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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

School reform

An editorial about Chicago School Reform entitled, apropriately enough, "Why Blacks Should Oppose Fake School Reform" from the Chicago Defender. Now you may want to know what this means?

Well let's see...
Yes, here I go again, arguing it is racist to keep fooling Chicago's black parents about their children's lack of academic progress. Black youths have become the farm team for the prison system. Does anyone really care about our students, trapped in the burning building of mediocrity?

Legislators in Springfield are chomping at the bit to pass some version of the so called "tax swap" before the end of the current legislative session. Armed with a veto-proof majority in both the house and senate, Democrats want to pour more money into a failing school system without addressing the root causes of failure. The false pretexts for the bill, HB750, are that schools are under-funded and differences in per-pupil funding between school districts harm poor students.

The black community in Chicago should be up in arms over this fake reform. These legislators are using our children as propaganda material to advance other agendas. The same folks who cite black dropout rates as an excuse to increase the state tax burden have not lifted a finger to give black parents more control over their children's schooling.

Instead of redesigning the system so that tax dollars follow students to schools selected by their parents, politicians want to give more money to the same bureaucrats who have been more committed to securing lucrative contracts for teachers unions and beefing up retirement plans than improving academic performance.

So long as the black community believes more money is all it will take to fix public schools, this broken system will continue to deliver the same disastrous product. Currently 50 percent of black high school students in Illinois fail to graduate, and 94 percent of Chicago Public School students will never earn a college degree.

I'd like to see Senator Obama tackle this issue. Well this piece doesn't mention him. This issue certainly needs a champion. If anyone needs the school to work it's minorities. Every now and then you might hear how parents just throw their children into the public school as if it's a teacher's job to babysit them. Here's another important fact worth noting...
The achievement gap between black and white students persists despite rising per-pupil school spending. The Chicago Tribune conducted a study in 2004 demonstrating that funding levels do not determine student performance. For example, Lake Forest district spent $20,173 per-pupil while Will County district spent $4,829 per-pupil, yet students passed state tests at similar rates in both districts. Even a $15,000-a-year spending difference didn't make a difference in student achievement!

The myth of the poorly paid teacher is also frequently trotted out to squeeze more money from state taxpayers. However, the National Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported that teachers earn an average of $34.06 an hour, 36 percent more than comparable white-collar workers. The average teacher's base salary in Illinois is seventh best in the country and 16 percent higher than the national average! Add to this generous compensation the job security of tenure and the promise of a state pension far more generous than what is offered in the private sector, and it's clear teachers are not underpaid.
I was in public schools in those years in which school was held back a week because of labor strife. While I was still in elementary school there was talk about budget deficits and that was before Mayor Daley took over the school system. We don't hear as much about that now, but with Arne Duncun as schools CEO, they're asking for more money now.

There's another point I want to pull but it doesn't come from this editorial but Evan Coyne Maloney...
That’s why you hear teachers’ unions oppose school choice on the grounds that it would hurt failing schools. But the point of public education is not to ensure the survival of schools, it’s to ensure the education of students. So what if failing schools are closed? They should close. And the only way that’ll ever happen is if less-advantaged families have an opportunity to vote with their feet and abandon the schools that are failing their children.

Now that's an idea, huh?

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