August 2006


Hey tweens, you there? Calling all teen writers and reporters: If you enjoy discussing current teen issues, this could be for you. Chicago Parent is looking for kids ages 12 to 14 to join the Teen Issue Panel, a group of kids from different parts of Illinois who will interview peers on various subjects. The panel will meet monthly at Chicago Parent headquarters in Oak Park to discuss topics. Information gathered will be used in a quarterly Chicago Parent column. Applicants should send their name, age, city and a short essay demonstrating reporting and writing skills on a current issue to editors@chicago-parent.com and shailigum@aol.com. Immigration story slanted In recent years, I have become a news junkie, and Liz DeCarlo's cover story "The immigration debate: Are we forgetting the children?" (July 2006) caught my eye. I hoped the writers were going to do their due diligence and present the facts and, even better, some options.

What a disappointment. Your writers took the easy route and the role of sympathetic, magnanimous benefactors to illegal immigrants on behalf of their children. You were willing to have your writers frame the issues as though you can somehow divorce the choices people make from the ultimate consequences. You are willing to allow people to knowingly break laws and then use children as shields. It almost amounts to abuse. Your perpetuation of this propaganda is unseemly at best.

People either are responsible or not. I could give a laundry list of the flaws in the Senate bill, which Anne Halliday failed to even remotely address. The Senate bill not only disregards the "rights" of those immigrants who play by the rules, but also assigns benefits to illegal immigrants that legal citizens are not entitled to receive. Not only are they demanding rights that no other group has received; their loyalties are to the flags they carry in their demonstrations and in their hearts. You have implied that the responsibility for "separated" families is with the United States government. It's about time you admit to readers that a criminal is no less a criminal because they are a parent; in fact, they are worse.


Tough issues tackled well I just finished reading the latest issue, and I have to say, it's terrific. Liz DeCarlo's piece, "The immigration debate: Are we forgetting the children?" (July 2006) on the children who arrive in the U.S. alone or are the children of undocumented immigrants opens a window on an aspect of immigration that few people know about. It's wonderful to see a well-known, well-read paper tackle a difficult issue. I was also glad to read the Feedback piece on No Child Left Behind and heartened to read that you'll be focusing some attention on it in the months ahead.

Well done. Chicago Parent just seems to keep getting better and better, and all of us who care about children-both as parents and citizens-are truly grateful.

PAT NEDEAU Erikson Institute Chicago

Why blame the police? I read Susy Schultz's recent "From the Editor" (July 2006) about those poor boys who couldn't help themselves but commit a crime. The problem I had is that while you sympathized with these boys, you had utter contempt toward a policeman.

Let me get this right: They beat you, steal your purse, attempt to steal your vehicle and you yourself thought you might die but you are outraged at the rudeness of a police officer?

You also question the lesson of your children being told to approach the police if they are in trouble. Should they instead seek out the five angels you encountered? I understand the point of your article, but a secondary point should have been don't make yourself a victim.

I was shopping one Sunday and my wife and 2-year-old were in our van while I returned the cart. Four young (13-14 years old) black males approached my van on the passenger side, where my wife was sitting. The window was up and one of the kids asked my wife for money because they had no way home. My wife said, "No." He then punched the window and yelled "F--- you, bi---." I ran up on them and confronted them sternfully [sic]; they denied any wrongdoing. If I hadn't been there, I fear the worst could have occurred. My outrage wasn't directed toward society, but squarely on those who wanted to hurt my family. I doubt that the people who need to learn about teaching their children are reading your magazine.

ED WALSH Chicago

It's not safe On a Sunday, while walking to my car as I left church service on 47th Street and Princeton Avenue, I overheard two teenage girls walking in front of me complain about waiting for the bus in the blazing heat and humidity.

As I imagined myself shortly cooling off in my air-conditioned Volvo, on the way home, I wondered if I should offer the girls a lift. I have a 17-year-old daughter who looks like these girls with corn-rowed hair extensions, Apple Bottom Capri's and flip flops. However, I heard a small voice say, "What are you thinking? Do you know where you are?" So, I drove away. I felt guilty about it. But the reality is, harsh as it may be, I did the right thing.

I am so glad to hear that you came out of your Chicago Austin neighborhood experience safely in "From the Editor" (July 2006). "What were you thinking?..." You were thinking like a parent. Unfortunately, in these times, we must always be on the defensive because you never know what danger lies ahead. These kids, as you stated, our children, our future-are misguided, with no direction. They need recreation centers and social programs in these communities and access to positive role models.


Poor performances A recently released research paper shows that of every 100 Chicago Public Schools freshmen, only six will earn a bachelor's degree. When only six out of 100 Chicago students graduate from a four-year college, it means 94 percent of city schoolchildren are doomed to low-paying, low-status prospects in a changing world economy that will be driven by highly-skilled, professional jobs.

This is outrageous and unacceptable. All elected officials should be held accountable for this systemic failure. In this election year, Illinois voters must demand candidates commit to a necessary part of the solution: Fixing our unfair, broken system of funding public schools based on local property taxes. Without this reform, too many kids across Illinois will continue to struggle to learn in schools with huge class sizes, outdated textbooks and materials and few college-bound course options. Sadly, they won't get a second chance. Neither should leaders who fail to push for reform have a second chance to repeat their performances. Editor's note: This letter was sent by the following readers. PREETI GUPTA, Palatine CRAIG RHODES, Oswego MICHAEL BEACHAM, Lake Forest ANGELICA LOPEZ, STACY STEWART SHATOSHA ANDERSON, KELLY LOUCHIOS, ALAN SINGER, AILI BRESNAHAN, DENISE FRANKLIN ZIPPORAH HIGHTOWER, Chicago JENNIFER JANICKI, teacher, Las Casas Occupational High School, Tinley Park GREG SARCHET, musician, Lyric Opera of Chicago LA WANDA POPE, president of Pure@Heart MARIA ARELLANO, teacher, Chicago Public Schools

Teaching kids about money I spent the other afternoon reading all of Susan Beacham's past columns from Chicago Parent (I had torn them out of the magazine and saved them). I think her work is very illuminating; she has taught me a lot. In regards to money management, I very much do not want to raise my daughters the way I was raised.

In her "Healthy finances" (March 2006) column, she offered a goal-setting template to your readers. My 10-year-old daughter just began desiring things that are out of our typical budget (a $32 model horse and a $54 leather journal). I appreciate all your efforts in educating young people (and their parents). I look forward to Beacham's future columns.


"Spymate" is a bad choice It's no surprise to anyone who likes quality movies that "Spymate" never made it to theaters, which is why Sylvia Ewing's positive review in "Kid culture: Video" (June 2006) is so puzzling. This straight-to-video bomb is not only trite and dull, but the producers forced a young chimpanzee to be the lead "actor." Primate experts agree that a movie set is no place for a chimpanzee.

In order to be trained to "perform," chimpanzees are removed from their mothers at birth, which causes trauma to both. The stress of separation can leave life-long emotional scars and impede normal development. Beatings are routine to ensure the animals remain fearful and obedient. Once they reach 8 years of age, these animals are too strong to be controlled. As a result, older animals are often discarded at shabby roadside zoos, where they may live in squalor for decades.

Highly acclaimed movies that are entertaining to both children and adults and that contain humane messages about animals-without exploiting them-include "Finding Nemo," "Ice Age," "Chicken Run," "The Curse of the Ware Rabbit" and "Shark Tale." Any of these would be far better ways to spend an afternoon than watching a dud like "Spymate."

JENNIFER O'CONNOR People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Norfolk, Va.

Why dispense more guilt? I excitedly clicked on the "Dad essay: Home or work" (June 2006) by George Wilder Jr., thinking it would give an interesting view from a stay-at-home dad-not a guilt trip for parents who work.

Chicago Parent does a tremendous job respecting working and stay-at-home parents. I felt this article served no purpose but to say how horrible working parents are and to warn that our children will hate us later for the work we do now. And I am sadly disappointed you printed a piece that made daycare providers sound like they are abusive and only in it for money.

I would gladly write an opposing piece, but you can be sure it would not speak ill of those who stay home.


C-sections vs. natural birth My son was delivered via Caesarean section on Thanksgiving Day 2006, after 27 hours of labor. Seven days past my due date, I had no amniotic fluid left, and despite my hopes for a natural delivery my labor was induced for the safety of my baby.

Although my son was born healthy, the surgery was brutal, the recovery horrific and my psyche crushed. Why anyone would deliberately opt for this surgery is an utter mystery to me. Couples who have not educated themselves and allow themselves to be bullied into a C-section for convenience have my pity. C-sections should be reserved for emergencies. Why, as one of the leading nations in the world, do we still have the infant mortality rate of a third-world country and the highest C-section rate of all industrialized nations? Gene Declercq and Judy Norsigian's article, "Not too posh to push," (June 2006) has identified one of the causes.

TRACY LIEBERMAN Merrionette Park

Not always a magical place I saw your article "More than magic to this kingdom: Try the other three Disney parks in Orlando," (July 2006) by Cindy Richards.

My family and I have been to Disney World more than our fair share. On our last visit in May 2005, I stopped in a restroom with my two boys, Ryan, 8, and Tyler, 4. While Ryan was at the urinal, two men started taking pictures of him. I witnessed it as did the washroom attendant. The attendant went for security, and I got my boys out. By the time security showed up, the men had deleted all the pictures of my son from their camera. I then spent almost three hours with Disney security and the Orange County police.

In the end, the police could only throw the men out of the park. There are no laws to cover taking bathroom pictures. Upon my return, I sent a letter to Disney asking them to do something as simple as place a sign in washrooms prohibiting picture taking. I also asked them to work with local lawmakers to pass a law. Disney's response: A phone call saying this had never happened before in the park and that the request for any signage would have to be put through lawyers. They sent me four one-day passes and some trinkets for the boys.


Toddler safety tip I enjoyed reading the piece by Paige Fumo Fox, "Lost children: Be prepared" (July 2006). It brought back memories and anxieties of my son David running off as a toddler. Let me add my tip: Go to any pet stores that sell dog tags and engrave your child's first name and the family's phone numbers. Then hook the tag to the child's shoe lace, and tuck it into the shoe. If a child is too young to give information, the tag will. It gave me peace of mind.


Kids Eat Chicago

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