Chicago - School bells rang for the first time on Monday. In Chicago and other parts of America, school is back in session. But unlike many other places around the country, students in Chicago have a not so new twist. Students in Chicago have safe passage zones that were created for the sole purpose of allowing them to travel to and from school safely.
The safe passage program was designed to protect over 12,000 Chicago Public School students who must travel through some of the city's toughest streets. Streets that are no stranger to gun violence and witnessing the loss of young lives. The task has been made all the more difficult this year, with the school boards decision to close nearly 50 schools at the close of the last school year. http://www.cps.edu
For the parents and children affect by those closures, the beginning of the new school year has been a tense time. Students in some parts of the city must cross over into unfamiliar gang and drug territory to make it to so-called welcoming schools. Schools that will receive students from schools that have been shuttered.
The causing an uproar from parents, teachers, students and local community leaders alike, who feel that their children are being made the pawn in a one sided shell game that saw school closures in mostly minority communities. The city of Chicago has hired hundreds of resides, intended to line those routes designated as safe passage routes. "You are our front line," Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel told some of those newly minted workers at a rally.
With violent crime an everyday reality in the city of Chicago, the question is, will it prevent the culture of violence that has taken so many young lives? Will children feels safe walking to and from school? But the question most people in Chicago really need answered is does safe passage work,?