Duncan: Fenger to Get U.S. Grant

Some in Chicago are pointing fingers at the mayor's Renaissance 2010 schools program

Two cabinet level officers met with Mayor Daley today to announce emergency grants to restore the learning environment at Fenger High School -- while simultaneously admitting that money is not the answer.

Speaking at City Hall, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said that Fenger and its feeder schools would receive $500,000 in federal emergency funds, but that the videotaped beating death of Derrion Albert reveals larger issues that money alone can't fix.

"We plan to go to other cities and meet and talk with people," Duncan said, adding, in a turn of phrase reminiscent of conservative mores, that this meeting marked "the beginning of a national conversation about values."

Otherwise offering mostly generalities and bromides, Holder and Duncan said their appearance, like some anti-violence road show, was the first of many in cities across the nation.

"We should use this moment to go forward together," said Holder.

 "We must engage directly with our children," said Duncan.

Holder also noted that past responses to addressing youth violence have been fragmented between the city, state and national levels. He offered no specifics on how to remedy the problem, besides saying that President Obama is "firmly committed to the issue."

The White House called the video tape that captured the 16-year-old's murder "chilling."

Meanwhile, parents and community members at Fenger High School are furious that they have not been included at the breakfast table with Holder, Duncan and Daley.

"They are meeting about us without us" said Phillip Jackson of the Black Star Project.  "President Obama fueled up Air Force One to fly to Copenhagen to try to win the Olympics.  Why can't he fuel up a Greyhound bus and come here"

"The Mayor and President want parents to get involved in the lives of their children" Jackson said "we are here, where are they?"

Others in Chicago are pointing fingers at the mayor's Renaissance 2010 schools program as the culprit for the increase in youth violence.

Since 2005, dozens of Chicago's public schools have been closed and thousands of students reassigned to campuses outside their neighborhoods — and often across gang lines — as part of the program launched by Daley when Duncan was Chicago Public Schools chief.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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