is evident that there is a serious funding disparity taking place among Chicago Public Schools. The numbers are further supported by the viewpoints and experiences of south side CPS teachers and students. Maricel Ortega from Theodore Roosevelt High School, who’s art program was affected by the lack of funding recalls,   

Maricel Ortega at University of Illinois in Chicago campus. Photo taken by Alexia Herrera

“There was a music program that I was supposed to be a part of and learn how to play the drums and they were about to start but they didn’t have enough funding to go through with it. A lot of books also needed updating.”

Cycling through Europe

By Alexia Herrera

If you are looking for a biking trip to take, try the best biking cities in the world. Most of the most beautiful bike path are located in North and Northwest European cities. If you’re looking to try the best wines of France, take a ride from Paris to Bordeaux.

After a long bike ride the trail will lead you to the best wines in Bordeaux. There you can try wine tasting, learn about the history of their wine and purchase a bottle to go.

Bikers looking for a boozy ride may bike to Munich Germany when Oktoberfest begins in September through October. The event is a festival of German beers as seen in the video. It is the largest beer fest in the world and a once in a lifetime experience. Experience one of the best cycling routes and the a wild beer experience all in one trip.

The maps also shows a more relaxed urban biking vibe that is found in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The city is known for its biking ambiance and may even contain safer more relaxed trails for users.

All locations with a icon on the pin point have a short video or image to show the biker what they may see in those areas.


Global Sand Crisis

By: Alexia Herrera

We are experiencing a sand crisis around the world today. Sand is used to create glass, jewelry, bricks, concrete, roads, and buildings therefore, sand mines are essential and are creating a crisis in sand shortage. As cities get bigger, and declines. When we think about places like Egypt, Arab Emirates, or Las Vegas, we assume that sand is infinite. But,the shortage in sand and the shift of the terrains show us otherwise.

BBC found that there is a high demand for sand and it is harming the livelihoods of the ecosystem, and the people in Tiwi, Kenya. According to BBC, one farmer was killed in efforts to protect the community from the theft of sand by illegal sand harvester.

Along with the effect of livelihood, the effect on the environment can be seen through satellites on Google Timelapse. The changes began in 2010 and by 2016, we see fully built sand mine in Tiwi, Kenya. The time lapse also shows the rise of sand along the shoreline thus pushing the water back. The time lapse demonstrates the strips of water like rivers, and lakes diminishing in the town thus impacting water retention for the locals.

Tiwi, Kenya is not the only place that is experiencing a sand crisis. The google pro tour shows that Tiwi is not the only place affected by the sand mines. The Conversation finds that Poyang Lake sand mine is extracted for Shanghai, China. Marina California, as seen in Google Pro, is experience a surge of protest against the sand mining because they are changing the terrains in the area. India and Cambodia is also showing a change in terrain caused by the sand shortage.

Baby Boomers vs Millennials

By: Alexia Herrera

Pew Research Center found the difference between millennials and older generations in different aspects like household income, graduation attainment, race, marital status, and population. The first thing I focused on was the large generational difference in population. The baby boomer generation consisted of over 2 million more people than the millennial generation. The huge difference will affect the way that social security benefits work and the amount of nursing home for aging people.

Although the rate of bachelor degrees increased significantly in females and has obtained in the 30 percent tile for males, the household income has only increased by about 2-thousand-dollars. I argue that the increase in household income is very small relative to the dramatic rise in the cost of living.

Graphics made using Venngage

The other factors in the comparative graphs can all contribute to the economic disparities between baby boomers and millennials. Marriage, education, and race all intersect. Some biggest change in the baby boomer generation and the millennials are the decreases in white people in the generation. It decreased by 16 percent. The rate of marriage also decreased from 66 percent to 37 percent. The rate of divorce, job forces, and economic disparity may affect the rate of marriage between millennials.  

Google Trends

By Alexia Herrera

Cyntoia Brown was sentenced to life in prison for killing the man that solicited her for sex. She was only 16 years old, a minor when she was sentenced to at least 51 years in prison. There were hashtags on twitter, #FreeCyntoiaBrown, and people passively advocating for her via social media. NBC wrote an article which argues that A-list celebrities “caught attention for mercy.” According to an analysis of Google Trends, Cyntoia Brown’s searched increased above Kim Kardashian’s search. The famous icon tweeted on November 21st, “I’ve called my attorney yesterday to see what can be done about this.” As seen on the google trend, Cyntoia Brown was searched more than Kim Kardashian immediately after tweeting that. Her efforts paid off and resulted in the freedom of Cyntoia Brown.

The Kardashian was searched significantly more until November of 2018

Since then Kim Kardashian has used her platform to end mass incarceration and support the First Step Act. Similarly to Cyntoia Brown’s case, Kim tweeted “I made it my mission to fun cases of people who are so deserving…” She gives credit again to her attorney, Brittany K Barnett, for releasing a man named Eric after serving 16 years. The Kardashian also gives credit to the First Step Act. According to an analysis of Google Trends, the search for the First Step Act has increased just hours after her initial tweet at 4 P.M. Interest on the Kardashian also rose as awareness is bought into the act, Brittany, and the mission -Buried Alive.

The First step began showing activity after the Kardashian tweeted about it.

MLB Pitchers

By Alexia Herrera

I extracted data of 4 very known pitchers in Major League Baseball: Aroldis Chapman, Ben Ziegler, Jake Arrieta, and Clayton Kershaw. The players were analyzed from their first 8 years in the league.

Graph created by Alexia Herrera using The full visualization can be found on Flourish.

All of the players started out their 1st season with less time on the field than their 8th season. Which makes sense because most teams don’t want to risk putting their rookie as their main pitcher. It also prevents the rookie from being injured early on in their careers after holding a multi-year contract.

Brad Ziegler shows outstanding number of games played since his rookie year. He started off pitching at 47 games in his first season then peaked at 78 games, more than any other player.

This graph shows two drops in games played by Jake Arrieta in 2013. The Chicago Tribune mentions interviewed Arrieta on his shoulder injury where he said he was taking things slowly in order to come back in full effect. His playing stats show that taking things slowly worked in his favor because by his 6th season Arrieta was back to playing 32 games.

Each of these pitchers demonstrated tremendous growth since their first season and continue to play for the MLB. Now we may begin to ask ourselves, how will the new batch of rookies perform?

MLB 100 mph pitches

By Alexia Herrera

In the last 8 years, the amount of pitches that reach 100 mph or more has significantly increased. The data found on pitches over 100 mph began in 2008 with only 69 pitches reaching 100 mph or above. In 2010 Aroldis Chapman became a pitcher for the MLB at the Cincinnati Reds and we see the rate of fast pitches increase by almost double. In 2016 he was traded into the Chicago Cubs and became the fastest pitcher in the MLB. The MLB stat of pitches saw significant growth in the last 8 years. Since Chapman joined the cubs the in 2016, the number of pitches over 100 mph reached 1419 pitches.
Chapman pitched a 105.1 mph pitch, fastest in MLB., that year.

The chart shows a slight dip in fast pitches in 2011 then it consistently increases until the record-breaking number of past pitches in the last 8 years. Pitchers seem to be improving their fast pitches annually. With Chapman in the league, I predict the season to continue with the high volume of pitches over 100 mph.

The chart highlights the 2016 column, which surpasses all other years.

Practice Story



Gov. Pat Quinn talks about MAP grants at DePaul University. (Photo by Josclynn Brandon)

By Bob Smith

Gov. Pat Quinn visited DePaul University’s Loop campus on Wednesday to discuss how pension reform is harming the Monetary Award Program (MAP) college scholarships and access to higher education in Illinois.

“This is so important to our state, not only in the past, but certainly now and in the future,” Quinn said.
“We want everyone to have the opportunity to go to college that has the ability to go to college.”

MAP grants are need-based college scholarships that allow merit students who are in need across the state and do not need to be repaid by the student. Quinn said that due to cutbacks and having to pay more money in the pension amount, almost 18,000 students lost their MAP grant scholarships this year.

“We do not want anyone denied that opportunity because of finances,” Quinn said. “We can’t afford to lose all the talent that exists, all the ability that exists for higher education to help our economy and to help all of us, because there are financial challenges that deny someone the opportunity to go to community college or a four-year university — public and private — in our state.”


Quinn was joined by several Illinois college students, including DePaul Student Government Association Vice President Casey Clemmons.

“Every year over 5,000 DePaul students receive MAP grants, and just like the students who have already spoken here today, all of these DePaul students rely on this funding in order to continue their college careers,” Clemmons said.

“Because the number of Illinois students eligible to receive MAP is currently increasing, existing funding does not allow the state to assist all the eligible students. As a result, without action by the Illinois state leadership, more DePaul students than ever will see their MAP funding disappear this year and more
DePaul students than ever will be forced to give up their education due to finances.”

More than 150,000 students nationally receive MAP grants each year.

Clemmons told the audience that on Tuesday, DePaul’s SGA unanimously passed a resolution calling on the Illinois general assembly and the governor to ensure the longevity of the MAP program.  He read the resolution aloud and presented a copy to Quinn. 

Ken Thomas, a University of Illinois Board of Trustees student member, MAP recipient and University of Illinois Chicago student, told how he wouldn’t be where he is today if it wasn’t for the MAP grant.

“My mom, when I was in high school, had to work two jobs just to keep food on the table,” Thomas said, “and if we didn’t have [the] MAP program like we do today, I know that I wouldn’t be where I am today; graduating with a degree, hoping to be a productive member of society.” 

Having a productive and functioning society and economy is what Quinn says it’s all about.

“Jobs follow brainpower,” he said. “We want to make sure we have smart people in Illinois. Well skilled, well-educated students coming out of college with graduate degrees and diplomas so they can create jobs, create new businesses,” he said. “Our goal in Illinois is to have at least 60 percent of the adults in our state with a college degree or college associate degree or career certificate by the year 2025. In order to achieve we have to make sure we have a good scholarship program.”

Clemmons said that in order for that to happen, state legislatures need to reflect upon the question, “What must be done?” and do what’s required.