The news at Chicago Public Schools remains grim. CPS has taken unprecedented action twice this year by cutting school budgets mid-year. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has little political influence to push for adequate school funding at the state level. Gov. Bruce Rauner has little desire to negotiate with a weakened mayor. The Chicago Teachers’ Union is threatening another strike. Parents and students are not only powerless in this political struggle but have little opportunity to voice concerns apart from organizations like Raise Your Hand.
CPS changed its funding formula to student-based budgeting. The stated goal for this was to give more autonomy and corresponding responsibility to the principals at CPS schools and the elected Local School Councils. CPS has undermined the councils’ authority with the revised principal evaluation as well as by requiring approval by the unelected network chiefs for purchases greater than $5,000. With attempts by CPS to undermine the councils, parents and most importantly our children remain voiceless.
The teachers’ union can and should protest these inadequacies by threatening a one-day action, but parents and students hold very little over the head of CPS and the state, besides moving to states with better priorities. Despite all the disagreement between the state and the city, there is one element agreed by both, the necessity for CPS to spend money on a standardized testing, PARCC, which does not improve the education of our children. While there are different views on standardized testing, parents and students should use PARCC as their recourse — their protest. Opting out of PARCC testing as a protest to the ineffectual leadership in the city and state offers a rare opportunity for parents and students to be heard. I urge all parents and students to opt out of PARCC testing, as a protest to continual budget cuts by CPS and inaction in Springfield.
Joshua Freedland, Local School Council chair, Jamieson Elementary
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Big mistake: Re-electing Madigan
Tuesday’s election has come and gone and, once again, it couldn’t be any clearer that Illinois desperately needs term limits for our state legislators. How in the world can anyone who is even half paying attention to what has been happening in this state re-elect someone like Mike Madigan? Wake up, people!
John C. Fawcett, Burr Ridge