Letters: A $20 million ethical dilemma for CPS

SHARE Letters: A $20 million ethical dilemma for CPS

On Friday, Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said she was taking a leave of absence after it was revealed that federal investigators are looking into a no-bid $20.5 million contract given to SUPES Academy, which once employed Byrd-Bennett. File photo by Spencer Green, AP.

In the news recently was a story about a service that trains school principals. This company was handed a no-bid contract totaling $20 million to perform this apparently vital service.

First of all, I was under the distinct impression that school principals received their training in college and grad school — on their dime.

Second, just how many principals can you train with $20 million? As opposed to how many teachers can be hired to teach how many kids?

I do know one thing: They ought to teach some of these people math with a healthy side course of ethics.

Mike Simon, Glen Ellyn

Help wanted to keep banquet hall out of state park

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources and Pavilion Partners LLC have signed an agreement to build a new banquet hall directly on the beach of the Indiana Dunes State Park in Chesterton.

They have promoted this for years as a rehabilitation of the iconic old park pavilion, which everyone supports, but hid the fact that this contract includes a new building right next to, and as large as, the old one.

Opponents are livid that the DNR would do this without public input and signed a lease with the concessionaires that amounts to a giveaway of public land for private profit.

Chicago residents have been critically important to the creation and protection of the Indiana Dunes and the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore for decades. We need your help now.

We need phone calls and letters to Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, state representatives and senators. Tell them “no new building on the beach.”

Jim Sweeney, Schererville, Ind.

Unit school districts add up to savings

As a 12-year school board veteran and former president of Barrington District 220, I want to speak out regarding public school funding in Illinois.

Illinois remains one of only a handful of states that allows schools in the same area to be divided into elementary districts (feeder districts) and high school districts. Most states require all schools to be in unit districts — kindergarten through 12th grade under one administration. There are currently almost 900 separate public school districts (and thus separate public school taxing bodies) in Illinois. For feeder districts, superintendent compensation is more than 400 percent higher and administrative costs are more than 150 percent higher.

Why the cost disparity? Redundancy of administrative costs and duplicative operating costs — all outside the classroom environment.

How much savings are we talking about? Utilizing per pupil statistics, if every school district in Illinois were required to be a unit district, the savings would total roughly $1.5 billion annually ($1.1 billion local property tax relief and almost $350 million in state funding savings) – more than $2,000 per pupil saved.

Illinois should mandate the formation of unit districts and bank these savings immediately as a first step.  This structure would save administrative costs, reduce local tax rates and save state funds.  Educationally, unit districts foster more continuity in curriculum between elementary, middle, and high schools. Plus harmonization of teacher salary schedules between K through 8 and the high school would facilitate a level playing field for teacher recruitment and retainment.

Jeff Nordquist, Barrington

Spread blame to Democrats on immigration failures

Your April 20 editorial “Sorry failures on immigration lead to New Orleans courtroom” blames Republicans for not passing immigration reform between 2007 to 2013. You forgot to mention that the Democrats had control of the Senate, House and the White House from 2009 to 2011 and did nothing to solve the immigration problem. The Democrats deserve plenty of blame.

Mike Kirchberg, Forest Glen

A vote for piecemeal immigration reform

The Sun-Times printed a commentary, “Republicans need compassionate plan on immigration” on April 20.  Compassion is good, but that doesn’t mean you have to give away the store to show it.

Frankly, I am all for immigration.  I was surprised to read how many people came to our country around the turn of the 20th century.  But there were some important differences.

There were no government assistance programs then. However, there were jobs. When a country makes all of its own stuff and as the population grows, industry grows with it, and there are always opportunities to make things and to meet the needs of the people. But we sent millions of our jobs overseas, so we no longer have an economic system that can sustain continual population growth.

Our country is trillions of dollars in debt, propped up by low interest rates manufactured by the Federal Reserve.  This creates an artificial economy that can burst at any time.  We can’t afford to support millions of people with public money, especially when most of it is borrowed in the first place.

We have been told that we must learn to live with millions of illegal immigrants, because it is impossible to deport them all.  They are here because they can either find work or have enough government assistance to make it preferable to returning home.  I think we already have laws about hiring illegal workers, but nobody wants to enforce our laws anymore.

Republicans have been blamed for failing to pass immigration reform.  No, they are not the problem.  They just don’t want to try to fix everything in one comprehensive bill.  That only means that most of the problems don’t get discussed, and you don’t even know all that is in there until the bill is passed.  Tackle the problem one piece at a time.  Some people don’t like that, because they won’t or can’t get everything they want if people actually talked about those things.

Larry Craig, Wilmette

State’s attorney steps out of bounds 

The Cook County State’s Attorney is assuming legislative authority in her proprietorial discretion. There is no dispute in her utilizing that discretion but it is the responsibility of the legislature to make laws and the courts to enforce those laws. She may seek revision of the marijuana laws but not unilaterally decide which laws she will enforce. Narcotic offenders will usually start with marijuana or pills and progress to total addiction using other more lethal narcotics.

John Culloton, Norwood Park

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