Friday, May 05, 2006

Maldistribution of Chicago School Resources

I keep hearing that Chicago schools don’t have enough money.

Our Crystal Lake United Methodist Men’s group is even sending guys to help completely re-paint a Chicago school June 10th, instead of having its regular monthly breakfast meeting. (We have a member, Scott Goodwin, who is working with IBM’s Chicago Cares project.)

Maybe it’s not that Chicago schools don’t have enough money.

Maybe it is a repeat of what Harold Washington proved was happening in Chicago parks when he and I were state representatives in the 1970’s.

Washington sponsored a bill that would require the Chicago Park District to spend its money equally across the city. You can imagine that the ethnic Chicago Democrats were none too pleased at Harold’s attempt to intervene. There wasn’t even the ”hook” that parks got state financial assistance.

Washington passed the bill, but only with the help of suburban whites like me.

What I heard Wednesday on WBEZ-FM makes me wonder if the same disparity is not occurring with money the Chicago school system spends.

On the way home from swimming, my 8-year-old son and I listened attentively to Chicago public radio’s “Science Sisters” documentary.

It featured two girls from 100 year-old Farragut High School (now called a “Career Academy”) who entered the city’s science fair.

They were compared to the traditional big winners in the competition from 100-year-old Lincoln Park.

What astounded me was that Farragut only has one modern science lab, while Lincoln Park has 10.

Guess which school won the Science Fair.

(Farragut doesn't have a web site or I would have put its picture up opposite Lincoln Park's.)

Is it time for some Black or Latino Caucus member to follow in Harold’s footsteps?

For a 300 comment discussion of educational reform, join us at McHenry County Blog. Unfortunately, we have no one defending the status quo. Any teacher or administrator up to that task?

13 comments:

Randall Sherman 8:58 PM  

yeah, but which school produced the host of "Wheel of Fortune"? (Hint... pick the school named for the Civil War Admiral.)

Cal Skinner 9:54 PM  

A long time ago and I'll bet he was not a science guy.

Wondering,  11:32 PM  

How do you have an 8 year old son? Aren't you pushing 80?

Anonymous,  5:37 AM  

Farragut has a 70% drop out rate.
Senator Munoz has no formal education and either does State Rep Acevedo. They are semi-literate. The blind cannot lead the blind and the uneducated cannot improve education (with some historical exceptions like Charlemange but he had vision and listened to educated people like Alcuin)

Bill Baar 9:18 AM  

Someone on this blog said fund the kids with vouchers; don't fund the schools.

Throwing money at schools without meaningful reform isn't going to solve problems.

It will make the inequalities worse.

That liberals and progressives so completely bought out by the system means it's only the Cal Skinners out there to call it out.

Cal Skinner 9:38 AM  

Certainly Harold was well-educated.

But, if the inequities are as bad as this one laboratory example shows, some major leadership is needed from legislators from area where schools are being discriminated against.

One solution that would probably work, but which will never pass, would be to break the Chicago School District into districts along the underlining township lines (used for assessing purposes). Then, the state aid would truly go to the poor areas and could not be siphoned off to parts of the city more wealthy than the typical suburb.

And, no, I am not pushing 80. I was elected McHenry County Treasurer at age 24, state rep at 30.

Levois 10:46 AM  

This is a pretty good post it would surprise me if there were inequalities in the funding of schools in the city. Too bad that the only one who's doing the talking on the issue is Rev. Meeks. At least in the black community.

monelson 11:04 AM  

Who cares how old Cal is, because he is apparently young enough to raise an eight year old! Not sure I am.....

The CPS problems lie in that they are just too big. Too big to serve local needs. Too big to need to be responsive to any single or small group of citizens. Too big to feel the pain of this in equality.

Bill, you missed the biggest (and probably most politically impractical) part of Extremewisdoms idea - he would eliminate school districts and fund childeren. A schools funding would be based on the number of students it could draw. The school would be run by the principal, who would not report to a school district. And while scholarships (Extremes word) sounds a lot like vouchers, vouchers assume school districts exist and vouchers take money away from school districts. Scholarships don't, because the districts don't exist.

Extremes idea would be meaningful reform. Education Consumers (parents) would have direct input at a local level. Don't miss that this plan hacks away as much as 50% of todays education spending - the part that goes to administration and makes it available to the local school to be spent in the classroom. This idea eliminates the inequality by deciding each student gets the same funding.

Anonymous,  5:59 PM  

To help kids it requires much MORE than money
Throwing more money at a flawed system (flawed is being generous) is NOT the answer
Vouchers may be part of the answer but will not solve everything

Anonymous,  5:59 PM  

It is true that Harold Washington was much more educated than the extremely unneducated Hispanic Caucus that is a real joke

monelson 7:46 AM  

The money is not the problem. It's our bloated, too policitcal, education management systems - the school districts.

From the CPS web site:
$100,715 average administrator salary
$200+ million for "Central Office"

Yet they have Highs Schools with one science lab? Priceless....

Check the stats,  11:49 PM  

Don't be so quick to judge -- Lincoln Park HS is 70% minority and 50% low income. Should Farragut have more science labs? No doubt. But don't stereotype LPHS as a rich white school. On a relative basis, it is less monolithically minority and low income than many other CPS schools, but the fact that it does well and has good resources is EXACTLY the kind of integrated opportunities a good public school is supposed to offer.

Cal Skinner 12:07 PM  

So, if it's not racial discrimination, is it geographical discrimination?

Or discrimination based on income level?

I don't know enough about Chicago to know, but someone reading this blog does.

Why not tell us what is going on?

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