July 25, 2011

The Southern School, aka The School for Hillbillies, and "The Whorehouse of Chicago," Uptown Chicago, 1970

Excerpt from the Sun-Times, 1970.  No truant officer chases the pupils of The Southern School, although somewhere in the files of the public school system each has a record of truancy, delinquency, retardation or incorrigibility.

They come willingly—even to summer school—in response to Patrick Zimmermann, who teaches them without pay. Zimmerman is a former public school teacher who has taken 15 poor white boys from Uptown and made them learn to read and behave and many have advanced beyond their grade level.

Zimmerman is a national merit scholar who holds a master's degree in political science from the University of Chicago. He started his school for "hillbillies" in January. He started it because as a white teacher without much seniority in the public school system, he was assigned to all-black schools. Zimmerman thinks black kids need black teachers and hillbilly kids need hillbilly teachers, of which there are "about three" in Chicago.

Believing that public schools have failed Uptown's 9000 poor Southern whites, he founded, administers, and currently serves as sole teacher in a special school for "his" people.

The Southern School started out as one class of 15 boys, but this fall another class will be added for boys, and possibly a third girls' class. A campaign is underway to raise $9600 ($3000 per teacher, $1000 for lunches, $1000 for equipment and books, etc.) to support the frugal school for the next year.

Zimmerman's is a school where he puts his arm around an emaciated little boy who is reading aloud. It's a school where records play during class. It's a school where a child would be free to bring a poster advertising a movie about prostitution because he would like to talk about it.

The subject, prostitution, is not irrevelant in an Uptown elementary school, says Zimmerman. This neighborhood is the city's whorehouse. A lot of kids hustle customers for girls--little kids. They can make $5.

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