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Don’t close Austin elementary schools

CHICAGO IL - MARCH 25:  Students demonstrate outside office Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel protesting city's plan close more than

CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 25: Students demonstrate outside the office of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel protesting the city's plan to close more than 50 elementary schools on March 25, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. Last week the city announced the plan claiming it was necessary to rein in a looming $1 billion budget deficit. The closings would shift about 30,000 students to new schools and leave more than 1,000 teachers with uncertain futures. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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Updated: April 28, 2013 6:31AM

Measured by population, Austin is the largest of Chicago’s 77 official community areas, and also one of the largest in terms of land area. Several distinctive areas within Austin include the Austin Historic District, which includes restored 19th-century single-family homes; Galewood, the northernmost section of Austin; and The Island. Austin is served by the CTA’s Blue and Green lines and the Eisenhower Expy. — great transportation for any possible business development.

Austin was a predominantly white neighborhood until the late 1960s, and faced numerous infrastructure problems. Today Austin is over 85 percent black and the infrastructure has gotten worse. Austin High School, once one of Chicago’s leading schools, was closed in 2007, leaving the city’s largest community without a traditional high school. In 2012, the Austin YMCA closed its doors. Closed factories, high unemployment, failed small businesses, neglected schools, high dropout rates, foreclosures and struggling social service agencies have created enormous challenges.

And now the Chicago Public School system has announced that four elementary schools are closing in Austin. The Austin community, with a median yearly household income of $32,358, does not deserves this unfair and unjust neglect. I have advanced HR 0095 in the Illinois General Assembly, which would create a Distressed Counties and Communities Task Force to find and create innovative means to address the numerous needs of those who receive state social services and also to develop a legislative agenda that can serve as a national anti-poverty model.

Just imagine what we could do in Austin with just a touch of fairness!

State Rep. La Shawn K. Ford (D-Chicago)

Obama must press Palestinians

How stirring it was to hear President Obama call for Israelis to put themselves in shoes of Palestinians! How about also asking the Palestinians to put themselves in the shoes of Israelis? Bombs rained down on Israel even as Obama was there. He gave a “must-do” list to Israel without even a mention of Israel’s statehood not being recognized. How can Israel participate in peace talks when she does not exist?

Babette Glazier, Lincoln Square

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