Poor school children under-funded by state

Now is the time to equalize funding between poor and rich districts in Illinois. Our state leads the country in funding disparity between poor and rich districts, ranking 49th in the nation in its contribution to per pupil funding. Only 9 percent of African American fourth graders in Illinois read at or above the national average. New Trier High School spends $17,000 per student while the Chicago Public Schools’ student expenditure is less than $10,000. Some Illinois rural districts spend less than $5,000. If New Trier lost $10,000 per student in funding, the district budget and school programs would decrease $31 million. Obviously, money matters. Half of CPS students drop out without a high school diploma. Only 6 of 100 CPS high school graduates will graduate from college in four years. That’s a 94-percent failure rate. The students with the greatest need receive the least support-that is the shame of Illinois.

Senate Bill 750 would restructure the way we fund education by increasing state support for poorer districts and lessening the reliance on local property taxes. This will help bring Illinois out of the education-funding basement. Gov. Blagojevich called a special session of the general assembly on Tuesday to address education funding. If this summer ends with Illinois children stuck in separate and unequal school districts, citizens will have little choice but to proceed with drastic direct action. First, the momentum for a first-day-of-school boycott of “second-class schools” will continue this year. Second, we will move to register children from under-funded schools to wealthier districts on the first day-Winnetka here we come.

Third, we will call on all people of good will to boycott their local, public or private school in solidarity with the poor children of the state on September 2. Solidarity wrist bands will be available for all Illinoisans to make a statement of support. Forth, we will demand our general assembly elected officials to withdraw support for the non-education facets of the governor’s $25 billion Illinois Works capital bill. Fifth, we will demand that Mayor Daley and CPS CEO Arne Duncan join the boycott to draw national attention to the shame of Illinois. Lastly, we’ll move forward with a federal lawsuit on state compliance with, and maintenance of, separate and unequal school districts.

We intend to use this moment to make equal funding a reality in Illinois. Entire districts with school children are being left behind in neglect, failure and violence. The least we can do for poor children is offer access to an equal, high-quality education. We know that money for high-quality teachers and school resources matter. Segregation from opportunity is un-American, and injustice stirs up the passions of people of good will everywhere. Illinois’ shame is now in the open. Now is the time to make our state work for all of our children.

Rev. Marshall E. Hatch

Attack on Smith inappropriate

The column by Roman Morrow regarding Mr. Ed Smith-calling him a pimp-is absolutely out of line [Pimpin’ is easy in the Austin community, Roman Morrow, Aug. 14]. This man has done tremendous work for the Austin area. You should retract that statement and apologize to the Austin people for what you said.

Juline McClinton
Submitted at www.AustinWeeklyNews.com

Update on Austin Weekly News Reporter Delores McCain and her battle with cancer

The Austin Weekly News enthusiastically reports that our friend and colleague Delores McCain is cancer free and out of the hospital. Delores was diagnosed with Leukemia in July. She was released this past Friday and her doctors say she’s cancer free. We spoke to Delores on Monday. She sounded great and will take it slow before resuming full reporting duties. Delores said she’ll likely start off with one story a week, working from home. We promised to keep her workload light until she’s ready to crank out the stories like she used to. We, and the community, can’t wait.