There’s been a great deal of attention paid to “food deserts” in Chicago, i.e. neighborhoods where fresh food is hard to find.
More worrisome for Chicago’s future is the fact that large parts of the South and West sides of the city are school deserts, neighborhoods where decent public or private schools are non-existent.
Perhaps the most barren school desert in the city is Bronzeville.
The Tribune has a sobering report on the chaotic public school scene in the greater Bronzeville area, which it defines as “roughly bordered by the lake, 26th Street, the Dan Ryan Expressway and 57th Street.” The one bright spot in the area is King College Prep (pictured above), an “elite selective-enrollment high school.” King’s test scores wouldn’t lead many people to describe it as an elite school.
Private schools, most of them with religious affiliations, have traditionally provided Chicago parents with an alternative to hellish neighborhood public schools. Not in Bronzeville. According to Census data made available through the New York Times Mapping America page, with the exception of Census Tracts in east Kenwood and Hyde Park, the percentage of elementary school children attending private schools in the greater Bronzeville area is zero.
Is there any hope for the redevelopment of greater Bronzeville if it’s a school desert, as it appears to be?