No one wanted another strike–but many people wondered how and were doubtful that the district could meet the CTU’s financial demands. So when Rahm, Forrest, and Co. were able to make it happen at the eleventh hour, many parents, community members, and even some students were able to breathe a sigh of relief. But how long will it be before they begin to suffocate again from the educational ineptitude here in Chicago? Because we all know that this vicious cycle of “Mo’ money…no progress” is one that we cannot seem to escape.
In Chicago, progress has been much slower than the rate of investment. There’s no single entity responsible for this—learning and home environment, parent engagement, resources and investment, and strong administration all play a role in a student’s overall success or demise. Nevertheless, the over-inflation of some areas with funding and resources and the neglect of others have given us the same disappointing results—underachieving students. How can we expect different outcomes for our students and families if we keep investing in the same things? Or more specifically, how is this additional funding that has been taken from TIF funds and used to bridge the gap between the district and CTU, going to bridge the gap between CPS’ performance and student achievement?
We support teachers and education staff through and through and understand that they are a vital component in our students’ education. However, there has been a very one-dimensional approach to education in Chicago that relies solely on the competency of the district and its staff. Consequently, the divestment and disinterest in parent and community engagement, and resources and programs that promote equity and provide support for students has created an even larger achievement gap. So to me, it’s quite obvious that a holistic and innovative approach to education would be more fitting to serve Chicago’s diverse student population.
Now, if my observation is wrong and using funds that are traditionally used to improve blighted communities is the only means to maintain pension contributions, cost of living increases, six figure salaries for union reps AND provide students with a quality education, at minimum I need to see all of our students reading at or above grade level. I need to see the performance ratings of traditional public schools rise, graduation rates grow and college enrollments increase. We need to see our students excel, regardless of their personal or inherited circumstances. And we ALL need to win or at least be armed with the resources to compete…because mo’ money and no progress just isn’t working for us anymore.
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