A closed Chicago public school turned private, and it’s now draining taxpayer dollars

Is it good public policy to underfund CPS, which serves students who need special services, while sending dollars to private schools that do not accommodate them?

SHARE A closed Chicago public school turned private, and it’s now draining taxpayer dollars
pporters hold posters and chant during a protest in April 2022 outside the Chicago Public Schools headquarters in the Loop where they rallied against budget cuts. | Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Dozens of parents, organizers and supporters hold posters and chant during a protest in April 2022 outside the Chicago Public Schools headquarters in the Loop where they rallied against budget cuts. | Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

I am writing to commend the reporters who worked on the story profiling the closed Chicago Public Schools buildings. It demonstrates the folly of this policy and its devastating impact on the surrounding communities.

However, I would like to add some information about what happened to the Key School when the Field School took over the facilities. The article about this private Christian school does not mention that 79 of 199 (40%) of students at the school received vouchers from the Invest in Kids tax credit “scholarship” program last school year, and 76 of 220 (35%) this year.

SEND LETTERS TO: letters@suntimes.com. We want to hear from our readers. To be considered for publication, letters must include your full name, your neighborhood or hometown and a phone number for verification purposes. Letters should be a maximum of approximately 375 words.

That amounts to more than $860,000 in public funds diverted to a private school for these two school years. Based on the state’s data for non-public schools, the Field School serves 0% special education students. The four nearby public elementary schools serve anywhere from 13.4% to 22.4% special education students.

A private school is bound by few of the regulations that public schools must follow. They are free to discriminate against LGBTQ students, not offer services to English-language learners and students with disabilities, and require religious instruction, as mentioned by the grandmother talking about her grandchildren “learning scripture” at the Field School.

A more balanced picture might have included a parent from a surrounding public school talking about the lack of resources at their school, or about the importance of a public school to their community, in addition to a grandparent who touts the fact her grandchild has only 12 students in their class.

If more public funds were directed to West Side neighborhood schools, they too could have smaller classes. And is it good public policy to underfund CPS, which serves students who are the most expensive to educate — those needing special services — while draining dollars to a school that does not accommodate them?

Diane Horwitz, Evanston

Americans who are homeless need shelter, just like migrants

Government is doing all it can to shelter migrants, but what about our fellow Americans who sleep in doorways, under viaducts, on Lower Wacker Drive, etc., in both the heat of summer and cold of winter? What about them?

The Chicago Resiliency Fund 2.0 provides $500 grants, but eligibility is limited to domestic workers and undocumented residents.

Generosity should start at home.

Larry E. Nazimek, Logan Square

Tell Chicago Bears to take a hike when it comes to taxpayer money

As the Chicago Bears rattles its tin cup in the face of Arlington Heights and Springfield for financial aid to build their new stadium there, after bailing on Soldier Field, leaving Chicago on the hook for a huge unpaid debt, it might be interesting to note that Bears part owner Virginia McCaskey alone has an annual salary of $30 million, according to Google, much of it from Bears revenue.

In fairness to both sets of taxpayers, why don’t all the politicians involved tell them to take a hike?

Ted Z. Manuel, Hyde Park

The Latest
Gov. J.B. Pritzker is expected to sign into law a ban on step therapy and prior authorization for in-patient mental health care.
NBA
West, nicknamed “Mr. Clutch” for his late-game exploits as a player, went into the Hall of Fame as a player in 1980 and again as a member of the 1960 U.S. Olympic Team in 2010.
Brian Crowder, a former dean of students at the Greater Lawndale High School for Social Justice, entered a guilty plea Wednesday in a deal with prosecutors, only to ask for a continuance when he learned he would have to register as a sex offender for life.
Ogle County Sheriff Brian VanVickle said the deputies were shot while responding to a report that someone inside the home was threatening to kill themself or others. He said the suspect also was shot.
With a healthy humility and respect for DJ Moore and Keenan Allen, Odunze is chasing big numbers right now — not after some kind of transition year in the shadows.