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Give CPS kids a big lift by bringing them up to speed in math and science

CPS graduation rates are growing faster than the national average, the district says. | File photo

In a recent essay for the Sun-Times, CPS CEO Janice Jackson praised the district’s increased graduation rate and college acceptance rate of its seniors (“Rising graduation rates just beginning of major gains by Chicago Public Schools” — March 4). I am a retired CPS teacher who is state-certified in physics, chemistry and mathematics.

A college degree by itself may not provide a graduate with an adequate income. Every day I go to Starbucks or MacDonald’s for coffee, and often find college graduates working as cashiers and baristas for about $10 an hour, hardly a living wage. I have found many bachelor’s recipients with degrees in psychology, business, history, political science, film and music, unable to secure any other type of employment at all in their fields, let alone a job of any kind with an adequate wage.

However, I have discovered that a college degree of any kind and a state teaching certificate, especially in mathematics, physics, chemistry or special education, will generally command a starting salary of about $50,000 a year in many U.S. cities because of a critical need. Also, a registered nurse will start at about $50,000 a year.

CPS must offer each student a solid math-based physics and chemistry course, even with remediation of basic mathematics and algebra in order to prepare capable but mathematically weak students so that they will have the problem-solving foundation to earn a STEM or medical-related degree. STEM or medical training in higher education will provide a living wage job.

Stewart E. Brekke, Downers Grove

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Lower those heating bills

I am a senior living on a fixed income. There are many months I cut back on groceries so I can pay my heating bill (Editorial: Cool off the increase in Chicagoans’ heating bills — March 4).

There should be some type of progressive pay system for seniors. If you’re not real poor, just above poverty level, you don’t have a choice but to cut back on groceries to pay your gas bill.

Phyllis Jude, Washington Heights

Yes to rent control

I would like to respond to the March 5 letter titled: “Why stop at rent control?

Firstly, why only rent control? Because many landlords are escalating the rents at an outrageously unfair and unaffordable rate. This burdens the 99-percenters with an expenditure that usually consumes more than 50 percent of their monthly income. In gentrifying neighborhoods, the rent surpasses these renters’ monthly income by leaps and bounds. And capitalism benefits whom?!

I don’t think the 99 percenters stay awake at night worrying about how the 1 percenters are going to manage the cost of doing their business. Landlords usually pass on those costs to their tenants anyway. So what are you complaining about?

No more carte blanche power to the landlords and their gentry, your majesty.

Karla Barnett, Rogers Park