I have raised 14 children who have attended Chicago Public Schools, as a biological parent, a primary caregiver and a grandmother. I know that children learn in different ways, and I know that parents best know their own children’s strengths and weaknesses. The perspective of parents is most needed on the Chicago Public Schools Board of Education.
The Sun-Times recently endorsed a hybrid School Board for CPS, meaning the board would have some members appointed by the mayor and some elected by the public. The best way to ensure that any new board is responsive to the needs of CPS parents is to make sure that parents get a say in what the new board looks like — and serve as members. The majority of board members should be current CPS parents, some with experience serving on local school councils, and the racial and geographic diversity of the board should closely resemble the demographics of CPS students.
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Only with adequate parent representation will the new board be able to properly identify goals and determine what qualifies as success for our schools, and then do the important work of continuing academic growth, closing the achievement gap, and ensuring our students graduate and go on to college.
Mary Alexander, Austin
Equity for tollway fees
Last week, the Illinois Tollway took an important step toward making our transportation system more equitable. As part of its decision to eliminate cash toll collections, the agency announced it would expand its I-Pass Assist program to households with lower incomes.
Beginning in May, drivers with household incomes below 250% of the federal poverty line will have the deposit on transponders waived and will receive $20 in prepaid tolls. This also follows a Tollway decision last summer to substantially reduce fees associated with missed tolls.
Our transportation system is a literal route to opportunity, connecting residents to jobs, education and services. And yet significant transportation inequities exist for residents with low incomes, communities of color and people with disabilities.
ON TO 2050 — our comprehensive plan for northeastern Illinois — recommends that transportation user fees be implemented carefully to avoid undue burdens on residents with low incomes. The cost of driving is a significant strain on many people who lack other transit options. Residents with low incomes spend roughly a fifth of their income on transportation costs.
An expanded I-Pass Assist program will make transportation more affordable for those with low incomes. And when transportation easily connects residents to economic opportunities and amenities, our entire region prospers.
Erin Aleman, Chicago