An open letter to Mayor Lightfoot: Limit class sizes
You would not want your daughter to be one of 30 students in a class with one teacher. I do not want my son to be a single teacher attempting to create a positive learning environment for 30 students.
Dear Mayor Lightfoot,
You are the mom of a middle school student. I am the mom of a middle school teacher. I believe we want the same things for our children — a safe and positive learning environment in which creative, caring and hard-working teachers can help students become life-long learners and do their best work.
I believe you would not want your daughter to be one of 30 students in a class with one teacher. I do not want my son to be a single teacher attempting to create a positive learning environment for 30 students at the same time.
Please give strong consideration to writing a class size provision into the teachers’ contract. This is vital. If you are looking at average class size across all Chicago public schools, please be sure to review the data by specific regions or, better yet, by school. You will find wide disparities. The system-wide data may show a student-to-teacher ratio of 22-to-1, but dig deeper. That does not reflect what is really happening in the classroom.
My son teaches middle school social studies in Woodlawn. He has 30 students in each of his classes. Additionally, his school has no teaching assistants, no nurses, no librarian and no library. If a student is ill or just needs a quiet space to settle, there is nowhere for that student to go. The student must remain in the classroom, affecting the learning environment for the other 29 students.
Writing a class size provision into the Chicago Teachers Union contact would go a long way toward building trust among the teachers, parents and students. It would send a message that you want to give all CPS children a fighting chance for true learning and advancement.
Mayor, you ran on a commitment to build trust and equity across all the neighborhoods. You are seen by many Chicagoans, including me, as a leader who cares about all our city’s residents — not just the ones who can afford high property taxes. Enforcing smaller classes in all our schools, especially on the South Side and West Side, would go a long way toward demonstrating your values while dramatically helping our students and teachers to be successful.
Mom of a middle school CPS teacher
Why casino should be built in a neighborhood
Mayor Lori Lightfoot has a unique opportunity to both create revenue for the city and spur revitalization in our neighborhoods through the development of a casino. And it’s terrific to see our aldermen engaged in a spirited debate about how to maximize the opportunity.
Both Ald. Scott Waguespack and Ald. Anthony Beale make good points. Waguespack is correct that the site for a casino is critical, Beale is correct that choosing the right site is a useful criterion only if there is an operator willing and eager to go there.
It’s crucial that the casino be located in a neighborhood that needs revitalization — not downtown. A priority must be given to neighborhood sites.
While the media and study groups have focused on the potential revenue from a casino, that is not enough. Equally important are the number of jobs created, where those jobs are located, who gets those jobs and what secondary and tertiary benefits flow from the proposal.
Of Chicago’s 1.2 million jobs, more than 600,000 are in the central area, with the remaining spread among the other parts of town. A downtown casino, while producing revenue, would have an unnoticeable incremental impact downtown; in a community with few job opportunities, the impact would be immense.
Making a casino a catalyst for economic development for neighborhoods that need revitalization is going to take hard work and cooperation among state legislators, the mayor, aldermen and community organizations. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring jobs, small business development, and new economic opportunities to neighborhoods that need it most.
Let’s work together and not squander the opportunity.
Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives
White privilege on the fly
If anyone asks you to explain white privilege, show them a picture of Marilyn Hartman, the so-called “serial stowaway” at O’Hair Airport. If she were Muslim, she would be in a federal lockup in Guantanamo Bay.
Don Anderson, Oak Park