Charter schools have capacity to change students’ lives
I am writing this letter to explain why I chose to enroll my children in KIPP Ascend Charter School, one of the Chicago Public Charter Schools.

Traditional public schools in my community were not providing the educational tools needed for my children to succeed. I regularly found myself supplementing their education through outside tutoring programs (they were not the furthest behind, so the tutoring programs offered within the schools were not made available to them).

After several years of trying to get them into one of the magnet schools, I received a flyer regarding a new school opening in the Austin community. I e-mailed the principal, Mr. Jim O’Connor, and asked him what type of curriculum they would have for the students. He began explaining to me the long days, which are 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The reason for the long hours is to give each child the proper learning foundation and tools needed to succeed, not only in middle school but in life. Like many charter schools, KIPP opens its doors to whoever has the desire to dedicate themselves and learn from the best. Our teachers are some of the most outstanding and dedicated individuals. They take what they do to heart, and it is reflected in the students. That is why we now have a Golden Apple winner because of the respect, hard work and dedication that each teacher puts into his or her classroom to make each individual shine in his/her own right.

This week of May 1-7 was National Charter Schools Week. Parents, students, teachers and school heads all over this land were doing what I am doing at this moment, explaining how charter schools have changed their lives and the lives of their children forever.

As a parent I can tell you, finding a school that teaches self-respect, discipline, and motivation to the students are few and far between. I truly thank Mayor Daley for acknowledging and knowing that charter schools offer a positive alternative in areas where school choices are limited. I know for a fact that National Charter Schools Week is an excellent time to let you know that Knowledge Is Power.

Arletta E. Lock

Hit and run death brings back painful memories
My name is Marcus Lewis. I’m 14 years old. I go to Goldblatts School. I’m in the seventh grade. I live with my grandmother who be caring for me since I was 3 years old when my mother was found dead in the house with me for four days.

My grandmother, Shirley Williford, is a wonderful person, always trying to please everyone but herself. But what I am getting at is me and my grandmother was reading the Austin Weekly News about Allen Rasberry, killed by a hit-and-run driver. It brought back terrible flashback to my grandmother, and she began to start crying all over again about my Uncle Jawaan Williford who was hit by a drunken driver that received a reward for only having to pay $515 for no insurance for his car. He never went to jail, only received a ticket on the scene.

My uncle was only 16 years old at the time. This happened on June 26, 2001. He had to have brain surgery. They told my grandmother that he might not make it, and if he did, that he would be blind and like a vegetable. But you see my grandmother is a praying grandmother, and she told the doctor that she wanted to thank them for their work, but she needed them to step to the back and let God continue his work ’cause she walks side by side with a man with higher powers.

My grandmother stayed at the hospital every night with my uncle in intensive care until she sent him to rehab at Swabb, which didn’t do anything for him. My uncle was sent home in a semi-coma, couldn’t do anything for himself?”talk, walk, wear Pampers, couldn’t eat. My grandmother worked with him, then he became a diabetic, almost went into a diabetic coma, but she caught it in time and got him to the hospital in time.

So my family has been through a lot. She asked his doctor to get him in Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago and he did. So they have helped us out a lot, getting Jawaan where he’s at now after getting him out of Swabb Rehab.

It has been very painful for my grandmother?”almost five years for her. My grandmother is a very strong woman, and I’m proud to have her in my life. My grandmother tried so many times to have this man brought to justice but no luck. She even filed paper with the State for victim of crime. They denied her, said it was a traffic accident because the man said he waited for police. He tried to run. They made him stay. He was doing 55 to 65 mph down a resident street, didn’t even stop [for] a stop sign. Have witness. Also there was a female in the car that got out and ran.

My uncle was riding his bike with friends out of the alley. My uncle had to be taught all over again as if he was born again. This man took my grandmother’s dream from her. My uncle used to tell her, “Mommie when I get to NBA you will never going to work anymore. I’m going to have you a house built from the ground.” He could play basketball real good, a pro at it. That was his dream.

She even called the Alderman Mitts’ offices and was told by one of the office workers to call [the] State’s Attorney’s office. Nothing was done.

I’m just trying to put closure on this for my grandmother and uncle because he [is] always asking her what was ever done to the man that hit me. My grandmother stopped her life on 6/21/01, up until now not caring about herself anymore.

I love my grandmother very much. I just want her to be happy again and smile again. I have even thought about writing Oprah and Maury Show.

My grandmother works, takes care of Jawaan, me, my cousin and other uncles. Also helps my great-grandmother, whose health is not too good, take care of my great-great-grandmother who is 90 years old and sick. My grandmother takes care of two households. She might be mad at me for writing you but I will take the chance because she is hurting inside. I can see it. I feel much better now that I got that out.

Please help us.
Marcus D. Lewis

Take a moment to honor medical emergency
The week of May 15-21 is set aside to celebrate national Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Week. This is a time to salute the more than 750,000 professionals and volunteers who serve our communities.

Sometimes their work is done in the spotlight; many more times their quick and selfless actions are not seen and are taken for granted. The Oak Park/Austin community is blessed to have an exemplary level of care it can count on in medical emergencies.

Join with us at West Suburban Medical Center in recognizing the special work of our EMS colleagues this week.

Dr. Roy Horras
Dept. of Emergency Medicine
West Suburban Medical Center