U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan traveled to Chicago Wednesday to talk about the rise in youth violence in that city and the brutal beating death of an honor student outside of a South Chicago high school last month.
As former CEO of Chicago Public Schools, Duncan has been criticized for school closings that some allege have worsened gang violence. Critics say feuding gangs now share the same school or cross “enemy territory” to get to school, increasing opportunities for confrontations. (See post a bit below on this issue.)
Honor student Derrion Albert was caught in the middle of one of those fights as he walked to his school bus and was beaten to death, a tragedy captured on a ubiquitous cell phone camera and broadcast to a shocked nation.
Holder called the boy’s death “a call to action.”
But what sort of action? What can the federal government do to quell youth violence?
“Youth violence is not a Chicago problem any more than it is a black problem, a white problem or a Hispanic problem,” said Holder.
Is it a federal problem?
About 70 students have been murdered since the start of 2007 school term, mostly in their neighborhoods on the way to or from school, according to the New York Times.
What can the schools do when the communities around them are so unsafe that students are kicked to death walking to the school bus? Isn’t this a crisis for law enforcement rather than schools?