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Monday letters: Charter schools don't deserve our tax money

As a retired Chicago homeowner, I dread the huge tax increase and garbage collection fee in the offing, but I understand the necessity of it to shore up the city’s finances. I fully support the court’s ruling that you cannot take away promised benefits from public service workers. However, it bothers me that part of my tax for schools/education goes to private, profit-making charters.

I have no problem supporting “public” schools and highly commend teachers for taking on a most important profession that still garners little respect. However, using tax funds to support charters is supporting private for-profit business (and according to recent reports, some charters fare no better and some fare worse than public schools). I don’t see that my taxes should be used to support these private companies.

Even worse is the billions of dollars spent on standardized testing. The best assessment of a child’s learning is a portfolio of his/her work throughout the school year. In portfolio assessment, teacher and parents compare a student’s saved early work (September) to work later in the year (January through June) to assess progress. As a parent, I also question full-day kindergarten, which is a long day for young children. We need an educator or an educator panel to advise on educational matters. Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool appears to be a whiz at finances, but he may not be an expert in education.

Linda Hendelman, West Ridge

SEND LETTERS TO: letters@suntimes.com. Please include your neighborhood or hometown and a phone number for verification purposes.

Palos Park land grab stinks

Cook County Forest Preserve District Commissioners are poised Tuesday to take a critical step in enabling the Village of Palos Park to seize 2,000 of acres of undeveloped land in Lemont Township as part of a politically motivated deal that will lead to high-density commercial development and an influx in residential housing.

If you find it odd that the Forest Preserve would take action to settle a land dispute between two municipalities, you’re right.

The land is actually located in Lemont Township and is surrounded by the Village of Lemont, which has long-term plans to development the property in a manner that’s smart, gradual and responsible, fitting with the rest of the community.

This proposal would essentially split Lemont in half, creating an island community of Palos Park residents, who would live eight miles away from the actual village while residing mere footsteps from Lemont.

If you’re left scratching your head, you’re not alone. But this is all perfectly legal, pending approval by the Forest Preserve Commissioners.

Because the property is not contiguous to Palos Park, newly appointed Commissioner (and Palos Park resident) Sean Morrison is lobbying his fellow commissioners to create a land bridge by allowing Palos Park to annex a 140-acre portion of Forest Preserve land adjacent to it.

Only in Illinois.

Who benefits? The land owners of Cog Hill and Gleneagles golf courses and the Ludwig Farm, each located within the 2,000-acre property, and eventually the developers who would purchase their land once the deal goes through. But it’s easier to determine who loses:

· Village of Lemont taxpayers who get no revenue but whose tax dollars would provide police and fire services to the area.

· Local schools, which would have to accommodate an extra 2,600 students, leading to larger class sizes and lower student-teacher ratios.

· The Village of Palos Park, whose residents have been kept in the dark about this deal and whose tax money will have to pay for infrastructure improvements for an area disconnected several miles away from them.

· Cook County residents who would allow the County to set a dangerous precedent by enabling the government body to relinquish preserve land for political benefit.

If you think something smells, it does.

On Tuesday, urge Cook County commissioners to take a neutral stance and refuse to have Commissioner Morrison use them as a pawn to get his way.

Brian Reaves, mayor

Village of Lemont

State income tax ended a governor’s career

While Chicago’s aldermen ponder slamming their constituents with Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s $500 million property tax hike, they must also ponder their political careers, because the two are inextricably linked. I have two words of warning for them and Emanuel: Richard Ogilvie.

Walter R. Kowalczyk, Jefferson Park

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