On the day of the shooting at Crane Prep, I noted that it’s had a troubled history over the past couple decades. Today the Sun-Times has outstanding coverage of the incident, noting that the school is a crossroads for students from four housing projects dominated by five different gangs. The fight broke out over a hat adorned with a watch, called a Buck Fifty (in reference to the price, i.e. $150); according to GLC, the style is identified with Chicago. I’ve seen a lot of them in recent months, but that may only correlate to me taking the 63 to work since the fall, not to fashion trends.

(I’m also having a hard time finding any references to them outside of Chicago, so I’m wondering if the style and/or the term for it is local.)

In other education news, the Sun-Times highlights a study that puts real numbers on an underrated problem with getting CPS students into college–applying is a huge, incomprehensible pain, particularly doing the FAFSA. I applied as an undergrad twice, out of high school and as a transfer, and it was awful, despite the fact that I was a dedicated student with supportive, college-educated parents, one of whom is a college teacher; many helpful adult friends in higher ed, plus four years of college classes; a student in a small school with lots of guidance; a great deal of experience with the Internet; and lots of experience in self-directed learning (I went to a very alternative high school with no history of sending students to college). The paperwork still made me want to cry, and I managed to screw it up regularly (my older friends and colleagues seem to have had an easier time, although I’m not sure if age has softened their memories).

Without the support structure I had, I’m sure the chaos of the process would have limited my options, even if I’d just become overwhelmed by irritation. Mentoring is enormously important at this step.

Finally, a pleasant diversion: Lee Bey has great pictures of and an interesting post about the overwhelmingly beautiful Carl Schurz High School on Milwaukee, a great blend of Prairie School architecture and big-shoulder old-school massive-red-brick institutional architecture. He’s also been writing about the low-slung, modernist Pershing School in the at-risk Lake Meadows complex.