Thank you all for helping to temporarily defeat the “Performance Counts Act” during the final days of the Illinois legislative fall veto session. Your phone calls and emails made the difference. This legislation is not totally dead, so be ready for it to resurface during the current Illinois legislative session.

Now it is time for both the parents and community to play offense.

We must now create the narrative to discuss the true issues surrounding education within the Austin community. The new narrative is that a significant number of our families are broken not the schools.

The Chicago Public Schools (CPS) leadership successfully carried the business community’s message that our education system is broken; therefore it must be the fault of the teachers that our children are not learning. There is enough research to fill a large room which consistently documents that parents who raise their children to understand the value of education and are involved in their children’s education will most likely academically outperform students whose parents are less involved.

The AP/Stanford University poll conducted in 2010 found that a solid 59 percent of those questioned blame the parents for poor schools.

I am not writing this article to beat up on parents, but, to state that each day we delay in stopping the school system and media from making the teachers the scapegoat, we delay the crucial discussion of providing families with the necessary “wrap around” social services they need.

The Chicago Renaissance School Fund (CRSF) raised over $70 million dollars from the business community in support of Renaissance 2010 by creating small schools, and new contract and charter schools – which are essentially the same. None of the resources raised by CRSF directly assisted families whose children attend neighborhood schools.

I have read many of the proposals submitted by the renaissance new schools. Consistently in their proposals the new schools contractually mandate family involvement and student discipline. Their solution to working with dysfunctional, unmotivated families is to void the contract and invite their children out the door and back to the neighborhood schools. The neighborhood schools begin to appear worst than selective, magnet and charter schools because those schools “weed out” the worst students and “skim” for the better students.

Teachers and students at selective enrollment and magnet schools are provided better resources than the neighborhood schools. Poor families do not receive any enhanced support from CPS because they often do not know how to organize and demand equitable resources from CPS.

Our new offense and narrative is to challenge CPS to increase money for family support programs in order to incrementally change the systemic dysfunctional environment in which children are raised.

Raising kids is hard and difficult work that is by nature (and law) the responsibility of the parents. It is also in the self interest of CPS and the community to provide the necessary resources to teach effective parenting values and skills.

Remember, the foundation of education begins at home.